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Asian Demonstrators and the American Dream

Summary:
Protesters against the military coup in Myanmar hope for a US intervention, showing that America’s image as the champion of global freedom is not yet dead, even after four years of Donald Trump’s “America First” isolationism. But the US was always a selective supporter of democracy, and now it is a diminished one. NEW YORK – One month ago, in Myanmar, protesters against the military coup gathered around the United States embassy in Yangon. They called on President Joe Biden to make the generals go back to their barracks and free Aung San Suu Kyi from detention. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a big victory in the 2020 general election, which is why the generals, afraid of losing their privileges, seized power.

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Protesters against the military coup in Myanmar hope for a US intervention, showing that America’s image as the champion of global freedom is not yet dead, even after four years of Donald Trump’s “America First” isolationism. But the US was always a selective supporter of democracy, and now it is a diminished one.

NEW YORK – One month ago, in Myanmar, protesters against the military coup gathered around the United States embassy in Yangon. They called on President Joe Biden to make the generals go back to their barracks and free Aung San Suu Kyi from detention. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a big victory in the 2020 general election, which is why the generals, afraid of losing their privileges, seized power.

But is the US embassy the best place to protest? Can the US president do anything substantial apart from expressing disapproval of the coup? The protesters’ hope for a US intervention shows that America’s image as the champion of global freedom is not yet dead, even after four years of Donald Trump’s “America First” isolationism.

Demonstrators in Hong Kong last year, protesting against China’s harsh crackdown on the territory’s autonomy, even regarded Trump as an ally. He was erratically hostile to China, so the protesters waved the stars and stripes, hoping that America would help to keep them free from Chinese communist authoritarianism.

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Ian Buruma
Editor of The New York Review of Books, author of Theater of Cruelty, Year Zero: A History of 1945, and Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War

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