The politics of marriage

3 Dec

When asked to speculate about the recent historic State visit to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that it was too soon to tell, likening the visit to a “first date, not a marriage.” Such a description is a striking turn of phrase to use, particularly given Clinton’s own famous marriage and its ups-and-downs. Ironically, perhaps the relationship with Burma could best be described as a lengthy dysfunctional marriage, full of withholding, abuse, and tyranny.

Clinton’s meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi took on a very different tone and feeling, however. Indeed, the photos of the women’s two meetings depict a high level of intimacy, understanding, and rapport. Clinton described their first meeting as an encounter possessing immediate connection and emotional affinity.

She spoke of her deep respect and admiration for the long-standing and long-suffering populist figurehead. The women appear to be in the midst of a conversation that began at their first meeting, and will continue indefinitely.

Clinton’s visits with both the official leaders of Mynamar and the long oppressed Burmese freedom fighter suggest a kind of political strategic schizophrenia in approach however, rendering Clinton into a kind of polygamous figure in the meetings. To return to her description of the “first date”: while the meeting with Myanmar’s self-ordained leaders might not lead to marriage, her meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi appears to contain possibilities exceeding those of marriage.


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