The continuing transformation of Burma is one of the most surprising, encouraging and baffling political events of our time. Only two years ago the country was among the most isolated, oppressive and backward on the planet, and had been that way ever since the generals took over in a coup back in 1962. Now, it seems, the reformers in charge of the country, led by the new president, Thein Sein, can’t move fast enough to dismantle the apparatus of military dictatorship. And all this without a shot being fired, in stark contrast to the Arab uprisings.
Almost every week brings some heartening news. In the week that I am writing this we have had a cabinet reshuffle that promoted more reform-minded ministers at the expense of the die-hards, and an announcement that over two thousand names are to be taken off the government’s blacklist of those