The President Sets a Precedent


In May 2008, as Burma reeled from Cyclone Nargis, which claimed more than 130,000 lives, a rumor floated through the darkened, wreckage-strewn streets of Rangoon, the country's largest city. Would the Americans stage a humanitarian intervention to aid storm victims who were being ignored by the country's military junta?

On Nov. 19, 2012, a U.S. government plane touched down in Rangoon. It was not there as part of an invasion once predicted by Burma's paranoid army rulers. Instead, Air Force One rolled past a thicket of tropical foliage to make Barack Obama the...

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