Originally Posted by Direckshun
There are a couple different directions you can take with governments this brutal: you can attempt to close off from them and promise not to open up to them until they reform, or you can take the far more successful route of opening up to them, deepening some ties with them to create some strings between you that you can pull at various times to reward pro-democratic reform. For decades the United States has preferred the former approach, but the Obama administration has opened up the latter approach since he took office.
This is not accurate, at all. We never wavered from the first option.
What happened is the junta finally caved. It wasn't that we lightened up and they responded, Burma finally began to enact real democratic reforms. We didn't send SoS Clinton over until they began to crack.
The first option as you described above does not mean isolating the tyrannical nation forever and ever until they fully reform. When they began to tentatively move down the path of democracy, we immediately rewarded Burma. They have now progressed far enough to deserve the symbolism of a presidential trip.