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Aung San Suu Kyi Is Still Myanmar's Best Hope

Why the World Should Manage Its Expectations

Aung San Suu Kyi, then the leader of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement, greets supporters in Monywa, November 2012.  Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

Since April 2016, when the international human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi became the first democratic leader of Myanmar, activists, journalists, and policymakers around the world have been expressing shock and disappointment at her performance. In addition to raising questions about her leadership on economic and political reforms, which she has largely failed to deliver on, her critics have charged her with turning a blind eye to crimes against humanity committed by the country’s military against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Keith Harper, accused Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to use her stature to speak up against the atrocities. Others have been more direct—an April headline in The Intercept called her an “apologist for genocide against Muslims.”

Such harsh judgments on Aung San Suu Kyi’s integrity and competence have less to do with

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