Myanmar—or Burma, if that’s the name you prefer—is one of a small set of countries: nations that, despite natural bounty and a vibrant population, remain underdeveloped due to conflict, economic mismanagement and international isolation.
Yet Myanmar has a habit of enchanting those who have the opportunity to visit the country. One such person was Erin Murphy, author of Burmese Haze: US Policy and Myanmar’s Opening—and Closing. Erin had a front-row seat to the major changes in US policy towards Myanmar under the Obama Administration, in reaction to the country’s opening and democratic reform, a process halted by the 2021 coup.
Erin Murphy has worked on Asia issues since 2001. She has spent her career in several public and private sector roles, including as an analyst on Asian political, foreign policy, and leadership issues at the Central Intelligence Agency, a director for Indo-Pacific with a development finance agency, leading her boutique advisory firm focused on Myanmar, and as an English teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program in Saga ken, Japan. Erin can be followed on Twitter.
In this interview, Erin and I talk about Myanmar, what drove its brief reopening, how U.S. policy towards the country changed—and whether Myanmar’s experience is valuable to us today, at a time when sanctions are back in the news.