Artwork for podcast Insight Myanmar
Scot Marciel
Episode 1818th August 2023 • Insight Myanmar • Insight Myanmar Podcast
00:00:00 02:08:34

Share Episode


Episode #181: “I was walking into a country that was in the middle of significant change,” states Scot Marciel, the US Ambassador to Myanmar from 2016 to 2020.

One of the first challenges Marciel faced was the role of sanctions. While initially imposed to pressure the regime, he found they had limited effectiveness, and argues that the policy, long driven by a justifiable anger towards the junta’s brutality, ultimately hindered analytical thinking about more helpful approaches. “You can’t wait until it’s Norway or Switzerland to act, you’ve got to come in and try to do what you can to support and encourage more change! And so I think it was the right move [to remove all sanctions]… if you want to have influence at all, you got to be there.”

The Rohingya crisis was the most challenging issue that Marciel faced in his entire diplomatic career, as the military perpetrated violence so extreme it was later determined to be a genocide. Despite international pressure, the Myanmar government denied the atrocities, and it was difficult to get access to even basic facts. “Thant Myint U wrote at some point that you can't fix Rakhine if you don't fix Myanmar,” he recalls. “I took that to heart, and so that's what we tried to do. But it was a struggle. It was a lot of anguish, and not everybody agreed, and there weren't any great options.”

Regarding the current situation in Myanmar, Marciel believes engagement with the military junta is unproductive. Instead, he suggests supporting local governance, public services, and the resistance elements opposing the junta. He is cautious about providing lethal weapons to resistance groups due to potential logistical challenges and the risk of escalating conflict with China's involvement.

“First and foremost, I think 80 to 90% of whatever happens is going to be decided within the country by people of Myanmar, and that's just a reality,” he says in closing, adding that there are also ways the international community can help.



More from YouTube