President Barack Obama just spoke on the telephone with the leader of Cuba to finalize the two countries' new relations -- an event that hadn't happened in over half a century. The Cold War is now almost completely a matter of interest only to historians, to put things into context.
Buddhist nuns are everywhere among the streets of Myanmar -- of all different ages, some as young as 5. Dressed in pink loose-fitting shirts and pants with orange scarves, they have shaved heads and rely on alms to pay for their schooling, food, housing, and other basic needs.
What can be done to derail this form of militancy to prevent its expansion from a regional threat to a global one? Strategies to tackle Islamist militancy include drone strikes, foreign intervention and militant rehabilitation camps. But none of these make sense for tackling Buddhist militancy at this early stage.
As Myanmar's nationwide ceasefire negotiations continue, peace in many formerly war-torn regions has allowed state-run lifesaving services to gradually expand. But their provision is intensely politicized, and carefully crafted access strategies are vital, experts warn.
How else should we be advising Myanmar now so its version of democracy isn't derailed in the future? Here are three pieces of advice that the US and other foreign actors should offer Myanmar's government to help create a stable, more inclusive society:
I've never really thought much about jade. Perhaps it's because in New York (where I currently reside) there are thousands of jade bracelets for sale on almost every street corner for around $5. But I was schooled hard in Mandalay, Myanmar, where I hit the world-famous jade market.
Like the the Atlantis of lore, the digital-diplomat is not tethered to any hemisphere but rather links to the superiority of knowledge and empathy over geography and ideology.
In Burma, if one were to mention "the election" on the street this morning, the listener would likely not conjure up concern for the productivity and potential of Obama's final two years holding office, but rather of the possibility of Aung San Suu Kyi holding it and being able to create durable and sustainable reconciliation in a divided nation.
We should recognize that Myanmar is now a different country. There is a different government, and it is one that we can work with. Our approach must be different, too.
Though the priority of Obama's trip is to attend the regional summit, other pressing issues of bilateral ties between the United States and Myanmar are expected to be discussed.
President Obama is about to go to Myanmar for the second time in two years - #BIGDEAL alert! - but, after a recent visit to Myanmar's brand spanking new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, I was wondering: Will anyone actually be there to greet him when he gets there?
It is all too easy for businesspeople and politicians from western economies to criticize developing countries for taking measures to protect domestic economic interests, but critics in glass houses should not throw stones. Most western nations, including the two great bastions of free trade, the U.S. and U.K., adopted extremely protectionist policies during earlier stages of development.
As President Obama returns to Myanmar, questions are being asked about what change his new approach has actually delivered for ordinary people.
When it comes to the way that the ethnic Burman majority treats the 135 different ethnic minorities that make up roughly 40 percent of Myanmar's population, "backsliding" is not the right word -- because that would presume that progress has been made in the first place.
In addition to saying the forbidden word, President Obama should address the root causes of the crisis by urging the Burmese government to reform its outdated laws that base citizenship on ethnic identity.
The question is whether President Obama can advance his foreign policy aims -- expanding trade, increasing military cooperation, keeping China at bay -- and honor the rest of that 2009 inaugural address?