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From the beginning, however, the Obama administration has made clear that engagement is not an end in itself, but a means to various goals, both bilateral and regional.While Obama would likely acknowledge that U.S. policy did not bring about these changes (which resulted from an internal process of recalculation by the president, General Thein Sein), the U.S. was responsive and flexible enough to encourage them.On the regional front, Obama hoped that an opening with Myanmar would ensure that the country did not become wholly dependent on China, while enabling the U.S. to deepen its relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Whatever America's Republican Party tries to claim during the 2016 presidential election campaign, Obama's policy of engagement has worked, enabling the U.S. to shape events in even the most closed countries.Bilateral engagement will prove to be one of Obama's most important foreign-policy legacies. But ensuring that the U.S. can continue to lead in the 21st century will require a different kind of engagement.
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