Two recent incredible developments in Southeast Asia. First, ten countries recently signed a pact to form a European-Union-style organization. The countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam - have a population of over 600 million, which is more than the EU itself.
Obviously there are always pros and cons to such an arrangement, but history shows that closer economic ties between countries lead to more development and less conflict overall.
In more immediate, concrete news, the military dictatorship in Myanmar was recently defeated in a fair election and seems due to concede power to a more democratic system. The New York Times reports:
The official results are still being tabulated, but all signs so far point to that rarest of things: an authoritarian government peacefully giving up power after what outside election monitors have deemed a credible vote.
Analysts and Myanmar’s citizens are still coming to grips with the results. But the outcome appears to stem from the simple fact that veneration for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was underestimated and the ruling party’s strength overestimated.
In the days before the elections, the ruling party organized large convoys of tractors to ride through the countryside. Thousands of farmers, wearing T-shirts given out by the party, chanted slogans and waved party flags. Wedding bands performed patriotic songs.
But that show of support was misleading. Many of the farmers said they had taken part in the rallies because they were paid, but when it came time to stamp their ballots, they voted for the National League for Democracy.