Thailand, Myanmar, and Combodia, places that most Americans may be hard pressed to locate on the world map, are getting a visit from Obama. These visits are (hopefully) planned well in advance, even so, important domestic fiscal cliff negotiations are being deliberated, and internationally another Israeli conflict ("Israel has the right to defend itself"...but what about the fenced Palestnian's rights) commands the headlines, and under this cloud this Presidential visit has special gravitas.
Myanmar has a long recent history of ruthless military dictatorship oppressing it's people and imprisoning it's protesting patriots. The current mood of the generals has changed and the first steps to an open, democratic society are evident. In this new vacuum the world's most militaristically powerful nation wants to step in to make a bridgehead for democracy while lessing the influence of expansionist China in that region.
Obama is leading that charge, not only to counter China's influence, but for American businesses to set up shop in that minerals and energy (natural gas) rich region, ripe for development of the resources to uplift its impoverished population.
If Obama can influence Myanmar's government, which holds hundreds of political prisoners and continues to struggle to contain ethnic violence, to take a more sharper turn towards progressive ideals, it will further his resume be being a statesman of his generation.
Here's hoping Obama can seize the opportunity.