Priscilla Clapp is currently a senior advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Society. She is a retired minister-counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service.

During her 30-year career with the U.S. Government, Clapp served as chief of mission and permanent charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Burma (1999-2002), deputy chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in South Africa (1993-96), principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Refugee Programs (1989-1993), deputy political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (1986-88), and chief of political-military affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Japan (1981-85).  She also worked on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, in the East Asian, Political Military and International Organizations bureaus, and with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Prior to government service, Clapp spent ten years in foreign policy and arms control research, with the MIT Center for International Studies and as a Research Associate at the Brookings Institution. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Clapp’s books include: with Morton Halperin, "Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy" (Brookings, 2006), with I.M. Destler et al., "Managing an Alliance: the Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations" (Brookings, 1976), with Morton Halperin, "U.S.-Japanese Relations in the 1970's" (Harvard, 1974).  She is a frequent media commentator and the author of numerous publications on Burma and U.S. Burma policy with USIP, the Brookings Institution, the East-West Center, Australia National University, the Asia Society, the National Bureau of Asian Research, Singapore’s ISEAS and others. 

Publications By Priscilla A.

Two Years of Myanmar’s Junta: Regional Instability, Surging Organized Crime

Two Years of Myanmar’s Junta: Regional Instability, Surging Organized Crime

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Jason Tower

Two years ago today, Myanmar’s military snuffed out the country’s democratic government in a coup and set about restoring the grim dictatorship that dominated the Southeast Asian nation for 50 years. But the generals’ initial moves — jailing civilian leaders, shutting the free press, issuing heavy-handed decrees — were the only things that went according to plan. To date, the coup has instead triggered myriad unintended effects. None are more urgent and consequential than the instability and crime that the generals’ power grab triggered across Southeast Asia, and none more directly implicate U.S. interests in the region.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

In Myanmar, Sham Elections Aren’t the Path to Stability

In Myanmar, Sham Elections Aren’t the Path to Stability

Thursday, October 27, 2022

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Ye Myo Hein

The head of Myanmar’s military junta is talking increasingly about holding national elections next year despite the near certainty that prevailing conditions would make a democratic result impossible. Even if General Min Aung Hlaing was pondering a good-faith effort — which he is not — the country’s political and security situation would likely preclude anything more than a fig leaf outcome. So, the dictator is still mulling whether elections would benefit the regime. Meanwhile, he is laying the groundwork for a sham process to make himself president and cement military rule. Though the nature of these schemes should be obvious to the international community, many view the proposed vote as the most realistic path to stability and democratically elected government. That hope is badly misplaced.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Why Myanmar’s Desperate Generals Executed Prominent Pro-Democracy Figures

Why Myanmar’s Desperate Generals Executed Prominent Pro-Democracy Figures

Thursday, July 28, 2022

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Billy Ford;  Jason Tower

From virtually the moment Myanmar’s military overthrew the country’s democratically elected government last year, the generals have faced a popular uprising that they met with escalating brutality. Even so, their decision last week to put to death — by hanging — four high-profile democracy advocates sparked shock and outrage at home and around the world. USIP’s Jason Tower, Priscilla Clapp and Billy Ford discuss what is behind the coup regime’s bloody move and its implications for Myanmar and international efforts to bring peace and democracy to the Southeast Asian country.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

U.S.-ASEAN Summit: A Chance to Explore New Steps to Resolve Myanmar’s Conflict

U.S.-ASEAN Summit: A Chance to Explore New Steps to Resolve Myanmar’s Conflict

Thursday, May 12, 2022

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Jason Tower

The February 2021 coup in Myanmar, which overthrew an elected government and installed a brutal military dictatorship, has posed an enormous challenge to the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN). The group has split on what — if any — action to take regarding the coup. Meanwhile, the military’s unbridled violence against the country’s citizens failed to suppress an increasingly militarized opposition and the conflict now affects ASEAN states bordering Myanmar and those beyond. As the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit gets underway this week in Washington, Myanmar will not be present, a symbol that the organization — as a whole— does not accept the coup government’s legitimacy. What’s next remains to be seen.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyDemocracy & Governance

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