In the past decade, as Myanmar’s democratic transition unfolded, the West neglected to build close relations with the force behind it the military. Instead, the prevailing Anglo-American approach centred on Aung San Suu Kyi, making her bigger than the cause. That neglect persisted even after Suu Kyi fell from grace over the fate of the country’s Rohingya Muslims, many of whom fled to Bangladesh and some to India during a brutal military campaign to flush out jihadist militants waging hit-and-run attacks. The West’s lopsided approach eventually contributed to this month’s coup. Today, the US has little influence over Myanmar’s military. The coup leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, and his deputy, General Soe Win, were slapped with US sanctions 14 months ago over the expulsion of the Rohingya. But in responding to the mass detention of Muslims in Xinjiang that it labels “genocide,” the US has spared top Chinese military and party officials, imposing largely symbolic sanctions against lower-ranking functionaries. Despite their uneven effectiveness and unpredictable consequences, sanctions have remained a favourite and grossly overused instrument of Western diplomacy, especially when dealing with the small kids on the global bloc. Non-Western democracies, in contrast, prefer constructive engagement.