Experts say a multi-lateral approach to the Burmese military government crackdown on pro-democracy activists in that country could bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
But they stress that China and India - two countries with influence in Burma, also called Myanmar - must take a stronger stance.
The Bush administration has taken a strong position in condemning the violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Burma over the last few weeks.
European nations and Japan have also added their voices, most recently supporting a U.N. Security Council Presidential Statement on Burma. But the U.S. State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel says India must do more in line with its position as the world's largest democracy.
"India's welcome message is undercut by its actions, such as its announcement to invest over 100 million dollars in a transportation development project in Western Burma."
Speaking before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, Marciel welcomed China's efforts to help facilitate a meeting between the UN special envoy on Burma Ibrahim Gambari and the head of the Burmese military government, but said China must use its leverage with Burma's leaders to do more.
"We believe China can and must do more, and we will continue to press Beijing to do so."
Marciel says the U.S. would like to see China support an early return to Burma by the UN special envoy, as well as use its influence with the Burmese government to secure the release of political detainees.
Jeremy Woodrum of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a human rights group, also criticized China, saying the current crisis has not been enough to push Beijing to real action.
"The regime has destroyed three thousand villages in eastern Burma. And just to put that in the context of a crisis that is a little bit more well known, that's almost twice as many villages as have been destroyed in Darfur. The regime has forced one-point-five million people to flee their homes as refugees and as internally displaced people."
China takes the position that the situation in Burma is an internal one and Beijing does not interfere in the internal politics of other countries. Woodrum takes issue with that:
"Yet, the truth is that China interferes in Burma more than any other country in the world. Its unabashed support for Burma's military regime, against the desires of the Burmese people, has perpetuated a permanently destabilizing atmosphere in the country."
The Chinese government has come under fire from human rights activists who have called for a boycott of next year's summer Olympic games in Beijing, saying China is not doing enough to stop the killing in Darfur, and now in Burma as well. Woodrum of the U.S. Campaign for Burma urged President Bush and members of Congress to carefully consider whether the U.S. should attend the Beijing games as a way to put further pressure on China to act.
Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee stressed that the U.S. Justice Department is now leaderless and demoralized, and in desperate need of someone who will restore integrity to the department's 100,000 employees across the United States.
Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers had accused Alberto Gonzales of letting his longtime personal loyalty to President Bush override his duty to protect the U.S. constitution. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer warmly welcomed and praised Mukasey, but posed this question.
"Will Judge Mukasey be independent enough and courageous enough to stand strong even against the man who nominated him if that is what the law requires?"
Schumer answered his own question with a "Yes", and the questions that came from other senators made clear that Mukasey's confirmation is all but certain. Republican Senator Arlen Specter framed the same basic question of judicial independence in a different way:
"Are you prepared to resign if the president were to violate your advice and in your view violate the constitution of the United States in an important matter?"
Mukasey replied that he would have only two choices in that situation, to try to talk the president out of it or to leave. Pressed by Democratic Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Mukasey made clear he does not believe the president has the authority to approve torture techniques against terrorism suspects. He said he is not aware of any "commander-in-chief override" of the Geneva convention or U.S. laws against torture. The 66-year-old Mukasey sought to reassure lawmakers he would respect the rule of law, and strike a balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberties.
"Protecting civil liberties, and people's confidence that those liberties are protected, is a part of protecting national security. Just as is the gathering of intelligence to defend us from those who believe it is their duty to make war on us. We have to succeed at both."
If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Mukasey will only have 14 months to take the Justice Department in a new direction before President Bush leaves office in early 2009.