SHE is the woman who faced down an army. After the military regime in Myanmar refused to recognise the colossal victory of her National League for Democracy party in an election in 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi endured 25 years of persecution, including 15 years under house arrest. In late 2015, after many failed attempts to discredit and sideline her, the generals gave up and held a relatively free election. The NLD won again, in another landslide, and this time the army allowed the result to stand. Ms Suu Kyi’s dignified resistance to military rule has made her a hero to many around the world—and deservedly so. But the self-reliance and doggedness that sustained her through that long struggle have not stood her in such good stead since the NLD took power a year ago.

In a parting gift from the army, Myanmar’s constitution bars Ms Suu Kyi from the presidency on the grounds that her children hold British citizenship. She has installed a loyal lieutenant in the job instead, and awarded herself the title “state counsellor”, as well as two ministerial portfolios. Members of parliament complain that they have little role in government; Ms Suu Kyi makes all the decisions that matter (see article).

Many of those decisions, alas, have been questionable. Ms Suu Kyi has decided to focus her attention on bringing peace to the far corners of the country, where a bewildering array of ethnic militias have fought the government for decades. The goal is a fine one—but Ms Suu Kyi lacks the authority to attain it. Along with preventing her from becoming president, the constitution that the generals imposed before returning to barracks also allows the army to run itself, to appoint the ministers of defence and home affairs and to fill a quarter of the seats in parliament. Without the army’s co-operation, there can be no peace between the state and the rebel groups. Moreover, the army has, if anything, recently become more aggressive, sparking increasingly frequent clashes.

Ms Suu Kyi has more authority in other areas—most notably over the economy—but has not done much with it. The NLD’s first budget was little different from the army’s last, suggesting that the civilians do not have a clear agenda for change. The generals’ cronies still dominate big business. Foreign investment is declining as the euphoria of the transition to democracy fades. Ms Suu Kyi has made little effort to overhaul the courts, which are stuffed with corrupt holdovers from the old regime, or make them more accessible. Plaintiffs still need the attorney-general’s permission to sue the government.

Meanwhile, international goodwill towards the new government is being squandered by Ms Suu Kyi’s shameful silence about the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority who live near the border with Bangladesh. The army has been razing Rohingya villages, stealing, raping and killing as it does so. But Ms Suu Kyi cannot even bring herself to use the word Rohingya (the government dismisses them as intruders from Bangladesh), let alone condemn the army’s treatment of them.

The lady’s not for learning

It would be naive to expect the NLD to repair in a year the damage done by half a century of military rule. And it is understandable that 25 years of isolation and abuse have left Ms Suu Kyi reluctant to delegate and suspicious of outsiders’ advice. But by refusing to acknowledge the army’s latest outrages, she risks turning herself into an apologist for the very people who tormented her and her country for so long. And by picking the wrong priorities, she may undermine the cause that has consumed her life. If there is little discernible difference for most Burmese between military and civilian rule, then what was the point of her long vigil for democracy? Running a government requires different skills from resisting one. For the sake of her country and her legacy, Ms Suu Kyi must learn them.