February 23, 2010

A First Step Toward Democracy?

YANGON — When British forces first floated up the Irrawaddy River in 1885 to depose King Thibaw of Burma, locals were startled to see a Burmese prince, in full regalia, sitting on the deck of one of the steamers. His presence reassured locals that the British planned to seat a new king, not overthrow the kingdom. As Thant Myint-U recalls in his book, “The River of Lost Footsteps,” it was only when a young student talked his way onto the ship and came face-to-face with the royal prince that the truth was discovered: The “prince” was an imposter, a former classmate of the student’s. By then, it was too late — the telegraph line to the palace in Mandalay had been cut.

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September 4, 2009

Indonesia’s Security Burden

JAKARTA—Locals here quip that while Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation—by definition, a nation of islands—it is not a maritime nation. Imagine, they say, a stretch of land covering the distance from Seattle to New York, or Lisbon to Moscow. And now, imagine having fewer than 100 police cars responsible for patrolling that entire area—to respond to emergencies and protect national borders.

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