February 23, 2010
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.
January 10, 2010
BANGKOK — Last fall, a rare opinion poll was conducted across China. It asked a simple question: What do you perceive as the greatest threat facing China? The range of answers was interesting — but even more interesting was the way the survey was reported in India.
December 8, 2009
The Obama administration, which has pledged a new and improved approach to development aid, could learn a lot from the experiences of successful social entrepreneurs.
September 4, 2009
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.
July 14, 2009
LONDON — Just days after the death of his father, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was asked to rank the issues of dispute between Syria and Israel. “Israel ranks her priorities in the following way: security, land and water,” he said. “But the truth is different. They consider water to be the most important.” He added, “Discussing this matter now is premature and its turn will come only after the land issue is discussed.”
May 29, 2009
WASHINGTON — Just weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, I met with an architect of America’s post-9/11 response in the Pentagon. The topic was the impending U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. I asked why he expected America to succeed when every foreign invader in history had failed.
April 18, 2009
NEW DELHI — Leaders here can’t get enough of the American president. He’s “the best president vis-à-vis India in the past 50 years,” said a former diplomat. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told him, “the people of India deeply love you.” One official proposed awarding him the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India), the country’s highest civilian honor.
Another nation in the throes of Obamania?
April 10, 2009
THAILAND – What do you call a democracy in which women cannot vote, slavery is openly practiced, elected office is reserved for wealthy white landowners, and national laws define an entire race of people as three-fifths of a human being?