Sri Lanka

Lessons in Recovery
March 31, 2011

Compared to most of its Asian neighbors, Japan seems like a very different society. Unlike in Bangkok or Rangoon or Jakarta, schedules run on time in Japanese cities, and essential services, from street cleaning to tax collection, work effectively. Though it slipped this year from the second largest to the third largest economy in the world, Japan remains, on a per capita basis, far wealthier than China, and, despite years of economic stagnation, its manufacturing firms remain among the best in the world.

Calling the Ex
January 21, 2010

Last Saturday, President Obama tapped the unlikely duo of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to lead a massive campaign to help Haiti. It isn't the first time former presidents (and political rivals) have led major relief efforts: Clinton and George H.W. Bush worked together after the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Ike. "This is a model that works," Obama noted. But how, exactly, does that model work? Why do we call on former presidents to help after disasters? 1) They Get People's Attention. They're presidents. They have high profiles. People listen to them.

Failed States, Dubious Rankings
June 30, 2009

I spent some time yesterday and today trying to figure out Foreign Policy magazine's ranking of failed states. Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Sudan got first, second, and third place--no surprises there. But what initially piqued my interest was the high ranking given to Kenya, a country where I just spent two weeks (on a trip sponsored by the International Reporting Project, based at Johns Hopkins).

Obama's First Humanitarian Crisis
May 06, 2009

Mark Leon Goldberg is a senior correspondent for the American Prospect and writes UN Dispatch. Over the past four months an estimated 6,500 ethnic-Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka have died at the hands of their own government. Tens of thousands more have been injured. Unlike humanitarian crises in places like Darfur, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this outbreak of violence occurred almost entirely during President Obama's first 100 days. It is the first man-made humanitarian crisis of the Obama era.

After the Deluge
April 11, 2005

I am not sure just what it was that made me drop everything on December 31 and join six colleagues on a medical relief mission to Sri Lanka.

January 17, 2005

The Bangkok airport's Burger King normally isn't that crowded in the morning. Most Thais seem to prefer the nearby food court, which serves Thai rice soups rather than heavy egg-and-biscuit American breakfasts. But, on Monday morning last week, the day after a massive tsunami swamped Thailand and the rest of Southeast and South Asia, the area around Burger King is packed. Several Thai monks, dressed in the simple orange and saffron robes of the Buddhist clergy, their heads shaved completely bare, are surrounded by locals and foreigners.

May 03, 2004

VEERASINGHAM ANANDASANGAREE’S campaign headquarters is a bunker. Heavily armed soldiers and coils of concertina wire surround the one-story compound on a side street in Jaffna, the largest town on the peninsula of the same name in northern Sri Lanka. The unused metal detector and bullet-riddled, sheet-iron doors give visitors pause. But Sangaree, as Anandasangaree is known, at 71 years old and a member of Sri Lanka’s parliament since 1971, remains determined. A Tamil politician of the old school, he has bulldog jowls, a dapper moustache, and a smoldering fire in the belly.

Dancing Days
March 02, 1995

George Stephanopoulos turned up at the Supreme Court last week, sitting next to Joel Klein, the deputy White House counsel. Their joint appearance seemed to illustrate the administration's anxiety about the case, Adarand v. Pena, in which the Court is being asked to strike down racial preferences in the construction industry that have been endorsed by every president since Nixon. But Klein assured me afterward that Stephanopoulos, who had never seen a Supreme Court argument before, had come along purely out of curiosity. He picked a good day.