Diminished Expectations

For nearly a year after 9/11, in conversations throughout Southeast Asia, I encountered sympathy and admiration for the U.S. "Where are you from?" a diplomat or a street vendor would ask. "America," I'd reply, "New York City." This would elicit expressions of outrage at the terrorist attacks, generous inquiries into the well-being of my friends and family and then perhaps a mention of the war in Afghanistan. From the impoverished or oppressed, a request often followed: please tell your President to send help. A faint belief that he might was detectable. A sense that he could, through benign gestures or a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!