THAILAND: Paradise Lost

Once upon a time, even after the idyllic years of Anna and the King, Thailand was a faraway paradise called Siam. Its marketplaces floated on canals, and its rice fields stretched to the horizon. When someone felt troubled, his friends were likely to tell him, "Mai pen rai," which means, "Well, never mind."

Then came the war in Viet Nam. Thailand's pastoral peacefulness vanished as seven airfields for warplanes were built, and hotels for G.I.s on leave were thrown together. Since 1950, the U.S. has funneled some $3 billion into the economy...

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