Hours before Adm. William Fallon, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, toured tumultuous East Timor Friday, the airport remained closed, the result of a deadly clash with rioters.
The newly independent country is in danger of becoming a failed state. Australian peacekeepers are trying to hold it together, but 10 percent of its housing has burned down.
East Timor comprises half an island between Australia and Indonesia, with bountiful natural resources. It won independence from Indonesia in 2002. But it remains the poorest nation in Asia.
Like other international observers who have come here, Pacific Command officials left the country concluding that East Timor is a failed state, with leaders who are unlikely to fix it.