Archive for the ‘Diplomats’ Category

Howard Schaffer Remembers John Kenneth Galbraith

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February 16, 2017: This essay on the redoubtable John Kenneth Galbraith starts a series of occasional pieces remembering American diplomats with whom I worked over the years on U.S. relations with South Asia. I’ll be looking mostly at the times I served at our embassies in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, some fifteen years in all. My focus will be on the character, aspirations, and activities of these diplomats rather than on the policies they advocated. I plan to write only about those who have passed away.

Galbraith, the Harvard University professor whom President John F. Kennedy appointed ambassador to India in 1961, was an iconic – and iconoclastic – figure in both Read more

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Harold H. Saunders: Remembering a Peacemaker

Photo by permission of Kettering Foundation

March 10, 2016: When Hal Saunders died last weekend, the world lost one of the most creative peace negotiators it has ever known. He is best remembered as the man who gave Jimmy Carter’s vision of an Israel-Egypt peace practical form at Camp David. Having worked for him both during and after his distinguished government career, we think it’s important to highlight two other characteristics that have been lost in most of the early remembrances. First, Hal was an extraordinary boss and colleague. Second, his government career – a couple of decades at the top of the official pyramid – was only the beginning of his contribution to both understanding and doing peacemaking.

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Sahibzada Yaqub Khan 1920-2016: End of an Era

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January 27, 2016: For diplomatic old-timers like us, Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was both a legend and a central part of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship we both worked on for years. His death at 95 leaves the world a poorer and less colorful place. We will let others write about his storied career – scion of the princely house of Rampur in central India, Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army, ambassador to the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, and several times foreign minister of Pakistan. What we would like to share are some stories that illustrate the talents and high professional standing of the unique gentleman we knew.

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Remembering the Eagle

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June 8, 2011: Lawrence Eagleburger’s death on June 4 took away one of the giants of American diplomacy, as well as one of the great characters of the U.S. Foreign Service. Generations of U.S. diplomats were professionally reared on Eagleburger stories. He inspired terror, admiration and pride in more or less equal parts. His concern for South Asia was ordinarily limited, but he left his imprint – and some great stories – nonetheless.

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Abbottabad Investigation: Don’t Hold your Breath

 

May 15, 2011: Pakistan-watchers like ourselves were hardly surprised last week when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told the Pakistan parliament that the government’s investigation of the May 1 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad would be conducted by a military commission headed by a three-star army general, not, as some had hoped, by a more broadly based body that would include civilians. The Pakistan military has always been zealous in securing its own professional interests. It does not countenance interference by civilian officials in a matter of such importance Read more

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Diplomacy in Public – The India Cables

 Diplomacy in Public – The India Cables

March 23, 2011: The latest best seller on the Indian political scene, The Hindu’s daily dose of “India Cables” from Wikileaks, paints a depressing picture of the seamy underside of Indian politics. It also shows how American diplomats carry out the basic tasks of diplomacy – how they report, analyze events, assess their impact on U.S. interests, make recommendations to their government, and advocate U.S. positions both to foreign officials and to people who have influence on policymaking.  

Both in the India Cables and in leaks from other countries disclosed earlier, the most titillating revelations and the greatest embarrassment come from reporting messages sent by diplomats who are simply doing their job. Read more

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The Ray Davis Case: Kicking the Can, Again

The Ray Davis Case – Kicking the Can, Again  

Lahore High Court, by Omer Wazir (Flickr)

 

March 14: The much anticipated deadline the Lahore High Court set for the Pakistan government to clarify its position on the diplomatic immunity of CIA contractor Raymond Davis has come and gone, and once again Islamabad has been unwilling to take a stand. Six weeks after he shot two Pakistanis he accused of trying to rob him, Davis remains in a Lahore prison and faces trial for murder.

In this fresh episode of its continuing effort to kick a dangerous can down the road, the government reportedly told the high court that its foreign ministry had not clearly stated that Davis was entitled to the immunity Washington has outspokenly insisted he enjoys. In another instance of can-kicking, the high court then ruled that the immunity issue could be decided by the lower court that tries him. Read more

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Marc Grossman Returns to Pakistan

Marc Grossman Returns to Pakistan

March 7, 2011 – Press reports today that Marc Grossman was holding top level talks in Pakistan with Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani and other senior leaders recalled for us his earlier incarnation in Islamabad in the late 1970s. In those distant days the seasoned diplomat who is now Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was a lowly first-tour officer on a rotating assignment at the U.S. embassy there. He worked successively for both of us, first with Tezi in the economic section, then with Howie in the political. We wrote his first efficiency reports. As we remember, we gave him high marks and predicted that he would go far in the Foreign Service. We were right on target. Read more

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Requiem in Pakistan

 

Requiem in Pakistan  

March 6, 2011: Two assassinations in Pakistan: in January, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, by one of his bodyguards; last week, Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, outside his Islamabad home, with the Pakistani Taliban claiming responsibility. Both had called for changes in Pakistan’s blasphemy law, passed to put the power of the State, including capital punishment, behind a ban on offense to Islam, but frequently used to settle scores and otherwise oppress non-Muslims or, more generally, opponents. Read more

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Richard Holbrooke, an American Legend

An obituary by Teresita C. Schaffer of American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, highlighting in particular his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indians probably remember Holbrooke’s last assignment—Afghanistan and Pakistan—principally because of what it excluded: he did not have responsibility for India. He avoided any role on India-Pakistan issues, recognizing that this could only complicate his exceptionally difficult mandate. In a way, it is a shame he never had any direct involvement in U.S.-India ties. In the years before he took up his Afghanistan-Pakistan job, he visited India frequently, and was fascinated by the way it was emerging on the global scene. His twin passions for peacemaking and for power responded to different aspects of India’s post-Cold War foreign policy at a time when the United States and India were discovering how close their international interests had become.

Originally published by the News India Times on December 17, 2010.

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