Phyllis Oakley: In Memoriam

April 18, 2022: When Phyllis Elliott joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1957, at

Courtesy of American Acad. of Diplomacy

age 23, she expected a short career. She was soon to marry Robert Oakley, a man from her “basic training” class – in South Asia, where both spent a lot of time, they would be called “batch-mates.” Under the rules then in effect, she would then be forced out of the service. But she did not expect that her career would involve being spokesman for the State Department or twice Assistant Secretary of State. She was half right.

Continue reading “Phyllis Oakley: In Memoriam”

India, China, and the U.S.: Perspectives


December 23, 2021:  US China Education Trust  and Peking University co-sponsored a year-long series of Webinars on American, Chinese and Indian perspectives on the Indo-Pacific. culminating in the launch of a report in December 2021. Examining several decades of major economic change in the region and the accelerating effect of the COVID-19  pandemic, the report underlines the vital importance of seeking ways to cooperate, and the difficulty of doing so at this time.

Read the report, by Teresita Schaffer




Book Reviews 2021

October 18, 2021: This year’s South Asia books yielded four

My favorite Delhi bookshop. Flickr, 7040848833_18078a1a8f_c

reviews for Survival, the journal of the International Institute of Strategic Studies. One, Shivshankar Menon’s India and Asian Geopolitics, is about the strategic outlook this lion of Indian foreign policy recommends; one,  Debashish Roy Chowdhury and

John Keane’s How to Kill a Democracy, is a rather gloomy look at India’s democracy – but it is really a sobering look at the challenges that beset all democracies today. The other two are about Pakistani politics, one by a group of political scientists (Pakistan Political Parties, and the other, by the BBC’s Owen-Bennett-Jones, is The Bhutto Dynasty. 

Read the review.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Available online at:

Teresita C. Schaffer

Teresita C. Schaffer is an expert on economic, political, security and risk management trends in India and Pakistan, as well as on the region that extends from Afghanistan through Bangladesh. She is a Senior Adviser to McLarty Associates, a Washington-based international strategic advisory firm. She also teaches a course on Practicing Diplomacy Abroad at Georgetown.

In a 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Schaffer was recognized as one of the State Department’s leading experts on South Asia, where she spent a total of 11 years. Her other career focus was on international economic issues. She served in U.S. embassies in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, and from 1992-95 as U.S. Ambassador in Sri Lanka. During her assignments in the State Department in Washington, she was Director of the Office of International Trade and later Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia, at that time the senior South Asia policy position in the State Department. Continue reading “Teresita C. Schaffer”

Kissinger and the Rise of China

Photo by T. Schaffer

My Foreign Service career was devoted mainly to South Asia and economic issues. However, it did afford me a “worm’s eye view” of some aspects of the U.S. opening to China and Henry Kissinger’s historic visit there in 1971.

Read my take on these dramatic events in a chapter I wrote for A New Cold War: Henry Kissinger and the Rise of China, edited by Sanjaya Baru and Rahul Sharma (Noida:HarperCollins, 2021).