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”

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).

Kashmir: Upheaval…and looking back

August 8, 2019: On August 6, the Indian government abolished the special status and limited autonomy Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed since soon after India became independent. The action was generally popular in India, but was greeted with shock and anger among Kashmiri muslims and in Pakistan. This article gives you my take on this recent action.

But we also offer a look back. As many of my readers know, Howard Schaffer tracked developments in Kashmir for much of his long Foreign Service career. The account he gave of his first trip to the Kashmir valley in 1964, linked here from the Web site of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, is fascinating in light of the subsequent history. Continue reading “Kashmir: Upheaval…and looking back”

Howard Schaffer Remembers John Kenneth Galbraith

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 Continue reading “Howard Schaffer Remembers John Kenneth Galbraith”