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.
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 Continue reading “Abbottabad Investigation: Don’t Hold your Breath”
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. Continue reading “Diplomacy in Public – The India Cables”
The Ray Davis Case – Kicking the Can, Again
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. Continue reading “The Ray Davis Case: Kicking the Can, Again”
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. Continue reading “Marc Grossman Returns to Pakistan”