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.
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.
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”