Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category

In Memoriam, Stephen P. Cohen, 1936-2019


December 6, 2019: The first time Steve Cohen came into the lives of the Schaffer family was when he turned up in New Delhi as a grad student some time in the early/mid 1960s. My late husband, Howard Schaffer, was a young political officer at the U.S. Embassy; Steve was on his way to becoming one of the pioneers among the U.S. academics specializing in the region. What both men remembered was that it was freezing cold. Steve curled up in a blanket in Howard’s apartment to keep warm.

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Sri Lanka: The Indian Peace Keeping Force in Hindsight

Brookings India March 5, 2019

Brookings India hosted the first session in its series “Back to the Future” on March 5, 2019 in New Delhi. The  panel discussion examined the events leading up to the entrance and exit of the Indian Peace Keeping Force into Sri Lanka in 1987-90. Participants included four Indians who had been in critical policy-making positions in their government during this period, and Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, who provided a view from the United States, both on her own behalf and reflecting the experience of her late husband, Amb. Howard Schaffer. The discussion illustrates some of the different priorities in different parts of the Indian government; the sharp change in perspective when Ranasinghe Premadasa succeeded J.R. Jayawardene as Sri Lankan president; and a U.S. government position that supported the IPKF but remained quite detached.

A summary of the proceedings is here; a video of the session is here. Schaffer’s portion of the discussion is from 1:09 to 1:30 on the timeline of the video.

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Bangladesh: Two Independence Movements

Sheikh Mujib and his daughter, Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh Independence War Archives,


March 12, 2018: This article, the last that Howard and Teresita Schaffer wrote together, is adapted from a study commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C., to be published as part of a book called Independence Movements and their Aftermath: Self-Determination and the Struggle for Success. It is carried here by permission of CSIS. It summarizes Bangladesh’s two independence movements: the end of British rule in 1947, and liberation from Pakistan in 1971. It concludes that of the three biggest problems they confronted, Bangladesh’s early leaders succeeded beyond expectations in creating a unified and disciplined army and a dynamic economy, but the country is still struggling to craft a governing consensus.

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The Importance of Being Ernest


May 12, 2017:  We were saddened to learn of the death earlier this week of Ambassador Ernest Corea. A journalist turned diplomat, Ernest served with great skill in the 1980s as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States. The feat of his we most remember among many is his adroit management of the state visit of Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene to this country in June 1984 during Ronald Reagan’s first term in the White House. Ernest was living in retirement with his wife Indra in suburban Virginia when he passed away in his mid-eighties.

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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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Book Reviews – India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka


This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s  The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s reviews here.

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

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South Asia in US Strategic Context: India, Sri Lanka

Photo from flickr,

Read our take on U.S. strategic priorities in Asia, building a network of strong relationships around the region, prospects for India’s economic transformation, and the possibilities and challenges for the new government in Sri Lanka. See Mercy Kuo’s interview with Teresita Schaffer in The Diplomat.

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India and South Asia: Toward Economic Integration

from Flickr,

Since his dramatic swearing-in, in the presence of the leaders of most neighboring countries, India’s Prime Minister Modi has moved smartly ahead with economic initiatives aimed at knitting together one of the least integrated regions in the world, with India’s economy as an engine of growth. India needs to build on this base – and bring Pakistan into the process.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s article in the Brookings Impact series, published June 18, 2015.

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Bangladesh Border Agreement: A Milestone in Modi’s Good Neighbor Policy

Photo from

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May 13, 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success in winning unanimous parliamentary approval for a constitutional amendment designed to eliminate the vexing anomalies along India’s land boundary with Bangladesh is the latest example of his determination to improve New Delhi’s relations with its smaller South Asian neighbors. The amendment still needs to be ratified by the required one half of the Indian states, and that process may not be complete by the time Modi makes his first visit to Bangladesh as prime minister next month. But the broad support it received in both houses of Parliament and the praise Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, and the Bangladeshi public have given to Modi for his role in pushing it through will significantly help to make that visit another of the successful, high-visibility events that have been the hallmark of his foreign travels.

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Bangladesh: Political Confrontation

March 19, 2015: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (at R) holds the high cards in her Awami League government’s violent confrontation with an opposition coalition led by her longtime bitter rival Begum Khaleda Zia (at L), the leader of the Bangladesh National Party. But though Zia’s strategy of disrupting economic activity to force early fresh elections under a caretaker government has clearly failed, she is unwilling to give it up. Nor is an increasingly confident Hasina interested in coming to a compromise settlement, as some Dhaka-based diplomats have urged. She may in fact see the confrontation as an Read more

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