Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category

US Voters: Foreign Concerns are Short Term, Economic

By Steve Rhodes,

The October 22 debate between Romney and Obama presented a badly distorted view of U.S. foreign policy. Their discussion does offer a perceptive glimpse of the most urgent short-term international worries of the American electorate.

The defining image from the October 22 debate between President Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is of the two candidates passionately disputing their prescriptions for the U.S. domestic economy. The moderator, veteran TV journalist Bob Schieffer, caught the spirit of the evening with his final words before inviting the debaters to make their closing comments – “I think we all love teachers.” A visitor from Mars might be forgiven for not realizing that this was a debate on foreign policy.

Read our article in The Hindu, October 27, 2012.

Leave a reply

Book Reviews: Lashkar-e-Taiba; Indian Military History

Photo by Todd Huffman,

Two very different, but quite compelling, books on the military problems of the region: Stephen Tankel’s Storming the World Stage traces the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its complex relationship with the Pakistan army, concluding that this is unlikely to change; and Srinath Raghavan’s War and Peace in Modern India recounts in elegant detail the diplomatic and military history of the conflicts that peppered the first fifteen years of India’s independence.

Read both – but to get more of the flavor of them, read the review by Teresita Schaffer.

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


Leave a reply

Book reviews: Boo, Inskeep and Berenschot on South Asian Cities

Mumbai, from Flickr,

Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an unforgettable walk through the Annawadi neighborhood, next to Mumbai’s airport. Ward Berenschot’s Riot Politics links the ever-present search for patronage in India’s cities to the grisly communal violence that breaks out there from time to time . Steve Inskeep’s Instant City weaves together the ethnic stew, political infighting and scarcity that make up Karachi.

To whet your appetite for all three, see Teresita Schaffer’s review. This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: .


Leave a reply

Hillary Clinton’s Whirlwind Visit to Bangladesh

US Government photo,

May 11, 2012: After the tumult that surrounded her visit to Beijing, when Chinese dissident activist Chen Guangcheng’s defection stole center stage, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 20-hour stopover in Dhaka must have been a welcome change of scene. The visit provided a highly successful public diplomacy spotlight on U.S.-Bangladesh relations and showed Hillary Clinton at her most engaging. It also provided an opportunity for quiet discussions about some of the problems that are likely to intensify as Bangladesh navigates an increasingly turbulent and controversial pre-election period. Read more

Leave a reply

Manmohan Singh and Asif Zardari: A Hopeful Encounter

Photo by radicaleye,

April 10, 2012: Four months ago, Pakistani president Asif Zardari’s trip to Dubai for medical treatment sparked intense rumors of a military coup. Last weekend, Zardari lunched in Delhi with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and was photographed wearing a flamboyant turban at a renowned Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan. What happened and what does it mean?

No one, least of all two longtime observers of the South Asia scene like us, expected to see India-Pakistan relations transformed by this Easter Sunday luncheon in New Delhi, the first meeting in a bilateral setting between the top leaders of India and Pakistan in seven years. But the brief summit session usefully highlighted the accelerating strengthening of ties over the past year or so. It also raised hopes that further progress can be achieved if the two sides persist in the sensible, unspectacular approach they have recently followed. Read more

Leave a reply

Sri Lanka and the United States: Post-Geneva Repair

Photo by Nimal,

The meeting in Geneva is over, leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s time to put Sri Lanka’s political rebuilding on track, and repair U.S.-Sri Lanka relations in the process.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s op-ed published in the Sunday Times, Colombo, April 1, 2012.

Leave a reply

Colombo, Geneva and Washington

Photo from flickr,

At the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Sri Lankan and U.S. governments are facing off this week over a resolution that the U.S. has proposed but neither side wanted. Sri Lanka’s response to the events at the end of its toxic war – the subject of that resolution – has become the driving issue in Sri Lanka’s relations with the United States. The resolution may not have much impact on the reconciliation process that is so critical for Sri Lanka’s future. For the sake of Sri Lanka, the region and indeed Washington, it is important that reconciliation actually take place.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s article published in The Hindu March 22, 2012.

Leave a reply

Making Peace When Disaster Strikes: Sri Lanka, Aceh, and the 2004 Tsunami

Photo by S. Baker,

On the day after Christmas 2004, a powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake under the Indian Ocean off of northern Sumatra sent massive waves crashing against the coastlines of countries as far away as Kenya and Madagascar. This tsunami killed or left missing some 226,000 people and displaced an estimated 1.7 million more in fourteen Asian and African countries. Damage to property—infrastructure, residences, government buildings, and commercial establishments—was enormous. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and the Maldives were the most seriously affected. The cata­strophic tsunami boosted on efforts to bring about a negotiated settlements of the insurgency then raging in Aceh, Indonesia; it had the opposite effect in Sri Lanka.

Read full report by Howard Schaffer, released by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Leave a reply

Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir: A grand bargain?

Khyber Pass, photo from flickr,

Kashmir, photo from flickr,

With U.S. relations in Pakistan at a low point and the two countries’ strategic disagreement over priorities in Afghanistan on full display, it is time to review U.S. strategic options. One that deserves a close look is a grand bargain: give Pakistan what it wants in Afghanistan – but on two conditions: Pakistan assumes responsibility for preventing terrorism out of Afghanistan, and Pakistan agrees to settle Kashmir along the present geographic lines. This is not a panacea, nor would it be easy to execute. But it addresses the principal stumbling block to the current U.S. strategy, and provides an incentive to settle the region’s longest-running dispute.

Read our article published on October 20, 2011.

Leave a reply

Bangladesh-India: Great Expectations, Limited Results

Photo by Justin Brockie,

September 15, 2011: For diplomats like us, there are few things worse than a highly touted bilateral summit meeting between two friendly national leaders that at the last minute fails to meet either the expectations of the summiteers themselves or the inflated hopes of their publics. These setbacks are not supposed to happen. According to the “diplomatic rule book,” basic agreements are worked out in advance by subordinate officials. These are then ratified by the leaders, perhaps with minor changes.  If major outstanding problems are not ironed out before the summit begins, as sometimes happens, the two government try to limit expectations, not to encourage them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s September 6-7 visit to Bangladesh is a case study of a summit whose preparation didn’t follow these rules. Read more

Leave a reply
Page 3 of 6«12345»...Last »