Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category

Bangladesh’s Grameen Saga

March 3, 2011: If an annual prize was given to the government that most effectively shoots itself in the foot, Bangladesh would be the odds-on favorite to win the award for 2011 for its sacking of Mohammed Yunus as managing director of the Grameen Bank.

Read full article at Bangladesh’s Grameen Saga.

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The present situation (in Kashmir) favors India

Teresita C. Schaffer and Howard B. Schaffer speak with Samyukta Lakshman about the relationship between the U.S. and South Asia.

On Kashmir, I think the U.S. government does not favor Pakistan. It has taken a long time for Indian opinion to believe that view. I think it goes back to the Kargil attack by the Pakistanis across the Line of Control in 1999. To Pakistan’s dismay and India’s surprise, [the U.S.] supported the Indian position and declared that the sanctity of the LoC must be recognised by Pakistan.

Originally published by Gateway House on February 8, 2011.

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Indian Ocean Geostrategic Environment: The View from South Asia

A paper by Teresita C. Schaffer on the Indian Ocean’s geostrategic importance.

For the countries of South Asia, three themes dominate the way they look on the Indian Ocean: India; China; and economics. Beyond that, their interest reflects geography, economics, political relationships, and each country’s extra-regional role. For India, the Indian Ocean has huge and growing strategic significance, and it figures importantly in relations with the United States.. For Pakistan, it is an arena in their epic rivalry with India. The strategic perspectives of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are more inward-looking, but the major significance of the Indian Ocean is economic.

Dated February 1, 2011. Read the entire paper.

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Richard Holbrooke, an American Legend

An obituary by Teresita C. Schaffer of American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, highlighting in particular his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indians probably remember Holbrooke’s last assignment—Afghanistan and Pakistan—principally because of what it excluded: he did not have responsibility for India. He avoided any role on India-Pakistan issues, recognizing that this could only complicate his exceptionally difficult mandate. In a way, it is a shame he never had any direct involvement in U.S.-India ties. In the years before he took up his Afghanistan-Pakistan job, he visited India frequently, and was fascinated by the way it was emerging on the global scene. His twin passions for peacemaking and for power responded to different aspects of India’s post-Cold War foreign policy at a time when the United States and India were discovering how close their international interests had become.

Originally published by the News India Times on December 17, 2010.

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South Asia Book Reviews, Part 3

A review essay by Teresita C. Schaffer of five books about South Asia: Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, by Thomas Barfield; The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan, by Ronald E. Neumann; Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field, by Antonio Giustozzi; Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia: The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict, by Peter R. Lavoy; and Making Sense of Pakistan, by Farzana Shaikh.

Antonio Giustozzi has put together a remarkable collection of essays on the Taliban. But do not open this book with the expectation that it will make the Afghan tangle simple or clear. On the contrary, its real contribution is that it complicates the mental models we have of Afghanistan’s tribes, the Taliban movement, and their relationships with the Afghan government, its Western friends and Pakistan.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the October-November 2010 issue of Survival. Read the entire essay.

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A Difficult Road Ahead: India’s Policy on Afghanistan

Teresita Schaffer and Arjun Verma analyze India’s policy on Afghanistan:

Following the decision by U.S. president Barack Obama in December 2009 to announce that the United States will begin to reduce its presence in Afghanistan by July 2011, the region has taken this as a signal of U.S. disengagement. India’s goals are a dismantled Afghan Taliban; an inclusive, democratic state with normal relations with India; and better transport and economic ties through Afghanistan into Central Asia. India has been a major contributor of economic aid, but has been kept at arm’s length on security issues. As Afghan president Hamid Karzai pursues reconciliation efforts with militants and Pakistan attempts to tilt this process in its favor, New Delhi must recalibrate its strategic calculus in Afghanistan.

First published in the CSIS South Asia Monitor series on August 1, 2010. Afghanistan India

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Sri Lanka: Talking Past Each Other

Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE in May 2009, which should have been a moment of opportunity as well as triumph both for the country and for relations with the United States, is in danger of leading to a downward spiral. Sri Lanka and the United States have sharply different priorities and are talking past each other. The result is not just a sour bilateral relationship in which the U.S. has little impact on the Sri Lankan policies it finds most objectionable, but an adjustment in Sri Lanka’s regional policies that could affect Indian Ocean security.


See full text of Teresita Schaffer’s article dated July 2010.

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Closing Argument: Neighbourhood Watch

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer on the relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbors.

The debate over the end game in Afghanistan heated up after US president Barack Obama’s December 2009 West Point speech and the London Conference in late January 2010. Two out of four major potential elements of a strategy are getting headlines: the military approach to counter-insurgency and the ‘civilian surge’, including both economic aid and support for better governance. A third, the issue of whether, and under what circumstances, to reintegrate or include current Taliban personalities in the final government, is highly controversial. But policymakers in the United States and other NATO countries need to start paying more attention to the fourth: the relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours, which could undo whatever gains Afghanistan achieves internally. Addressing the neighbourhood needs more than a handy formula; it will require continuing and sustained diplomatic effort.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the June-July 2010 issue of Survival. Read the entire article.

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South Asia Book Reviews, Part 2

A review essay by Teresita C. Schaffer of five books about South Asia: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan, by Seth G. Jones; Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda, by Gretchen Peters; India: The Emerging Giant, by Arvind Panagariya; Bangladesh and Pakistan: Flirting with Failure in South Asia, by William B. Milam; and India and Counterinsurgency: Lessons Learned, edited by Sumit Ganguly and David P. Fidler.

William Milam, who served as US ambassador to Bangladesh and Pakistan, has looked at both countries side by side in an attempt to understand why both have had such troubled politics and such uneven economic performance. Three themes dominate the book: the problem of the army and politics, the challenge of instituting democratic governance (as distinguished from democratic elections), and the difficulty of defining what Islam means in both countries’ national life and identity.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the October-November 2009 issue of Survival. Read the entire essay.

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Triumphalism and Uncertainty in Post-Prabhakaran Sri Lanka

An article by Elizabeth Laferriere and Teresita C. Schaffer on the political climate in Sri Lanka following the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The decision of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to lay down their arms and the May 19 death of their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran at the hands of the Sri Lankan army marked the end of 25 years of intermittent bloody conflict that had convulsed the island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa started his victory speech in Tamil promising the countryís beleaguered minorities peace and assuring them that only the LTTE were considered enemies. The deep suspicions resulting from decades of conflict and the triumphalist atmosphere in Colombo, however, raise doubts about the prospects for conciliation. The government is not talking about constitutional change, much less about the federalism desired by the Tamil community. Rajapaksa is likely to use this moment of triumph to institutionalize his heroic status through new elections. The window of opportunity for creating a new political consensus extending to the country’s non-Sinhalese communities could be fleeting.

Originally published in the Center for Strategic & International Studies‘ South Asia Monitor on July 1, 2009. Read the entire article.

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