In Memoriam: Howard Schaffer: 1929-2017

Photo by TCSchaffer

February 20, 2018: Howard and I started South Asia Hand together in late 2010. We had both retired from the Foreign Service, having spent much of our careers working in or on South Asia. He introduced me to the region. We took great joy in the friends and colleagues who hailed from the region or had joined us in making it a career focus. We hoped to convey to the next generation of South Asia hands our passion, as well as the remarkable change in the region’s ties with the United States since we first got involved.


By that time, Howard was 81, and had earned the title of “elder statesman.” He was the family historian, but above all, he was the master story-teller. He wrote about his legendary diplomatic colleagues, about how his own love of words played out in the subcontinent, about what had gone right and wrong in the tangled Continue reading “In Memoriam: Howard Schaffer: 1929-2017”

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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Pakistan and the U.S.: A More Turbulent Ride

The strategic drivers of U.S.-Pakistan relations with Donald Trump in the White House will be similar to those of the Bush and Obama years: Afghanistan, peace in the subcontinent, and terrorism. The style of the new administration is likely to make the policy process more volatile and aid more uncertain, and there will be less opportunity to develop economic relations as a buffer for turbulent political ties. The flag-waver in the picture expresses the hopeful side: his jacket says “Long Live Pakistan.”

See Teresita Schaffer’s article in Asia Policy, part of a Roundtable on U.S.-Asia Relations (Asia Policy, no. 23, January 2017; Pakistan essay starts on p. 49). Reprinted by permission of Asia Policy.

Howard Schaffer Remembers John Kenneth Galbraith

February 16, 2017: This essay on the redoubtable John Kenneth Galbraith starts a series of occasional pieces remembering American diplomats with whom I worked over the years on U.S. relations with South Asia. I’ll be looking mostly at the times I served at our embassies in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, some fifteen years in all. My focus will be on the character, aspirations, and activities of these diplomats rather than on the policies they advocated. I plan to write only about those who have passed away.

Galbraith, the Harvard University professor whom President John F. Kennedy appointed ambassador to India in 1961, was an iconic – and iconoclastic – figure in both Continue reading “Howard Schaffer Remembers John Kenneth Galbraith”

India and the Trump Administration’s Agenda

From Flickr,

February 7, 2017: Indians are optimistic about how their bilateral relationship with the United States will fare under the Trump administration. They expect important changes in the U.S. geopolitical outlook. The resulting disruption may bring dangers but also opportunities for India. In assessing its policies for a world of much greater uncertainty, the basic foreign policy goals we wrote about in India at the High Table will largely survive, though India, as we anticipated, may need to tweak how it thinks about strategic autonomy. Some aspects of the new administration’s approach to the U.S. domestic economy may wind up having an impact on international trade as well – and hence on India.

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