February 28, 2011

The Limits of Influence: America’s Role in Kashmir

Since gaining independence in 1947 India and Pakistan have clashed repeatedly over Kashmir, raising fears within the international community of a larger war, perhaps even a nuclear flashpoint. In The Limits of Influence veteran U.S. diplomat Howard B. Schaffer illuminates the U.S. view of the conflict and gives an insider’s account of Washington’s efforts over the last thirty years to forge a settlement.

Drawing on interviews with senior American officials, archival research, and decades of personal experience in South Asia, Schaffer examines three generations of U.S. policy, beginning from 1948 when fighting erupted in Kashmir. He traces Washington’s interventions between 1948 and 1963 to resolve the dispute—efforts which culminated in a major initiative to promote negotiations between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Sino-Indian war of 1962. The negotiations failed, generating much ill-will in the region. For the next fifteen years U.S. policymakers took a hands-off approach, but since 1989 when the conflict in the Valley entered a new and violent phase, Washington renewed its efforts to help defuse the crisis.
Schaffer argues the time may be ripe for a fresh US effort to help resolve the Kashmir dispute, highlighting the principles that should guide any future efforts, as well as the history and obstacles that US policymakers must overcome.

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