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Patricia Lee Sharpe
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By Patricia Lee Sharpe India and Pakistan: imagine Siamese twins surgically separated into a pair of sovereign states with all the appropriate organs in (more or less) functioning order. And yet, decade after decade, reactionary religious leaders continue to fret... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2015 at WhirledView
Only honest responsible government (not externally imposed) in Arab countries will deprive ISIS of nourishment. Until then, the U.S. can win battles, with drones, with proxies, with whatever else comes to hand, but the Middle East will remain in turmoil. And terrorism in the U.S. will continue to be largely locally grown, a product of our own gun-happy culture. Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2015 at WhirledView
By Patricia Lee Sharpe The Greek island of Kos can’t accommodate all the refugees who land on its shores. Nor can Greece alone deal with all those who turn up on its sea-washed territories. Though incessantly berated for hard-heartedness, Europe,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at WhirledView
Now really, is it possible that Mullah Omar died in Pakistan’s largest city, only a few hours drive from Quetta, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan, where, it’s been suspected but never officially acknowledged, Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban rulers have been living in exile for lo! this past ten years or so, without the I.S.I. having the least hint of his demise there? Or of his initial disappearance from Quetta. Two years ago! This, too, is incredible. And knowing or strongly suspecting either, wouldn’t a trustworthy Pakistan have immediately informed the U.S., which has been hunting high and low for Mullah Omar? Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2015 at WhirledView
Maybe, as we renegotiate our relations with Iran, we should also be asking why Saudi Arabia is not working to create a more peaceful world instead of stirring up sectarian animosity. Perhaps this relationship, too, needs to be renegotiated. A little more distance would seem to be in order. Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2015 at WhirledView
"Tangerines" is set in that tiny “nation” on the shores of the Black Sea, one of the ethnic enclaves that Vladimir Putin pried loose from Georgia just as he is now subverting as much of Ukraine as he can, en route to restoring, it it kills him, the imperial reach of the Soviet Union. It took a mini war to do detach Abkhazia from Georgia. Tangerines illustrates the divide-and-conquer tactics and the human cost of making ex-satellites pay for the temerity of refusing close association with Russia once they had a choice of allies. So "Tangerines" is a very political film, but it is more important than that. It is a very powerful anti-war film. Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2015 at WhirledView
What credible aspirational dream (or better yet—reality) can the U.S. match against the dream of an invigorated Caliphate? Is there room, today, for everyone to be meaningfully, comfortably included in that American dream? Lacking inspiring answers to these questions, there is no way the U.S. can compete with ISIS. Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2015 at WhirledView
If the U.S. is going to deliver lethal force, the task of identifying those who will die should not be delegated to those who do not necessarily share our values or objectives. Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2015 at WhirledView
Why do I write as if I believe that the version of the events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden as put forth by Hersh is indeed true and reliable? For one thing, Hersh is a distinguished journalist and stubborn researcher. He isn’t going to tarnish a stellar reputation by publishing trash. Secondly, the London Review is not a tabloid surviving on scandal. It will have checked Hersh’s account very carefully before (gleefully, no doubt) publishing it. Thirdly, the official version of the Bin Laden assassination never did hold water, as I wrote when it first happened. At the time, I doubted the claim that the Pakistani military could have been unaware of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad. I also thought it highly peculiar that the U.S. helicopters could have reached their target without being detected by Pakistani elements. Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at WhirledView
If the U.S. eventually signs a hard-negotiated agreement with Iran and the rest of the P5, it will probably stick, even if the Democrats lose the presidential race in 2016 and Bibi Netanyahu howls, in which case the latter should internalize this: no American likes to be pushed around by anybody. Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2015 at WhirledView
Hindi, to hundreds of millions of Indians is a foreign language. If it became the sole national language, non-Hindi speakers and their children would be severely disadvantaged in seeking out-of-state jobs and education. However, so long as all ambitious Indians must be able to handle English effectively, the playing ground is level for the entire population. It may be a tough hurdle, it may be an odd hurdle that has its roots in the colonial past, but it’s the same hurdle for everyone. Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at WhirledView
The U.S. embassy is threatening to borrow a leaf from its protocols in Beijing: measure the pollution and release the results, daily, to anyone who wants to see them. Not surprisingly, the government of India is responding as angrily to this idea as China did. However, it may be that the well-publicized American data helped to nudge China toward a more healthful policy on air pollution. Hopefully the same may happen in Delhi. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at WhirledView
At this point Narendra Modi still has wiggle room. He still has a choice. He can concentrate on the economy or he can nourish his right wing following by giving the Hindu revivalists free rein. So far India has been lucky. Indian Muslims have been fairly impervious to the blandishments of violent salafist Islam, but reasonable people can be pushed only so far, and religious war in India would make the blood-drenched unrest in the Middle East seem like foreplay. The good news is that India is indeed a democracy. Modi will be voted out if he can’t deliver the economic goods. Let’s hope that too much damage isn’t done before that happens—before he succeeds in creating a more vibrant economy, before the Hindu right does irreparable harm. Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at WhirledView
The taxi driver anecdote gets too much ridicule....Here's the unexpected reward of my latest cabbie encounter: the microcosmic family history of the bearded and turbaned Sikh who drove me to Lodi Gardens, one of my favorite sites in Delhi. Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2015 at WhirledView
Bill, I have to confess that I started paying attention to Cuba while I was serving in the Dominican Republic, finding it so fascinating I've tried to stay informed even as I worked principally in Asia and Africa. However, I've been watching the atrophy of PD tradecraft over the years since 1999, and (with Pat K.) felt this was a good time to show how it's done, if taken seriously. Our feeling was that the pattern can be applied anywhere, with appropriate attention paid to context of course. I'd be happy to be in touch with Wayne, whom I'll contact via the email address you suggested. As for contact with me, since I don't want to put my personal email in this text, you can reach me by using the Whirledview "contact us" address and then I can reply personally. The same goes for Pat K. Anyhow, thanks for the kindly reinforcing words; putting the piece together took a good amount of time.
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The U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the terms for normalizing relations. This means it’s not too early to think of what an appropriate American public diplomacy strategy might look like....Realistic expectations, consummate professional skills and imagination—these are three strong, solid pillars upon which a powerful public diplomacy strategy may be built as the U.S. and Cuba reconnect. Above all, at this point in history, it makes more sense to look toward the future than to dwell on the past. Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at WhirledView
A Review Article and Business Proposal By Patricia Lee Sharpe Remember the brouhaha over the French politician who waylaid a maid in a classy New York hotel? It was a colossally sordid encounter that ruined the guy’s reputation, career and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at WhirledView
Courtney, I'm deeply sympathetic to the instances you cite, but the line I draw is here: I'd put death and extortion threats beyond the pale; otherwise, I belong to the sticks-and-stones school. Any censorship is a too slippery slope for me. There's always a "good" reason to shut people up. So: hone your debate skills and reply in verbal (or voting) mode. However, if you raise a finger to hurt anyone (or credibly threaten to hurt someone) you deserve immediate legal restraint and prosecution.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Je Suis Charlie at WhirledView
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Courtenay, I'm not so sure that the famous and important Holmes decision applies in the Charlie case. Meanwhile, you might wish to read three previous posts in which I explored related issues:,, html
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2015 on Je Suis Charlie at WhirledView
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Less than a month into his presidency Maithripala Sirisena seems free of the Ravana-complex, and he’s saying the right things. For instance: “What this country needs is not a [demon] king, but a real human being.” Better yet, in his first address to the nation he promised to lead the country back to a parliamentary system of governance. Nice words. And they come with promising deeds as well. Sirisena has replaced the much resented Governor of the Northern Province. Not only has he installed a career diplomat instead of a general who fought against the Tamils in the civil war, that very diplomat served on a Truth Commission in favor of investigating abuses during the last phase of the war. But these are early days. It won’t be easy to make reparations to the Tamils without alienating the Sinhalese majority. We can only hope that Mahinda Rajapaksa won’t have the last laugh. And how about China? It’s said that Sirisena plans to make some changes in that relationship. Any reduction in Chinese influence should make New Delhi happy—and Washington, too. Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at WhirledView
By Patricia Lee Shape By all accounts the next edition of Charlie Hebdo is coming out on schedule. That's the best reply to those who don't understand satire or the need for the full exercise of free speech, even when... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at WhirledView
The serendipitous conjunction of U.S. and Russian foreign policy makes for a beautiful public diplomacy message: as Vladimir Putin’s Russia fights viciously to hold on to Ukraine, its uppity Cold War satellite, the U.S. under Barack Obama looks to the future, re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at WhirledView
May it be, for all of us, a year of good health and good cheer and hopes largely achieved, hopes for ourslves and for a more harmonious world. Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2014 at WhirledView
If rhe torture was all so legal, why did it have to be done in far away places—and in secret? Why was the practice denied long beyond the time when denial was anything but laughable? The secrecy is the fatal clue that these guys weren’t proud of what they were doing. They knew it was shameful. They cowered under a flimsy legal cover—think of wet tee shirt contests—and then, in many cases, they didn’t even do it themselves. They gave the dirty work to sub-contractors. Maybe they thought that not being in the torture chamber themselves would shield them from culpability should anyone have the courage, eventually, to prosecute them for crimes against humanity. Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at WhirledView
In the good old days, we American public diplomats proudly told the story of our country, warts and all, because we believed—we really did!—that, warts or not, the U.S. offered a very special paradigm that was worth copying. Maybe, with the Senate’s cleansing release of the torture report, the U.S. has turned a corner. If we can begin to be honest with ourselves, openly repudiating a reprehensible past, sincerely working to eliminate deep-seated racial prejudice once and for all and severely mitigate the role of wealth in politics, we’ll regain the soft power we need to regain at least some of our former status in the world. Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at WhirledView