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Patricia Lee Sharpe
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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 5 days ago 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
From time to time, climate experts express concerns about social unrest and violence should food supplies begin to suffer from repeated or extended droughts caused by global warming. Globe-spanning competition for scarce agricultural resources will make the water wars of the 19th century American West look like child’s play. It’s time to stage an irreversible coup against King Coal and replace the politicians beholden to the coal industry with representatives who know that it's cool to keep the earth cool. Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2014 at WhirledView
Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage isn’t the story of a reclusive sad sack. It’s a success story. And his pilgrimage? It’s a journey to understanding. Why did so many American critics fail to see this? Partly, I think, it’s because Murakami slyly invites the derogatory interpretation. He depicts Tsukuru as thoroughly brainwashed into believing that only flamingly colorful extroversion is real personality. But mostly, I believe, the critical blindness stems from the deeply-ingrained American preference for extroverts, a phenomenon that is brilliantly examined by Susan Cain in her recent book entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Even in intellectual circles, evidently, there’s little appreciation for quiet accomplishment. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2014 at WhirledView
By Patricia Lee Sharpe You gotta feel sorry for those ISIS guys. Young guys. In great physical condition. Yeah! Probably their equipment is in top working condition, by which I don’t mean the tanks and rocket launchers they captured from... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at WhirledView
Well, Mr. Barkell, this puts you in company with the Islamic State, a murderous bunch who delight in waterboarding and otherwise torturing hostages before beheading them. For the ghastly details read the front page story in the 12/26/14 New York Times, which quotes the lucky ones, who were ransomed. (Note: if no country ransomed its nationals, maybe the profitable hostage-taking would stop.)
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My words may have been inexact, as I indicated by not putting them in quotes, but I and others guffawed first when we heard Palin herself referring to Russia's visibility from Alaska as grounds for her being considered a Russia expert. Tina Fey's satire worked because it cut very close to the bone.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2014 on Does Vladimir Putin Dream of Attu? at WhirledView
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In 1995 the U.S. ratified the global Convention against Torture which the U.N. had adopted in 1984. Next month the U.S. has an opportunity to appear in Geneva and reaffirm before the entire world the executive order that Obama himself signed shortly after assuming office: the U.S. does not and will not engage in torture or cruel treatment of prisoners at home or anywhere else in the world. Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at WhirledView
Outside provocateurs more vicious than Pakistan’s India-hating military intelligence unit have announced that they are ready to disrupt the relative communal harmony that's characterized India's secular state in recent years. A branch of Al Qaeda has declared its intention to provoke the Muslims of India into terrorism and rebellion. For Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give encouragement to divisive Hindu bigots under such circumstances is playing with political fire in the most reprehensible way. Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at WhirledView
Maybe the U.S. should worry less about the border with a friendly Mexico and pay more attention to Tsar Vladimir’s game in the Arctic. Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at WhirledView
Should she or should she not accept Barack Obama’s invitation to join his Cabinet as Secretary of State? This was the first hard choice that Clinton confronted after she had lost the primary race. Her opponent, having gone on to win the presidency after a hotly contested primary fight, wanted her to join his team. There were alternatives. She could have retreated into stereotypical family life, she could have hung around nursing her wounds, she could have accepted any number of positions that would have kept her political viability intact—or she could accept the call of duty and help her rival succeed in the position she’d wanted for herself. Which did she choose? The latter. When the President asks for you help, she writes, you can’t turn him down. Win or lose, you have a duty to your country.Barack Obama will complete his second term, step down and spend the rest of his life as a respected former president. Hillary Clinton, her reputation enhanced by her four years in his cabinet as Secretary of State, will probably make another run for the presidency. Win or lose, she'll accept the results gracefully. Many aspects of the election process in the U.S. could use a little improvement, but the Obama/Chinton interaction is a good example of America at its best. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at WhirledView
The consequence of appeasement in Munich was a bigger war, which ultimately had to be fought. Lots of Russians were also marooned in the Baltic states. And elsewhere. Think about it. And think about this. If Ukraine gets neutered à la Finland (see the just previous WhirledView post) , who will ever trust the U.S. promises of protection (as after Ukraine gave up its stock of nuclear weapons) again? Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at WhirledView