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Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes Hardcover – February 18, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

Review


“Diplomacy, like any other human activity, has costs as well as benefits. Sadly, too many people believe that diplomacy is cost-free, or fail to understand that merely sitting down together at a negotiating table may simply be shifting the focus of conflict. These are the people who most need to read Dancing with the Devil, but probably won’t. The rest of us should.”

John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 2005–2006

“Because of the current American negotiations with Iran about nuclear weapons, Michael Rubin’s path-breaking history, Dancing with the Devil, could not be more timely. In this illuminating book, Rubin shows how fifty years of dancing with devils by Democratic and Republican administrations has more often than not led to failure rather than success, war instead of peace. Rubin warns us that when America negotiates naïvely with rogue nations and terrorist groups, we pay dearly.”

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

“Beautifully written in clean and direct prose, thorough in its history and analysis, and compelling in its clear-eyed recommendations, this book will become the trade and textbook standard for how a free country should deal with hostile states and regimes. Here is due respect for the subtle arts of diplomacy as well as a necessary recognition of its limits.”

William J. Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, fellow of the Claremont Institute, and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Morning in America

“When and how should the United States engage diplomatically with difficult, dangerous, ‘rogue’ regimes? No question is more important for America’s relations with the world. In Dancing with the Devil, Michael Rubin provides a deeply considered, clearly written, politically controversial, and intellectually compelling answer. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of American foreign policy.”

Michael Mandelbaum, author of The Road to Global Prosperity and professor of American foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

“Rubin’s book is one of the most comprehensive histories yet of the risks of US diplomatic engagement with rogue and extremist regimes, and should serve as a warning to naïve policymakers who do not understand their political pathologies.”

Andrew Natsios, Executive Professor and Director, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service

"Everyone who engages or negotiates with rogue states, or any other nation, should be required to read Dancing with the Devil. Rubin’s assessment of rogue states is a compelling argument for utilizing all elements of our national power. The North Korea experience alone highlights how diplomacy can just as easily exacerbate as resolve conflict."

LTG Dan Petrosky, U.S. Army Retired, former commander, 8th U.S. Army

About the Author

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; First American Edition edition (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159403723X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594037238
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Civil-Military Relations, and previously edited the Middle East Quarterly.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By maximilianus on March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you want to understand the peril that America is in because of an administration that seeks to negotiate with and placate its adversaries this book is a must-read. It's a well-reasoned take on why America can't rely on its diplomats to solve the world's problems. Informative and a delight to read, the book is a survey of the past 40 years of American diplomacy with rogues and terrorists and why it seldom leads to peace. From Ukraine to Iran and Syria, if you want to understand today's world, go get this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The world seems to be in a perpetual state of conflicts, but perhaps no time seems to have so many,as now; conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, Iraq, Syria, central Africa...the presence of battling various forces from radical Islamist groups to anti-government factions...it all seems to be never ending. How can these be resolved, who does one need to meet with and can various factions and rogue regimes be the people with whom one negotiates?
Michael Rubin's "Dancing with the Devil" addresses this issue in great detail. What are the benefits of negotiating with rogue states, with terrorists, with extremists? Rubin, who is a scholar of the Middle East region with extensive background of being on the ground in places from Iraq, Iran, Yemen and elsewhere, complemented by a language fluency that allows him to get beyond just the English speaking pundits, is not simply an academic. Rather, Rubin's "hands on" experience, coupled with exhaustive research provides great insight into when diplomacy and negotiations have worked and when they have not!
For the career diplomat, or the pragmatist who holds to the belief that one has to eventually confront one's enemies, you won't find Rubin's book very supportive. Coming from the position of great strength and ready to use all measures, at any cost, seems to be a strategy that underscores many of the case studies put forth in his book.
Whatever side of the table one might find themselves on in any given conflict, Rubin's book provides first class research with a writing style and use of anecdotes that actually make for an enjoyable read. Don't look for happy endings. But coming away with a more sober look at the prospects of negotiation with extremists and rogue regimes may be made ever more clear after reading "Dancing with the Devil".

Jerry Sorkin
Tunis, TUNISIA
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kathryn t. on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Despite a great deal of info that this book entailed I feel it could have been half again as long. Most information in each chapter was just a repeat time and time again with only the country and diplomat name changes. Although there was good information at times it just repeated it time and time again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deborah W. on March 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book as it brings up some points which are interesting. For example, it points out that diplomats don't review their past negotiations and determine what were their strong points, weak points, etc. Seems to be that this would be required, and also to look for weaknesses and tendencies in your opponent. Ah..I forgot..it's the government.

The book repeats a lot of the same themes, with many many examples. Where I find it weak is in its laying out its argument. Ok, maybe we shouldn't talk with a rogue sometimes. And maybe we are too anxious to make a deal. But having a negotiation fail doesn't mean that it would have succeeded if we had not talked to them and then come back much later. In other words there are too many variables involved and the author almost wants to make it a binary argument: if you are eager to talk to a rogue state you lose. If you wait and bide your time you will win.

I wish he would have reduced the number of examples and instances and gone into depth more about 3-4 examples. Show us where the negotiations, what preceded it, what followed, and why did it succeed later, if it did.

Then it would have been an outstanding book. But even so, it is a good book and definitely worth a read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karen S. Hansen on May 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history in this book is incredible. Also, it is disheartening to learn about the mistakes the administrations over the last decades have made in dealing with the leaders of Rogue countries in trying to arrive at peaceful negotiations and agreements. It seems that too many times the focus moves off the right target and more to the precedent of trying to build a good legacy. Those choices were not always the best decisions for our country. Money not well spent accomplished little and the last message of the book is a feeling of hopelessness. This is not the author's fault; this is the fact that our policies just aren't always right. The author did an exceptional job of documenting facts and it is an important book providing an excellent recap of history.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I am very happy with the way this book early on describes the 1953 ceasefire to the war NK leader/mass-murederer Kim II Sung completely started in 1950. Yes, North Korea os full of death camps like this book says!
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By Dave on June 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book illustrates the absurdity of negotiating with rogue states and as of now, the Taliban. With the exposure of the Bergdahl exchange, this book is an "eye opener!"
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GG on May 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rubin writes a nonpartision historical account of the diplomatic actions that past administrations have engaged in with "rogue nations" (North Kores, Iran, Libia, etc.). He sticks to the facts while pointing out how we make the same mistakes over and over. This book will give you a new perspective on how how to deal with rogues. It is especiall timely given Putin's latest moves that are putting him into the rogue status. The book is a bit academic.
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