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on January 24, 2011
This book is a very careful analysis of U.S.-Pakistani relations, especially over the last forty years. More importantly perhaps it provides the clearest explanation to date of why Pakistan appears to be so ambivalent towards Islamic extremism as manifested in what Riedel identifies as the "Global Jihad" and the Afghan Taliban movement. Indeed he does a brilliant job of guiding the reader through complexities of Pakistani politics and strategy. He makes clear that Pakistan regards India as an existential threat and treats both the Taliban and al Qaeda as pawns in its deadly game against India.

He does a particularly brilliant job describing the drivers of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate in relation to Islamic extremism, Pakistani internal politics, and Afghanistan. The ISI has a very complex agenda, which the U.S. has not always understood, but which always sees India as an overarching enemy.

As a genuine South Asia expert with close to forty years experience, Riedel is especially competent at putting the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in a regional context. This makes the problems of that troubled country much easier to understand. He builds a pretty convincing case that Pakistani co-operation and constructive involvement is vital to turning Afghanistan into a peaceful, viable nation state. He also identifies Iranian interests in Afghanistan that must be factored into this goal.

Riedel is the model of a professional analyst and for this reason the bulk of this book is descriptive not proscriptive. In his final chapters however he does offer some well informed suggestions on transforming Pakistan into a force for stability in South Asia. He also speculates on the appalling idea of Pakistan turning into an Islamic Fundamentalist State and supporter of the Global Jihad against the U.S. and West in general. This perhaps more than even Afghanistan is why the U.S. must be willing to develop a consistent and effective Pakistani Policy.

Riedel, who spent thirty years as an analyst at CIA also offers up a very good suggestion for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI): the DNI should prepare a quarterly all-source report on Pakistan and its role in counter-terrorism (positive or negative). This suggestion makes a good deal of sense and General Clapper (USAF ret.) would do well initiate such an effort. As Riedel points out the DNI is in the best position to asses Pakistan's behavior and actions. Such a reporting program should inform U.S. policy formulations towards Pakistan.

One final note: Riedel now retired from CIA, notes up front that he is a supporter of President Obama and worked as the campaigns South Asia lead analysts. His political preferences do not alter the validity of descriptions and prescriptions for South Asia. He is first and foremost a professional analyst who has served four presidents loyally and well regardless of party.
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on May 20, 2011
In 'Deadly Embrace' Riedel offers a concise study of US strategic policy in South Asia, specifically the conflict between Western powers and jihadi groups, as well as issues over ISI duplicity and geopolitical issues relating to the US/Nato campaign in Afghanistan.

Overall this is a very good book and I would recommend it to most audiences. My primary complaint, however, is that, like US policy in the region, this book's thesis straddles a rift between providing analysis and articulating strategy.

Riedel's primary argument is that Pakistan's national security complex, ISI, and frequent military rulers have focused on India, not Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, and because of this strategic bent they have treated jihadi groups such as Lashkar-e-Taieba and the Taliban as assets rather than as security risks. This problem is compounded by United States' inconsistent and at times self-contradictory policies towards the country, which Riedel [convincingly] argues has weakened democracy and intensified the very security dilemma the US finds herself entangled in. Effectively, the US is paying rent to fight the roaches in Pakistan, which is creating diplomatic blowback and reinforcing the problem itself.

Reidel's concluding argument, however, is that US policy should attempt to defuse the security dilemma over Kashmir and engage Pakistani democratic groups in order to isolate and defeat jihadist forces in Pakistan.

For all the book's implicit focus on Pakistani-Indian rivalry and it's clear argument that this dynamic encourages Pakistan to ignore or support LeT and other jihadi groups, it does little to explain Indian geopolitical goals in Kashmir, and because of that glosses over important questions in its own analysis. The author is certainly a towering figure in this field and may not have felt compelled to discuss these topics at an undergraduate level, however I feel that the book suffers for this lack of detail. This leaves the book feeling either 20 pages too long or 40 pages too short. That, however, is not an excuse to ignore the 144 pages at hand.
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on July 8, 2011
Bruce Riedel has indeed been in the center of the US South Asia and Af-Pak policy making and intelligence gathering community. So, I think, he very well knows what he is talking about especially in this volatile and decisive time when the US-Pakistani relationship has hit a new low point.

After describing a history of Pakistan with regards to its relationship with India, its militant extremists, and the United States, he argues why Pakistan remains an important case and a very dangerous situation which, if let out-of-control, can seriously threat global stability.

At the time when the two countries (United States and Pakistan) are increasingly suspicious at each other and at a time when the American society is turning more and more exhausted and skeptic of its engagement with Pakistan, someone with the calmness, rationality, and experience of Riedel is needed to remind us of the importance and urgency of constant and continuous American engagement with Pakistan.

Riedel is not a judge nor a politician, for he analyzes the case objectively and points out the flaws of US policy towards Pakistan which has helped bring the Pakistani state to this dangerous point.

As a very smooth read and a short book, I think this is the best way for an American citizen to learn more about what is going on in the Subcontinent in order to better comprehend the challenges and decisions we face as we try to put an end to both the Global Jihad movement and the war in Afghanistan.
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on October 7, 2012
I bought this book on my Kindle for a plane trip. When I arrived at my destination, I was so enthralled with the book that I could not put it down. A very clear and concise picture of the current situation in Pakistan. The author has extensive knowledge in the region and relates it to the current global threats to America.
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on January 24, 2013
Excellent history of Pakistan and assessment of the continuing importance of its politics to the safety of the world and especially the US. The way forward for the US treatment of Pakistan is complicated and controversial, but ignoring this nuclear-armed home of Global Jihad is the most dangerous choice of all.
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on January 20, 2016
Second book of his I have read. But he is tainted in my view by his Liberalism and Democrat associations.....
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on March 9, 2016
Excellent read!!
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on January 13, 2016
Good info.
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on October 20, 2015
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on May 9, 2014
The author does a great job presenting a very complicated relationship. Certain regions and societies cling to the past. Good read
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