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Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes Hardcover – February 18, 2014
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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, 20052006
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
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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".
Don't let the girth of this history intimidate you. It reads well and considering the span of history it covers and the many complex characters involved, it's smooth. Dancing with the Devil should help policy makers, bureaucrats, and the proletariat grasp the complexities of desiring negotiation at the expense of tangible accomplishment, or as Shakespeare may have quipped, “mere prattle without practice”.
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.