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Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad Hardcover – January 11, 2011
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Bruce Riedel has written a brilliantly insightful and powerfully compelling book that is a must-read for understanding the perilous situation in South Asia and how America can correct its failed policies. --Tina Brown, cofounder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, editor-in-chief at Newsweek
For a country that hosts al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has nuclear weapons, and will soon be the fifth most populous country in the world, there are surprisingly few good books about Pakistan. Bruce Riedel has now produced an excellent volume on the country that is both analytically sharp and cogently written. It will engage both specialists and the interested public. Essential reading. --Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I know
The U.S.-Pakistan misalliance remains on the front pages, even as the Afghanistan war hopefully starts to wind down. But the war inside Pakistan is not over, nor will it be any time soon. This insider s account of the rise of global jihad and its effect on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship connects the dots for U.S. policymakers and laypersons alike. --Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army and the Wars Within and director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council
About the Author
Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. A former CIA officer, Riedel was a senior adviser to four U.S. presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues. At the request of President Obama he chaired an interagency review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan for the White House, completed in March 2009. He is author of The Search for al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future, is a frequent media commentator on security and terrorism, and is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast.
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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.
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.
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.