Patricia's Reviews > Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad

Deadly Embrace by Bruce Riedel
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's review
Mar 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: south-asia, islamic-history-culture
Read in March, 2012

Written by a true insider (member of Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy and 30 years with the CIA) and adviser to four US Presidents. Slightly out-of-date (before the assassination of Osama bin Laden) but still very pertinent and informative as it tells the story of the US's mishandling of its relationship with Pakistan since the Partition of 1947. Few westerners have any real knowledge of Pakistan history. For example, did you know that "The name Pakistan is basically an acronym compiled from the names of the areas of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan" (p. 4)? I didn't.

After an excellent short summary of the history of relations between the US and Pakistan, Riedel turns to his major theme: concerns over the rise of the jihadist state in Pakistan and the escalation of global violence. The last chapter contains his experienced and realistic (but bound-to-be-unpopular-with-some) recommendations of how to begin to get US-Pakistani relations back on track by building dialogue and trust.

Much of Pakistan's situation today is the result of its focus on its neighbour (India)--the rise of its military establishment, the ISI, the appeal of military dictatorships, the ambivalent attitude towards its MANY political and jihadist factions. His recommendations, which after reading the preceding chapters, have the sound of pragmatism to them include resolving border disputes (Afghanistan, Kashmir) which necessitate a strong army and nuclear arms; helping Pakistan with its infrastructure (water, education) problems without the strings of past imposed "foreign aid" restrictions; engaging in strengthening Pakistan's civilian-elected leaders starting with the freely elected prime ministers (and NOT focusing on single individuals who may be rogue leaders in the end (e.g. Reagen's support of Zia, GW Bush's support of Musharraf) but in supporting all those fighting for democracy and free elections); providing them with the helicopters needed to fight highly mobile guerilla insurgent groups in the field; and in working with both India and Pakistan in ways that are supportive of peaceful relations between the two. As Riedel writes, "Pakistan is a complex and combustible society undergoing a severe crisis, which American helped create over the years" (p. 118). Yet he remains confident that Pakistanis and Americans can "transform what has long been a deadly embrace into a union of minds with a common purpose: to defeat the jihad monster" (p. 144).

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