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Avoiding Armageddon

America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back

Bruce O. Riedel

Publication Year: 2013

India and Pakistan will be among the most important countries in the twenty-first century. In Avoiding Armageddon, Bruce Riedel clearly explains the challenge and the importance of successfully managing America's affairs with these two emerging powers and their toxic relationship.

Born from the British Raj, the two nations share a common heritage, but they are different in many important ways. India is already the world's largest democracy and will soon become the planet's most populous nation. Pakistan, soon to be the fifth most populous country, has a troubled history of military coups, dictators, and harboring terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.

The longtime rivals are nuclear powers, with tested weapons. They have fought four wars with each other and have gone to the brink of war several times. Meanwhile, U.S. presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have been increasingly involved in the region's affairs. In the past two decades alone, the White House has intervened several times to prevent nuclear confrontation on the subcontinent. South Asia clearly is critical to American national security, and the volatile relationship between India and Pakistan is the crucial factor determining whether the region can ever be safe and stable.

Based on extensive research and Riedel's role in advising four U.S. presidents on the region, Avoiding Armageddon reviews the history of American diplomacy in South Asia, the crises that have flared in recent years, and the prospects for future crisis. Riedel provides an in-depth look at the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, the worst terrorist outrage since 9/11, and he concludes with authoritative analysis on what the future is likely to hold for America and the South Asia puzzle as well as recommendations on how Washington should proceed.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Series: Brookings FOCUS Book

Front Cover

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pp. 1-1

Inside Flap

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pp. 2-5

Title Page

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pp. 6-6

Copyright Information

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pp. 7-9

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xviii

President-elect Barack Obama made his first substantive call to a foreign leader on November 28, 2008, amid terrible tragedy. India, the world’s largest democracy, was still in shock from an attack by ten Pakistani terrorists that had killed more than 160 people, six of them Americans, and wounded hundreds in the city of Mumbai, the country’s financial capital. ...

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1. Mumbai on Fire

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pp. 1-25

The view from my room in the Oberoi Hotel was beautiful at dusk, with the sun setting over the blue Arabian Sea while down below the traffic flowed on Marine Drive, which curves along the beachfront in Mumbai. As the lights came alive in the late afternoon sky, the streets of the financial capital of India throbbed with activity. ...

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2. America, The Raj, and Partition

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pp. 26-44

The cabinet dining room at Number 10 Downing Street is a historic, impressive place to meet. I was a guest of Prime Minister David Cameron, who had invited me to participate as an outside expert in a meeting of the United Kingdom’s National Security Council in December 2011 to take stock of British policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. ...

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3. In the Shadow of the Cold War: The First Forty Years

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pp. 45-80

Hawaii was an unlikely place to meet with the Pakistani minister of defense and the fiftieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II was an unlikely occasion for the meeting. But in 1995 Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and I were in a conference room of a five-star hotel there to honor Pakistan’s role in Japan’s defeat ...

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4. The Carter and Reagon Years

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pp. 81-102

Tampa, Florida, is a long way from South Asia, but in mid-2011 I was there to attend a conference at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command on Pakistan as a guest of General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. CENTCOM is the regional command of that part of the U.S. military whose area of responsibility includes Pakistan, but not India. ...

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5. From Crisis to Crisis: Bush and Clinton

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pp. 103-136

The office of the deputy national security adviser to the president of the United States is tiny. In many American homes, the walk-in closets are larger. But in the White House, proximity is power, and the deputy sits near his boss, the national security adviser to the president, who has a much more spacious, lavish office ...

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6. Bush, Mush, and Sonia

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pp. 137-160

President George W. Bush was a man in a hurry, pacing the Treaty Room of the White House. The Treaty Room, on the second floor of the mansion, is a private study for the president; a large painting hanging there depicts President Lincoln, General Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Porter in a meeting in early 1865 ...

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7. Obama and South Asia

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pp. 161-180

The Principals Committee of the National Security Council is chaired by the president. On March 20, 2009, in the White House Situation Room, Barack Obama was chairing the committee’s last meeting on his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan; later he was to give a nationally televised speech laying out his thinking to the American people. ...

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8. Promoting Game Change in South Asia

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pp. 181-204

The Thar Desert of Rajasthan, an arid wasteland astride the Indian and Pakistani border, is a forbidding place. In the summer, it can be as hot as any spot on earth. Fortunately, I was staying the night near Jodhpur in a hotel that was once a maharaja’s palace. ...


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pp. 205-218


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pp. 219-230

Back Cover

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pp. 250-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780815724094
E-ISBN-10: 0815724098
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815724087
Print-ISBN-10: 081572408X

Page Count: 230
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Brookings FOCUS Book
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 826652864
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Avoiding Armageddon

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nuclear arms control -- South Asia.
  • Terrorism -- South Asia -- Prevention.
  • Pakistan -- Foreign relations -- India.
  • India -- Foreign relations -- Pakistan.
  • South Asia -- Foreign relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- South Asia.
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