Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding

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Overview

A character-led history of the bizarrely ill-suited alliance between America and Pakistan, written by a uniquely insightful participant: Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S.

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Overview

A character-led history of the bizarrely ill-suited alliance between America and Pakistan, written by a uniquely insightful participant: Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/09/2013
Mistrust and cross-purposes characterize relations between Pakistan and the U.S., writes Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S from 2008 to 2011 and now a Boston University professor, in this insightful if disturbing history. During the bloodshed of 1947, India’s forces drove Pakistan from Kashmir, a Muslim majority region that, theoretically, belonged to Muslim Pakistan. Obsession over Kashmir’s loss persists, creating a “virtual permanent war with India”; civil government remains subservient to the military, which absorbs most of Pakistan’s revenue, leaving little for economic development. Pakistani leaders quickly requested U.S aid, trumpeting their anticommunism. America responded modestly but generously after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and massively after 9/11. Pakistan spends the bulk of its resources facing India—American leaders accept this as the price of cooperation but gnash their teeth over Pakistan’s tepid enthusiasm for our war on terror. Pakistan’s generals have no love for al-Qaeda but have long supported the Afghan Taliban and would prefer them to the present government. Making it clear why he is persona non grata in his homeland, Haqqani concludes that military aid has undermined Pakistan’s democracy, converting it into a rentier state living off American money rather than its people’s productivity. Agent: the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-03
Pakistan never pulled itself together after its bloody creation from British India in 1947, asserts Haqqani (International Relations/Boston Univ.; Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, 2005, etc.), former ambassador to the United States, in this insightful, painful history of Pakistani-American relations. Cobbling together a government (India received the capital and most civil servants) after independence, Pakistan's leaders remain preoccupied with India, a fixation aggravated by losing several wars and the secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh. The military absorbed the lion's share of the budget, and when generals were not governing, civilian leaders deferred to their wishes. The economic development has been comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan received modest aid until the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when America funneled massive support for the mujahedeen through Pakistan's army, which remained influential in the anarchy after the Soviet withdrawal, sponsoring radical Islamic forces including the Taliban. Pakistan considers a fiercely Islamic Afghan government essential to exclude Indian influence. After 9/11, Pakistan agreed to support America's war on terror. This was risky since the average Pakistani prefers terrorists to Americans, but we made an offer it couldn't refuse: an avalanche of aid. American leaders knew Pakistan would spend most on conventional forces facing India but hoped for a quid pro quo. The result has been some cooperation against international terrorism but none against the Afghan Taliban--which, the author reminds us, are not international terrorists. America's increasing frustration is matched by Pakistani outrage at military and drone incursions, which have produced violent anti-Americanism that threatens to destabilize a government that has never been noticeably stable. Demonstrating no mercy to either party, Haqqani admits that Pakistan verges on failed-state status but shows little patience with America's persistently shortsighted, fruitless policies.
From the Publisher

Mark Moyer, Wall Street Journal
“[Haqqani’s] purpose isn't to narrate his service as ambassador or score political points but to outline the contours of American relations with Pakistan over time, with a final chapter depicting the 2011 collapse as a new instance of historical trends. While one might desire a fuller accounting of his ambassadorship, the book covers its chosen ground superbly.”

Richard Leiby, Washington Post
“A solid synthesis of history, political analysis and social critique."

Lisa Curtis, National Interest
“If you want a better understanding of why U.S. policy has failed so miserably in Pakistan, you should read Husain Haqqani’s latest book… Fast-paced and highly readable… Haqqani has provided a well-documented and interesting account of the policy disconnects between the United States and Pakistan. His book should make a tremendous contribution toward grounding U.S. policy toward Pakistan in more realistic assumptions that will help avoid future crises between the two countries.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[An] insightful, painful history of Pakistani-American relations… Demonstrating no mercy to either party, Haqqani admits that Pakistan verges on failed-state status but shows little patience with America’s persistently shortsighted, fruitless policies.”

Library Journal
“Haqqani uses his wealth of personal experience to present a detailed account of the genesis and evolution of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years… The book is a useful resource for academics, journalists, and policymakers at all levels.”

Publishers Weekly
“Insightful if disturbing... Making it clear why he is persona non grata in his homeland, Haqqani concludes that military aid has undermined Pakistan’s democracy, converting it into a rentier state living off American money rather than its people’s productivity.”

Asian Age
“The book is part memoir, part searing indictment of Pakistan’s flawed strategy of using jihadis to secure its strategic space… [Haqqani proves] himself to be a diligent and tireless researcher who backs up almost every stinging commentary on Pakistan’s journey since independence to the present day, with fact.”

Madeleine Albright
Magnificent Delusions provides a fascinating insider’s account of America’s important but troubled relationship with Pakistan. Ambassador Haqqani’s purpose is not to fix blame, but to explain how two countries that have for 60 years described themselves as allies can nevertheless misunderstand each other thoroughly and repeatedly. Richly-detailed, this skillfully written narrative will enlighten scholars, entrance average readers, and give future diplomats much to contemplate. It is a timely, valuable and objective book.”

Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
"This is a must-read book for anyone who seeks to understand geopolitics in the 21st century. Husain Haqqani provides a riveting insider's account of the complex, and critically important relationship between America and Pakistan. He knows both countries well, and his personal insights and objective analysis can help dispel the misunderstandings that are so dangerous."

Library Journal
10/15/2013
The United States and Pakistan are often described as allies and partners. But, as Haqqani (international relations, Boston Univ.), former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, makes clear, the U.S.-Pakistani alliance over the past six decades has been a mirage that is in need of redefinition and mutual acknowledgment of divergent interests. Haqqani uses his wealth of personal experience to present a detailed account of the genesis and evolution of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years. As he clearly demonstrates, Pakistan's geopolitical alliance with the United States has been predicated on using U.S. aid to confront India's influence and hegemony in the region. For the United States, however, these are not and never have been overriding concerns. Washington's interests in Pakistan were initially driven by the Cold War realities of the 1950s and 1960s, by the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and by the war on terror. In other words, this alliance of convenience has not been based on shared values or on the same regional geostrategic interests. VERDICT The book is a useful resource for academics, journalists, and policymakers at all levels.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610393171
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 183,040
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Husain Haqqani was Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011. A trusted advisor of late Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, Ambassador Haqqani is as a professor at Boston University and co-chair of the Hudson Institute’s Project on the Future of the Muslim World as well as editor of the journal Current Trends in Islamist Thought. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and more. Follow him on Twitter: @husainhaqqani
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Read an Excerpt


Islamabad had been repeatedly asking for F-16 fighter aircraft in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the Reagan administration found a way to grant them, even urging Congress to waive a ban on military and economic aid to countries that acquire or transfer nuclear technology. James Buckley, then undersecretary of state for international security affairs, rationalized in The New York Times that such American generosity would address “the underlying sources of insecurity that prompt a nation like Pakistan to seek a nuclear capability in the first place.” In 1983, the first batch of the fighter jets arrived in Rawalpindi.

But as did the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, so the Soviet decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in 1989 exposed the tensions beneath the surface of the U.S.-Pakistani alliance. Differences between Washington and Islamabad over who should lead a post-Soviet Afghanistan quickly emerged and unsettled the two countries’ unspoken truce. Pakistan, of course, wanted as much influence as possible, believing that a friendly Afghanistan would provide it with strategic depth against India. The United States wanted a stable, noncommunist government that could put Afghanistan back in its place as a marginal regional power. For the first time, the issue of Pakistani support for terrorist groups also became a sore point.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2013

    Well done, US- Pakistan relations were explained. Just from news

    Well done, US- Pakistan relations were explained. Just from news media i never understood what has been going on "US-Pakistan relations". he went in to many details  of Pak political history since Pakistan was created in 1947.

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