Daniel Markey’s New Book, No Exit from Pakistan, Argues U.S.-Pakistan Ties a Condition to Be Managed, Not a Problem to Be Solved

Daniel Markey’s New Book, No Exit from Pakistan, Argues U.S.-Pakistan Ties a Condition to Be Managed, Not a Problem to Be Solved

In his new book, No Exit From Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey explains how the United States should prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes in its relations with Pakistan.

October 16, 2013 12:23 pm (EST)

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In his new book, No Exit From Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, Senior Fellow Daniel Markey likens the frustration of American and Pakistani policymakers to that of the sinners in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, who discover hell is a room where they torment one another forever. "Both sides believe they have been sinned against. Even at high points in the relationship there were still underlying irritations and disagreements that got in the way of building any sort of strong, sustainable cooperation," Markey writes.

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He explains that the United States is concerned about terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan, its nuclear arsenal, growing military ties with China, and history of tensions with India. Together these issues are too large and complicated for the United States to resolve quickly—or perhaps ever—yet they are also too important to neglect; there is no exit.

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Defense and Security

To best achieve its goals with Pakistan, Markey concludes that the United States will need to pick carefully among aspects of the following three strategic approaches:

  • Defensive insulation. Protecting the United States from Pakistan-based threats, such as nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
  • Military-first cooperation. Providing technical and financial assistance to Pakistan’s military to address top security concerns.
  • Comprehensive cooperation. Supporting Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership, as well as its civil society, to build a more stable Pakistan over time.

In addition to recommendations for policymakers, Markey analyzes the main trends in Pakistani society that will determine its future; traces the wellsprings of Pakistani anti-American sentiment from 1947 to 2001; assesses U.S. policy toward Pakistan since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks; and shows how regional dynamics, especially the rise of China, will shape U.S.-Pakistan relations.

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From 2003 to 2007 Markey held the South Asia portfolio on the secretary of state’s policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to government service, he served as executive director of Princeton University’s research program in international security. He is the author of a forthcoming Council Special Report on a new U.S. strategy for Pakistan in a broader Asian context.

Read more on No Exit from Pakistan at cfr.org/no_exit_from_pakistan.

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"In the years ahead, the United States may face no greater foreign policy challenge than Pakistan. Home to a variety of militant groups that attack both U.S. and Pakistani government targets, a growing nuclear arsenal, and a very precarious relationship between military and civilian authorities, conditions in Pakistan threaten its own stability, its neighbors, and vital U.S. interests. The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has been a dangerously uneven one. Dan Markey has written an invaluable analysis of conditions in Pakistan, likely trends, and options for the United States. Anyone in- or outside government who cares about national security should read this book."

—Ryan C. Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan

"With compelling, clear common sense, Daniel Markey explains why Pakistan is too important to neglect and too complicated for some new U.S. grand strategy. This book is the best publication and the smartest offering yet on how to practically manage relations with a country as vexing as it is fascinating."

—Leslie H. Gelb, former New York Times columnist and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations

"Pakistan is a primary challenge for the United States and the world. Markey’s book captures the complexities of U.S.-Pakistan relations in interesting and intelligent ways. There is an exit—and it is a rare case where a truly good book presents wise and solid prescriptions for the future. A must-read for anyone interested in South Asia and the conundrum of Pakistan."

—Thomas Pickering, former undersecretary of state and former ambassador to Russia, the UN, and India

"Dan Markey has produced a deep and rich policy analysis of Pakistani-American relations. It exceeds anything yet written on the subject and includes the best review of U.S. policy options that I have ever read. The book discusses in depth Pakistan’s own problematic behavior and fairly acknowledges the many mistakes made by Washington. Markey does not offer a superficial ’fix’ but shows the way forward, including a discussion of contingent policies should Pakistan suddenly turn hostile to vital American interests."

—Stephen Philip Cohen, senior fellow, Brookings Institution

"The United States and Pakistan have been tormented by a mutually vexing relationship now for some sixty years. During every crisis, exasperated analysts in both countries often demand that their capitals end mutual engagement—and are dismayed when their leaders cannot readily comply. If you want to know why, read Dan Markey’s marvelous book. His penetrating analysis not only describes how the United States and Pakistan are bound by ties that cannot be broken without great peril to both, but his recommendations also offer a hopeful path that both countries must tread if they are to overcome the corrosive distrust of the past."

—Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


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