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Book Reviews

The Third Man

Yusuf’s work is pathbreaking. It is theoretically sound, policy-relevant, deeply honest, meticulously researched, and a primer on crisis mediation in South Asia.

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— Steve Coll. New York: Penguin Press, 2018


Global Politics and Strategy

This book includes important lessons for future negotiators. It illustrates the value of trying to discern patterns in a complex scenario, but also the limitations of trying to establish a broadly valid theoretical framework.

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Mosharraf Zaidi The News, December 25, 2018

Lessons from the books of 2018

Dr Moeed Yusuf, his generation’s sharpest public intellectual, published his modelling of how crises are managed and negotiated in tense nuclearised environments through his analysis of American engagement with the Kargil War, the 2001-2002 military standoff and the post Mumbai attacks scenario of 2008.

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Shaikh Mujibur Rehman The WIRE, December 13 2018

How Third-Party Intervention During Conflict Can Help Avert Nuclear War

On a number of fronts, the book breaks new ground: it offers to present a theory of nuclear crisis behaviour focusing on third-party mediations, it further conducts a systematic analysis of three major crises, it further sheds light on learning in crisis management in South Asia over a decade or so. The lessons for crises between potential nuclear rivals is not merely limited to South Asia but can be found useful in the Middle East, on the Korean peninsula and between China and India. In other words, even if it is a case study, the formulations have wider implications.

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— Swarna Rajagopalan, H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews, November 2018

Rajagopalan on Yusuf, 'Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia'

Moeed Yusuf’s book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments, is remarkable for two reasons. First, inheriting an academic discourse on international conflict that is accustomed to thinking in dyads, it reminds us that the real world is less simple, and brings into focus tripartite engagement, with additional actors having speaking parts. Second, it reconstructs three recent crisis events in quiet detail. This distillation, based in part on an impressive list of interviews, is useful especially to those interested in studying India-Pakistan relations with specific focus on nuclear policy and advocacy.

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— Kelsey Davenport Stanford University Press, May 2018

Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia

Yusuf focuses on crises in the Indian-Pakistani relationship, but the lessons and conclusions on regional crisis management have implications beyond South Asia. 

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— Huma Rehman, Global Village space, October 15, 2018

Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia

Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments is a timely contribution to the security discourse on the evolving strategic landscape of South Asia. The striking factor of this book is that it maintains a remarkable balance between crises and weak links of peace between nuclear-capable states. Additionally, the introduction of the role and necessity of the third party gives more substance to its methodology towards crisis and peace.

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— Moeed Yusuf, Gazette Newsletter, 3rd Quarter 2018

BOOK BRIEF: Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia

Yusuf persuasively argues that despite India being loath to any role of external actors and relationship with Pakistan being at a low ebb, U.S. needs to be more engaged in the region because India/Pakistan tensions affect the U.S. not only in the nuclear context but also have serious implications for war in Afghanistan.

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— Muhammad Faisal, South Asian Voices, October 9, 2018

Maintaining Nuclear Peace Through Third Parties: Implications for South Asia

Yusuf presents his theory three-actor “brokering bargaining,” or the process of crisis management between two regional nuclear rivals led by the third party. In this model, the actions of regional rivals are taking place on two levels: first, they are aimed at each other; second, they are directed at the third party to influence its choices towards the adversary and achieve their respective policy goals. The third party, meanwhile, is mediating between the regional rivals and directing the crisis towards de-escalation. To illustrate his theory of brokered bargaining, Yusuf delves into detailed study of three India-Pakistan crisis, Kargil (19999, Twin Peaks (2001-02), and Mumbai (2008), to apply his framework.

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— Syed Rifaat Hussain, The Express Tribune, September 12, 2018

Book Review: Brokering peace in nuclear environments

Moeed Yusuf, in his latest book, “Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: US Crisis Management in South Asia”, offers a new perspective on dynamics of South Asian crisis management in which regional nuclear adversaries –India and Pakistan – play out a complex game of deterrence with the help of the United States, “the only state that has global interests”.


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— Daneesh Majid, The Print, September 26, 2018

A breath of fresh air in studying Indo-Pak nuclear crisis management

Modern conflict cannot be viewed in a bipolar framework. International relations expert Moeed Yusuf’s new book provides a much-needed alternative. Yusuf methodically unpacks the terminology of the brokered-bargaining model and applies it to the aforementioned crises (and the Iran-Israel/the Korean peninsula/the Sino-Indian milieus).

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— Haq’s Musings

Overall, Dr. Moeed Yusuf's "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" is a thought provoking book. It should stimulate serious discussion of how regional nuclear powers like India and Pakistan can engage with each other more deeply to maintain peace and stability in their neighborhood. This will require both parties, India and Pakistan, to have sustained dialog to resolve core issues like Kashmir that underlay recurring crises.

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— Manpreet Sethi, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, September 5, 2018

The book offers a useful addition to the growing literature on the nuclear behaviour of regional states. It breaks new ground through its meticulous examination of bargaining between actors during crises to offer a theory to explain this process. Besides its policy conclusions that will be of help to decision-makers, the book makes a big contribution through the identification of new, related areas of research in order to further test the theory proposed.

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— Joy Mitra, South Asian Voices, August 30, 2018

"Overall, the book does a commendable job of identifying the centrality of the United States as a crisis manager in South Asia. The book contrasts the drivers of crisis behavior as explained by brokered bargaining versus bilateral deterrence models. The comparison between the two makes for a compelling read and is a treasure trove for students of deterrence dynamics in South Asia. "

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— Haider Nizamani, Herald, August 2018

Its strength, however, is the large number of interviews that Yusuf has conducted with policymakers, especially from the United States and Pakistan, who played key roles during the three crises mentioned above. For this reason alone, if for nothing else, his book should be seen as a good addition to the academic literature available on war and peace between India and Pakistan.


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— Tanvi Kulkarni, South Asian Voices, August 17, 2018

Among the abundance of scholarly analyses on nuclearization of South Asia, few are able to break new ground in terms of constructively explaining the behavior of nuclear weapons powers. In this context, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2018) by Moeed Yusuf certainly brings renewed rigor to scholarship on the subject.

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— Salma Malik, The Friday Times, August 17, 2018

Moeed Yusuf’s book not only provides a comprehensive insight into the role effectively played by the US as a third party – an aspect which has been discussed by other writers as well, but it makes a successful attempt at theorising why and how presence and role of the US impacts crisis behaviour in a nuclear environment.


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— Rizwan Zeb, Daily Times, August 11, 2018

"All in all, this is an original and exceptionally strong contribution to literature that has broken the Euro-American scholars’ monopoly. Above all, it is well written and is a pleasure to read. Borrowing a non-Kosher literary giant’s comment about William Dalrymple, this scribe is happy to note that Mueed Yusuf is a strategic thinker who can actually write."

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— Muna Habib, Daily Times, August 8, 2018

"It is riveting to read a book by a writer that includes all the masterful trickery that encompass the rules of diplomacy"

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—  Wajahat Ali, Arab News, July 2, 2018

The result is a highly original contribution to nuclear theory –- an area that has largely remained the preserve of Euro-American scholars in the past — as Yusuf presents his own model of “brokered bargaining” to conceptualize crises in regional contexts.

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— Ejaz Haider, Dawn, Pakistan, June 24, 2018

Yusuf’s model of brokered bargaining studies three post-1998 nuclear test crises between Pakistan and India: Kargil (1999), Twin Peaks (Dec 2001-Oct 2002) and Mumbai (2008). In all three cases, there was a three-way interaction and the “crisis behaviour of the antagonists [was] marked by a constant tension between their incentives to pursue their maximalist objectives and their compulsion not to defy the third party completely.”

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— Rakesh Sood, The Hindu, India,  June 16, 2018

Having acknowledged that the bilateral deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan crises, Yusuf introduces the theory of ‘brokered bargaining’ in explaining the U.S. role.

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— Syed Ali Zia Jaffery, Pakistan Politico, June 7, 2018

"Moeed Yusuf’s riveting insights on the subject could not have come at a better time for practitioners and scholars. It gives a much-needed glance into the US playbook and how it is likely to be used in future crises in the South Asian theater. It is a rich addition to scholarship because it analyzes South Asian crises beyond the deterrence framework and concludes that crises behavior will be influenced by many other factors than nuclear and conventional deterrence.",

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— Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Laureate
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— Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor

This outstanding book serves as a sobering reminder of the dangers that crises between regional nuclear actors pose to global peace. One of the world's foremost experts on U.S. policy towards South Asia, Moeed Yusuf has produced powerful original scholarship that emphasizes the critical role the United States has played, and must continue to play, in managing these crises. An absolute must read for policy makers.

— Timothy Crawford, Boston College

Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments expands our understanding of a new, dangerous frontier in international security: the bargaining and decision-making of regional nuclear rivals, in crises that play out under the purview of powerful third parties. Moeed Yusuf illuminates these dynamics in surprising ways, weaving together insights from theories of nuclear strategy and diplomacy, third-party conflict management, and unipolarity. The study gives us much to think about as we consider how similar nuclear crises in South Asia, and other regional contexts, could unfold and—one hopes—be resolved short of war.

— Vipin Narang, MIT

In this important new book, Moeed Yusuf shows that the nuclear crises of today are multiplayer games and that the role of the third-party mediator may in fact be the most important. A truly valuable theoretical and empirical contribution.

— Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow Emeritus, Brookings Institution

This brilliant book raises important questions about the nuclear futures of the world. With the US edging towards one side in South Asia, and trying to get the Chinese to play a new role in South and East Asia, will the concept of brokered bargaining be pushed to the breaking point? Will China (or a subordinate state) be persuaded that force is useful or necessary? The book forces one to think afresh about these issues.

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