Book Review: Zahid Hussain, The Scorpion’s Tale: The Relentless Rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan—And How It Threatens America

by Joshua Foust on 12/1/2010 · 2 comments

I review veteran WSJ reporter Zahid Hussain’s latest book for Steve LeVine’s blog over at Foreign Policy.

While there will always be an internationalist element to the dangers posed by rampant Islamic extremism in Pakistan — failed would-be terrorists like Faisal Shahzad make sure of it — Hussain argues in a powerful and persuasive way that the real danger posed by these militants is the challenges they pose to the Pakistani government. For the last ten years, the U.S. has relied on the Pakistani government to direct and control the fight against the militants. Hussain cautions that military-only strategies are bound to fail, so that if the Pakistani government splinters, we will lose many of the most effective means of handling the threat of Islamic militarism.

As a friend remarked, I didn’t disclose my SAT scores, so readers might question my perspective or objectivity. This is very important, according to a certain well-known Internet scold! So, keep that in mind as you click through.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

UmairJ December 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Sounds like a fantastic book, I cannot wait to read it.

“Hussain cautions that military-only strategies are bound to fail, so that if the Pakistani government splinters, we will lose many of the most effective means of handling the threat of Islamic militarism.”

I dont think this point can be stressed enough, there has to be government programs that ensure the youth can have a future away other than joining the ranks of militants. This will only take place when the government is serious enough fixing the state of its people.

carl December 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Mr. Foust:

Very good review and now I have another book on my list.

Given your statement from the review:

“Hussain argues that it is because of Islam’s foundational role in Pakistan as a state, along with its utility in agitating over Kashmir, that any Pakistani leader, no matter how determined, has been prevented from effectively countering its influence. ”

Do you think it possible that Pakistan can change at all, or will they just continue to go further down the militant road until country breaks up or they push the Indians too far or God knows what?

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