South Asia looms large in American foreign policy. Over the past two decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars and thousands of human lives in the region, to seemingly little effect. As Srinath Raghavan reveals in The Most Dangerous Place, this should not surprise us. Although the region is often regarded as peripheral to America’s rise to global ascendancy, the United States has long been enmeshed in South Asia. For 230 years, America’s engagement with India, Afghanistan and Pakistan has been characterized by short-term thinking and unintended consequences. Beginning with American traders in India in the eighteenth century, the region has become a locus for American efforts-secular and religious-to remake the world in its image. Even as South Asia has undergone tumultuous and tremendous changes from colonialism to the world wars, the Cold War and globalization, the United States has been a crucial player in regional affairs.
The definitive history of US involvement in South Asia, The Most Dangerous Place presents a gripping account of America’s political and strategic, economic and cultural presence in the region. By illuminating the patterns of the past, this sweeping history also throws light on the challenges of the future.