A book review by Assistant Professor of Government Erica De Bruin was recently published on the website of the Modern War Institute at West Point.
In “Subcontracting War on the Subcontinent,” De Bruin reviewed Yelena Biberman’s Gambling with Violence: State Outsourcing of War in Pakistan and India, published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. Using what De Bruin calls “carefully designed case studies, which draw upon a wealth of interviews and archival material from state-nonstate alliances in South Asia,” the book addresses the practice of powerful states outsourcing violence to nonstate actors.
De Bruin said the book “offers a novel explanation” for these alliances with Biberman’s argument “that outsourcing is best understood as the product of the local balance of power and interests.”
According to De Bruin one strength of the book is “the care with which Biberman approaches policy recommendations,” while “emphatically [seeking] to avoid advising states on how to make violent outsourcing work better.”
De Bruin notes that “the book’s argument and empirical evidence provide a rich and persuasive account of the outsourcing of violence” and “helps provide a fuller understanding of the dynamics of counterinsurgency.”