As chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, Larry Pressler advocated the now-famous Pressler Amendment, enforced in 1990. Aid and military sales to Pakistan were blocked, including a consignment of F-16 fighter aircraft, changing forever the tenor of the United States relationships with Pakistan and India, and making Pressler a temporary hero throughout India and a devil in Pakistan. This book reveals what went on behind the scenes in the years when the Pressler Amendment was in force, through a cast of characters that include presidents, prime ministers, senators and generals in the US, India and Pakistan. It exposes the enormous power wielded by the military-industrial complex, which the author terms Octopus, and how it controls significant aspects of the American presence in the Indian subcontinent.


Admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, New York Bar, and District of Columbia Bar

[Member US Senate (R-SD), 1979-1997]

[Member US House (R-SD), 1975-1979]


  • Born March 29, 1942, Humboldt, South Dakota
  • Harvard Law School- Juris Doctor, 1971
  • Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government- Masters in Public Administration
  • Oxford University, Oxford, England – Oxford Diploma in Public and Social Administration, Rhodes Scholar, 1964
  • University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD – B.A. Government, 1964; President of Student Body; Phi Beta Kappa
  • Lieutenant, U.S. Army: 1966-1968
    • Served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam
    • Awarded the following Vietnam Service Medals: Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device (1960), Overseas Svc Bars (2), and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm Unit Citation Badge
  • Foreign Service Officer (Geneva, Switzerland): 1971-1974
  • Legal Advisor's Office, Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland

Advance Praise

“Senator Pressler’s new book is an insight into the influence of lobbying on foreign policy and the difficulty in developing a sound foreign policy.” – Senator Harry Reid, former Democratic majority leader, U.S. Senate

“I have been aware of Senator Pressler’s long interest and activity in the nuclear non-proliferation field; as a fellow member of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, I joined in his and Senator Gelenn’s struggle to prevent the “Senator Pressler’s book deserves serious consideration by anyone trying to understand how foreign policy is made.” – Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former deputy chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India

“This book is a fascinating account … and also a recent history of U.S.-India relations. While the proposed economic sanctions in the Pressler Amendment were never fully tested, as it was sabotaged by forces within the Pentagon, its lessons as a template for economic sanctions remain with us.” – Kaushik Basu, former chief economic adviser, Government of India

“In telling the tragic story of the Pressler Amendment, which would have prevented Pakistan from taking the nuclear weapons route, Larry Pressler also explains the forces at work that first circumvented the Amendment … and later rolled it back.” – Vikram Sood, former head, Research and Analysis Wing, Government of India

“This book provides an eyewitness account of the virtually unchecked power of law firms and lobbying firms usurping the U.S. State Department’s and Congress’s role in making foreign policy, of the unseen money flow that lubricates the entire process, and the real-world damage cause by it all.” – Danielle Brian, executive director, Project on Government Oversight (

“Senator Pressler has maintained a long and unique relationship with India … Fundamentally, this book introduces the real Larry Pressler to India.” – N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys