'Indians are slippery, treacherous people'http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indi ... 164932.cms
NEW DELHI: The recently declassified US official records throw new light on the anger and frustration that seized President Richard Nixon during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and how Washington secretly pleaded with China to "menace" India by moving troops to the Indian border.
Poring over thousands of pages of national security files and telephone transcripts of the then US National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and 2,800 hours of Nixon tapes, well-known American author and historian Robert Dallek recalls the events in the White House during the December of 1971 in a just-published book Nixon and Kissinger-Partners in Power .
Nixon's infamous tilt towards Pakistan is well known but the author reveals many other facets of how Nixon and Kissinger were upset with India and how they tried to rope in China in a bid to prevent the formation of Bangladesh.Nixon describes Indians as "a slippery, treacherous people" and his National Security Adviser calls the Indians "insufferably arrogant".
The story began in the fall of 1971, when differences in the administration and the country over White House China policy posed little threat to a major transformation in Sino-American relations.
A larger danger to rapprochement with Beijing and detente with Moscow came from rising tensions in South Asia. Long standing tensions between the Punjabis, who dominated the central government in West Pakistan, and the Bengalis in the East now erupted into a full-scale crisis.
The President and Kissinger had less interest in what the Indians or Pakistanis did to each other than in assuring that nothing sidetracked Kissinger's trip to China and the revolution in Sino-American relations.Our objective should be to "buoy up Yahya for at least another month while Pakistan served as the gateway to China,"
Kissinger told Nixon at the beginning of June. â€œEven apart from the Chinese thing," the President replied, "I wouldn't ....help the Indians, the Indians are no good."
In July, on his way to Beijing, Kissinger discussed the crisis with Pakistani and Indian officials in Islamabad and New Delhi. Before he left, Joe Sisco (a diplomat) urged him to take a tough line with Indira Gandhi. Sisco complained that "you people in the White House don't understand how serious" the situation is. "We know," Kissinger countered.
"At the end of the monsoons, India will attack". Sisco advised him to tell the Indians "we know you are supporting the guerillas." Kissinger responded, "That is not my specialty." Kissinger's meetings with the Pakistanis were cordial, but, predictably, the Indians complained that US support of Pakistan was encouraging a "policy of adventurism," which China was also promoting.
Indira Gandhi saw little chance of a political settlement: She did not want to use force and was open to suggestions," she told Kissinger, who warned India that a war would be disaster for both the countries and the sub-continent would become an area for conflict among outside powers. He also assured them that "we would take the gravest view of any unprovoked Chinese aggression against India."
Kissinger recalls returning from his trip with "a premonition of disaster". He expected India to attack Pakistan after the summer monsoons. He feared that China might then intervene on Pakistan's behalf, which would move Moscow "to teach Peking a lesson". At this time, Kissinger states, "no one could speak for five minutes without Nixon hearing of his profound distrust of Indian motives, his concern over Soviet meddling, and above all his desire not to risk the opening to China by ill considered posturing."
Nixon described the Indians in an NSC meeting on July 16 as "'a slippery, treacherous people." He felt that they would like nothing better than to use this tragedy to destroy Pakistan....He said that we could not allow - over the next three to four months until 'we take this journey' to Beijing - a war in South Asia if we can possibly avoid it."
Kissinger agreed. He called the Indians "insufferably arrogant", and eager for a conflict that would allow them to overwhelm Pakistan and take on China. "Everything we have done with China will (then) go down the drain."
The book refers to the late Indira Gandhi's travels to several Western capitals, including Washington, at the beginning of November.
Nixon agreed to see her as a last-ditch effort to head off a conflict. Two conversations on November 4 and 5 were case studies in heads of state speaking past each other. During a morning meeting on November in the Oval office, they agreed to discuss tensions in South Asia, with a second day's meeting to focus on Sino-American relations. No easing of tensions was evident from the morning's exercises. As the situation escalated, Kissinger was angry at being told that the US policy was "weak". Beijing had done nothing.
"We are the ones who have been operating our public opinion, against our bureaucracy, at the very edge of legality," Kissinger said. Nixon and Kissinger discussed the potential results of Chinese action. If China menaced India, they anticipated a Soviet military response. If the US then did nothing, Kissinger predicted, "we will be finished." Nixon asked: "So what do we do if the Soviets move against them? Start lobbing nuclear weapons in, is that what you mean?" Kissinger replied. "If the Soviets move against them...and succeed, that will be the final showdown....We will be finished. We'll be thorough."
But a message from the Soviets assured Washington that India had no intention of attacking West Pakistan and that ceasefire discussions were underway. To their surprise and relief, the US got a Chinese message that said nothing about moving troops to the Indian border.
Instead, appreciating that independence for East Pakistan was a foregone conclusion, Peking said it was prepared to endorse an American UN proposal for a standstill cease-fire and forego a demand for mutual troop withdrawals. The crisis now petered to a conclusion. Between December 14 and 17, Indian forces completed their conquest of East Pakistan and agreed to a ceasefire in the West with no occupation of additional Pakistani territory.Although Nixon and Kissinger put the best possible face on the outcome, the result of the war was essentially a victory for India and its Soviet ally, which declared the emergence of Bangladesh from the ruins of East Pakistan a triumph for Socialist and democratic principles, the book recalls.