The United States paid a heavy price for condoning the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971 – OpEd – Eurasia Review

By Arul Louis *

American realpolitik took a 180-degree turn between 1971 and today, but Washington continues to pay a heavy price for the decision that led it to turn a blind eye to the genocide perpetrated in Bangladesh by Pakistani troops. The United States led by President Richard Nixon and his then national security adviser Henry Kissinger attempted in 1971 to develop close ties with China with thinly veiled hostility to India, but Washington is now trying to forge a strategic partnership with India, which he sees as an ally. against China.

As Kissinger said, the driving force behind the US failure to condemn the Pakistani atrocities in what was then East Pakistan was Washington trying to build a bridge to Beijing via Islamabad.

Kissinger admitted in an interview with Atlantic magazine that Pakistan had used “extreme violence and gross human rights violations” to suppress the Bangladeshi independence movement, but “to publicly condemn these violations would have destroyed the Pakistani channel” to China.

For their pipeline to Beijing, Kissinger, Nixon and Secretary of State William Rogers ignored warnings from US diplomats based in Dhaka in what would come to be known as “The Blood Telegram” about the ” genocide ”in East Pakistan and their denunciation of the“ moral bankruptcy ”of the United States by failing to condemn the atrocities and the suppression of democracy.

The United States continued to intimidate India which was inundated with millions of Bangladeshis fleeing the battlefields of East Pakistan by trying to use its diplomatic might and by moving the Seventh Fleet near India when New Delhi supported Bangladesh freedom fighters Mukhti Bahini.

And there were the vulgar slurs – revealed decades later – by Nixon targeting then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The turnaround in American policy

For someone considered the master of realpolitik, Kissinger in retrospect worked against the national interests of the United States, paving the way for a massive challenge to his country from China, foiled by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and their successors. .

Following the Nixon-Kissinger madness which made him an accomplice in Pakistani crimes in Bangladesh, Washington now faces a formidable rival in China, which has been built economically at the expense of the United States and is trying to impose itself. like the dominant world. power and challenger of the world order, especially in the Indo-Pacific,

To counter the power of China, the United States – under President Joe Biden and before him Donald Trump – turns to India, a nation vilified by their predecessor, Nixon, as “repulsive” and ridiculed by racist vulgarities and sexual.

Decades later, as the effects of Kissinger’s Chinese diplomacy haunt the United States, Trump made India a major defense partner of the United States and the bookend with it of the democracies of the United States. Indo-Pacific.

Biden took strategic cooperation one step further, making cooperation with India a priority for her administration as it grapples with China’s aggressive behavior from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and beyond.

After their meeting in Washington in September, they said that due to “growing strategic convergence, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi have decided to advance the comprehensive comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and India.” .

A changed world

The world has changed in other ways as well.

When the Cold War raged in 1971 with the Soviet Union and the United States as the main protagonists, Moscow and Beijing were ideologically at loggerheads and emerging from protracted border clashes in 1969.

The United States was trying to draw China into its orbit to counter the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union’s break with China was a factor that pushed Moscow towards close ties with India.

India and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Friendship, Peace and Cooperation in 1971, which ended just before a declared military pact.

He said that if any of them were attacked, he “will immediately engage in mutual consultations in order to eliminate such a threat and take effective and appropriate measures to ensure the peace and security of their countries”.

Moscow was the main supplier of arms to New Delhi, mainly on preferential terms based on the rupee trade for India then starved for foreign exchange.

China is now closer to the Soviet Union’s successor, Russia, drawn by their mutual antipathy to the United States.

India, meanwhile, is moving away from Russia and closer to the United States and the West, despite residual military purchases and joint manufacturing.

Economically, too, India and the United States are seeing the benefits of cooperation, while India’s abandonment of its much-vaunted pseudo-socialism has paid off.

As India pushes its Make In India agenda, the United States sees value in diversifying its supply chain on mutually beneficial terms after seeing the results of its over-reliance on China during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pay a price

The United States has unequivocally supported India in the clashes with China.

The United States and India have entered into several agreements on defense and strategic issues, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA), the Agreement on Communications, Compatibility and Security (COMCASA) and the Industrial Security Agreement (ISA) and work towards the interoperability of their armed forces. .

But in the 1970s, India’s mark of non-alignment with a pro-Soviet slant would have made any cooperation with the United States unlikely, nor did America’s attraction to dictators like the Pakistani generals. India, too, paid its own price for the Soviet trademark non-alignment in economic terms, which in turn impacted its strategic and diplomatic position.

In “The Blood Telegram”, which takes its name from the US Consul General Archer Blood who endorsed their position, diplomats who witnessed the genocide said they “fervently hope that our real and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies reoriented. in order to save our nation’s position as the moral leader of the free world.

Fifty years later, Biden may be trying to do just that even as the United States pays the price for Kissinger’s realpolitik madness.

* About the author: The author is a non-resident of the Society for Policy Studies, based in New York. The opinions expressed are personal. He can be followed @arlouis

Source: This article was published by South Asia Monitor

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