Nixon, Kissinger & the forgotten genocide

With Bangladesh in the news, its a good time to get caught up on the chaos of an emerging Democracy developing within militant confessional identities.

Make no mistake, if a nuclear exchange is to occur it will be between India and Pakistan.  These groups don’t really have calculations guiding policy but ethnic identities hued to militancy, making deterrence most difficult to achieve even for American policy planners.

We can lay blame for the implosion of east Pakistan (Bangladesh) upon British foreign policy.  When the Brits emasculated indigenous Islamic identities throughout northern India throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, gone was any cultural bulwark that could be leveraged against the Wahhabi’s exported from Saudi Arabia.  The west lost the only tangible cultural bridge that could midwife modernity.

With the arrival of Gary J. Bass’ new book The Blood Telegram, we’re given a look inside the Nixon White House as genocidal conditions emerge among long rivals marking a quarter century of partition.  With Srinath Raghavan we’re given a cultural edifice to study how the Nixon White House handled genocidal warfare on the subcontinent.  1971: A global history of the creation of Bangladesh by Srinath Raghavan out from Harvard University Press.

How did the massacres begin?

Immediately after the monsoon season which saw a cyclone destroy its southern delta region, west Pakistan’s political leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto joined east Pakistan’s Awami League thwarting nascent civilian rule with legislative majority.  When Butto arrived in east Pakistan (Bangladesh) to usurp Yahya Khan; the massacres began.

At the time, India remained mired in Socialist un-aligned movement forcing the west to gain momentum through the use of Islamabad.  This was the origin of Nixon’s opening of China.  Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department delegation was lead by Arthur Blood, whose telegrams to White House reveal an emerging genocidal conflagration not seen since partition 25 years ago.

Genocide ended in December of 1971, tens of thousands of Bengalis perished at the hand of militant Punjabi’s imported from west (Pakistan).  India routed the Pakistani’s in two weeks:  Bangladesh was born!

Reading Nixon’s racial epithets remind one of the near boyish locker-room talk that dominated both State & Department of Defense before the arrival of political correctness.  Indira Ghandi (the bitch), Southwest Asians (“a bunch of god-dam brown Muslims”), to read this after working a 12 hour day brought uproars of laughter having to recognize the sheer idiocy underlying racial grievance.  Nixon’s White House comes off looking authoritarian, shortsighted, paranoid and secretive, not to mention small minded.  Bad combinations for any executive seeking strategic depth.  We should remember how the American public felt discraced upon reading or hearing nightly news reports of Nixon’s White House locker room language.

It was THIS and the Watergate LIE that destroyed him.

How did this end?

Bhutto was hanged in 1979 under a coup.  Pakistan went on to militarize itself under Zia-al-Haq.  And recently, Bangladeshi Islamists decided to sit-out recent elections, favoring grievance over governing.  After forty years of dictatorial rule, neither Bangladesh nor Pakistan has an emerging civil society.

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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