Richard Milhous Nixon: India, Pakistan, 1971

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Tim Weiner’s account

FOR THE RECORD - Nixon called Indians savages, did not give a fig for Bangla genocide

More than four decades after he became the only US president ever to be forced out of office, Richard Nixon remains a riveting subject of study for scholars. Pulitzer winner Tim Weiner is the latest to delve into this complex man, whose dangerous gamesmanship in the sub-continent changed India's perception of the US for more than 25 years before Bill Clinton began to rescue it. Weiner talks to Chidanand Rajghatta about that toxic chapter in US-India history

Nixon's antipathy for India and Indira Gandhi

We knew ages ago that Nixon called Indira Gandhi a bitch. He caused a great tilt in US ties towards Pakistan but initially very few people knew about it aside from Nixon and Kissinger. Yahya Khan knew, the Shah of Iran knew and the King of Jordan knew. Now there are fresh new details about the intensity of the tilt, particularly the ways in which Kissinger and Nixon talk about drawing Chinese to the Indian border and recapitulating 1962.They start staring down the barrel of World War Three in the name of Yahya facilitating the US opening to China. They do this despite knowing there was no question who was going to win this (IndiaPakistan) war.

Aside from Pakistan opening Kissinger's line to China, did Nixon, like many US presidents, simply love military brass?

Yes, but it is deeper than that. Nixon and Kissinger were much more comfortable with dictators than with democrats. Because dictators provided stability whereas democrats could not always promise stability . Nixon himself says in the book that we provide military and economic aid to 90 countries and only a third are democracies. He said this in a press conference. He is not even being subtle about it. With a brief intermezzo between the fall of Berlin Wall and fall of World Trade Center, the US has generally been more comfortable with dictators and tyrants and much more willing to arm and support them. This has been particularly egregious in the case of Pakistan.

Why Nixon and Kissinger ignored the genocide of millions of Bengalis

It actually came before Vietnam, or at least at the height -in the Christmas of '72 when US bombed Hanoi and Haiphong. Vietnam was still very much a plan. Nixon repeatedly calls the people of India savages and cannibals. He repeatedly mourns the fact that Yahya is going down and that (Indira) Gandhi will emerge stronger. He didn't give a fig for the genocide that was being committed in present day Bangladesh, crimes for which people are still being tried and convicted. The origins of this are simply loyalty to Yahya for smuggling Kissinger to China….other than the irrational hatred of India and Indians, no.

Nixon was a hater. He hated blacks, Jews, Indians. He trusted no one of any race, creed or colour ...American or not. He was interested in two things only -a dramatic and overwhelming landslide re-election in 1972, and getting to a point where he could with a straight face say he ended the Vietnam war, which was a lie. He neither settled nor ended the Vietnam war. America lost it eight months after Nixon fell.

How the India-Pakistan war affected his administration

The India-Pak war, like Vietnam, had two aspects. There was a war abroad and a war at home. The war at home was happening between the joint chiefs of staff at Pentagon and the White House and National Security Council, because the mistrust Nixon had for his generals and admirals became mutual. The chiefs thought the covert arming of the Pakistanis was a dangerous mistake and playing the Chinese card against Indians would have gone out of hand.

1971: bias against India

Chidanand Rajghatta, September 5, 2020: The Times of India

1971 tapes expose sexist, anti-Indian rants of disgraced US ex-prez Nixon

WASHINGTON: Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace as US president in 1974 in the face of certain impeachment following the Watergate scandal, and sent in the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India in 1971, made a slew of sexist and racist remarks during the nadir of US-India ties in 1970-1971, which have only now emerged.

“Undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world are the Indian women,” they are “pathetic”, they “turn me off”, Indians are “repulsive”. These are just some of the tropes essayed by him , according to archival material unearthed by Princeton academic Gary Bass.

Bass, whose 2013 book, “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide”, chronicled the disastrous US policy during the 1971 India-Pakistan war and revealed Nixon calling then Indian PM a “bitch” and broadly referring to Indians as “bastards”, accessed new material after much “wrangling” following a legal request for mandatory declassification review with the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Princeton academic Gary Bass unearthed what he described as “stunning” material from newly declassified tapes of a conversation between Nixon, his then national security advisor Henry Kissinger and White House chief of staff H R Haldeman, in the Oval Office in June 1971.

In that conversation, Nixon says, “Undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world are the Indian women,” repeating “undoubtedly” in a venomous tone. He continues, “The most sexless, nothing, these people. I mean, people say, what about the Black Africans? Well, you can see something, the vitality there, I mean they have a little animal-like charm, but God, those Indians, ack, pathetic. Uch.”

On another occasion on November 4, 1971, during a private break from a contentious White House summit with Indira Gandhi of India, Nixon makes disparaging remarks about Indians’ sexuality to Kissinger. “To me, they turn me off. How the hell do they turn other people on, Henry? Tell me.” Kissinger’s response is inaudible as Nixon continues, “They turn me off. They are repulsive and it’s just easy to be tough with them.”

A few days later, on November 12, 1971, in the middle of a discussion about India-Pakistan tensions with Kissinger and secretary of state William Rogers, after Rogers mentions reprimanding Indira Gandhi, Nixon says, “I don’t know how they reproduce!” The full content of these tapes reveal how US policy toward South Asia under Nixon was influenced by his hatred of, and sexual repulsion toward Indians, Bass notes.

Bass says while Kissinger has portrayed himself as above the racism of the Nixon White House, the tapes show him joining in the bigotry, though the tapes cannot determine whether he shared the president’s prejudices or was just pandering to him. He blames Indians for causing the refugee flow, apparently by their covert sponsorship of the Bengali insurgency and condemns Indians as a whole, his voice oozing with contempt, “They are a scavenging people”.

Although Kissinger has since recanted and apologised for calling Indians and Indira Gandhi names, and became a great votary of US-India ties in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests — in a 2005 interview with this correspondent, he apologised for his words and recalled going to Indira Gandhi’s memorial after her assassination to place a wreath — the scars remain. “These emotional displays of prejudice help to explain a foreign policy debacle. Nixon and Kissinger’s policies toward South Asia in 1971 were not just a moral disaster but a strategic fiasco on their own Cold War terms,” Bass notes.

While Nixon and Kissinger had some reasons to favour Pakistan, an American ally which was secretly helping to bring about their historic opening to China, their biases and emotions contributed to their excessive support for Pakistan’s murderous dictatorship throughout its atrocities, he writes.

Bass also suggests there may be more such material since there are bleeps still remaining on a couple of the reviewed tapes, some of which he is appealing. “For decades, Nixon and Kissinger have portrayed themselves as brilliant practitioners of realpolitik, running a foreign policy that dispassionately served the interests of the United States. But these declassified White House tapes confirm a starkly different picture: racism and misogyny at the highest levels, covered up for decades under ludicrous claims of national security. A fair historical assessment of Nixon and Kissinger must include the full truth, unbleeped,” he concludes.

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