‘The Indians… just smother you out there,with their devious things. They’re something’

On January 1,1972,just weeks after the liberation of Bangladesh,Nixon,who was preparing for a New-Year press conference,was briefed by Kissinger on the situation in Malta,India and Vietnam...

Published:January 20, 2009 1:22 am

On January 1,1972,just weeks after the liberation of Bangladesh,Nixon,who was preparing for a New-Year press conference,was briefed by Kissinger on the situation in Malta,India and Vietnam. After briefly discussing a crisis in Malta at that time,the two leaders talked about the situation in India with Nixon referring to a statement by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Parliament in which she said that all foreign aid was essentially a loan and that India had repaid every bit of it. The two leaders discussed whether to recognise the new country of Bangladesh or not and how Bangladesh was going to be become a big problem for India. The conversation brings out a slight frustration in the US administration over India’s role in the creation of Bangladesh but doesn’t seem to be more than a mild irritant. In a recent interaction with The Indian Express staff in New Delhi,Kissinger had made clear that the US was at no point of time considering a military move against India on the issue of Bangladesh.

“The movement of the US carrier Enterprise was a symbolic move to convey that the situation was getting serious and going beyond regional issues. It was at the moment when the Chinese allegedly were considering a move in the Himalayas,and the Soviets were sending arms to India. So you have to look at it in the context of attempting to bring about an end to the conflict on the West Pakistan side. The Bangladesh issue had been substantially settled,” he had said.

Transcript

Nixon: I was noting — I just noted Mrs Gandhi made a speech to Parliament in which she still takes her line that foreign aid has really never aided them,that they’d paid back every bit that they’d ever gotten…

(According to an article in The New York Times: “(Mrs. Gandhi) said that foreign aid had been misdefined over the years. ‘It is not aid at all’,she said,‘but long-term credits’. India,so far,has paid back every cent,every paise it owed to other countries. If some countries want to stop this so-called aid,there will be hardship in some areas. But it will not push us back.” Sydney H Schanberg,“Mrs. Gandhi says India Would Like US Friendship,” The New York Times (January 1,1972),P 1)

Kissinger: Right

Nixon: …and that she’s going to take this line about what she’s going to do and so forth and so on

Kissinger: Yeah,but on the other hand…

Nixon: But…

Kissinger: …when she doesn’t talk to Parliament her Parliament is very…

Nixon: I know

Kissinger: kind of…

Nixon: Hawk-like

Kissinger: …fanatical from both sides

Nixon: Right

Kissinger: She’s put all out all sorts of signals

Nixon: Right

Kissinger: (Unclear)

Nixon: Well,well she’s taking the public line that we don’t understand her and all that…

Kissinger: Yeah,but the Indians are master psychologists. They’ve got to deal with us. They’ve got — literally — now they’re in worse shape than ever

Nixon: I guess they must be

Kissinger: because now… when people say,first of all,they put themselves on the Soviet side. John Freeman told Henry Brandon when he was there and Freeman,you know,was ambassador…

(John Freeman was British Ambassador to the United States,1969-1971,and Henry Brandon was foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times)

Nixon: Ambassador. Yeah…

Kissinger: …for years… that they in ’67 cold bloodedly decided they needed the Russians to deal with the Pakistanis

Nixon: Yeah

Kissinger: And that we just weren’t enough of a factor in that area. That’s when they made their move

Nixon: Yeah

Kissinger: But,now,their problem is they cannot permit. For their own domestic reasons,if the Russians become too influential in India the Communist Party become too strong,and…

Nixon: I know. That’s a real problem for them

Kissinger: and they can’t have that. Secondly,this problem of East Bengal is going to become harder and harder for them. Now they have the problem that Pakistan used to have

Nixon: How the hell of feed ‘em and govern ‘em…

Kissinger: How to feed them and how to govern. They can’t govern their own Bengalis

Nixon: That’s right

Kissinger: People keep forgetting that they have martial law in Calcutta (Kolkata)

Nixon: That’s right

Kissinger: They kept… called… yakking about martial law in Dacca (Dhaka),but there’s martial law in Calcutta also

Nixon: Yep. With regard to the question of recognition of Bangladesh,I think it should the answer… should simply be very well: “It’s premature to talk about that.” Isn’t that about what we say?

Kissinger: First,Mr President,no one has recognised Bangladesh except Bhutan and India. No one. Not even Russia

(Kissinger recommended US resolution of Bagladesh in February 16,1972,memo to Presiden)

Nixon: Yeah. Well,I think we should just say it’s premature to talk about it

Kissinger: That’s right. We should say…

Nixon: And not go into it any longer,any further

Kissinger: That’s—right.

Nixon: Or,unless we… I don’t think we ought to hang out the idea. Well,it might… into Pakistan and all the rest. I don’t think we should reject it…

Kissinger: No

Nixon: But…

Kissinger: No,the fact of the matter is at this point the Chinese would take violent objection because of their parallels to Tibet and Manchukuo

Nixon: Yeah

Kissinger: But,that’s just something to keep in the back of the mind. But if you say no more than it’s premature that’s fine

Nixon: Oh,yes,to just say,“Well,I have nothing on that. It’s premature and we haven’t,we have not yet determined”. Only India and Russia have recommended them… Um,Bhutan…

Kissinger: No,it hasn’t

Nixon: Russia hasn’t. That’s right. That’s right.

Kissinger: You… I would just say,“Up to now there are only two countries that have recognised them. This is not an acute issue.”

Nixon: Um-hmm…

Kissinger: Of course,we have a Consul in Dacca who — as already put up a map calling it — he’s calling it Bangladesh.

Nixon: Yeah,I know. The same bastard that was there before,isn’t it?

Kissinger: Yeah

Nixon: He’s really an all-out Indian-lover,isn’t he?

Kissinger: That’s right

Nixon: And poor (Kenneth B) Keating in the other place. We really have…

(Keating was US Ambassador to India from May 1968 to July 1972)

Kissinger: Well,I have to say this for Keating: he’s bleated and he’s wept and tried,but he hasn’t actually leaked to the press against you.

Nixon: Good. Well,he probably knows that there’s problems. Boy,that’s difficult. You know,the Indians just,just are… just smother you out there when you come,you know,with all their devious,tricky things. They are really something. Yeah. The most difficult questions that I’m going to have are,I think,going to be on Vietnam. Not in terms of the bombing and so forth. That’s no problem,but in terms of POWs,when it ends,and so forth. You see we’re now coming to the… coming to the moment of truth in terms of we’ve been able to put the press off,and say,“Well,we’ll have another announcement,and we’ll do this,and this,and this,and this,and this.”

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App

    Live Cricket Scores & Results