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Chapter XXI The Tilt: The India-Pakistan Crisis of 1971

Edit Date:7/24/2010 12:00:00 AM

Henry Kissinger Courtesy: White House Years [Boston: Little Brown, 1979, pp. 842-918] ________________________________________ Origins of Tragedy Two Cyclones Military Crackdown The Crisis Accelerates The Soviet-Indian Friendship Treaty Contacts with the Bangladesh Exiles Mrs. Gandhi Comes to Washington War between India and Pakistan The War Spreads Climax: A Fateful Decision The Aftermath ________________________________________ Origins of Tragedy In every administration some event occurs that dramatizes the limits of human foresight. In the year of uncertainty on Vietnam, the opening to China, and the evolving relationship with the Soviet Union, there was almost nothing the Administration was less eager to face than a crisis in South Asia. And as if to underscore the contingent quality of all our planning, it was triggered by, of all things, a cyclone. Bordered on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Himalayas, and on the west by the Hindu Kush mountains that merge with the heavens as if determined to seal off the teeming masses, and petering out in the east in the marshes and rivers of Bengal, the Indian subcontinent has existed through the millennia as a world apart. Its northern plains simmer in enervating heat in summer and are assailed by incongruous frost in winter; its lush south invites a life of tranquility and repose. Its polyglot peoples testify to the waves of conquerors who have descended upon it through the mountain passes, from the neighboring deserts, and occasionally from across the sea. Huns, Mongols, Greeks, Persians, Moguls, Afghans, Portuguese, and at last Britons have established empires and then vanished, leaving multitudes oblivious of either the coming or the going. Unlike China, which imposed its own matrix of law and culture on invaders so successfully that they grew indistinguishable from the Chinese people, India transcended foreigners not by co-opting but by segregating them. Invaders might raise incredible monuments to their own importance as if to reassure themselves of their greatness in the face of so much indifference, but the Indian peoples endured by creating relationships all but impervious to alien influence. Like the Middle East, India is the home of great religions. Yet unlike those of the East, these are religions not of exaltation but of endurance; they have inspired man not by prophetic visions of messianic fulfillment but by bearing witness to the fragility of human existence; they offer not personal salvation but the solace of an inevitable destiny. Where each man is classified from birth, his failure is never personal; his quality is tested by his ability to endure his fate, not to shape it. The caste system does not attract civilizations determined to seek fulfillment in a single lifetime. It provides extraordinary resilience and comfort in larger perspectives. The Hindu religion is proud and self-contained; it accepts no converts. One is either born into it or forever denied its comforts and the assured position it confers. Foreign conquest is an ultimate irrelevancy in the face of such impermeability; it gives the non-Indian no status in Indian society, enabling Indian civilization to survive, occasionally even to thrive, through centuries of foreign rule. Of course, so many invasions have had to leave a human, not only an architectural, residue. The Moslem conquerors, representing a proselytizing religion, offered mass conversion as a route for lower-caste Hindus to alleviate their condition. They succeeded only partially, for once converted the new Moslems lost the respect to which even their low-caste status had entitled them. Here were sown the seeds of the communal hatred that has rent the subcontinent for the past generations. Britain was but one of the latest of the conquerors, replacing Moslem Mogul and some Hindu rulers in the north and propping up indigenous Hindu rulers in the south -carrying out the cycle, it seemed, of the ages. But in one important respect Britain's conquest was different. True, it was made possible precisely because the British replaced one set of rulers by another in a pattern that had become traditional; its psychological basis was that the concept of nationhood did not yet exist. But it was Britain that gave the subcontinent -heretofore a religious, cultural, and geographic expression -a political identity as well. The British provided for the first time a homogeneous structure of government, administration, and law. They then supplied the Western values of nationalism and liberalism. Paradoxically, it was their own implanting of values of nationalism and democracy that made the British ?foreign,? that transformed a cultural expression into a political movement. Indian leaders trained in British schools claimed for their peoples the very values of their rulers. And the half-heartedness of Britain's resistance demonstrated that it had lost the moral battle before the physical one was joined. As the prospect of nationhood appeared, the polyglot nationalities that he flood of invasions had swept into India now were left alone with their swelling numbers, their grinding poverty, and above all with one another. Nearly a third of the total population was Moslem, concentrated in the West Punjab and East Bengal but with important pockets all over India. Many of these peoples, by now outcasts of Indian society, found it unacceptable to live in a secular state dominated by those who through the centuries had disdained them. The British solution in 1947 was partition along religious lines. Thus were born, amidst unspeakable horrors and communal riots, the states of India and Pakistan. Pakistan was composed of two units: the West, dominated by the Punjab; and the East, Bengali (1), separated by a thousand miles of Indian territory, with no common language, held together not by economics or history but by Islam and a common fear of Hindu domination. Pakistan's very existence was an affront to Indian nationalists who had, like other leaders of independence movements, dreamed of claiming all the territory ruled by the former colonial power. And India saw in the neighboring Moslem state a potential threat to its own national cohesion. Since more than fifty million Moslems remained under India's rule, either they would sooner or later claim their own national existence, or else the creation of Pakistan had been in fact the needless British imposition that some Indian nationalists never tired of proclaiming it was. For its part, Pakistan, conscious that even the lowest-class Hindus believed themselves part of a system superior to the Moslems, looked on its larger neighbor with fear, with resentment, and occasionally with hatred. Few old neighbors have less in common, despite their centuries of living side by side, than the intricate, complex Hindus and the simpler, more direct Moslems. It is reflected in the contrasts of their architecture. The finely carved Hindu temples have nooks and corners whose seemingly endless detail conveys no single view or meaning. The mosques and forts with which the Moguls have covered the northern third of the subcontinent are vast, elegant, romantic, their resplendent opulence contrasting with the flatness of the simmering countryside, their innumerable fountains expressing a yearning for surcease from a harsh environment and a nostalgia for the less complicated regions that had extruded the invader. In the 1950s and 1960s, America, oblivious to these new countries' absorption with themselves, sought to fit them into its own preconceptions. We took at face value Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's claim to be neutral moral arbiter of world affairs. We hardly noticed that this was precisely the policy by which a weak nation seeks influence out of proportion to its strength, or that India rarely matched its international pretensions with a willingness to assume risks, except on the sub-Continent where it saw itself destined for preeminence. And we treated Pakistan simply as a potential military ally against Communist aggression. There was no recognition that most Pakistanis considered their real security threat to be India, the very country that we had enshrined in the pantheon of abstract morality and that in turn viewed our arming of Pakistan as a challenge undermining our attempt to nurture its favor. At one and the same time we overestimated the feasibility of obtaining India's political approbation and misjudged the target of Pakistan's military efforts. We were overly sensitive to the ?world opinion? that India purported to represent. But we also sought to include Pakistan in a conception of containment that it did not share. The legal obligation to the common defense was thought to represent a deterrent to Communist aggression even when the members of the alliances in question could do little to reinforce each other's strength or had few shared objectives. Pakistan became our ally in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and in the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). (2) Pakistan thus became eligible for US arms aid, which was intended for use against Communist aggression but was suspected by India of having other more likely uses. The military alliances formed in the Eisenhower Administration became controversial in America when the Democratic opposition attacked them as examples of overemphasis on military considerations. India became the special favorite of American liberals, who saw in its commitment to democracy the foundation of a notional partnership and in its hoped-for economic success the best refutation of Communist claims to represent the wave of the future. No wonder that after the change of administrations in 1961, Washington's interest in Pakistan cooled noticeably; verbal assurances of American protection came increasingly to be substituted for military hardware. (The multiplication of these assurances came back to haunt us in 1971.) And all the while India worked tenaciously and skillfully to undermine the military relationship between Pakistan and the United States even after India had built up a significant weapons industry of its own and established a substantial military supply relationship with the Soviet Union. The 1965 India-Pakistan war furnished us a pretext to disentangle ourselves to some degree. The United States stopped, the supply of all military equipment to both sides (this policy was modified somewhat in 1966-1967, to permit the provision of non-lethal items and spares for all equipment) .The seeming even-handedness was deceptive; the practical consequence was to injure Pakistan, since India received most of its arms either from Communist nations or from its own armories. President Johnson, aware of the one-sidedness of the action, promised to arrange a transfer to Pakistan of some obsolescent American tanks through a third party such as Turkey. But he never completed the transaction, in part because he did not want to spend his waning Congressional support on what must have appeared to him a marginally important decision, in part because the third parties developed second thoughts. My own experience with the subcontinent should have of its fevered passions. In January 1962, while I was still technically a consultant to President Kennedy, the United States Information Agency arranged a series of lectures for me on the subcontinent. Our Ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, a good friend of mine, was not a little disquieted about the impact on his presumptively sensitive and pacifist clients of a Harvard professor whose chief claim to fame at that time was a book called Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. I promptly put his mind at ease by getting myself embroiled with Pakistan upon my arrival at the New Delhi airport. At the inevitable press conference I replied to a question about Kashmir with what I thought was a diplomatic answer -that I did not know enough about it to form a judgment. When queried about Pakistan's budding flirtation with China, I was loath to admit my ignorance of a development that, in the light of the prevalent view of China's congenital aggressiveness, seemed preposterous. I therefore opined that I could not imagine Pakistan doing such a foolish thing. Pakistan's leaders already felt discriminated against because a Harvard professor had been assigned as Ambassador to New Delhi while Islamabad rated "only" a career appointment. But they had been too circumspect to attack a personal friend of Kennedy. My airport interview was a godsend. It enabled the Pakistani press to vent its disappointment against another Harvard professor and lesser associate of Kennedy. My confession of ignorance about Kashmir was transmuted into a symbol of American indifference. Using the word 'foolish', in the same sentence as "Pakistan" -even to deny that Pakistan was foolish -became a national insult. There was one compensation. The Pakistani press campaign turned me fleetingly into a figure of consequence in India. Thus in 1962, at least, the charge was that I was tilting toward India. Matters eventually calmed down enough so that I could show my face in Pakistan on the same trip. I proved immediately that I had not lost my touch. Returning to Peshawar from sight-seeing at the Khyber Pass, I was waylaid by a Pakistani journalist who asked me whether I had seen any sign of Pushtoon agitation. (3) On the theory that the subcontinent had been deprived of my wisecracks long enough, I replied: "I would not recognize Pushtoon agitation if it hit me in the face." The resulting headline, "Kissinger Does Not Recognize Pushtoonistan," triggered an official Afghan protest in Washington, but at least it made me a momentary hero in Pakistan. There is no telling what else I might have achieved had I followed my wanderlust to visit Afghanistan. But the USIA judged that it had more than gotten its money's worth of cultural exchange and that home was a safer place for my talents. Thus perhaps I should have known better than to become involved in the frenzies of the subcontinent in 1971. When the Nixon Administration took office, our policy objective on the subcontinent was, quite simply, to avoid adding another complication to our agenda. In their uneasy twenty-two-years' coexistence India and Pakistan had fought two wars. We sought to maintain good relations with both of them. Nixon, to put it mildly, was less susceptible to Indian claims of moral leadership than some of his predecessors; indeed, he viewed what he considered their alleged obsequiousness toward India as a prime example of liberal soft-headedness. But this did not keep him from having a moderately successful visit to New Delhi in 1969 on his round-the-world trip. He quickly abandoned his vision of crowds comparable with Eisenhower's in 1956. The reception was restrained; crowds were merely adequate; the discussions were what in communiqué ¬anguage would be called "constructive" and "businesslike." Nixon gave a very eloquent dinner toast, paying tribute to the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi and ruminating thoughtfully on the nature of peace in the modern world. But Nixon and Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister and daughter of Nehru, were not intended by fate to be personally congenial. Her assumption of almost hereditary moral superiority and her moody silences brought out all of Nixon's latent insecurities. Her bearing toward Nixon combined a disdain for a symbol of capitalism quite fashionable in developing countries with a hint that the obnoxious things she had heard about the President from her intellectual friends could not all be untrue. Nixon's comments after meetings with her were not printable. On the other hand, Nixon had an understanding for leaders who operated on an unsentimental assessment of the national interest. Once one cut through the strident, self-righteous rhetoric, Mrs. Gandhi had few peers in the cold-blooded calculation of the elements of power. The political relationship in substance was thus far better than the personal one. Whatever Nixon's personal qualms about its Prime Minister, India continued throughout his first Administration to enjoy a substantial constituency in the Congress and within the US government. Mrs. Gandhi had not yet disillusioned Americans by her nuclear test and assumption of authoritarian rule. Emotional ties with the world's most populous democracy remained. Large annual aid appropriations were proposed by the Administration and passed by Congress with little opposition. Between 1965 and 1971 India received $4.2 billion of American economic aid, about $1.5 billion of it during the Nixon years. If India basked in Congressional warmth and was subject to Presidential indifference, Pakistan's situation was exactly the reverse. Pakistan was one of the countries where Nixon had been received with respect when he was out of office; he never forgot this. And the bluff, direct military chiefs of Pakistan were more congenial to him than the complex and apparently haughty Brahmin leaders of India. On the other hand, Pakistan had never found the sympathy in America that India enjoyed, at least among opinion-making groups. It did not represent principles with which Americans could identify as readily as with the "progressive" slogans and pacifist-sounding morality of the world's largest democracy. Moreover, India was much larger and had four or five times the population of Pakistan. There were thus hardheaded reasons for the priority attached to our relations with India. Nixon made few changes in the policies he inherited on the subcontinent except to adopt a somewhat warmer tone toward Pakistan. He and I -as the only senior officials who knew the facts -were profoundly grateful for Pakistan's role as the channel to China. It was a service for which Pakistan's leaders, to their lasting honor, never sought any reciprocity or special consideration. The only concrete gesture Nixon made -and it was also to maintain the promise of his predecessor - was to approve in the summer of 1970 a small package of military equipment for Pakistan. This was to be a "one-time exception" to the US arms embargo. It included some twenty aircraft and 300 armored personnel carriers, but no tanks or artillery. The package amounted to $40 to $50 million (or somewhat more, depending on the type of aircraft chosen). India, which was increasing its military procurement at the average rate of $350 million a year -nearly ten times this amount- raised a storm of protest. At the same time India was accusing us of interfering in its domestic affairs because some of our Embassy personnel -in perhaps the most overstaffed Embassy of our diplomatic service- occasionally saw opposition leaders. This was not fulfilling a Washington-designed strategy but was a natural activity in a country with free institutions; it was an odd accusation for the leaders of a democracy to make. But the storm soon blew over. By 1971 our relations with India had achieved a state of exasperatedly strained cordiality, like a couple that can neither separate nor get along. Our relations with Pakistan were marked by a superficial friendliness that had little concrete content. On the subcontinent, at least, alliance with the United States had not been shown to produce significant benefits over nonalignment. At the beginning of 1971 none of our senior policymakers expected the subcontinent to jump to the top of our agenda. It seemed to require no immediate decisions except annual aid programs and relief efforts in response to tragic natural disasters in late 1970. It appeared to be the Ideal subject for long-range studies. I ordered three of these in late 1970. Two addressed Soviet naval strength in the Indian Ocean and its Implications; the third examined our long-term policy toward India and Pakistan, including the objectives of the Soviet Union and Communist China and the interplay between them. Each of these studies was given a due date far ahead; no serious crisis was expected. Two Cyclones Ever since it had come into being, Pakistan had sought a sustained legitimacy. No government after the death of the founder of the state had served out its term. Every change had occurred through some sort of coup; military and civilian governments alternated, with the military dominant. The year 1970 was expected to see a constitutional government. Elections would finally take place in December. Pakistan's President Yahya Khan visited Nixon in October during the United Nations' twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, when Nixon gave him the message to Chou En-lai already described. I took the opportunity to ask Yahya what would happen to the powers of the President after the election. Yahya could not have been more confident. He expected a multiplicity of parties to emerge in both West and East Pakistan, which would continually fight each other in each wing of the country and between the two wings; the President would therefore remain the arbiter of Pakistan's politics. Before his prediction could be tested a devastating cyclone struck East Pakistan over November 12-13. By most accounts, I wrote Nixon, this was the greatest disaster of the century in terms of destruction of property and human life; over 200,000 were thought to have died. The all-out relief program that Nixon ordered could only touch the surface of the suffering. Recovery efforts were chaotic and ineffective. The opposition charged the Yahya government with gross incompetence and worse. The political storm turned out in the end to be even more destructive than the natural one. Whether the cyclone crystallized opposition to the central government and enhanced East Pakistan's sense of grievance and identity, or whether Yahya had misjudged the mood all along, the elections held on December 7, 1970, turned into a plebiscite on Yahya's handling of the crisis and produced a catastrophe for the military rulers. The Awami League, dedicated to East Pakistani autonomy, won 167 out of 169 seats contested in the East, giving it a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly. Its leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (known as Mujib), was thus bound to be an unchallengeable figure in East Pakistan and a powerful influence in the entire country. To heighten the political drama, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party emerged in a comparably dominant position in West Pakistan. While opposed to military rule, Bhutto was an advocate of a strong central government and of a united Pakistan; he fiercely resisted Mujib's insistence on East Pakistani autonomy and in this he was certain to be supported by the military .(Indeed, he may well have adopted this position in order to become more acceptable to the military.) The Awami League had put forward a six-point program for full provincial autonomy for East Pakistan that left the central government some vague responsibility only in the fields of foreign policy and defense. Each of the two constituent units of Pakistan, it proposed, would have its own currency, keep its own separate account for foreign .exchange, raise its own taxes, set its own fiscal policy, and maintain its own militia and paramilitary units. Yahya and Bhutto rejected this as tantamount to secession. A stalemate -or crisis -was imminent. On February 16, 1971, I requested an interagency study of the alternatives should East Pakistan try to make a break; on February 22, I sent my own analysis to the President: [Mujib and Bhutto] have failed so far to forge even the beginning of an informal consensus on the new constitution. President Yahya remains committed to turning his military government over to the civilian politicians, but maintains that he will not preside over the splitting of Pakistan. ... [Mujib] is now planning to stick with his demands for the virtual autonomy of East Pakistan and if he does not get his way -which is very likely -to declare East Pakistan independence. Yahya was caught between his reluctance to make common cause with Bhutto and his resistance to the quasi-independence of East Pakistan demanded by Mujib. He postponed the convening of the National Assembly set for early March to give the political leaders more time to sort out their differences, but this move further antagonized the East. Yahya ultimately rescheduled the Assembly for March 25, gambling that the two civilian antagonists, faced with a deadlock that might break up the country, would choose to compromise. In this judgment, too, Yahya proved to be mistaken. Bhutto was undoubtedly the most brilliant man in Pakistani politics; he was also arrogant arid strong-willed. Later on he would preside over the recovery of his dismembered country with statesmanship and courage. In early 197 I he feared that compromise would bring down on him the wrath of the very masses in West Pakistan whose support had swept him to the threshold of power. Mujib, for his part, could not arrest the forces he had unleashed. He was far less inclined to do so than Bhutto, and more prone to believe in his own rhetoric. Like figures in a Greek tragedy, each of these two popular Pakistani leaders refused to let the other cross the threshold beyond which lay power for both of them; they would yield to necessity but not to each other. As the tension increased, our government reviewed its options. The Senior Review Group met on March 6 to consider the interagency study I had requested on February 16. Our consensus was that Pakistan would not be able to hold the East by force. I made it clear to the agencies that the President would be reluctant to confront Yahya, but that the White House would not object to other countries' efforts to dissuade him from using force. If Pakistan broke up, it should be the result of its internal dynamics, not of American pressures. All agencies agreed that the United States should 1lot get involved. This was also the policy of Great Britain, which had a much longer historical relationship. During March we experienced the confusions that mark the onset of most crises. In a" major speech on March 7, Mujib stopped short of a total break with West Pakistan, but he demanded an end to martial law and a return to popular rule, making clear his goal remained the' 'emancipation" of the East. Yahya announced that he was flying to Dacca, capital of East Pakistan, to negotiate with Mujib on March 15. Meanwhile, in India in early March, Prime Minister Gandhi scored an enormous victory in the Indian general elections. Until then events in Pakistan had been the internal problems of a friendly country; we might have our view but they were not a foreign policy issue. Busy with the election campaign and its immediate aftermath, Mrs. Gandhi adopted a hands-off policy. As late as the middle of March, the permanent head of the Indian Foreign Office, T. N. Kaul, told our Ambassador in New Delhi, Kenneth Keating, that India wanted Pakistan to remain united. On March 17 the Indian Ambassador in Washington, the skillful L. K. Jha, spoke in the same sense to me. Neither gave the slightest indication that India would consider the troubles in neighboring East Pakistan as affecting its own vital interests. But sometimes the nerves of public figures snap. Incapable of abiding events, they seek to force the pace and lose their balance. So it was that Yahya Khan, with less than 40,000 troops, decided to establish military rule over the 75 million people of East Pakistan, to suppress the Awami League, and to arrest Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The crisis in Pakistan then became international. Military Crackdown What prompted Yahya to his reckless step on March 25 is not fully known. No doubt the Bengali population taunted the Pakistani soldiers drawn almost exclusively from the West. Mujib's version of autonomy seemed indistinguishable from independence. Almost all nations will fight for their unity, even if sentiment in the disaffected area is overwhelmingly for secession. So it was during our Civil War, with Nigeria toward Biafra, and with the Congo toward Katanga. Pakistan was unique, however, in that the seceding province was separated from West Pakistan by a thousand miles of Indian territory. There was no likelihood that a small military force owing loyalty to the one wing of the country could indefinitely hold down a population of 75 million of the other. Once indigenous Bengali support for a united Pakistan evaporated, the integrity of Pakistan was finished. An independent Bengali state was certain to emerge, even without Indian intervention. The only question was how the change would come about. We wanted to stay aloof from this if we could, as did Britain. We even received reports of West Pakistani suspicions that we might favor an independent East Pakistan, but neither the British nor we wished to be made scapegoats for the country's breakup. We had few means to affect the situation. We had, moreover, every incentive to maintain Pakistan's goodwill. It was our crucial link to Peking; and Pakistan was one of China's closest allies. We had sent a message in December through Pakistan accepting the principle of an American emissary in Peking. In March and April the signs were multiplying that a Chinese response was imminent. April was the month of Ping-Pong diplomacy. In this first stage of the crisis the consensus of the US government was to avoid precipitate action even among those who knew nothing of our China initiative. At a WSAG meeting on March 26 I repeated my own view that the prognosis was for civil war leading to independence fairly quickly. A State Department representative noted that Britain was unwilling to engage itself in pressing Pakistan. I told my colleagues: "I talked to the President briefly before lunch. His inclination is the same as everybody else's. He doesn't want to do anything. He doesn't want to be in the position where he can be accused of having encouraged the split-up of Pakistan. He does not favor a very active policy.? Yet pressures for an active policy began to mount. There was general and justified outrage as during April reports began to come in of Pakistani atrocities in Bengal. Our Consul General in Dacca was sending cables to Washington urging a public American stand against Pakistani repression; other members of the consulate staff signed a similar message in early April. Secretary Rogers told me he found it "outrageous" that his diplomats were writing petitions rather than reports. But in a favorite device of subordinates seeking to foreclose their superiors' options, the cables were deliberately given a low classification and hence wide circulation. Leaks to the Congress and press were inevitable. A Pakistani editor who visited East Pakistan wrote a firsthand account of army killings for the London Sunday Times. Our Ambassador in New Delhi, Kenneth Keating, reported to Washington that he was "deeply shocked at the massacre" and was "greatly concerned at the United States' vulnerability to damaging association with a reign of military terror.? He urged that the United States promptly, publicly, and prominently deplore' 'this brutality,? privately intervene with Yahya Khan, abrogate our "one-time exception," and immediately suspend all military deliveries to Pakistan. We faced a dilemma. The United States could not condone a brutal military repression in which thousands of civilians were killed and from which millions fled to India for safety. There was no doubt about the strong-arm tactics of the Pakistani military .But Pakistan was our sole channel to China; once it was closed off it would take months to make alternative arrangements. The issue hit Washington, moreover, in the midst of another of the cyclic upheavals over Vietnam. A massive campaign of disobedience was planned for May I. To some of our critics our silence over Pakistan -the reason for which we could not explain -became another symptom of the general moral insensitivity of their government. They could not accept that it might be torn between conflicting imperatives; some had a vested interest in undermining their government's standing on whatever issue came to hand in the belief that this would collapse our effort in Vietnam. The Administration reacted in the same ungenerous spirit; there was some merit to the charge of moral insensitivity. Nixon ordered our Consul General transferred from Dacca; he ridiculed Keating for having been "taken over by the Indians." A tragic victim of the war in Vietnam was the possibility of rational debate on foreign policy. The State Department moved on its own to preempt the decisions. Ignorant of the China initiative, heavily influenced by its traditional Indian bias, in early April- without clearance with the White House ?the Department moved toward a new arms embargo on Pakistan: It suspended issuance of new licenses for the sale of munitions and renewal of expired licenses; it put a hold on the delivery of items from Defense Department stocks and held in abeyance the ?one-time exception? package of 1970. Some $35 million in arms to Pakistan was cut off, leaving some $5 million trickling through the pipeline. (This $5 million became a contentious issue with the Congress in early July.) The State Department also began to throttle economic aid to Pakistan, again without White House clearance, by the ingenious device of claiming that our existing programs could no longer be made effective throughout the entire country because of the civil war .My NSC staff expert Hal Saunders wrote me that the State Department was moving from a posture of detachment to one of dissociation from the Pakistani government, but "they are not acknowledging to themselves that this is what they are doing. They are justifying their move on technical grounds.? Anyone familiar with Nixon's attitudes could not doubt that this was contrary to his wishes; those unfamiliar should have checked with the White House. The preemption of Presidential prerogatives goes far to explain Nixon's (and my) attitude later that year. Throughout April my major task was to get control of the governmental process, with two objectives: to preserve the channel to Peking and to preserve the possibility of a political solution in Pakistan. By then, Islamabad was not only a point of contact but also my likely place of departure for China. And signs began to appear that India's proposed solution to the undoubted burden of millions of Bengali refugees was not so much to enable them to return as to accelerate the disintegration of Pakistan (or at any rate to identify one objective with the other). On March 31 the Indian Parliament unanimously expressed its wholehearted "sympathy and support" for the Bengalis. As early as April I, I reported to the President that, 'the Indians seems to be embarking on a course of public diplomatic and covert actions that will increase the already high level of tension in the subcontinent and run the risk of touching off a broader and more serious international crisis." On April 14 a Bangladesh government in exile was established in Calcutta. By the middle of April we received reports that India was training Bengali refugees to become guerrilla fighters in East Pakistan (the so-called Mukti Bahini). By the end of April we learned that India was about to infiltrate the first 2,000 of these guerrillas into East Pakistan. I considered a policy of restraint correct on the merits, above and beyond the China connection. For better or worse, the strategy of the Nixon Administration on humanitarian questions was not to lay down a challenge to sovereignty that would surely be rejected, but to exert our influence without public confrontation. In retrospect I believe that we sometimes carried this basically correct approach to pedantic lengths which antagonized potential supporters. In the case of Pakistan it seemed appropriate because its government was an ally that, we were convinced, was bound soon to learn the futility of its course. We undertook to persuade Yahya Khan to move toward autonomy, advising him as a friend to take steps that he would almost surely have rejected had we demanded them publicly. As I wrote the President on April 29, the central government' 'may recognize the need to move toward greater East Pakistani autonomy in order to draw the necessary Bengali cooperation. What we seem to face, therefore, is a period of transition to greater East Pakistani autonomy and, perhaps, eventual independence." Yet, I noted, India's policy was bound to work against such a settlement: "By training and equipping a relatively small Bengali resistance force, India can help keep active resistance alive and increase the chances of a prolonged guerrilla war. From all indications, the Indians intend to follow such a course." Following our customary procedure, I asked the State Department in April to suggest options in preparation for a decision by the President as to what our policy should be in light of the unfolding crisis. A broad policy decision would provide the framework for handling the specific economic and military aid issues with Pakistan; it was especially needed in view of the fact that State had already begun moving in its own desired direction. As usual, the Department placed its preferred option between alternatives so absurd that they could not possibly serve as a basis of policy. (One proposal, for example, was all-out support for Yahya. This was neither the White House conviction nor a feasible course of action.) I distilled a recommendation from the range of options that State proposed. To respond to Congressional and public desires I proposed that the President ratify the State Department's unauthorized action of early April shutting down the military supply pipeline, allowing only some spare parts and non-lethal equipment to move. I also urged that economic aid be used as a carrot to induce political concessions, "to make a serious effort to help Yahya end the war and establish an arrangement that could be transitional to East Pakistani autonomy." Nixon approved my recommendation on May 2, and added a handwritten note: "To all hands. Don't squeeze Yahya at this time. RN." But we ran up against three obstacles: the policy of India, our own public debate, and the indiscipline of our bureaucracy. On May 18 -when we were already in the advanced stage of preparing the secret trip to Peking with Islamabad -Mrs. Gandhi warned Pakistan in a public speech that India was "fully prepared to fight if the situation is forced on us.? Indian ambassadors alerted Britain and France that India "may be forced to act in its national interest" in view of the flood of refugees, by then an estimated 2.8 million. (4) The burden of refugees was indeed monumental; the danger of communal riots could not be dismissed. But as the weeks passed, we began increasingly to suspect that Mrs. Gandhi perceived a larger opportunity. As Pakistan grew more and more isolated internationally, she appeared to seek above all Pakistan's humiliation, perhaps trying to spread the centrifugal tendencies from East to West Pakistan. When the United States agreed to assume the major cost of refugee relief, India switched to insisting that the refugee problem was insoluble without a political settlement. But India's terms for a settlement escalated by the week. When the United States offered to alleviate famine in East Pakistan, India - together with many in the United States -demanded that the relief program be run by an international agency. The reason was ostensibly to ensure its fair distribution, but it would also prevent the Pakistani government from gaining credit with its own population. In May 1971 we learned from sources heretofore reliable that Mrs. Gandhi had ordered plans for a lightning "Israeli-type" attack to take over East Pakistan. And we had hard evidence that India was dispersing aircraft and moving combat troops and armor to the border. Nixon took the reports seriously enough to order on May 23 that if India launched such an attack, US economic aid to India was to be cut off. I assembled the WSAG on May 26 to review our policy in the event of a war. Around this time we learned that Indian military leaders thought Mrs. Gandhi's proposal of an attack on East Pakistan was too risky. They feared Chinese intervention, the possibility of other countries' military aid to Pakistan (especially Iran's), the uncertainty of re-supply of Soviet weapons, and the likelihood that all of Pakistan might have to be occupied to bring the war to a conclusion. The Indian commanders insisted, at a minimum, on waiting until November when weather in the Himalayas would make Chinese intervention more difficult. While Mrs. Gandhi set about systematically to remove these objections and waited for the snows to fall in the mountains, we had a breathing space. (I must stress that most in the United States government did not credit these reports as I did; most senior officials considered an Indian attack improbable.) We used the interval first of all to step up our assistance to the refugees; the original authorization of $2.5 million in the spring was eventually multiplied a hundredfold to $250 million. At the same time we pressed Pakistan to take steps of political accommodation, urging Yahya first to internationalize the relief effort in East Pakistan and then to come up with a political proposal. And we recommended the replacement of the military governor in the East by a civilian; we succeeded in securing a general amnesty covering all persons not already charged with specific criminal acts. On May 28 Nixon sent letters to both Mrs. Gandhi and Yahya Khan outlining our policy. The letter to Yahya was not exactly strong; it reflected our need for Yahya as a channel to Peking. But it left no doubt that we favored a political and not a military solution to the problem of East Pakistan. Nixon acknowledged Yahya's readiness to accept the internationalization of relief. He encouraged Yahya to continue on the course of "political accommodation": "I have also noticed with satisfaction your public declaration of amnesty for the refugees and commitment to transfer power to elected representatives. I am confident that you will turn these statements into reality.? Nixon urged restraint in Pakistan's relations with India; he deemed it ?absolutely vital? to restore conditions in East Pakistan "conducive to the return of refugees from Indian territory as quickly as possible.? The President's parallel letter to Mrs. Gandhi on May 28 stressed our desire to reduce the refugee flow into India and to help ease the burden on India by financial and technical aid. Nixon informed her of our efforts to move Yahya: We have chosen to work primarily through quiet diplomacy, as we have informed your Ambassador and Foreign Minister. We have been discussing with the Government of Pakistan the importance of achieving a peaceful political accommodation and of restoring conditions under which the refugee flow would stop and the refugees would be able to return to their homes. I feel that these approaches were at least in part behind President Yahya's press conference on May 24 and especially his public acceptance of international assistance, offer of amnesty to the refugees and commitment to transfer power to elected representatives. Nixon complimented India on the vitality of its democracy and its economic and social progress, and added a veiled warning against a military solution: ?India's friends would be dismayed were this progress to be interrupted by war.? On June 3 I explained our strategy to Kenneth Keating. I was convinced that East Pakistan would eventually become independent. Our policy was to "give the facts time to assert themselves.? During June Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh arrived in Washington to urge termination of both military and economic aid to Pakistan. India was increasingly presenting us with a Catch-22 dilemma. It claimed that the enormous flow of refugees would sooner or later force India into drastic measures. But at the same time India would do nothing to curb -indeed, it trained, equipped, and encouraged -the guerrillas whose infiltration from Indian territory guaranteed unsettled conditions that would generate more refugees. Despite Yahya's proclamation of an amnesty, India made the return of refugees to East Pakistan depend on a political settlement there. But India reserved the right to define what constituted an acceptable political settlement on the sovereign territory of its neighbor. In mid-June Mrs. Gandhi declared that India would not agree to any solution that meant "the death of Bangladesh"; in other words, India's condition for staying its hand was the breakup of Pakistan. With evolution to autonomy rejected, refugees encouraged, and their return precluded, India had made a mounting crisis inevitable. Many in our country saw it differently. Unfortunately, the debate began to take on some of the bitterness and impugning of motives characteristic of the Vietnam debate. And the Administration, which had a case, did not help matters by enveloping itself in silence. Congressman Cornelius Gallagher of New Jersey, Chairman of the House subcommittee concerned with the problem, declared on the floor of the House on June 10 after a visit to Indian refugee camps that India had shown "almost unbelievable restraint" in the face of the refugee burden. (This was three weeks after Mrs. Gandhi's public threat to go to war.) On June 17, the New York Times took the Administration to task, calling our public statement urging restraint on both sides ?belated?; our appeal would be fruitless, said the Times, unless we matched word with deed, that is, cut off all American aid to Pakistan until there was a genuine political accommodation in East Pakistan. The Times, too, praised Mrs. Gandhi for having shown "remarkable restraint" in the face of the staggering refugee problem. Then there occurred one of those media events by which small facts become surrogates for larger debates, focusing and in the process distorting the issues. On June 22, the New York Times carried a story that a Pakistani freighter was preparing to sail from New York City with a cargo of military equipment for Pakistan, seemingly in violation of the Administration's officially proclaimed ban. Soon a second ship carrying military items was reported on its way to Pakistan. There was outrage from the press and Congress, and from India. The next day the New York Times charged that the shipments were "breach of faith" with the American people and Congress and with India and "further" undermined American credibility. Senator Stuart Symington said it was either ignorance or deliberate deception. State's announcement of June 24 that Washington was providing an additional $70 million to India for refugees was drowned out by reports that a third Pakistani freighter had sailed from New York to Karachi with military equipment. It did not still the charges of governmental duplicity that all the equipment in question had been purchased under licenses issued before the ban and was thus legally out of our control; and that the third freighter had sailed four days before the State Department suspension of licenses went into effect. (5) Here was another of the credibility gaps so cherished during the Vietnam period. We could convince no one that we simply had no mechanism to track down licenses already issued, nor that the amount of ?seepage? was minuscule and could affect the military balance neither on the subcontinent nor in Bengal. The Washington Post on July 5 could barely contain its outrage: It was an astonishing and shameful record... [which] must be read in the context of the current controversy over the Pentagon Papers, which turns on the public right to know and the government's right to conceal. Here we have a classic example of how the System really works; hidden from public scrutiny, administration officials have been supplying arms to Pakistan while plainly and persistently telling the public that such supplies were cut off. The irony was that the "credibility gap" was caused by the State Department. whose precipitate action in the embargo had so angered the White House. The department most in accord with media and Congressional criticism became, unintentionally, its focus. The Crisis Accelerates Just before my departure for Asia, Yahya on June 28 announced a plan to transfer political power to civilians. A new constitution drawn up by experts would be proclaimed within four months; Awami League members not associated with secession would be eligible to participate in the government. Yahya did not explain to what category of leaders this might apply. While I was en route, I received disturbing information that the Soviet Union had at last perceived its strategic opportunity. Abandoning its previous caution, it had informed India of its approval of guerrilla operations into East Pakistan and had promised India protection against Chinese reprisals. A new and ominous dimension had been added to the conflict. (This occurred well before our China initiative.) In visiting New Delhi I had two partially contradictory missions. One was to prepare India circumspectly for the news of my visit to China. Noting the Ping-Pong diplomacy and our two-year record of overtures in trade and travel, I stressed that we were bound to continue to improve our relations with Peking. On the other hand, we would take a grave view of an unprovoked Chinese attack on India. If this unsolicited comment did not utterly mystify my interlocutors, it may have given them a brief moment of encouragement -though that moment of euphoria surely ended with the July 15 announcement of my trip to China. We must await the memoirs of my interlocutors to see whether the Indian ministers considered my reassurances the best we could do given our constraints, or an effort at deception. The major topic of my talks in New Delhi was the crisis in East Pakistan. I reported to the President: There seems to be a growing sense of the inevitability of war or at least widespread Hindu-Muslim violence, not necessarily because anyone wants it but because in the end they fear they will not know how to avoid it.... I assured [Mrs. Gandhi] the whole point of our policy has been to retain enough influence to urge creation of conditions that would permit the refugees to go back, although we would not promise results .I asked how much more time she thought there was before the situation became unmanageable and she replied that it is unmanageable now and that they are ?just holding it together by sheer willpower.? The conversations with Indian leaders, in fact, followed the ritual of the previous weeks. As I had done on many occasions with Indian Ambassador Jha in Washington, I tried to assure them that the United States was eager to maintain good relations with India. We did not oppose Bengali autonomy, and we were confident we could encourage a favorable evolution if we dealt with Yahya as a friend instead of as another tormentor. I invited Mrs. Gandhi to visit the United States for a fundamental review of Indian-American relations with President Nixon. But Mrs. Gandhi and her ministers were in no mood for conciliation. The invitation to Washington was evaded. They avowed their desire to improve relations with the United States but passionately accused us of deception over arms sales to Pakistan. The stridency of these complaints was in no way diminished by the facts: that almost all arms shipments to Pakistan had been stopped, including the "one-time exception"; that no new licenses were being issued; and that the only items still in transit were the trickle licensed before the ban went into effect. India could have no serious concern about this minuscule flow; it would end automatically as licenses expired; our estimate, indeed, was that nothing would be left in the pipeline after October. Mrs. Gandhi even admitted to me that the amounts were not the issue, but the symbolism. In other words, India wanted the demoralization of Pakistan through the conspicuous dissociation of the United States. I was pressed to cut off not only arms but all economic aid as well. Indian leaders evidently did not think it strange that a country which had distanced itself from most of our foreign policy objectives in the name of nonalignment was asking us to break all ties with an ally over what was in international law a domestic conflict. The American contribution to refugee relief by July had reached nearly $100 million; this did not keep Mrs. Gandhi from broadening her criticisms to encompass the entire twenty-four-year record of our policies toward Pakistan. I left New Delhi with the conviction that India was bent on a showdown with Pakistan. It was only waiting for the right moment. The opportunity to settle scores with a rival that had isolated itself by its own shortsightedness was simply too tempting. On my visit to Islamabad I was preoccupied with my impending journey to Peking. But I had several conversations with President Yahya and Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan. I urged them to put forward a comprehensive proposal to encourage refugees to return home and to deny India a pretext for going to war. I urged Yahya and his associates to go a step farther in the internationalization of relief by admitting the United Nations to supervise its distribution. And I recommended the early appointment of a civilian governor for East Pakistan. Yahya promised to consider these suggestions. But fundamentally he was oblivious to his perils and unprepared to face necessities. He and his colleagues did not believe that India might be planning war; if so, they were convinced that they would win. When I asked as tactfully as I could about the Indian advantage in numbers and equipment, Yahya and his colleagues answered with bravado about the historic superiority of Moslem fighters. There simply was no blinking the fact that Pakistan's military leaders were caught up in a process beyond their comprehension. They could not conceive of the dismemberment of their country; and those who could saw no way of surviving such a catastrophe politically if they cooperated with it. They had no understanding of the psychological and political isolation into which they had maneuvered their country by their brutal suppression. They agreed theoretically that they needed a comprehensive program if they were to escape their dilemmas. But their definition of ?comprehensive? was too grudging, legalistic, technical, and piecemeal. The result was that never throughout the crisis did Pakistan manage to put forward a position on which it could take its international stand. In fact, its piecemeal concessions, though cumulatively not inconsiderable, played into India's hands; they proved its case that something was wrong without providing a convincing remedy. Yahya found himself at a tragic impasse. Accused by conservative colleagues of hazarding his country's unity and by foreign opinion of brutally suppressing freedom, he vacillated, going too far for his conservatives, not far enough for world, and especially American, public opinion. At a dinner given for me the night before I left for Peking, I had an opportunity to chide Yahya for the mess that had been created. "Everyone calls me a dictator,? bellowed Yahya in his bluff imitation of the Sandhurst manner. "Am I a dictator?" he asked every guest, American as well as Pakistani, in turn. Everyone protested with varying degrees of sincerity that of course Yahya was not a dictator. When he came to me, I said: ?I don't know, Mr. .President, except that for a dictator you run a lousy election.? The festering crisis naturally came up in my conversations in Peking. Chou En-lai's perspective could not have been more different from the conventional wisdom in Washington. He quite simply considered India the aggressor; he spent an hour of our scarce time recounting his version of the Sino-Indian clashes of 1962, which he claimed had been provoked by Indian encroachments. Chou insisted that China would not be indifferent if India attacked Pakistan. He even asked me to convey this expression of Chinese support to Yahya -a gesture intended for Washington, since Peking had an Ambassador in Islamabad quite capable of delivering messages. I replied that the United States had traditional ties with Pakistan, and we were grateful for its arranging the opening to China. We would continue to maintain friendly relations with India, but we would strongly oppose any Indian military action. Our disapproval could not, however, take the form of military aid or military measures on behalf of Pakistan. I returned to Washington with a premonition of disaster. India, in my view, would almost certainly attack Pakistan shortly after the monsoon ended. Though I was confident that we could succeed in nudging Islamabad toward autonomy for East Pakistan, I doubted that India would give us the time and thus miss an opportunity, which might not soon come again, of settling accounts with a country whose very existence many of its leaders found so offensive. China might then act. The Soviet Union might use the opportunity to teach Peking a lesson. For us to gang up on Pakistan -as our media and Congress were so insistently demanding- would accelerate the danger; it would give India an even stronger justification to attack. It would jeopardize the China initiative. At that time, prior to Nixon's visit to Peking, we had no way of knowing how firm China's commitment to the opening to Washington really was. Nixon called the National Security Council together on July 16, the day after he announced his trip to China. It was a sign of how seriously he took the crisis. He asked me to sum up the issues. I said India seemed bent on war. I did not think that Yahya had the imagination to solve the political problems in time to prevent an Indian assault. On the other hand, 70,000 West Pakistani soldiers (they had been augmented since March) could not hold down 75 million East Pakistanis for long. Our objective had to be an evolution that would lead to independence for East Pakistan. Unfortunately, this was not likely to happen in time to head off an Indian attack. Therefore, immediate efforts were needed to arrest and reverse the flow of refugees and thereby remove the pretext for war. There was no disagreement with my analysis. Rogers added his judgment that India was doing everything in its power to prevent the refugees from returning. Nixon concluded that we would ask the Pakistanis to do their maximum on refugees. We would not countenance an Indian attack; if India used force, all American aid would be cut off. Every effort should be made to avoid a war. On July 23, Pakistani Ambassador Agha Hilaly informed us that his government accepted our suggestion of UN supervision of the resettlement of refugees to guarantee them against reprisals. Yahya also went along with our recommendation to appoint a civilian administrator to oversee refugee relief and resettlement. I strongly urged Hilaly to accelerate their efforts. Unfortunately, India would have none of it. The very reasons that made the strategy of concentrating on refugees attractive to us caused India to obstruct it. As early as July 15, Indian Ambassador Jha told us that India could not accept proposals to curb guerrilla activity from its territory .On July 16, Indian Foreign Secretary Kaul told us that India would not accept UN personnel on its side of the border even to handle refugees. This was Catch-22 again. Everyone agreed that a condition for political progress in the East was the return of the Pakistani army to its barracks, which was one reason we were pressing for the appointment of a civilian administrator. But there was no way to induce the Pakistani army to do so as long as its neighbor conducted a guerrilla war against it - and proclaimed its determination to escalate that war. Pakistan had agreed to place the resettlement of refugees under UN supervision. But this could not be implemented if the refugees could not even learn of Pakistan's offers because UN personnel were barred from any contact with them in India to explain their prospects if they returned. In the absence of any outside observers in these camps we could not even be sure of the actual number of refugees. Two Senior Review Group meetings, on July 23 and July 30, discussed these dilemmas. On no issue -except perhaps Cambodia --- was the split between the White House and the departments so profound as on the India-Pakistan crisis in the summer of 1971. On no other problem was there such flagrant disregard of unambiguous Presidential directives. The State Department controlled the machinery of execution. Nixon left it to me to ensure that his policy was carried out and to bring major disagreements to him. But what we faced was a constant infighting over seemingly trivial issues, anyone of which seemed too lightweight or technical to raise to the President but whose accumulation would define the course of national policy. Nixon was not prepared to overrule his Secretary of State on what appeared to him minor operational matters; this freed the State Department to interpret Nixon's directives in accordance with its own preferences, thereby vitiating the course Nixon had set. No one could speak for five minutes with Nixon without 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 had ordered repeatedly that we should move Pakistan toward political accommodation through understanding rather than pressure. The State Department had every right to a contrary view: that massive public pressure would make Pakistan more pliable. What strained White House-State relations was the effort by State to implement its views when the President had chosen a different course. For example, in early September we found out through the Pakistanis that the State Department had privately opened negotiations with them to cut off even the trivial amount of military equipment licensed before March 25. The White House thought that Pakistan was moving through the painful process of disintegration and wanted to take account of the anguish of an old ally, the limited horizons of its leaders, and its internal stresses; therefore we wanted to avoid announcing a formal embargo, although our actions amounted to as much. The State Department was more conscious of our critics at home and was loath to antagonize India. My nightmare was that the effort to placate India would generate a war. As I told the Senior Review Group on July 30, "We should urge Yahya to restore an increasing degree of participation by the people of East Pakistan. But the clock of war is running in India faster than the clock on political accommodation. We are determined to avoid war.? I had told the President on July 27 that State was beginning to throttle even our economic aid to Pakistan: "If anything will tempt the Indians to attack, it will be the complete helplessness of Pakistan." Whatever the merits of this debate, the fact was that Nixon was President and that departments, after having stated their case, should carry out not only the letter but also the spirit of Presidential decisions even if they disagree and even if they have to face outside or Congressional criticisms in doing so. The problem was accentuated by the anomaly that some long-forgotten State Department reorganization had placed the subcontinent in the Near East Bureau, whose jurisdiction ended at the subcontinent's eastern boundary; it excluded East Asia and any consideration of China. Senior officials who might have been conscious of China's concerns had been excluded from the opening to Peking. Hence, there was no one at State who felt fully responsible for the "China account" or even fully understood its rationale -this was one of the prices paid for our unorthodox method of administration. In interagency debates my office was not infrequently accused of an obsession with "protecting the trip to China," as if preserving that option were somehow an unworthy enterprise. Not a single bureaucratic analysis of India-Pakistan during the period seriously addressed the impact of our conduct on China. Peking was not rejected by our bureaucracy. It was simply ignored. The gulf in perception between the White House and the rest of the government became apparent in an options paper prepared for the July 23 Senior Review Group meeting. It recommended that if China intervened in an India-Pakistan war, the United States should extend military assistance to India and coordinate its actions with the Soviet Union and Great Britain. Nothing more contrary to the President's foreign policy could have been imagined. Nixon stated succinctly at his August 4 press conference that we were not going to engage in public pressure on Pakistan: ?That would be totally counterproductive. These are matters that we will discuss only in private channels.? Despite this, nearly all operational proposals by the bureaucracy were aimed at increasing the pressure on Pakistan. I asked at the July 30 Senior Review Group meeting: ?What would an enemy do to Pakistan? We are already cutting off military and economic aid to them. The President has said repeatedly that we should lean toward Pakistan, but every proposal that is made goes directly counter to these instructions." As I have mentioned, State had come up with the proposal that the remaining $3-to-4 million in the military pipeline be canceled by agreement with Pakistan. The justification was that this would make it easier for us to maintain economic assistance. I reluctantly went along, though I thought it an unworthy response to Pakistan's assistance on China. The negotiation for drying up the pipeline took two months. It was finally accomplished in early November, woundingly for Pakistan, just in time to create a "good atmosphere" for Mrs. Gandhi's visit. But no sooner did Pakistan agree to negotiate a total arms cutoff than foot-dragging began on economic assistance. No new development loans were made throughout 1971. As I said acidly on September 8 at a Senior Review Group meeting, the State Department sold us a dried-up arms pipeline in return for a dried-up economic aid policy. And none of these maneuvers addressed the central issue. I was convinced that East Pakistan would become independent Bangladesh relatively soon. But Yahya could not possibly accomplish this before October or November, when the Indians were most likely to attack. Hence I thought it imperative to make a massive effort to alleviate the refugee problem immediately and to bring our influence to bear in the direction of constitutional rule at as fast a pace as the Pakistani political structure could stand. Constitutional government, in turn, was almost certain to produce at least Bangladesh autonomy and eventually independence. So we multiplied our aid contribution, providing some $90 million to India and over $150 million for internationally supervised famine relief in East Pakistan to reverse the tide of refugees. We appointed an able senior official of our Agency for International Development, Maurice Williams, to coordinate all US refugee relief. But it was to no avail. Our actions were outstripped by India's deliberate acceleration of tensions. On July 24 Kaul again rejected the idea of UN personnel on the Indian side of the border. On August 4, Ambassador Jha rejected suggestions of Under Secretary of State John Irwin that India control the guerrillas operating from its territory. Jha made a new suggestion -that the United States take up an offer of contact with the Bangladesh exiles in Calcutta. When we did so, as will be seen, it was aborted in part because of Indian obstruction. The Soviet-Indian Friendship Treaty On August 9 came the bombshell of the Soviet-Indian Friendship Treaty. We learned first from the newspapers that Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko had concluded a visit to New Delhi by signing a twenty-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation. Its bland provisions could not obscure its strategic significance. It contained the usual clauses on lasting friendship, noninterference in each other's affairs, and cooperation in economic, scientific, technical, and cultural matters. More important, the two parties pledged to consult regularly ?on major international problems? affecting both sides. The decisive provision was Article IX, which called on the signatories to refrain from giving assistance to any third country taking part in an armed conflict with the other, and committed each side to consult immediately with a view toward taking ?appropriate effective measures? in case either party was attacked or threatened with attack. The initial reaction of our government was astonishingly sanguine. The intelligence assessment may have been subconsciously colored by the long-standing perception of India as a pacifist country, above power politics. Nor was it easy to accept the proposition that Nehru's daughter was deliberately steering nonaligned India toward a de facto alliance with the Soviet Union. Hence as of August 11 the assessment was that Mrs. Gandhi was resisting a tide of public opinion in favor of a showdown. The Soviets were allegedly fearful that she might be forced against her inclinations to recognize Bangladesh and thus trigger a Pakistani declaration of war. By signing the treaty, so the analysis went, the USSR gave Mrs. Gandhi a diplomatic success that would help her maintain her policy of moderation and restraint; in return, the Soviet Union could rest assured that Indian territory would not be used for hostile bases. In retrospect, it would have been nearly impossible to concoct a more fatuous estimate. It was a classic example of how preconceptions shape intelligence assessments. There was no realistic prospect of any foreign base's being established on Indian soil; not enough of one, surely, to warrant such an extraordinary departure from previous Indian conduct and Soviet caution. We knew that the principal deterrent to a military conflict was the fear of India's military planners that a war of which the Soviets disapproved might dry up the Soviet supply line and encourage China to intervene. The Soviet-Indian Friendship Treaty was bound to eliminate these fears; it therefore objectively increased the danger of war. The Soviet Union had seized a strategic opportunity. To demonstrate Chinese impotence and to humiliate a friend of both China and the United States proved too tempting. If China did nothing, it stood revealed as impotent; if China raised the ante, it risked Soviet reprisal. With the treaty, Moscow threw a lighted match into a powder keg. On the day of the announcement of the treaty, I lunched with the Indian Ambassador at his request. L. K. Jha served in Washington at a difficult period. He was a superb analyst of the American scene; he understood international politics without sentimentality. At least toward me he never used the hectoring tone of moral superiority with which Indian diplomats sometimes exhaust if not the goodwill, at least the patience of their interlocutors. He was skillful in getting the Indian version of the issues to the press; I could always trace his footprints through the columns, and it was a painful experience when we found ourselves on opposite sides. (I was supposed to be skillful in dealing with the press. On the India-Pakistan issue Jha clearly outclassed me.) Yet I had high regard and even affection for Jha. I saw him frequently, socially or to exchange ideas -partly because I considered India important in world affairs whether or not we agreed with all its, policies, partly because I always learned from his tough-minded analyses. On this occasion Jha brought a letter from Mrs. Gandhi to the President. She blamed tensions entirely on Pakistan. Her letter took no notice of our substantial economic assistance for the refugees or of the steps of conciliation into which we had nudged the government in Islamabad. Instead, she devoted much space to the implication that we had deceived India with respect to our arms policy and, indeed, had fueled all tensions on the subcontinent by selling arms to Pakistan between 1954 and 1965. She rejected once again the stationing of UN personnel on Indian territory. She made no mention of the treaty with the Soviet Union, but hinted at an acceptance of the invitation to Washington I had conveyed on behalf of Nixon when I visited New Delhi in July. This conciliatory gesture was coupled with a catalogue of charges that left little doubt as to who was slated for the dock when the two leaders met. It was left to Jha to supply the formal explanation of the treaty. Interestingly, his account totally contradicted the editorial criticism according to which we had driven India to the Soviets as a desperate last resort. He confirmed what I suspected -that the Soviet treaty was not a reaction to American policy in the India-Pakistan crisis but a carefully considered Indian strategy that had been in preparation for over a year. I have never understood why Jha would consider this reassuring. (Dobrynin made the same point to me.) (6) I replied that, read literally, the treaty was a matter of secondary concern, though it was hard to reconcile with India's nonalignment. What did concern us was the possibility that India might draw the conclusion that it now enjoyed freedom of action toward Pakistan. I could not be more unequivocal in warning that a war between India and Pakistan would set back Indian-American relations for half a decade. No matter what the Ambassador was told by others in the Administration, I wanted him to understand that military intervention in East Pakistan would involve the high probability of a cutoff of aid to India. There was no reason for the United States and India to quarrel over a problem whose solution seemed foreordained. We took India seriously as a world power; we sought good relations. East Bengal was certain to gain autonomy, if we only gave the inevitable a chance; we wanted it to come about peacefully. Jha denied that the Soviet treaty was incompatible with nonalignment. He evaded any discussion of Indian-Pakistani issues, arguing that Mrs. Gandhi's visit would give us this opportunity. I warned once more against trying to settle the issue by war; an evolutionary process would with our support lead to self-determination for East Bengal. India was not interested in evolution, however. And Yahya did not grasp his peril. Swept up in events beyond his capacity, he complicated our task with one of those truculent moves with which desperate men reassure themselves that they still have a margin for decision. On August 9 Yahya?s regime announced that Mujib would be tried in secret for treason. I have never understood what Yahya hoped to accomplish by this stroke. He was certain to mobilize even greater world pressures against him and fuel Indian intransigence. Mrs. Gandhi promptly sent messages of protest to world leaders. Eleven Senators and fifty-eight Representatives demanded that the United States press Pakistan to show compassion. On August 11 Secretary Rogers conveyed the American concern to Ambassador Hilaly. On August 11 I arranged for the President to meet with the Senior Review Group to overcome the bureaucratic foot-dragging fostered by the suspicion that I was transmitting my own preferences as the President's orders. Nixon made a strong statement along the lines of what he had told the NSC on July 16. He wanted a massive refugee relief program; we would do everything in our power to alleviate suffering. He thought that most of the media attacks were politically motivated; for his critics, Pakistan was turning into a surrogate for Vietnam, which was being made irrelevant by the opening to China. He held no brief for Yahya's actions; they did not, however, justify war. No one should doubt his determination to cut off aid to India if it attacked. The Soviets' conduct reminded him of their behavior in the Middle East in 1967 when they started a sequence of events that got out of control. There would be no public assault on the Pakistani government about political evolution, the President said; "we will deal with the political problem in private." And this was our course. On August 14 Nixon sent a letter to Yahya urging him to speed the process of national reconciliation by pressing the relief program and enlisting the support of the elected representatives of East Pakistan. Such measures, Nixon wrote, will be important in countering the corrosive threat of insurgency and restoring peace to your part of the world. They will also hasten the day when the United States and other countries can resume, within a revised national development plan, the task of assisting your country's economic development which has been so tragically complicated and slowed by recent events. However diplomatically worded, the letter's import was clear: Sustained economic assistance was linked to turning over power to elected representatives. We were, in fact, asking in the name of friendship for self-determination for East Pakistan. Our main difference with New Delhi lay in its demand for a pace of change that might undermine the cohesion of even West Pakistan. Contacts with the Bangladesh Exiles We also took up Jha's suggestion of direct contacts between the United States and the Bangladesh exiles in Calcutta. This led to a futile three-month pursuit of political accommodation that could have amounted to something if India and the Bengalis had wanted. On July 30, a Mr. Qaiyum, an elected member of the Awami League closely associated with the Bangladesh government in exile, approached our Consulate in Calcutta to say he had been designated to establish contact with the United States. He would return in two weeks for an answer. The Consulate reported this approach in State channels. We recognized that this contact would be explosive if it surfaced in Islamabad -and we had to assume that India would have every incentive to publicize it. Nevertheless, after checking with the President, I approved a State suggestion that our Consulate receive Qaiyum and probe for the readiness of the Awami League to negotiate with the Pakistani government. (The instructions for this initiative were prepared in State's Near East Bureau and cleared in the White House.) Qaiyum appeared on schedule on August 14. He affirmed that if Mujib were allowed to participate in these negotiations, his group might settle for less than total independence so long as Islamabad accepted the Awami League's six points. He hoped the United States would encourage such an evolution. In a second meeting a few days later, Qaiyum observed that once India formally recognized Bangladesh, even this essentially face-saving proposal would no longer be possible. We did not think we could proceed further without informing Yahya; at the same time the Calcutta contacts might be an opportunity to nudge Islamabad toward a political solution. State instructed Ambassador Joseph Farland to tell Yahya of our contacts in Calcutta and of the possibility of a settlement based on the six points. Farland was asked to avoid any recommendations but the import of the demarche could hardly be lost on Yahya. Governments do not normally transmit proposals on behalf of exiles outlawed in their own country. Yahya's reaction was surprisingly favorable. Recognizing that he had trapped himself, he was groping for a way out. He welcomed our contacts in Calcutta, asking only to be kept informed. He even accepted Farland's suggestion that we use our good offices to arrange secret contacts between his government and the Bengali exiles. When on August 27 Qaiyum showed interest in expediting contacts, we went one step farther. On September 4 Farland suggested to Yahya that we contact the Bangladesh ?foreign minister,? ostensibly to check out Qaiyum's bona fides; we would tell him of Yahya's willingness to engage in secret talks. It was an extraordinary proposal to make to the President of a friendly country that we would approach the ?foreign minister" of a movement he had banned as seditious, an official whose very title implied at a minimum a constitutional change if not treason. Such was Yahya's quandary that he agreed. Yahya accepted our suggestions in other fields as well. On September 1 he appointed a civilian governor for East Pakistan, replacing the hated martial-law administrator. On September 5 Yahya extended the amnesty previously offered to refugees to cover all citizens except those against whom criminal proceedings had already been instituted. (This excluded Mujib, however.) Around the same time, Yahya assured Maury Williams, our aid coordinator, that a death sentence against Mujib would not be carried out. On October 1 Nixon announced that he would ask for $250 million in additional funds for refugee relief, bringing our contribution to nearly twice that of the rest of the world combined. The surest way to intensify a crisis is to reject all the other side's initiatives without offering an alternative. This was India's course. No government offers its ultimate concessions at the outset, and it may not even know how far it is prepared to go until there is some process of negotiation. This was particularly true of the harassed military leaders of Pakistan in 1971. They knew by now that their brutal suppression of East Pakistan beginning on March 25 had been, in Talleyrand's phrase, worse than a crime; it was a blunder. Yet they had stood for a united Pakistan all their lives; it was impossible for them to accept the secession of half their country .Yahya feared both a war caused by his inflexibility and an overthrow based on the accusation that he made too many concessions. Faced with this dilemma, he sought to turn over authority to a civilian government as rapidly as possible, shifting to it the responsibility for the ultimate debacle. In the meantime he hoped to stave off a conflict by making some concessions while avoiding West Pakistani unrest. Mrs. Gandhi, however, had no intention of permitting Pakistan's leaders to escape their dilemma so easily. She knew that once discussions between Pakistan and the Awami League started, some sort of compromise might emerge; India might then lose control of events. Mrs. Gandhi was not willing to risk this. She would not soon again have Pakistan at such a disadvantage, China in the throes of domestic upheaval (the Lin Piao affair), the United States divided by Vietnam, and the Soviet Union almost unconditionally on India's side. On September I we learned that Indian armed forces had been put on general alert. Predictably Pakistan reacted on September 4 by moving additional forces into forward positions near the West Pakistan-India border. On September 9 units of India's only armored division and an independent armored brigade moved toward the West Pakistan frontier. On September 16 there was a report that India planned to infiltrate some 9,000 more Mukti Bahini guerrillas into East Pakistan starting in early October. At the same time, our contacts with the Bangladesh representatives in Calcutta began to dry up. On September 9 our Consul met with Qaiyum to arrange the meeting with the Bangladesh ?foreign minister.? But Qaiyum now demanded not only the immediate release of Mujib, but the immediate departure of the Pakistani army from East Pakistan and a guarantee for Bangladesh's security by the United Nations ?in short, immediate independence. On September 14 Qaiyum told us that his "foreign minister" saw little point in a meeting. He ascribed this reluctance to surveillance by the Indian government, which he said was skittish about any contacts with the United States. On September 21 Yahya revealed his anxiety by asking Farland about our contacts in Calcutta. He hoped Farland would keep him informed of any new developments. Farland was sufficiently encouraged to recommend that our Consul be permitted to meet with the "acting president" of the Bangladesh government in exile if the foreign minister remained unavailable. But in Calcutta all signals were now pointing in the opposite direction. On September 23 Qaiyum sent a messenger to tell our Consul that the Indian government had become aware of his contacts with us and had formally warned against them. We responded by proposing a meeting with the ?acting president.? Qaiyum presented himself shortly afterward and confirmed what his messenger had said: India wanted all contacts handled through New Delhi. At the same time, the Indians were telling us exactly the opposite - at least about refugees. Whenever we proposed joint US-Indian relief programs we were given the stock reply that this should be taken up with Bangladesh representatives in Calcutta. We could be excused for suspecting that we were being given the runaround: The Indians urged us to talk to the Bengali exiles, who then avoided high-level contact under the pretext of Indian displeasure. On September 27 Joe Sisco sought to straighten out the mess by proposing to Jha direct negotiations between representatives of Pakistan and Bangladesh without conditions. Jha was negative. He professed not to see any advance in this offer (even though such talks implied a recognition of Bangladesh and could hardly lead to any result other than autonomy and eventually independence). He fell back on the stock demand, which he knew could not be immediately fulfilled: that any talks with Bangladesh representatives include Mujib at the outset and be aimed at immediate independence. (At this point the release of Mujib was essentially a problem of face. The military government could not bring itself to commence negotiations with so humiliating a reversal. On the other hand, it must have been clear to it that any negotiations it initiated with the Awami League could not go far unless its leader was eventually released from jail.) The next day the Bangladesh ?foreign minister? finally met with our Consul in Calcutta; he said talks were useless unless the United States used its influence to bring about Bengali "desires," which included full independence, freedom for Mujib, US aid, and normal relations. Lest there be any temptation to yield, Qaiyum returned on October 3 with an escalation of Bangladesh's "desires." He wanted the Soviet Union to participate in the talks. He saw no need for concessions since the Indian army would keep Pakistani forces busy at the border, freeing the guerrillas for eventual control of the country. On October 16 Qaiyum ruled out a meeting between our Consul and the ?acting president? of Bangladesh, citing Indian objections. On October 20 another senior Bangladesh official, Hossain Ali, told our Consul that his organization was not interested in passing messages to Yahya; the ?obvious solution? was Mujib?s release and immediate independence for Bangladesh. By the end of October, the Indian press was publicly warning against Bengali negotiations with ?foreign representative.? In short, the effort to encourage negotiations between the government of Pakistan and the Bangladesh government in exile was finished. Mrs. Gandhi Comes to Washington Concurrently, we made every effort to come to an understanding with India. In my conversations with Ambassador Jha I reiterated my constant theme. We considered Indian and American long-term interests as congruent. We would do our utmost to turn Mrs. Gandhi's visit into a watershed in our relations. On August 25, September 11, and October 8 I emphasized that the United States did not insist that East Bengal remain part of Pakistan. On the contrary, we accepted autonomy as inevitable and independence as probable. A war was senseless; Bangladesh would come into being by the spring of 1972 if present procedures were given a chance. We differed over method, not aim. If Mrs. Gandhi was prepared for a fundamental improvement of our relations, she would find us an eager partner. If she was using her visit as a cover for an Indian military attack, our relations would not soon recover. The State Department was instructed to follow a similar line. On October 7 I told a WSAG meeting that if India would accept an evolutionary process, it would achieve most of its objectives with our assistance. "If they would cooperate with us we could work with them on 90 percent of their problems, like releasing Mujib or attaining some degree of autonomy for Bangladesh, and these steps would lead eventually to their getting it all.? Unlike our domestic critics, Jha understood only too well that we were not anti-Indian; he counted on it to limit our reaction to what India was clearly planning. India continued to invoke the intolerable burden of refugees, now reportedly on a scale of seven or eight million. Yet India would not encourage their return after Yahya's amnesty or cooperate in stemming that flow, or permit the posting of UN personnel in the camps to inform the refugees of the amnesty. It took no responsibility for the Bengali guerrillas' contribution to the chaos. Though they were recruited on Indian soil, trained by Indian officers, equipped with Indian arms, and supported by Indian artillery from the Indian side of the frontier, India claimed that they were not under its control. New Delhi even refused to promise that the guerrillas would refrain from interfering with relief supplies. The threats of war were becoming ever more explicit. Jha told me on October 8 that India would act by the end of the year if its terms were not met; similar statements were made to American diplomats in New Delhi by the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary. India deliberately set a deadline so short that it was bound to shake the constitutional structure of Pakistan. The Soviet Union played a highly inflammatory role. Though protesting repeatedly its dedication to peace, it defined terms that were indistinguishable from New Delhi's and therefore represented the backing for India that would guarantee a showdown. Though repeatedly affirming its newfound devotion to detente, it used the budding improvement of relations with us not to prevent an explosion but to deflect the consequences from itself. Moscow was acting throughout like a pyromaniac who wants credit for having called the fire department to the fire he has set. My first discussion of the India-Pakistan crisis with Dobrynin took place on July 19 shortly after my secret trip to Peking. Dobrynin, oozing conciliation, asked for my views. I replied that we favored a peaceful political evolution because a war could not be localized. Dobrynin said this was also the Soviet view; Moscow supported India's political goals but was strongly discouraging military adventures. We met again on August 17 after the signing of the Soviet-Indian Friendship Treaty. Dobrynin gave me the same interpretation as Jha had previously, insisting that the treaty had been in preparation for a long time. No more than Jha did he explain why premeditation should assuage our concern. The treaty was not directed against anybody, he said. (This, as I have noted, is the conventional pacifier of diplomacy by which diplomats give a formal reassurance to those they wish to keep in suspense; it is an elegant way of suggesting that one has the capacity to do worse.) I warned that we would react sharply to a military challenge. Dobrynin's response was that the Soviet Union was urging a peaceful solution. Unfortunately, Soviet actions increasingly contradicted these assurances. Toward the end of August we received incontrovertible evidence that, far from restraining the Indians, Moscow had promised to use its veto in the United Nations if India were brought before the Security Council as an aggressor; further, if Pakistan or China attacked India, the Soviet Union would respond with an airlift of military equipment. The Soviet Union, in other words, came close to giving Mrs. Gandhi a blank check. Published accounts of Mrs. Gandhi's visit to Moscow in late September supported this interpretation. Premier Kosygin jointly with Mrs. Gandhi called on Yahya to liquidate tensions -placing the entire blame on Pakistan. Kosygin declared an early political settlement essential to avoid war -the strongest endorsement yet by the Kremlin of the Indian strategy. A visit by Soviet President Podgorny to India in early October further dramatized Soviet support. On September 29, Nixon met with Gromyko in Washington and told him that our two countries had a mutual interest in discouraging India from war. Gromyko was noncommittal. Avoiding war was indeed desirable; unfortunately, it was his considered judgment that the risk of war resided, above all, in Pakistani provocation. He gave no evidence for his interesting judgment that the demonstrably weaker country, cut off from all supplies of arms, was likely to attack the stronger. Nor did he explain why we could not be given the period till March to see what could be done after the transfer of power to civilian hands in Pakistan. On October 9 I urgently sought Soviet help in discouraging the infiltration of 40,000 guerrillas into East Pakistan, after we had received disturbing reports that this was about to occur. The President, I said to Dobrynin, attached the utmost importance to the avoidance of war. Dobrynin could not have been friendlier -or less helpful. The Soviets were appealing to both sides, he said, but the Indians were becoming extremely difficult. I said we were prepared to consider acting jointly with the USSR to defuse the crisis. The offer was never taken up. India's opportunity to humiliate Pakistan was also the Soviet Union's opportunity to humiliate China. Moscow had every incentive to raise the stakes. Pakistan was the weaker country. The United States, which might have equalized the scales, was barred from helping Pakistan by a self-imposed arms embargo, a Vietnam-induced fear of any foreign involvement, and a nearly unanimous Congressional and media sentiment that India was justified in any action she might take. And China was temporarily paralyzed by its own internal travails. Throughout October the Nixon Administration was subjected to a drumfire of criticism. On October 5, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to suspend all US economic and military aid to Pakistan. Many Senators were clamoring for tougher measures still. This attitude was summed up in an editorial of October 22 in the Washington Post: The American position remains disgraceful. The other day the State Department mustered a feeble call for restraint on both sides. It was an appeal rendered grotesque by the twin facts that one side, Pakistan, is almost entirely responsible for the threat to the peace, and the United States is a partisan - arms, supplies, political support, relief and so on -of that side. In fact, the danger to peace on the subcontinent does not lie in the traditional differences between India and Pakistan but in Pakistan's policy of exporting an internal political problem -in the form of refugees -into India. American leadership in the provision of relief is simply not enough. If must be accompanied by stern political efforts to induce Pakistan to halt the persecution of its own people. That Pakistan was to blame for the origin of the crisis was incontestable. But by October the central issue was how to remedy the original error and avoid a war with consequences far transcending the subcontinent. The Soviet aim in the wake of our Olina initiative was to humiliate Peking and to demonstrate the futility of reliance on either China or the United States as an ally. Furthermore, if India got away with such tactics, these might well spread to the Middle East, where Egypt, which also had a friendship treaty with Moscow, was threatening in a so-called year of decision to settle its grievances by war. For the Soviets to be able to point to South Asia as evidence of the efficacy of war and the impotence of the United States opened, I thought, ominous prospects for the Middle East. I convened the WSAG in the Situation Room on October 7 to consider what could be done to arrest the drift to war .There was the reflex concern about Chinese intervention; some proposed a formal warning to Peking, which would have had the practical result of removing yet another of India's inhibitions. However, the meeting concluded harmoniously enough. State proposed that we ask both India and Pakistan to pull back their military forces from the borders; Moscow and Tehran would be approached to support this idea; it would again be made clear to both sides that war would lead to a cutoff of American aid; Pakistan would be encouraged to open a dialogue with the elected Bengali leaders -a not-too-subtle hint to reconsider its attitude toward Mujib. State's plan was approved. It is clear in retrospect that we vastly overestimated the impact on India of the threat to cut off aid. Because of the complexity of determining and affecting what is already sold and on the way, an aid cutoff is never all that surgical. India could calculate- as it turned out, correctly -that it could rely on the pipeline to tide it over until another change in the climate of opinion would permit the renewal of aid. Our first overture was to Yahya, with encouraging results. On October 11 he accepted our proposal of a mutual pullback of troops from the borders. He now gave us a timetable for a political solution. He would convene a new National Assembly before the end of the year and submit a constitution to it. Shortly after the National Assembly met he would turn over power to a civilian government. Provincial assemblies would meet in both West and East Pakistan. East Pakistan would have a majority in the civilian national government (in effect guaranteeing an outcome compatible with Bengali aspirations). He promised again that Mujib's death sentence would not be carried out; the civilian government could deal with his future within three months. On October 16 our charge in Islamabad met with Bhutto, who agreed that the leading positions in a new government should go to East Pakistan; Mujib could play an active role. There was now little doubt left that East Pakistan would be able to decide its future once Yahya had stepped down. The results in India were less auspicious. On October 12 Ambassador Keating saw Swaran Singh and was given the familiar catalogue of Indian grievances: The United States was not using its influence with Islamabad adequately; the efforts to start a dialogue with the Bangladesh exiles were a subterfuge to bypass Mujib. A mutual troop withdrawal, the Foreign Minister indicated, was unacceptable, but a unilateral Pakistani withdrawal from the frontier would be useful and India might reconsider if the Pakistanis in fact withdrew. Singh did not explain how Pakistan could withdraw troops while the Indian army was massed at its frontier and infiltrating thousands of guerrillas. Learning of these rebuffs, Nixon ordered Haig on October 19 to "hit the Indians again on this." (I was en route to Peking and Haig was standing in for me.) Before the instruction could be carried out, the Indian Defense Secretary once more rejected a mutual troop pullback, this time on October 20 to Maury Williams. There was no danger, the Indian added ominously, of accidental confrontation. On October 18 Ambassador Beam in Moscow presented our proposal for mutual troop withdrawal to Gromyko. This was buttressed by a Haig warning to Dobrynin to reinforce Nixon's concern. On October 23 we received the Soviet answer. It was identical with New Delhi's. The only effective way of avoiding war was the immediate release of Mujib and the "speediest political settlement in East Pakistan." Mutual troop withdrawals were deemed useful only in the context of a "complex of [other] measures." Clearly, Moscow was not going to cooperate in bringing about restraint. The war danger meanwhile was developing its own momentum. On October 18 the Indian army and navy were placed in the highest state of alert. Clashes in the East were increasing. On November I the Indian army took major action to silence Pakistani artillery batteries, which they claimed had fired on Indian territory. (Considering that Pakistani forces in the East were outnumbered by some five to one and had to fight a guerrilla war, their incentive to initiate hostilities could not have been high.) On November 6, after the Nixon-Gandhi talks, we learned that small Indian regular army units had begun crossing the East Pakistan border on October 30. On November I a Soviet airlift of military equipment to India started. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Firyubin visited New Delhi in late October; the press in India reported that he was urging restraint. Presumably he was aided in this by a follow-on visit by Marshal Pavel S. Kutakhov, Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of Staff of the Soviet Air Force. We made one more effort to lower tensions before Mrs. Gandhi's arrival in Washington. Ambassador Farland was instructed to suggest that Pakistan consider unilateral troop withdrawal from the borders after all, and to urge Yahya to go to the outer limits of his flexibility in making political changes. On November 2 Farland brought Yahya a letter from Nixon that was none too subtle: I know the importance you attach to enlisting the maximum degree of participation by the elected representatives of the people of East Pakistan. I also believe you agree that this process is essential to restoring those conditions in the Eastern wing of your country which will end the flow of refugees into India and achieve a viable political accommodation among all the people of Pakistan. To our surprise Yahya agreed to the unilateral withdrawal. The next day his Ambassador in Washington reiterated the offer in a meeting with me, on condition that Mrs. Gandhi agree to withdraw Indian forces "shortly afterwards." Yahya accepted further that the total drying up of the arms pipeline to Pakistan could be announced in connection with her visit- a galling concession that he made with good grace. Yahya was prepared, finally, to hold discussions with some Awami League leaders, or some Bangladesh leaders in India not charged with a major crime, and he said he would consider the idea of meeting with someone designated by Mujib. If we wanted to go further, we would have to wait for the advent of the civilian government -then less than two months away by Yahya's timetable. On November 3 Bhutto told Farland that talks with Bangladesh representatives -including Mujib -were essential; in two months' time Bhutto would probably be a leader, if not the head, of the new civilian government in Pakistan. This was the context of what were without a doubt the two most unfortunate meetings Nixon had with any foreign leader -his conversations on November 4 and 5 with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was not that the participants were belligerent or the tone impolite. In fact, they studiously followed the convention for such encounters. Heads of government rarely make disagreements explicit; they do not want to solidify a deadlock that they have no means of breaking -this would be a confession of either lack of negotiating skill or failing resolution. The inability of heads of government to arrive at a meeting of the minds tends to be reflected in monologues that bear no relationship to what the opposite number has said, and in pregnant silences during which both no doubt ponder the political consequences of the impasse. Or else ?as happened in the Nixon-Gandhi talks -the key subject is suddenly dropped altogether. The President and the Prime Minister sat in two wing chairs on either side of the fireplace in the Oval Office with her Cabinet Secretary, P. N. Haksar, and me on the sofas adjoining each chair. After the news photographers had taken their hurried pictures and been hustled out, Mrs. Gandhi began by expressing admiration for Nixon's handling of Vietnam and the China initiative, in the manner of a professor praising a slightly backward student. Her praise lost some of its luster when she smugly expressed satisfaction that with China Nixon had consummated what India had recommended for the past decade. Nixon reacted with the glassy-eyed politeness which told those who knew him that his resentments were being kept in check only by his reluctance to engage in face-to-face disagreement. Nixon had no time for Mrs. Gandhi's condescending manner. Privately, he scoffed at her moral pretensions, which he found all the more irritating because he suspected that in pursuit of her purposes she had in fact fewer scruples than he. He considered her, indeed, a cold-blooded practitioner of power politics. On August 11 Nixon had admitted to the Senior Review Group that in Mrs. Gandhi's position he might pursue a similar course. But he was not in her position -and therefore he was playing for time. He, as did I, wanted to avoid a showdown, because he knew that a war would threaten our geopolitical design, and we both judged that East Pakistani autonomy was inevitable, if over a slightly longer period than India suggested. (In fact, India never put forward a specific timetable, implying throughout that yesterday had already been too late.) Mrs. Gandhi, who was as formidable as she was condescending, had no illusions about what Nixon was up to. She faced her own conflicting pressures. Her Parliament would be meeting in two weeks, thirsting for blood. Though she had contributed no little to the crisis atmosphere, by now it had its own momentum, which, if she did not master it, might overwhelm her. Her dislike of Nixon, expressed in the icy formality of her manner, was perhaps compounded by the uneasy recognition that this man whom her whole upbringing caused her to disdain perceived international relations in a manner uncomfortably close to her own. It was not that she was a hypocrite, as Nixon thought; this assumed that she was aware of a gap between her actions and her values. It was rather that for her, her interest and her values were inseparable. My own views of Mrs. Gandhi were similar to Nixon's, the chief difference being that I did not take her condescension personally. Later on, Nixon and I were accused of bias against India. This was a total misunderstanding; a serious policy must rest on analysis, not sentiment. To be sure, as I have suggested, I did not find in Indian history or in Indian conduct toward its own people or its neighbors a unique moral sensitivity. In my view, India had survived its turbulent history through an unusual subtlety in grasping and then manipulating the psychology of foreigners. The moral pretensions of Indian leaders seemed to me perfectly attuned to exploit the guilt complexes of a liberal, slightly socialist West; they were indispensable weapons for an independence movement that was physically weak and that used the ethical categories of the colonial power to paralyze it. They were invaluable for a new country seeking to vindicate an international role that it could never establish through power alone. Mrs. Gandhi was a strong personality relentlessly pursuing India's national interest with single-mindedness and finesse. I respected her strength even when her policies were hurtful to our national interest; but I could not agree with Indian pretensions that we might ?lose? India's friendship forever unless we supported its hegemonic ambitions on the subcontinent. I was confident that whatever the momentary passions we could no more permanently "lose" India than we could permanently "win" it. Less than most, in my mind, would Mrs. Gandhi hold the pursuit of our interests against us. She would not lightly give up the nonalignment on which her bargaining position depended, including at least the appearance of an option toward the United States. When she thought India's needs required it, Mrs. Gandhi would cooperate with us with the same unsentimentality with which she now pursued the dismemberment of Pakistan. She would repair our strained relations rapidly after the immediate blowup was over; paradoxically, the greater the strains, the higher her incentive to restore at least the appearance of normality. And so it turned out to be. But in November 1971 relations were still deteriorating. All the reasons that led Nixon to play for time led Mrs. Gandhi to force the issue. The inevitable emergence of Bangladesh -which we postulated - presented India with fierce long-term problems. For Bangladesh was in effect East Bengal, separated only by religion from India's most fractious and most separatist state, West Bengal. They shared language, tradition, culture, and, above all, a volatile national character. Whether it turned nationalist or radical, Bangladesh would over time accentuate India's centrifugal tendencies. It might set a precedent for the creation of other Moslem states, carved this time out of India. Once it was independent, its Moslem heritage might eventually lead to a rapprochement with Pakistan. All of this dictated to the unsentimental planners in New Delhi that its birth had to be accompanied by a dramatic demonstration of Indian predominance on the subcontinent. Yahya's mounting concessions aggravated Mrs. Gandhi's problem. If she could have been sure that Yahya was insincere, that there would be no civilian government, that Mujib would not be released, that East Pakistan would not become first autonomous and then independent in a matter of months, she could have played out the string and used the failure of our program as a pretext for a showdown. It was precisely the near certainty of a favorable outcome that gave urgency to her actions. A civilian government could have led Pakistan out of its isolation. A negotiation between Bangladesh representatives and Pakistan would have circumscribed, if not ended, India's ability to force the pace. India had to act before this sequence came to pass. Mrs. Gandhi was going to war not because she was convinced of our failure but because she feared our success. The Nixon-Gandhi conversation thus turned into a classic dialogue of the deaf. The two leaders failed to hear each other not because they did not understand each other but because they understood each other only too well. Nixon stressed his conviction that the outcome was bound to be autonomy for East Pakistan leading to independence; all we asked for was a timetable that would not shatter the cohesion of West Pakistan, whose government was already in process of being handed over to civilians. He listed what the United States had accomplished through persuasion: aversion of a famine in East Pakistan; internationalization of relief; appointment of a civilian governor for East Pakistan; proclamation of an amnesty; the promise not to execute Mujib; agreement to unilateral withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the border; and, very important, Yahya's willingness to talk to some Bengali leaders. A war in such circumstances would simply not be understood by the United States and would not be accepted as a solution to problems whose seriousness we did not deny. Mrs. Gandhi listened to what was in fact one of Nixon's better presentations with aloof indifference. She took up none of the points he made, although some of them -such as Pakistan's offer of unilateral withdrawal and Yahya's willingness to talk to Bangladesh leaders - she was hearing personally for the first time. Pakistan's concessions were of no fundamental interest to her. Her real obsession was the nature of Pakistan, not the injustices being committed in a portion of that tormented country .Ignoring the issues that had produced the crisis, she gave a little lecture on the history of Pakistan. She denied that she was opposed to its existence, but her analysis did little to sustain her disclaimer. Her father, she averred, had been blamed for accepting partition. And there was an element of truth, she said, in the often-heard charge that India had been brought into being by leaders of an indigenous independence movement while Pakistan had been formed by British collaborators who, as soon as they became "independent," proceeded to imprison the authentic fighters for independence. Pakistan was a jerry-built structure held together by its hatred for India, which was being stoked by each new generation of Pakistani leaders. Conditions in East Pakistan reflected tendencies applicable to all of Pakistan. Neither Baluchistan nor the Northwest Frontier properly belonged to Pakistan; they too wanted and deserved greater autonomy; they should never have been part of the original settlement. This history lesson was hardly calculated to calm anxiety about Indian intentions. It was at best irrelevant to the issues and at worst a threat to the cohesion of even West Pakistan. Mrs. Gandhi stressed the congenital defects of Pakistan so insistently that she implied that confining her demands to the secession of East Pakistan amounted to Indian restraint; the continued existence of West Pakistan reflected Indian forbearance. She treated Yahya's concessions of November 2 as of no account. She was not opposed to unilateral withdrawal by Pakistan, but she refused to say whether India would follow suit, promising a formal answer the next day. Nixon assured the Prime Minister that she could count on us to use all our efforts to ease the crisis, including the encouragement of a speedy political solution. But the steely lady deferred all such discussion to another meeting. In the afternoon I went over Yahya's concessions once again with her aide Haksar. I assured him that we would press the soon-to-be-formed civilian government insistently in the direction of Bengali self-determination. I foresaw autonomy for East Pakistan by March and independence shortly thereafter. I proposed that we work on a joint timetable. Haksar showed no interest. The conversation between Nixon and Mrs. Gandhi the next day confirmed the never-neverland of US-Indian relations. Mrs. Gandhi made no reference to Pakistan at all. The entire meeting was confined to a world review in which Mrs. Gandhi asked penetrating questions about our foreign policy elsewhere, as if the subcontinent were the one corner of peace and stability on the globe. She gave us honor grades everywhere except there. Nixon on his part was willing enough to ignore the subject of the previous day, partly because he dreaded unpleasant scenes, partly because he correctly judged that this was Mrs. Gandhi's way of rejecting the various schemes we had put forward. It was a classic demonstration why heads of government should not negotiate contentious matters. Because their deadlocks seem unbreakable, their tendency to avoid precision is compounded. Thus Mrs. Gandhi's visit ended without progress on any outstanding issue or even on a procedure by which progress could be sought. By November 10, news of penetration by Indian troops into East Pakistan -in one confirmed report, two battalions -could no longer be ignored, and there was the risk of Pakistani retaliation. Sisco called in both the Pakistani and Indian ambassadors to urge maximum restraint. The new Pakistani Ambassador, N. A. M. Raza, promised that his government would avoid all provocative action. Jha denied any Indian involvement; we could not challenge this untruth without revealing our intelligence sources. In the first half of November we received reports that some Indian officials were speaking of the probability of war before the end of the month. They proved to be off by only a week. I called a WSAG meeting on November 12. The State Department proposed to press Yahya for another maximum political program as a way of ?helping [him] out of a box short of war,? as one State representative noted. Unfortunately, the only concessions he had not yet made were the immediate release of Mujib and the proclamation of the independence of half his country -concessions he considered humiliating and therefore deferred to the soon to be installed civilian government. There was nothing to suggest that this could be achieved in time to avert India's headlong rush into conflict. The single approach that had a slight chance of working would have been a threatening demarche to New Delhi; no one was willing to put this forward. I told my colleagues gain that we would encourage political evolution, but we would not support the Indian strategy of so forcing the pace that West Pakistan could not survive: If Mrs. Gandhi wants a way out, we should try to give it to her. But we have broken our backs to help her and what has she done? She hasn't accepted one thing we've offered. She has said friendly things about the President, but they were not related to what he said. She's merely trying to jockey us into position as the villain of the piece. The question is how are we restraining her by giving her two-thirds of what she wants and letting her use that as a basis for the next move? The time for recrimination, however, had passed. We faced a crisis with few tools save remonstrance. So we went back to the cable machine. We would further test Yahya's flexibility with respect to Mujib. State also sent its dispatches counseling restraint. India hardly bothered to respond; it complained that our demarches put it on the same level as Pakistan. Indian diplomacy, having obtained most of the concessions it had asked for, was now confined to having its Ambassador inquire into the status of the one condition it knew to be unfulfillable in the short run: the release of Mujib and his recognition as sole negotiator with Pakistan. I did my part in a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan, who was visiting Washington, on November 15. This decent and able man had seen me off at Islamabad for Peking only four months previously. I now had to urge him as tactfully as I could to show the utmost flexibility over Mujib. He replied that in his view the present military government had reached the limits of concession. Once a civilian government were formed, however, some six weeks hence, the issue would be reconsidered. Yahya himself made the same point to Ambassador Farland on November 18, emphasizing that his main objective was to implement his timetable for a civilian government: "If the civilian government then wants to deal with Bangladesh through Mujib or otherwise, that will be the business of the civilian government and of no concern to me. I will have accomplished my objective of turning the power back to the people.? I talked to Dobrynin twice, on November 15 and 18. On both occasions I warned that the continuing Soviet airlift of arms was adding to the tensions. Dobrynin suavely replied that in fact the Soviet Union was counseling restraint. On November 19 I discussed with Jha a timetable according to which full autonomy would be achieved in East Bengal by March. He shrugged it off. The prospects for peace diminish when a potential aggressor sees a prize close at hand, enjoys overwhelming superiority on the ground, and perceives the intended victim to be isolated, demoralized, and disarmed. On November 22, the first stage of full-scale war broke out on the subcontinent, though nearly a week passed before India admitted it and before all of our agencies were prepared to face its implications. War between India and Pakistan On November 22 I reported to Nixon: The Pakistanis today claim in radio broadcasts that India ?without a formal declaration of war, has launched an all-out offensive against East Pakistan." ...The Indians claim that these reports are "absolutely false." ... At this point, we have no independent evidence but it seems apparent that there had been a major incident. Crises always start as confusion, this one more than most. The Pakistani Ambassador had no information; Secretary Rogers, who had no better sources than I, could only note the conflicting reports. Nixon was raring to carry out his threat, reiterated since May, that he would terminate aid to India. To head off domestic criticism he wanted to announce this as a cutoff of aid to both belligerents, knowing that aid to Pakistan was already being dried up. I recommended that he delay a decision until after a WSAG meeting called for the afternoon. I was skeptical even of announcing a cutoff for Pakistan if it turned out that India was the aggressor. It was just too cynical; it might be misunderstood in Peking. Nixon was for whatever course would hurt India more. I had no doubt that we were now witnessing the beginning of an India-Pakistan war and that India had started it. Despite popular myths, large military units do not fight by accident; some command sets them into motion. No amount of obfuscation could offset the improbability that 70,000 Pakistani soldiers engaged in a guerrilla war would attack 200,000 Indian troops, or that the Pakistani air force of twelve planes in East Pakistan would have taken on the 200 Indian planes ranged against it. There was no pretense of legality. There was no doubt in my mind -a view held even more strongly by Nixon -that India had escalated its demands continually and deliberately to prevent a settlement. To be sure, Pakistani repression in East Bengal had been brutal and shortsighted; and millions of refugees had imposed enormous strain on the Indian economy. But what had caused the war, in Nixon's view and mine, went beyond the refugee problem; it was India's determination to use the crisis to establish its preeminence on the subcontinent. But our paramount concern transcended the subcontinent. The Soviet Union could have restrained India; it chose not to. It had, in fact, actively encouraged war by signing the Friendship Treaty, giving diplomatic support to India's maximum demands, airlifting military supplies, and pledging to veto inconvenient resolutions in the UN Security Council. The Soviets encouraged India to exploit Pakistan's travail in part to deliver a blow to our system of alliances, in even greater measure to demonstrate Chinese impotence. Since it was a common concern about Soviet power that had driven Peking and Washington together, a demonstration of American irrelevance would severely strain our precarious new relationship with China. Had we followed the advice of our critics -massive public dissociation from Pakistan and confrontation with it in its moment of desperation -we would have been operating precisely as the US-Soviet condominium so dreaded by Peking; this almost surely would have undone our China initiative. I heard occasional comments in the interagency meetings implying that we were obsessed with preserving the trip to China. But as I said to Nixon, "These people don't recognize that without a China trip we wouldn't have had a Moscow trip." Nor were we defending only abstract principles of international conduct. The victim of the attack was an ally -however reluctant many were to admit it -to which we had made several explicit promises concerning precisely this contingency. Clear treaty commitments reinforced by other undertakings dated back to 1959. One could debate the wisdom of these undertakings (and much of our bureaucracy was so eager to forget about them that for a time it proved next to impossible even for the White House to extract copies of the 1962 communications), but we could not ignore them. To do so would have disheartened allies like Iran and Turkey, which sympathized with Pakistan, had the same commitment from us, and looked to our reaction as a token of American steadiness in potential crises affecting them. High stakes were therefore involved. On December 5 I told Nixon that the India-Pakistan conflict would turn into a dress rehearsal for the Middle East in the spring. I made the same point to John Connally before and after the December 6 NSC meeting. There was no question of "saving" East Pakistan. Both Nixon and I had recognized for months that its independence was inevitable; war was not necessary to accomplish it. We strove to preserve West Pakistan as an independent state, since we judged India's real aim was to encompass its disintegration. We sought to prevent a demonstration that Soviet arms and diplomatic support were inevitably decisive in crises. On December 4 I told Nixon that precisely because we were retreating from Vietnam we could not peffi1it the impression to be created that all issues could be settled by naked force. Though it was now too late to prevent war, we still had an opportunity -through the intensity of our reaction -to make the Soviets pause before they undertook another adventure somewhere else. As I told Nixon on December 5, we had to become sufficiently threatening to discourage similar moves by Soviet friends in other areas, especially the Middle East. And if we acted with enough daring, we might stop the Indian onslaught before it engulfed and shattered West Pakistan. It was nearly impossible to implement this strategy because our departments operated on different premises. They were afraid of antagonizing India; they saw that Pakistan was bound to lose the war whatever we did; they knew our course was unpopular in the Congress and the media. And Nixon, while he understood the strategic stakes, could not bring himself to impose the discipline required to implement the operational details. The Foreign Service is a splendid instrument, highly trained, dedicated, and able. When I was Secretary of State I grew to admire it as an institution, to respect its members, and to develop a close friendship with many of them. But it requires strong leadership to impose coherence on the parochial concerns of the various bureaus which are most conscious of the daily pressures; this is especially true if the policy to be pursued is unpopular or at variance with long-held predilections. That sense of direction must be supplied by the Seventh Floor -the office of the Secretary of State and of his immediate entourage. Unfortunately -to the credit of neither of us -my relations with Rogers had deteriorated to the point that they exacerbated our policy differences and endangered coherent policy. He was likely to oppose any recommendation of mine simply as an assertion of prerogative; I tried to bypass him as much as possible. (Which came first must be determined by more neutral historians.) Rogers was convinced that our course was mistaken and that Nixon took it only because of my baneful influence. I believed that Rogers had no grasp of the geopolitical stakes. The result was a bureaucratic stalemate in which White House and State Department representatives dealt with each other as competing sovereign entities, not members of the same team, and the President sought to have his way by an indirection that compounded the internal stresses of our government. At the first WSAG meeting after the war began, on November 22, the State Department argued that we did not have enough facts to make any decision. It recommended that we press Pakistan for further political concessions. Though the war was a clear violation of the UN Charter, the Department was ambivalent about going to the UN; determined not to clash with India, it saw merit in going to the UN not in order to invoke Charter provisions against armed attack but only to wash our hands of the entire affair. I asked -I fear none too patiently -what sense there was in rewarding India for its aggression by pressing for new concessions from Pakistan. Was it unreasonable to ask India to wait for four weeks to see how the transfer to civilian authority would come out? As for going to the UN, I asked State to prepare a scenario by the opening of business the next day. That same evening the President sent me an instruction that strong cables cautioning against war be sent to New Delhi, Moscow, and Islamabad. Nixon wanted Moscow, in particular, to be warned about its supply of arms to India. The military outcome was becoming obvious. Pakistan told us that two Indian brigades were operating inside East Pakistan. On November 23 Nixon received a letter from Yahya describing Indian military dispositions as in effect a noose around the government forces in East Pakistan that was being tightened through large and unprovoked attacks. Assuring Nixon of his desire to avoid war even at this late stage, Yahya appealed for Nixon's ?personal initiative at the present juncture? which ?could still prove decisive in averting a catastrophe.? On the same day -November 23 -we received a letter from Mrs. Gandhi, inexplicably dated November 18. Speaking as if addressing a partner in a joint enterprise, Mrs. Gandhi gave herself high marks for restraint, which she ascribed to faith that justice would prevail and which had been "sustained by the discussion I had with you." While Indian units were roaming over a neighboring country, Mrs. Gandhi advised against convening the Security Council, arguing that ?such a move would obstruct the path of the solutions which we jointly seek.? It was an interesting doctrine of international law that recourse to the United Nations might obstruct the solution of a military conflict. And the implication that, now that India had attacked its neighbor, we were seeking ?joint solutions? did little to calm the Presidential temper. Mrs. Gandhi appealed to Nixon to use his "great courage" to inspire a solution and expressed the hope for better relations between the United States and India. She did not vouchsafe what solution she was aiming for or what better relations between India and the United States would consist of. But it was clear she did not want to be called to defend and justify India's policy before the world community at the UN. The WSAG meeting of November 23 shed no light on the direction in which American influence -now requested by both sides -could be brought to bear. The State Department had no objection to the cables to Moscow and Islamabad urging restraint (in the latter case, no one considered it odd to ask the victim of a- military attack to show restraint) .It was the cable to New Delhi that was giving trouble. Under Secretary of State Irwin recommended delaying until we had "independent" confirmation of an Indian attack. "We can play this charade only so long," I replied. Nor was State ready to cut off military aid to India, as Nixon demanded. Its representatives questioned whether a cutoff was consistent with our efforts to restrain Mrs. Gandhi and doubted its effectiveness. This was exactly the opposite of what had been alleged for months with respect to Pakistan! And after months of demonstrating enormous ingenuity in drying up the Pakistani pipeline, they seemed totally at a loss on how to accomplish it with India, pleading the difficulty of tracing equipment already licensed. It also turned out that ending economic aid to both sides would hurt Pakistan more than India. I pointed out what should have been axiomatic: that it made no sense to refrain from cutting off military equipment to the attacking country when we had already done so to the victim. November 23 was also the day of my first secret meeting with the Chinese in New York. Huang Hua was now Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations. Peking had agreed that we could use Huang Hua in New York as a contact on UN matters or for emergency messages; the rest of our business was to be conducted through Paris as heretofore. I thought it important to keep Peking meticulously informed of our moves; at a minimum, the Chinese leaders had to understand that we were not in collusion with the Soviet Union. Peking needed to appreciate our determination to resist expansionism as well as the limits on our practical possibilities in this case. Huang Hua and I met at a secret location in New York City in the East Thirties, a seedy little apartment in an old brownstone that the CIA had used as a safehouse. One requirement was that it have no doorman and few other occupants. Otherwise we would be tempting fate if too many sharp-eyed New Yorkers could see three Chinese diplomats wearing Mao suits walk into a building, to be followed by Henry Kissinger. (Later we moved our meeting place to an equally seedy if slightly more pretentious establishment in the East Seventies.) At this point I could do little more than brief Huang Hua on the military situation. I showed him the draft resolution we would submit to the Security Council if the issue were taken up there, indicating we had not made a final decision. Huang Hua emphasized that China would support Pakistan in the Security Council, but would follow Pakistan's lead as to whether to take the issue there. On November 24, Mrs. Gandhi acknowledged for the first time that Indian troops had crossed the Pakistani border. They had done so only once, she said, on November 21. And, she informed the Indian Parliament, Indian troops had acted in their right of self-defense. Future decisions to cross the border would be left to the "man on the spot? -a group of commanders eager to demonstrate their prowess. In the face of all this evidence, the WSAG meeting on November 24 marked time as we awaited the responses to our demarches in New Delhi, Islamabad, and Moscow. I asked the departments whether there was any doubt that Indian regular forces had invaded East Pakistan. Most agreed, but -in spite of Mrs. Gandhi's admission -the State Department representative still regarded the evidence as inconclusive. The operational advice offered was, again, to press Pakistan for further political concessions. If there was a "tilt" in the US government at this stage, objectively it was on the side of India. Bureaucratic paralysis had the practical .effect of cooperating with the delaying action that India was conducting on the diplomatic front. At noon on November 24 Nixon met with Rogers and me in the Oval Office. The positions followed those of the WSAG, with Rogers arguing that we did not have enough evidence for a Security Council move. Unfortunately, the immediate issues were all extremely technical - phraseology for possible UN resolutions and methods to achieve various degrees of aid cutoff. Nixon hated this sort of detail; discussing it made him visibly nervous. Overruling his old friend went against his grain in any event. So the meeting ended inconclusively, with Nixon afterward fretting to me about how to deal with his Secretary of State; he played with the idea of getting John Mitchell to rein in Rogers but in the end did nothing. The outcome was that everyone went his own merry way. The State Department had publicized its view by having its spokesman declare at a press briefing that the United States had no evidence to charge India with aggression. When the Pakistani Ambassador protested to the Secretary, Rogers reiterated that we had ?no independent information to confirm or deny" Indian complicity in armed attack. Rogers explained that Washington did not want to be in a position to take sides as to the truth of conflicting reports. Of course, the location of the battle line deep inside Pakistani territory would have given us a pretty good clue as to who was probably doing the attacking. Bureaucratic infighting caused a third day to pass without any serious US reaction. I have pointed out in previous chapters that crises can be managed only if they are overpowered early. Once they gain momentum the commitments of the parties tend to drive them out of control. A stern warning to India on the first day, coupled with a plausible threat of an aid cutoff brutally implemented, might possibly have given Mrs. Gandhi pause before she escalated. (It would, of course, have been even better to do so before the attack.) Doubts about who had attacked were largely spurious. Guerrilla forces do not operate tanks and airplanes across hundreds of miles of territory. Plaintive appeals for restraint only revealed our hesitation; they may have spurred Indian military action instead of restraining it. Ambassador Keating?s experience with Swaran Singh on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, revealed that India was implacable. In a stormy rely to our plea for restraint, Singh complained that there had been no political progress since Mrs. Gandhi?s visit. He did not tell us how it could have been made, since his Prime Minister had never deigned to react to our proposals and did not communicate with us until November 23, forty-eight hours earlier. He said that if Pakistan unilaterally withdrew its troops, this would create a new situation, but he refused to tell us whether India would follow suit. It was Pakistan that threatened India, said Singh, not the other way around. When Keating referred to Indian troops on Pakistani territory, Singh blithely replied this did not tally with the facts as he knew them. Even Keating, who strongly supported the Indian point of view, lobbied for it in Congress, and frequently castigated both Nixon and me privately, found himself obliged to admit in an understatement that Singh was "less than completely frank with me with regard to Indian military personnel inside East Pakistan.? On November 25, too, we learned reliably that Mrs. Gandhi had told colleagues that India would continue its attacks and escalate them. Her commanders were as good as her word. On November 26 new Indian attacks were launched in the Jessore area. The Soviet Union blocked a Japanese feeler to call a Security Council meeting. Ambassador Beam was told that the Soviet Union would support an end to military operations only if there were a political solution satisfactory to India. Nixon phoned British Prime Minister Heath to tell him of his fear that Indian objectives might well go beyond East Pakistan. He received general expressions of agreement but a clear indication that Britain would stay aloof. On November 26 Farland managed to see Yahya, who accepted Farland's suggestion that he request the UN to send observers to the Pakistani side of the line. He would also ask the UN to take over the refugee facilities in East Pakistan and would consider allowing Bengali oppositionists to meet with the still imprisoned Mujib. In New Delhi Keating saw Mrs. Gandhi in the context of a visit by Senators Frank Church and William Sax be. Her line had hardened even further. She repeated the complaint that there had been no political progress since her talks with Nixon. The issue in any event was no longer East Pakistan but India's national security in the face of unstable neighbors, she said. Playing to the end the role of a peace-loving moderate overwhelmed by events, Mrs. Gandhi said that she was barely able to resist tremendous domestic pressure for even more drastic action -though it was not obvious what more India might do to harass, injure, and invade her neighbor. Nixon's instinct, again, was to reply to Mrs. Gandhi with a cutoff of aid. I urged him to wait for the next Indian move. We would be better off reacting when the provocation was unambiguous and the facts uncontestable. The State Department came forward with the idea of Presidential letters to Yahya, Mrs. Gandhi, and Kosygin, again urging troop withdrawals, though without any indication that there was a penalty for refusing us. Though Presidential letters had grown so frequent as to debase the currency, I went along because they could do no damage and could provide a platform later for stronger action. The President's letter to Mrs. Gandhi informed her of Yahya's willingness to permit UN observers on the Pakistani side of the border and reminded her of Pakistan's standing offer of unilateral withdrawal. Noting her admission that Indian forces were engaged on Pakistani territory, the letter stressed that ?the American people would not understand if Indian actions led to broad scale hostilities.? The message to Kosygin called once again for Soviet cooperation in promoting a peaceful resolution to the crisis and urged the Soviet Union to press New Delhi on troop withdrawals. It was a futile gesture. The Soviet definition of an acceptable solution was identical with India's. The letter to Yahya sought to discourage him from seeking to relieve the pressure on beleaguered East Pakistan by attacking India from the West, where the bulk of the Pakistani army was located. Even though such a move was also doomed to failure, desperate leaders might feel it required by their honor. We were concerned that a Pakistani attack in the West would merely supply the final pretext for India to complete the disintegration of all of Pakistan. The Nixon letter listed our various futile efforts to urge restraint on India; nevertheless, it warned against expansion of the war. Yahya received Farland on November 27. He was desperate and cooperative. He offered to ask the United Nations immediately to furnish observers for the Pakistani side of the border to guarantee Pakistan's defensive intent. He offered to permit Farland to meet with Mujib's lawyer. (As the war escalated Yahya later withdrew his offer.) And he reaffirmed his willingness for contacts with members of the provisional Bangladesh government in Calcutta and ?they will not find me unresponsive.? The winning side in a war is rarely eager for negotiations; the longer the battle lasts, the better will be its bargaining position. The only restraint is the fear that if it overplays its hand it will trigger outside forces that might deprive it of the fruits of its victory. Mrs. Gandhi at the end of November was riding the waves of success, and the actions of neither the United States nor China gave her much reason for caution. The Nixon Administration was being pressed to turn on Pakistan; China at the end of its Cultural Revolution proved to be militarily unprepared and had just surmounted a domestic crisis involving the loyalty of its military. Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman surfaced with a comment that showed how hard his colleagues found it to follow the White House strategy or to break with three decades of sentimental attachment to India. A former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Benjamin H. Oehlert, Jr., had written a letter to the New York Times, published on November 3, to the effect that the United States had commitments to come to Pakistan's aid "even with our arms and men, if she should be attacked by any other country.? The State Department spokesman replied to a question on November 26 that there were no such secret commitments binding the United States to come to Pakistan's aid. If enough emphasis were placed on the phrase "arms and men" and if a sharp lawyer were permitted to define the meaning of "binding," this statement was at the very edge of truth. It also happened to be exactly the wrong signal if we sought to restrain an Indian assault on an allied country. Mrs. Gandhi was unavailable to receive the President's letter. She had decided to visit her troops near the border. She blasted the superpowers (meaning the United States) for having the nerve to complain ?because we have taken action to defend our borders.? This speech was little likely to turn the thoughts of the military commanders, who now had discretion to cross the frontier, toward peace. That same day Indian Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram disclosed to a cheering crowd at a political rally in Calcutta that Indian forces had been authorized to advance into Pakistan to ?silence? Pakistani artillery .At the same rally a speaker declared, "India will break Pakistan to pieces." And an Indian colonel told a reporter on November 28 what part of the US government was still unwilling to acknowledge -that "our troops went in because the Mukti Bahini called for help." (7) Keating finally caught up with Mrs. Gandhi on November 29 and was received with another frosty recital of India's complaints. Yahya's problems, she pointed out not inaccurately, were self -created and ?we are not in a position to make this easier for him.? She could not continue to tell her people to wait and added ominously, "I can't hold it." When Keating tried to raise the issue of border incursions into Pakistan, Mrs. Gandhi cut him off: "We can't afford to listen to advice which weakens us.? This moved matters back to the WSAG, which on November 29 debated inconclusively whether India had made a decision to attack before or after the Nixon-Gandhi talks. The issue was as irrelevant as the answer was self-evident. Clearly, Mrs. Gandhi had planned it well in advance and used her trip not as a means to seek a solution but as a smokescreen for her actions. There was no way by which the Indian deployment could have been completed in the ten-day period between Mrs. Gandhi's return and the first cross-border operations. The WSAG had at last reconciled itself to the fact that the President meant to cut off some aid to India, but the State Department fought a dogged rearguard action to keep the reduction to a minimum and the directive sufficiently vague to permit the maximum administrative discretion. Matters reached such a point of confusion concerning what categories of arms we might cut off that I said, ?We have contracts without licenses and licenses without contracts," asking which we were to terminate. It transpired that what was favored was a refusal to grant new licenses -undoubtedly on the theory that this decision could always be reversed after the war when passions had cooled. I should have known from the ease with which interagency agreement was obtained that the amounts involved were small (around $17 million). The first step, a ban on new licenses for military equipment for India, was announced by State on December 1. On November 29 I informed Peking via the Paris channel of all our overtures to other countries and their responses. By November 30 Mrs. Gandhi raised pressures another notch. Speaking to her Parliament, she sarcastically welcomed the call for troop withdrawals but ?the troops that should be withdrawn straight away are the Pakistani troops in Bangladesh.? She threw cold water on any negotiations with Pakistan on the ground that only the elected representatives of Bangladesh could decide its future and that in her view they would not settle for anything less than "liberation." Thus, there was nothing to negotiate with Pakistan other than its dismemberment. So the WSAG met again on December I to discuss whether, over a week after the start of hostilities, the time had come for a UN Security Council meeting and what additional steps could be taken to implement an arms cutoff to India. There was surprising international unanimity not to go to the Security Council. India did not want a Security Council meeting because hypocrisy could not be stretched even in that body to avoid the admission that an invasion of a sovereign member of the UN had taken place. It would be able to escape condemnation only by the promised Soviet veto. Pakistan did not want a Security Council discussion because it feared that it might broaden into a general criticism of the repression in East Bengal; also, it wanted to keep the spotlight on its invitation that UN observers be stationed on the Pakistani side of the border -a proposal that had already been formally submitted to the UN Secretary-General. The Soviet Union was not eager to be forced to invoke its veto; Huang Hua had told me that China would back what- ever Pakistan wanted. Within our government the State Department was not eager to go to the Security Council because it feared the ?tilt? of White House instructions. I was reluctant because I was loath to take on the domestic brawl that our instructions would evoke. It was a sad commentary on the state of the United Nations when a full-scale invasion of a major country was treated by victim, ally, aggressor, and other great powers as too dangerous to bring to the formal attention of the world body pledged by its Charter to help preserve the peace. The War Spreads On December 2 Pakistani Ambassador Raza delivered a letter from Yahya to President Nixon invoking Article I of the 1959 bilateral agreement between the United States and Pakistan as the basis for US aid to Pakistan. (8) The American obligation to Pakistan was thus formally raised. The State Department was eloquent in arguing that no binding obligation existed; it regularly put out its view at public briefings. It pointed out that Article I spoke only of ?appropriate action? subject to our constitutional processes; it did not specify what action should be taken. The Department also claimed that the obligation was qualified by its context, the 1958 Middle East "Eisenhower Doctrine" resolution, which, it was argued, intended to exclude an India-Pakistan war. State simply ignored all other communications between our government and Pakistan. The image of a great nation conducting itself like a shyster looking for legalistic loopholes was not likely to inspire other allies who had signed treaties with us or relied on our expressions in the belief that the words meant approximately what they said. The treaty with Pakistan was identical to several other bilateral and multilateral agreements -all of which our pronouncements seemed to cast into doubt. And it had been buttressed in the case of Pakistan by many additional assurances of support. The fact was that over the decades of our relationship with Pakistan, there had grown up a complex body of communications by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, going beyond the 1959 pact, some verbal, some in writing, whose plain import was that the United States would come to Pakistan's assistance if she was attacked by India. (9) To be sure, their purpose had been to evade Pakistani requests for arms after the Indian attack on Goa of December 1961 and the India-Pakistan war of 1965. Assurances of future US support were the substitute for immediate material aid. But if anything, this made matters worse. It made it appear as if the United States avoided supplying weapons to an ally first by promising later support if the threat materialized and then by welshing on its promises by superclever legal exegesis. I am not suggesting that we should have blindly set our policy solely because of what our predecessors had said. The decisions of a great power will be shaped by the requirements of the national interest as perceived at the moment of decision, not only by abstract legal obligations whether vague or precise. No country can be expected to run grave risks if its interests and obligations have come to be at total variance with each other. But equally a nation that systematically ignores its pledges assumes a heavy burden; its diplomacy will lose the flexibility that comes from a reputation for reliability; it can no longer satisfy immediate pleas from allies by promises of future action. Pakistan, moreover, was an ally of other allies -Iran, Turkey -and a friend of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, then isolated in a still largely radical Middle East. And it was a friend of China and in close touch with a Peking that was gingerly feeling its way toward a new relationship with us based on the hope that we could maintain the global equilibrium. A reputation for unreliability was not something we could afford. Nixon was ensconced in Key Biscayne; we talked frequently. He had no intention of becoming militarily involved, but he was determined that something be done. He ordered that the remaining licenses for Indian arms be terminated. He wanted a complete cutoff of economic aid (this I knew would never happen, given the biases of our bureaucracy). He wanted a State Department statement castigating Indian intransigence. ?If they don't want to, Ziegler will do it from Florida, and it will be a blast.? I transmitted these instructions to an unenthusiastic Rogers, who began trying to figure out ways to make the announcement so late in the day that the scope of press coverage would be reduced. Once more events in the subcontinent overtook us. Yahya had at last been cornered by his subtly implacable opponent in New Delhi. Throughout the crisis, long periods of paralyzing inactivity by Yahya had been succeeded by sudden spasms as he sought to adjust to his predicament -usually too late. For eleven days he had stood by while Indian forces pressed deeper and deeper into East Pakistan, in effect dismembering his country. For his main forces to remain inactive on the borders of West Pakistan would amount to abdication; yet to respond would be to fall into the Indian trap and provide a pretext for an all-out onslaught on East and eventually West Pakistan. Yahya chose what he considered the path of honor. On December 3 he launched his army into an attack in the West that he must have known was suicidal. In simple-minded soldierly fashion he decided, as I told Nixon, that if Pakistan would be destroyed or dismembered it should go down fighting. The reaction in our government was to use the Pakistani attack as a perfect excuse to defer the statement attacking Indian transgressions, which Nixon had ordered the day before, on the pretext that once again we did not have all the facts. This led to repeated arguments between me and Rogers, who took the view that the war having spread, a move to the Security Council was now inevitable. Criticizing India in these conditions would be assuming for ourselves a judicial role better left to the world organization; in other words, we would act as judges, not as an ally or even as a superpower with interests and commitments. Having opposed recourse to the Security Council earlier, State now favored it as a pretext to avoid a unilateral United States response and to delay our having to take any position at all. I finally acquiesced and let the Department slide off the condemnation of India that Nixon had ordered. Now that the Security Council would address the issue of the expanded war we could make our case there. And I knew that George Bush, our able UN Ambassador, would carry out the President's policy. After much pulling and hauling, State finally announced on December 3 the cutoff of remaining licenses on arms to India -hardly an overwhelming response to the outbreak of full-scale hostilities on the subcontinent. By now Nixon was in high gear. As always, his attitude was woven of many strands. He wanted to preserve his China initiative, and he understood that "even-handedness" would play into India's hands. He wanted to deflect blame for what was happening from himself. He dreaded conflict with Rogers. But he was insistent on taking a strong line at the Security Council. His initiatives came cascading into my office, specific in indicating directions, less so in defining the methods. In this atmosphere the WSAG assembled on December 3 to chart a course. It was a meeting memorialized in transcripts that were leaked to the columnist Jack Anderson. Out of context these sounded as if the White House were hell-bent on pursuing its own biases, but they can only be understood against the background of the several preceding months of frustrating and furious resistance by the bureaucracy to the President's explicit decisions. "I've been catching unshirted hell every half-hour from the President who says we're not tough enough,? I commented in what I thought was the privacy of the Situation Room. "He really doesn't believe we're carrying out his wishes. He wants to tilt toward Pakistan and he believes that every briefing or statement is going the other way.? That was of course a plain statement of the facts. My sarcasm did nothing to affect departmental proclivities. When I transmitted the President's instruction to cut off economic aid to India, State suggested a similar step toward Pakistan -in spite of the President's view that India was the guilty party for its bellicosity. This provoked me in exasperation into another ?tilt? statement: ?It's hard to tilt toward Pakistan, as the President wishes, if every time we take some action in relation to India we have to do the same thing for Pakistan. Just hold this informally until I get to the President." The State Department representatives at interagency meetings were in an extremely uncomfortable position. Castigated sarcastically by me for foot-dragging, pressed by their own chief to be more assertive in opposing the White House, they had to navigate in treacherous shoals. Joe Sisco, for example, was ordered by the White House on December 4 to brief the press informally to explain our criticism of Indian policy. This he did loyally and ably, to the intense displeasure of his Secretary of State, who subsequently prohibited him from appearing on television to repeat the same points on the record. The responsibility for the conditions I describe must fall on the personalities at the top, including myself. I have recounted the bureaucratic battles not to assess blame but to illuminate the public record, which is incomprehensible without them. The issue hinged on the geopolitical perspective of the White House as against the regional perspective of the State Department, and on the relative weight to be given to China and India in the conduct of our foreign policy. The White House viewed the conflict as a ruthless power play by which India, encouraged by the Soviets, used the ineptitude of the Pakistani government and the fragility of the Pakistani political structure to force a solution of the East Pakistan crisis by military means when a political alternative seemed clearly available. Whether our officials liked it or not, Pakistan was an ally to which we had treaty commitments backed up by private assurances; its fate would thus affect the attitudes of several key countries that had rested their security on American promises. It would be watched carefully by China. And those countries in the Middle East eager to settle the issue by force could easily be tempted to adopt military means. And if its policy in the subcontinent succeeded too easily, the Soviet Union might resort to comparable tactics in other volatile areas -as indeed it later did when Watergate had sapped Executive authority .The dismemberment of Pakistan by military force and its eventual destruction without any American reaction thus would have profound international repercussions. The opposing view was that we were needlessly sacrificing the friendship of India, that nothing could be done to save East Pakistan, and that it would, in any event, be undesirable to do so. We were taking the "Chinese position," Rogers complained. We were acting impetuously. We ran a needless risk of involving ourselves militarily. India was a country of huge potential that we needed as a friend. But Nixon and I were not being impetuous. We were convinced that India's nonalignment derived not from affection for the United States but from its perception of its national interest; these calculations were likely to reassert themselves as soon as the immediate crisis was over. The issue, to us, was the assault on international order implicit in Soviet-Indian collusion. I told the WSAG on December 4 that "everyone knows we will end up with Indian occupation of East Pakistan.? But we had to act with determination to save larger interests and relationships. We were playing a weak hand, but one must never compound weakness by timidity. ?I admit it's not a brilliant position,? I said to Nixon on December 5, ?but if we collapse now the Soviets won't respect us for it; the Chinese will despise us and the other countries will draw their own conclusions." Once the war had spread to the West, moreover, at issue was not the method for establishing Bangladesh but the survival of Pakistan itself. India's military power was vastly superior to Pakistan's, partly the result of the six-year American embargo on arms sales to both sides, which hurt mainly Pakistan. Because of India's access to Soviet arms and a large arms industry of its own, India was bound to crush Pakistan's armed forces. The State Department's legal advisers might find a way to demonstrate that we had no binding obligation to Pakistan, but the geopolitical impact would be no less serious for it. Our minimum aim had to be to demonstrate that we would not compound our weakness by fatuousness. We had to act in a manner that would give pause to potential Soviet adventures elsewhere, especially in the Middle East, where Egypt's President had now proclaimed 1972 as another year of decision. Our weakness on the ground forced us to playa bold game; when the weak act with restraint it encourages further pressures and brings home to their opponents the strength of their position. I had no illusion about our assets; but sometimes in situations of great peril leaders must make boldness substitute for assets. "We are running a tremendous bluff in a situation in which we are holding no cards," I told Haldeman on December II, pleading with him to get the President for once to insist on some discipline in our government. "Unless we can settle on a strategy,? I said in an appeal to my fractious colleagues on the WSAG on December 9, ?speak with the same voice, and stop putting out all these conflicting stories from the various agencies and all this leaking, we don't deserve to succeed.? It was impossible to keep the government united and not easy to get it to act with any coherence. Most of December 4 was expended in getting the State Department to agree to a speech by George Bush challenging India's resort to arms and supporting a Security Council resolution calling for both a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces (that is, Indian). Bush introduced a resolution along these lines on December 4. The Security Council supported our position, with eleven members favoring our resolution. But it failed of adoption because it was vetoed by the Soviet Union. (Britain and France abstained -another example of the tendency of our West European allies to let us carry the burden of global security alone.) With the Security Council stalemated by the Soviet veto we took the case to the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace resolution. We prevailed in that body by a vote of 104 to 11 on December 7. Our position was opposed only by the Soviet bloc and India. It was a weird situation. For years the Administration had been accused by its domestic critics of paying insufficient attention to world opinion. But here was an issue on which we enjoyed more support in the world community than on any other in a decade. Almost all the nonaligned were on our side for once. Many of them had border conflicts or ethnic divisions; none of them had an interest in letting outside force become the ultimate arbiter of such disputes. The Soviet bloc was isolated as it had not been since the early days of the United Nations. The numbers in our favor were overwhelming. Yet the usual votaries of world opinion in our country were busy castigating the White House as if it stood irrationally against the decent opinion of mankind. Little consideration was given to the global impact of a demonstration of American impotence combined with UN paralysis. For two years we had been talking about Security Council guarantees as a key to peace in the Middle East. What would be the implications for Middle East diplomacy of a blatant military attack in continuing defiance of UN resolutions and without any US action on behalf of a country with which it was allied? All the while, the Soviet Union was buying time for India to complete its military operations. TASS issued a blistering statement on December 5 supporting India without reservation and opposing any cease-fire unless accompanied by a political settlement based on the ?lawful rights? of the people of East Pakistan. When Nixon learned of this he decided to bring pressure on Moscow. Dobrynin, as in most crises, was out of town. His charge, Vorontsov, had authority only to receive and transmit messages, not to negotiate. On December 5 I told Vorontsov that we were at a watershed. Moscow's encouragement of Indian aggression was inconsistent with improvement in US-Soviet relations. Vorontsov was soothing. The crisis would be over in a week; it need have no impact on US-Soviet relations. If the Soviet Union continued on its present course, I snapped, it would not be over in a week, whatever happened on the subcontinent. On December 6, Mrs. Gandhi officially recognized the independence of Bangladesh. While this had been implicit in her policy all along, her declaration had the effect of closing off all remaining possibility of political accommodation. The State Department at last announced the cutoff of economic aid to India that Nixon had ordered four days earlier (but it was carried out so halfheartedly that it had little impact). Nixon convened an NSC meeting on December 6 because he had become convinced at last that some discipline was essential. But as usual his efforts to impose it were so ambiguous that they made things worse. Since Nixon took an essentially passive role, the meeting served only to make explicit the philosophical differences between Rogers and me, exacerbated by personality clashes that did neither of us any credit. Nixon made plain his displeasure with Mrs. Gandhi; but to avoid unpleasantness he gave no operational orders. His advisers had barely left, however, when he characteristically ordered me to get John Connally and Mel Laird to get Rogers to follow the White House line. But since Rogers had heard no such words from Nixon, he was confirmed in his view that he was carrying out Presidential wishes and that I was pursuing my own course. Ziegler was instructed by Nixon to say that India's actions went "against the international trend" of trying to settle international differences peacefully. But the departments -unaware that everything Ziegler said needed the approval of Haldeman or Nixon -took this as another maneuver by me. In these circumstances, more and more of our policy was pulled into the White House, where Nixon and I could control it. And by now the departments were only too happy to let us bear the responsibility and the almost certain blame whatever happened. We decided that the best hope to keep India from smashing West Pakistan was to increase the risk for Moscow that events on the subcontinent might jeopardize its summit plans with the United States; in that case the Kremlin might urge restraint on India. Therefore, a letter from Nixon to Brezhnev was delivered to Vorontsov on December 6. It stressed that the ?spirit in which we agreed? to a summit required' 'utmost restraint and most urgent action to end conflict and restore territorial integrity in the subcontinent"; an Indian "accomplished fact" would "long complicate the international situation," "undermine confidence" and have an "adverse effect on the whole range of other issues.? Late that evening, at eleven, we received a Soviet reply to my conversation with Vorontsov of the day before. Conciliatory in tone, it took the traditional stance of the side whose military operations are going favorably -it stalled. The Soviets denied that what happened on the subcontinent represented a watershed. In more elegant form it followed TASS's line of calling for a political solution in East Pakistan as a precondition for a cease-fire. And the Soviet definition of a political solution was identical with India's: immediate independence. Clearly, Moscow wanted the war to continue. Nixon responded by ordering, on my recommendation, a slowdown in economic negotiations with Moscow. This was easier said than done. By now enough departments had developed a vested interest in East-West trade to seek to protect their turf if only by inertia in carrying out orders. The resistance was led by Secretary of Commerce Stans, who reflected the passionate view of many businessmen that profits should not be sacrificed to politics. On top of it, Stans- surely an ardent anti-Communist -fancied that he had established a good personal relationship with Soviet leaders which he was most reluctant to jeopardize for arcane diplomatic maneuvers thousands of miles away. On December 7 Yahya informed us that East Pakistan was disintegrating. For us the day began with a Washington Post editorial sharply attacking Administration policy on the subcontinent, calling the aid cutoff of India "puzzling," "purely punitive," and its reasons "laughable." The Post came to this conclusion on the very day on which all further doubt was dispelled that the issue had gone far beyond self-determination for East Pakistan. A report reached us from a source whose reliability we had never had any reason to doubt and which I do not question today, to the effect that Prime Minister Gandhi was determined to reduce even West Pakistan to impotence: She had indicated that India would not accept any General Assembly call for a cease-fire until Bangladesh was "liberated"; after that, Indian forces would proceed with the "liberation" of the southern part of Azad Kashmir -the Pakistani part of Kashmir -and continue fighting until the Pakistani army and air force were wiped out. In other words, West Pakistan was to be dismembered and rendered defenseless. Mrs. Gandhi also told colleagues that if the Chinese "rattled the sword," the Soviets had promised to take appropriate counteraction. (10) Other intelligence indicated that this meant diversionary military action against China in Sinkiang. Pakistan -West Pakistan -could not possibly survive such a combination of pressures, and a Sino-Soviet war was not excluded. Against this background I gave a press briefing that became highly controversial later. I did so because Rogers had prohibited State Department personnel from undertaking public briefings, because massive leaks sought to undermine what the President had repeatedly ordered, and because we needed to state a coherent case for our position. I sought to set out our reasoning, warn India while giving it assurances of basic goodwill, and try to convey to the Soviets that matters were getting serious. I denied that the Administration was "anti-Indian." I emphasized that we had not condoned the Pakistani repression in East Bengal in March 197 I; military aid had been cut off and major efforts had been made to promote political accommodation between the Pakistani government and Bangladesh officials in Calcutta. Nevertheless, in our view India was responsible for the war. India, I pointed out, ?either ...could have given us a timetable or one could have waited for the return to civilian rule which was only three weeks away, to see whether that would bring about a change in the situation. ..." We had concluded that' 'military action was taken, in our view, without adequate cause." India had spurned or ignored our overtures. I warned the Soviet Union that it had an obligation to act as a force for restraint, for "the attempt to achieve unilateral advantage sooner or later will lead to an escalation of tensions which must jeopardize the prospects of relaxation." (12) I believed then, and still do, that this represented an accurate statement of the record. George Bush, on instructions, went a step farther at the UN, labeling India the aggressor. The .resolution we supported in the General Assembly, calling for cease-fire and withdrawal of forces, won overwhelming support, passing, as I have pointed out, by 104 to 11. But neither our briefings nor the overwhelming expression of world opinion softened media or Congressional criticism. The New York Times ridiculed my argument that a political accommodation with Yahya had been attainable. The Washington Post continued to express its "serious reservations about Mr. Nixon's pro-Pakistan policy.? To us the issue was now to prevent the dismemberment of West Pakistan. I told the WSAG on December 8: Let's now turn to the key issue. If India turns on West Pakistan, takes Azad Kashmir and smashes the Pak air and tank forces, a number of things seem inevitable. Should we, in full conscience, allow the liberation of the same disintegrating forces in West Pakistan as in the East? Baluchistan and other comparable issues are bound to come to the fore, as Mrs. Gandhi indicated to the President and as she told a Columbia University seminar in New York, I understand. Pakistan would be left defenseless and West Pakistan would be turned into a vassal state. Climax: A Fateful Decision Fundamentally, our only card left was to raise the risks for the Soviets to a level where Moscow would see larger interests jeopardized. Recognizing this, Nixon suggested to me on the evening of December 8 that perhaps we should cancel the Moscow summit. This showed the degree of the President's displeasure; it did not necessarily mean that he wanted me to carry out his suggestion. The statement had the additional advantage of establishing an historical record of toughness. It might be used later to demonstrate that one's associates had wavered while one stood like a rock in a churning sea. I was to learn before the week was up that to take it literally ran a major risk of Presidential displeasure. But at this point I told Nixon that such a move was premature. We had not yet received Brezhnev's formal answer to the Presidential message of December 6. And once pushed into a corner publicly, the Soviets would have no further incentive to call a halt to the Indian assault on Pakistan. But I did favor stepping up the pressure, keeping the threat of canceling the summit in reserve: ?The major problem now is that the Russians retain their respect for us," I said. "We have to prevent India from attacking West Pakistan; that's the major thing." If we did absolutely nothing, "we will trigger the Soviets into really tough actions." I made the same point to Helms: "If we do nothing we will surely lose. If we do something and do it daringly enough and do other simultaneous steps, we might get the Russians to call a halt to their games." On December 9 we received Brezhnev's reply. II had its hopeful side, proposing a cease-fire and the resumption of negotiations between the parties in Pakistan at the point, the message said, where they had been interrupted. If the Soviets intended by this to urge that the parties return to the situation as of March 25, there was promise in it; this would provide a fig leaf in that negotiations could be said to begin within the framework of a united Pakistan even though the outcome of an independent Bangladesh was foreordained. Brezhnev also demanded negotiations with Mujib, which would take time to accomplish; this might be a device to play for time while we were exploring the meaning of the proposal with Moscow. And we had to make sure that India would not use the interval to carry out its intention to destroy West Pakistan. That ominous possibility became more evident in a conversation between the Indian Ambassador and the Under Secretary of State. John Irwin called in Jha to seek assurances from India that it would not seize any territory in West Pakistan, including any part of Azad Kashmir. Jha responded that there was no intention of territorial annexation in the West; however, with respect to Azad Kashmir, he would have to ask New Delhi. (India had never recognized Kashmir as part of Pakistan, hence claiming it was not, in its view, dismembering West Pakistan.) The meeting concluded with Irwin's stressing that we were approaching a climactic moment in Indian- American relations. There was no way Pakistan could survive the simultaneous loss of Bengal and Kashmir; all centrifugal forces would be unleashed. We used the December 9 visit of Soviet Minister of Agriculture Vladimir Matskevich with Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz as a pretext to underscore our grave view. To his surprise Matskevich was invited to meet with the President in the Oval Office. Bullet-headed, hearty, bubbling with innocent goodwill, Matskevich conveyed a personal greeting from Brezhnev, who was looking forward with anticipation to the Moscow summit. Nixon replied that all progress in US-Soviet relations was being threatened by the war on the subcontinent. We insisted on a cease-fire. If India moved forces against West Pakistan, the United States would not stand by. Nixon added: ?The Soviet Union has a treaty with India; we have one with Pakistan. You must recognize the urgency of a cease-fire and political settlement of the crisis." Matskevich was in a splendid position to claim that such matters of high policy were outside his province; nor was Vorontsov, who accompanied him, able to enlighten us. Time was thus gained for a further Indian advance. The tensions in our government surfaced on December 9 when Nixon, beside himself over press stories that senior US diplomats were opposing the President's "anti-Indian bias," called in the principal officials of the WSAG. He told them that while he did not insist on the State Department's being loyal to the President, it should be loyal to the United States. It was one of the emotional comments Nixon later regretted and that cost him so much support. The Department was being loyal to the United States by its lights; it happened to disagree with the President's policy and it was following the guidelines of its Secretary. As I told Alex Johnson, cables with instructions to Keating to criticize New Delhi took days to be drafted and cleared; cables to Islamabad criticizing Pakistan were miraculously dispatched in two hours. The root fact, which few were willing to face, was that the Soviet Union and India could have ended the crisis (and our own domestic disputes) by one simple gesture. All we required to let matters take their course was an assurance that there would be no attack on West Pakistan and no amputation of Kashmir. The war in East Pakistan would have then wound down on its own momentum. The Indian forces, with a six-to-one margin of superiority, were clearly prevailing. But this assurance was precisely what India refused to give or the Soviet Union to encourage. Jha remained without instructions from New Delhi. Vorontsov brought no such word even after Nixon had personally intervened. On December 10 we worked out with Yahya a new proposal to the United Nations, drawing upon Brezhnev's suggestion that negotiations be resumed where they had been broken off .Our proposal abandoned the demand for an Indian withdrawal; it called for a cease-fire and stand-still to be monitored by UN representatives both in the East and the West; as soon as the cease-fire took effect there would be negotiations directed at troop withdrawals and the satisfaction of Bengali aspirations. In short, Pakistan, in return for an end to Indian military operations in the West, was prepared to settle for the military status quo in the East (largely occupied by India by now) and to enter negotiations whose only possible outcome could be the emergence of an independent Bangladesh. I submitted this proposal to Vorontsov during the morning of December 10. It was accompanied by a letter from Nixon to Brezhnev which stated that Brezhnev's proposals for the political solution in East Pakistan were in the process of being met. ?This must now be followed by an immediate cease-fire in the West.? Following the procedure in the Cienfuegos crisis, I read Vorontsov the aide-memoire of November 5, 1962, in which the United States promised assistance to Pakistan in case of Indian aggression. I warned him that we would honor this pledge. Vorontsov was, of course, without instructions. Nor would we hear from him for forty-eight hours. "In foreign policy," Bismarck once said, "courage and success do not stand in a causal relationship; they are identical.? Nixon had many faults, but in crises he was conspicuously courageous. An aircraft carrier task force that we had alerted previously was now ordered to move toward the Bay of Bengal, ostensibly for the evacuation of Americans but in reality to give emphasis to our warnings against an attack on West Pakistan. We held it east of the Strait of Malacca, about twenty-four hours' steaming distance from the Bay of Bengal, because I wanted to consult the Chinese before we made our next move. In explaining the purpose of the fleet movement to Mel Laird, I pointed out that we recognized the Indian occupation of East Pakistan as an accomplished fact; our objective was to scare off an attack on West Pakistan. (I did not add that we also wanted to have forces in place in case the Soviet Union pressured China.) As always in crises, Laird was staunch and supportive. Before I could leave for New York and a secret meeting with Huang Hua, we received word that the Pakistani commander in East Pakistan was offering a cease-fire. The State Department was jubilant. At the daily WSAG, Alex Johnson discussed how to carry it out. I was disconcerted. A separate cease-fire in the East would run counter to what had just been proposed to the Soviets. It would settle the already declining war in the East, but it would magnify our principal worry by freeing the Indian army and air force for an all-out attack on West Pakistan. We knew that Mrs. Gandhi had ordered a rapid transfer of the Indian army to the West and all-out attack as soon as operations against East Pakistan were concluded. I called in Pakistani Ambassador Raza and urged him to make the cease-fire proposal consistent with what had been agreed to with Yahya. The WSAG agreed to do the same in formal channels. A cease-fire must include both East and West Pakistan; otherwise the danger to the West would mount as operations in Bengal concluded. Islamabad therefore pulled back its proposal for a cease-fire in the East temporarily. But it was clear that this gave us only a brief breathing space. Within a short time the Pakistan army in the East would be destroyed. Indian troops would be freed for their planned assault on West Pakistan. We absolutely had to bring matters to a head. Huang Hua and I met around six o'clock in the CIA's walk-up apartment in the East Seventies. Its heavily mirrored walls and gaudy paintings suggested purposes other than a meeting between the representative of a puritanical Communist regime and the Assistant to the President trying to save the faraway country that had brought them together. I briefed Huang Hua in great detail on our exchanges with all the parties, including the Soviets. I told him of our reliable information of Indian plans to destroy West Pakistan's armed forces. We had come to the reluctant conclusion that if Pakistan was to be saved from complete destruction we had to exert maximum political pressure for a standstill cease-fire along the lines of the scheme worked out with Yahya. No other course would prevent the planned Indian offensive against West Pakistan, the success of which was foreordained. We were doing our part by moving a carrier task force near the Strait of Malacca. Huang Hua, obviously without instructions, took a hard line. He insisted that a cease-fire in place amounted to an objective collusion with the Soviets. Aggression was being rewarded. East Pakistan would have been sacrificed to superior force. We should not give up the principle of Indian withdrawal prior to negotiations. I replied sharply that if Pakistan and China insisted on such a position we would go along with it in our vote in the UN. It would, however, prove futile; it would play right into the hands of Indian and Soviet strategy to dismember all of Pakistan. Huang Hua now came to the real Chinese concern -that a precedent was being set by which other countries might be dismembered by Indian-Soviet collusion. I told him that the United States would not be indifferent to further Soviet moves. An attack on China especially would have grave consequences; indeed, this was why we had maintained so strong a stand in defiance of public opinion, Congress, and the bulk of our bureaucracy. We had even moved our fleet toward the threatened area. It was an extraordinary state of affairs; an active if tacit collaboration was developing with a country that we did not recognize. Huang Hua said he would inform Premier Chou En-lai of our views; he could tell me now, he added, that China would never stop fighting as long as it had a rifle in its armory; it would surely increase its assistance to Pakistan. I took this -as it turned out, wrongly -to be an indication that China might intervene militarily even at this late stage. To increase the pressures on the Soviets for a cease-fire I had Haig call Vorontsov late on December 10 to tell him that the United States would taking strong measures, including fleet movements, if we did not soon receive a satisfactory reply to our proposal. The next morning, still in New York City, I met for breakfast with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been appointed Deputy Prime Minister a few days before, in the elegant apartment of our UN Ambassador at the Waldorf Towers. Chinese wallpaper and discreet waiters made one nearly forget that eight thousand miles away the future of my guest's country hung by a thread. Elegant, eloquent, subtle, Bhutto was at last a representative who would be able to compete with the Indian leaders for public attention. He had had a checkered past. Architect of Pakistan's friendship with China at a time when American leaders regarded the People's Republic as a menace to world peace, he was not above playing a demagogic anti-American tune when it served his domestic purposes. The legacy of distrust engendered by his flamboyant demeanor and occasionally cynical conduct haunted Bhutto within our government throughout his political life. I found him brilliant, charming, of global stature in his perceptions. He could distinguish posturing from policy. He did not suffer fools gladly. Since he had many to contend with, this provided him with more than the ordinary share of enemies. He was not really comfortable with the plodding pace of Pakistan's military leaders. No doubt he was later carried away by excessive self-confidence in his manipulative skills. But in the days of his country's tragedy he held the remnant of his nation together and restored its self-confidence. In its hour of greatest need, he saved his country from complete destruction. He later brought himself down by excessive pride. But his courage and vision in 197 I should have earned him a better fate than the tragic end his passionate countrymen meted out to him and that blighted their reputation for mercy. When we met on December 11 I told Bhutto that Pakistan would not be saved by mock-tough rhetoric; we had to develop a course of action that could be sustained. We had gone to the limit of what was possible: "It is not that we do not want to help you; it is that we want to preserve you. It is all very well to proclaim principles but finally we have to as- sure your survival.? I urged him to work out a common position with the Chinese; we would not accept being buffeted by those we were trying to help. If it kept up, we would help pass formalistic UN resolutions but we would lose the ability to be effective. The next forty-eight hours would be decisive. We should not waste them in posturing for the history books, I said. Bhutto was composed and understanding. He knew the facts as well as I; he was a man without illusions, prepared to do what was necessary, however painful, to save what was left of his country. The Chinese were confused, he said, by the evident schism in our government. They had heard too many conflicting statements during the week, ranging from the speech by George Bush charging Indian aggression to a State Department statement avowing strict neutrality. What should they believe? I told him that it was no secret that there were disagreements; there was equally no secret where Nixon and I stood, and the White House made the final decisions. It was his obligation to cooperate with those of us who wanted to save West Pakistan; we could not let our domestic opponents achieve their goals by confusing our friends. Bhutto and I finally agreed that if we did not hear from Moscow by noon the next day we would return the issue to the Security Council, taking as a pretext the imminent end of hostilities in East Pakistan. We would begin by demanding a cease-fire and Indian withdrawal, but we would settle for a simple cease-fire in place, in effect accepting the Indian fait accompli in Bengal. I had to count on Bhutto to make sure the Chinese understood our position. Returning to Washington, I called Vorontsov to say that he had until noon on December 12 or we would proceed unilaterally. Vorontsov told me that Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Kuznetsov had been dispatched to New Delhi to arrange for a satisfactory outcome and to urge Indian restraint. I told Nixon that this was probably true; the Indians needed no Soviet visitor to strengthen their determination to destroy Pakistan and Kuznetsov was known to us as a moderate professional. But whether the Soviets were pressing for a cease-fire or egging on the Indians, our course had to be the same: We had to increase the pressure until we were assured by India that there would be a cease-fire and no annexation in the West. India was not yet prepared for either contingency. Foreign Minister Singh, now in New York, objected to returning the issue to the United Nations; and in the absence of a UN decision there could be no relevant cease-fire resolution. He forswore any territorial ambitions in West Pakistan but then conspicuously excepted Azad Kashmir as not recognized by India as part of Pakistan. Ambassador Jha at last returned a reply to Under Secretary Irwin's query of two days earlier as to Indian intentions. He, too, denied territorial ambitions, but he also left open India's options over Kashmir. Kashmir, he argued, belonged to India and the Pakistani part of it was illegally held. When all the soothing phrases were assembled, they amounted to careful evasions. India and the Soviet Union still refused to recognize the territorial status quo in the West; they deliberately kept open the possibility of the kind of annexation achievable only by the total destruction of the Pakistani army and the consequent disintegration of Pakistan. Such was the situation when Nixon, Haig, and I met in the Oval Office on Sunday morning, December 12, just before Nixon and I were to depart for the Azores to meet with French President Pompidou. There was a sense of urgency. We expected some Chinese reaction to my conversation with Huang Hua. It was symptomatic of the internal relationships of the Nixon Administration that neither the Secretary of State nor of Defense nor any other representative of their departments attended this crucial meeting, where, as it turned out, the first decision to risk war in the triangular Soviet-Chinese-American relationship was taken. Rogers had been at a NA TO meeting when the war had spread to West Pakistan. Upon his return he had made plain his displeasure with the President's policy by prohibiting Joe Sisco from appearing on television to defend it. As usual, Nixon was prepared neither to confront his old friend nor to overrule him. And Rogers was not eager to get involved: The outcome of the crisis was not likely to be glorious; success would be the avoidance of catastrophe, hardly an achievement that invites acclaim. So Nixon and I and Haig met in the Oval Office in the solitude that envelops all crises, amidst the conflicting pressures and conjectures and gradually building tensions that one knows will soon break, though not yet in what direction. Vorontsov interrupted with a phone call at 10:05 A.M .to tell us that the Soviet reply was on the way. It assured us that India had no aggressive designs in the West- but again was silent on the key point: its territorial aims in Kashmir. It was as compatible with a maneuver to gain time for a further fait accompli as with a genuine desire to settle. We decided that the best way to stress how gravely we took the crisis was for us to take it to the United Nations. This would give us an opportunity to stress the urgency of the situation as well as put forward our proposal of a standstill cease-fire. Therefore at 11:30 A.M. we sent a message, drafted by Haig and me, on the Hot Line to Moscow to keep up the pressure. This was the first use of the Hot Line by the Nixon Administration. (13) Actually, we knew that this Moscow- Washington telegraphic link worked more slowly than did the communications of the Soviet Embassy. But it conferred a sense of urgency and might speed up Soviet decisions. The one-page Hot Line message declared that after waiting seventy-two hours for a Soviet response to the conversations with Vorontsov and Matskevich, the President had "set in train certain moves" in the UN Security Council that could not be reversed. "1 must also note that the Indian assurances still lack any concreteness. I am still prepared to proceed along the lines set forth in my letter of December 10" -in other words, a standstill cease-fire and immediate negotiations. Nixon's message concluded: "I cannot emphasize too strongly that time is of the essence to avoid consequences neither of us want." Just when we had finished dispatching the Hot Line message to Moscow, we received word that Huang Hua needed to see me with an urgent response from Peking. It was unprecedented, the Chinese having previously always saved their messages until we asked for a meeting -this was one of the charming Middle Kingdom legacies. We assumed that only a matter of gravity could induce them into such a departure. We guessed that they were coming to the military assistance of Pakistan, as I thought Huang Hua, forty-eight hours earlier, had hinted they might. If so, we were on the verge of a possible showdown. For if China moved militarily, the Soviet Union -according to all our information -was committed to use force against China. We would then have to decide whether to assist a country that until a year earlier had been considered our most implacable enemy. Nixon understood immediately that if the Soviet Union succeeded in humiliating China, all prospects for world equilibrium would disappear. He decided -and I fully agreed -that if the Soviet Union threatened China we would not stand idly by. A country which we did not recognize and with which we had had next to no contact for two decades would, at least in this circumstance, obtain some significant assistance -the precise nature to be worked out when the circumstances arose. Nixon made this decision without informing either his Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense; it was not an ideal way to manage crises. Since Nixon and I were both leaving for the Azores, Al Haig and Win Lord would have to go to New York to receive the Chinese message. If the message contained what we both suspected and feared, Haig was instructed to reply to the Chinese that we would not ignore Soviet intervention. To provide some military means to give effect to our strategy and to reinforce the message to Moscow, Nixon now ordered the carrier task force to proceed through the Strait of Malacca and into the Bay of Bengal. It now became urgent to determine Soviet intentions and at the same time convince them that we meant business. At 11:45 A.M. I phoned Vorontsov to tell him of the Hot Line message and of the projected fleet movements, but also of our continued willingness to cooperate along the lines of the President's letter to Brezhnev -that is to say, accept a standstill cease-fire. We were returning the issue to the Security Council but were prepared to conduct the UN debate in a conciliatory manner. The choice was up to the Soviet Union. Vorontsov suggested that, based on his reports from Kuznetsov, we were working for the same objectives. He hoped that by the time the Security Council met the Soviet efforts in New Delhi would have borne fruit. I told him that time was running out. At noon, Ron Ziegler announced that in view of India's continuing defiance of the overwhelming General Assembly call for a cease-fire, the United States was now returning the issue to the Security Council. He warned: "With East Pakistan virtually occupied by Indian troops a continuation of the war would take on increasingly the character of armed attack on the very existence of a member state of the United Nations.? In the event, the Chinese message was not what we expected. On the contrary, it accepted the ON procedure and the political solution I had outlined to Huang Hua forty-eight hours earlier- asking for a ceasefire and withdrawal, but settling for a standstill cease-fire. Chou En-lai's analysis was the same as ours. Amazingly, Pakistan, China, and- if Vorontsov could be believed -the Soviet Union, were now working in the same direction under our aegis. But Nixon did not know this when he made his lonely and brave decision. Had things developed as we anticipated, we would have had no choice but to assist China in some manner against the probable opposition of much of the government, the media, and the Congress. And we were still in the middle of the Vietnam War. History's assessment of Nixon, whatever its conclusions, must not overlook his courage and patriotism in making such a decision, at risk to his immediate political interest, to preserve the world balance of power for the ultimate safety of all free peoples. When we received the Chinese message we held up the fleet's movement for twenty-four hours to give Moscow an opportunity to reply to our Hot Line message. It came in, also over the Hot Line, at 5 A.M. on December 13 while the President and I were in the Azores. It repeated what Vorontsov had already told us: The Soviets were ?conducting a clarification of all the circumstances in India.? They would inform us of the results without delay. Thus, the issue was left exactly as George Bush had defined it, on our instructions, in the Security Council the night before: The question now arises as to India's further intentions. For example, does India intend to use the present situation to destroy the Pakistan army in the West? Does India intend to use as a pretext the Pakistan counterattacks in the West to annex territory in West Pakistan? Is its aim to take parts of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir contrary to the Security Council resolutions of 1948, 1949, and 1950? If this is not India's intention, then a prompt disavowal is required. The world has a right to know: What are India's intentions? Pakistan's aims have become clear: It has accepted the General Assembly's resolution passed by a vote of 104 to 11. My government has asked this question of the Indian Government several times in the last week. I regret to inform the Council that India's replies have been unsatisfactory and not reassuring. Our fleet passed through the Strait of Malacca into the Bay of Bengal and attracted much media attention. Were we threatening India? Were we seeking to defend East Pakistan? Had we lost our minds? It was in fact sober calculation. We had some seventy-two hours to bring the war to a conclusion before West Pakistan would be swept into the maelstrom. It would take India that long to shift its forces and mount an assault. Once Pakistan's army and air force were destroyed, its impotence would guarantee the country's eventual disintegration. We had to give the Soviets a warning that matters might get out of control on our side too. We had to be ready to back up the Chinese if at the last moment they came in after all, our ON initiative having failed. The Kremlin needed an excuse to accelerate the pressures it claimed it was exerting on India. However unlikely an American military move against India, the other side could not be sure; it might not be willing to accept even the minor risk that we might act irrationally. It was also the best means to split the Soviet Union and India. Moscow was prepared to harass us; it was in our judgment not prepared to run military risks. Moving the carrier task force into the Bay of Bengal committed us to no final act, but it created precisely the margin of uncertainty needed to force a decision by New Delhi and Moscow. On December 14 at 3:00 A.M., Vorontsov came in to hand Al Haig a formal Soviet note. A nine-page handwritten memorandum professed to see a ?considerable rapprochement of our positions.? It reported ?firm assurances by the Indian leadership that India has no plans of seizing West Pakistani territory.? This was some small progress but it still begged the principal question of whether India considered Pakistani-held Kashrnir as Pakistani territory .And it was silent on the subject of a cease-fire. Nor was anything heard from India. And if there was not a cease-fire soon, the Indian army would be in a position to turn on West Pakistan and thus make all our discussions academic. This is why on the return flight from the Azores I said on background to the press pool on Air Force One that Soviet conduct on the subcontinent was not compatible with the mutual restraint required by genuine coexistence. If it continued, we would have to reevaluate our entire relationship, including the summit. I had not cleared that last point specifically with Nixon. I had assumed it reflected his thinking since he had himself mentioned this to me on December 8. The threat to cancel the summit caused the Washington Post to break the background rules and identify me as the speaker, in the name of the ?people's right to know.? This was a temporary fit of doctrinal Puritanism from which the Post afterward recovered in order to be invited to later backgrounders. The resulting hullabaloo occupied much of December 15. Though there were frantic disavowals at State and even some public backtracking by Ron Ziegler, the message got through to Moscow, which had by then learned that my voice reflected the probable course of the President's thinking. (Indeed, if my critics in the bureaucracy had analyzed the situation, they would have known that I could not have survived, much less prevailed, on any other condition.) Vorontsov appeared several times with increasingly urgent, soothing comments and requests for reassurances. By the next morning, December 16, we were receiving reliable reports that Kuznetsov was in fact pressing New Delhi to accept the territorial status quo in the West, including in Kashmir. Late in the day on December 15, the commander of the outnumbered Pakistani forces in the East again offered a cease-fire. He had held out five days longer than we thought possible when the first cease-fire offer was put forward on December 10. The resistance of his forces had given us the time to mount the pressures that prevented the onslaught on West Pakistan. Next day Mrs. Gandhi offered an unconditional cease-fire in the West. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a reluctant decision resulting from Soviet pressure, which in turn grew out of American insistence, including the fleet movement and the willingness to risk the summit. This knowledge stood us in good stead when Vietnam exploded four months later. It was also Chou En-lai's judgment, as he later told Bhutto, that we had saved West Pakistan. The crisis was over. We had avoided the worst -which is sometimes the maximum statesmen can achieve. The Aftermath The India-Pakistan war of 1971 was perhaps the most complex issue of Nixon's first term. Not that emotions ran as high as on Vietnam, or that its effects were very long-lasting, though the "tilt toward Pakistan? entered the polemic folklore as a case history of political misjudgment. What made the crisis so difficult was that the stakes were so much greater than the common perception of them. The issue burst upon us while Pakistan was our only channel to China; we had no other means of communication with Peking. A major American initiative of fundamental importance to the global balance of power could not have survived if we colluded with the Soviet Union in the public humiliation of China's friend -and our ally. The naked recourse to force by a partner of the Soviet Union backed by Soviet arms and buttressed by Soviet assurances threatened the very structure of international order just when our whole Middle East strategy depended on proving the inefficacy of such tactics and when America's weight as a factor in the world was already being undercut by our divisions over Indochina. The assault on Pakistan was in our view a most dangerous precedent for Soviet behavior, which had to be resisted if we were not to tempt escalating upheavals. Had we acquiesced in such a power play, we would have sent a wrong signal to Moscow and unnerved all our allies, China, and the forces for restraint in other volatile areas of the world. This was, indeed, why the Soviets had made the Indian assault on Pakistan possible in the first place. But an essentially geopolitical point of view found no understanding among those who conducted the public discourse on foreign policy in our country. (By ?geopolitical? I mean an approach that pays attention to the requirements of equilibrium.) This dramatized one of the root dilemmas of the foreign policy of the Nixon Administration. Nixon and I wanted to found American foreign policy on a sober perception of permanent national interest, rather than on fluctuating emotions that in the past had led us to excesses of both intervention and abdication. We judged India by the impact of its actions, not by its pretensions or by the legacy of twenty years of sentiment. But our assessments depended on conjecture about the wider consequences of India's assault. To shape events one must act on the basis of assessments that cannot be proved correct when they are made. All the judgments we reached about the implications of an assault on Pakistan were indemonstrable. By the time the implications were clear it would be too late; indeed, there might then be another dispute as to what had actually produced them. The majority of informed opinion sought to judge the confrontation on the subcontinent on the merits of the issues that had produced the crisis. Pakistan had unquestionably acted unwisely, brutally, and even immorally, though on a matter which under international law was clearly under its domestic jurisdiction. But even here, I would have to say we had an assessment of the facts different from that of our critics. I remain convinced to this day that Mrs. Gandhi was not motivated primarily by conditions in East Pakistan; many solutions to its inevitable autonomy existed, several suggested by us. Rather, encouraged by the isolation of Pakistan, the diplomatic and military support of the Soviet Union, the domestic strains in China, and the divisions in the United States, the Indian Prime Minister decided in the spring or summer of 1971 to use the opportunity to settle accounts with Pakistan once and for all and assert India's preeminence on the subcontinent. Her delay until November was to allow military training and preparations to be completed and to wait until winter snows in the Himalayas complicated Chinese access. After that decision, every concession by Pakistan was used as a starting point for a new demand escalating the requirements and shortening the time span for a response to the point that showdown was inevitable. We had no national interest to prevent self-determination for East Pakistan -indeed, we put forward several schemes to bring it about- but we had a stake in the process by which it occurred. We wanted it to be achieved by evolution, not by a traumatic shock to a country in whose survival the United States, China, and the world community (as shown in repeated UN votes) did feel a stake, or by a plain violation of the rules by which the world must conduct itself if it is to survive. India struck in late November; by the timetable that we induced Yahya to accept, martial law would have ended and a civilian government would have taken power at the end of December. This would almost surely have led to the autonomy and independence of East Pakistan -probably without the excesses of brutality, including public bayoneting, in which the Indian-trained guerrillas, the Mukti Bahini, engaged when they in turn terrorized Dacca. If shortsighted and repressive domestic policies are used to justify foreign military intervention, the international order will soon be deprived of all restraints. In the name of morality we were lambasted for having supported the losing side and offended the winner -an interesting "moral" argument, not to mention that, historically, prudence and equilibrium usually suggest siding with the weaker to deter the stronger. After three years of harassment for insufficient dedication to peace, we were now challenged by one liberal columnist with the mind-boggling argument that war could not always be considered an evil because sometimes it was the instrument for change. (14) The principle seemed to be that if Richard Nixon was for peace, war could not be all bad. There is in America an idealistic tradition that sees foreign policy as a contest between evil and good. There is a pragmatic tradition that seeks to solve ?problems? as they arise. There is a legalistic tradition that treats international issues as juridical cases. There is no geopolitical tradition. All the strands of our international experience ran counter to what we were trying to accomplish on the subcontinent in the autumn of 1971. India had much sympathy as the world's most populous democracy; the problem to be ?solved? was self-determination for East Pakistan; the "case" should be turned over to the United Nations, as Rogers never tired of pointing out. Our geopolitical concerns were given no credence and were attributed to personal pique, anti-Indian bias, callousness toward suffering, or inexplicable immorality. Had we followed these recommendations, Pakistan, after losing its eastern wing, would have lost Kashmir and possibly Baluchistan and other portions of its western wing -in other words, it would have totally disintegrated. We maneuvered with some skill -and considering the few cards we held, considerable daring ? to avert disasters. We succeeded in confining the impact of the conflict to the subcontinent. The Indian power play did not shake the foundations of our foreign policy and wreck our China initiative as it well might have, and as the Soviets undoubtedly hoped it would. But since there was no general recognition of these dangers, we could expect little understanding of our motivation. Instead, attention focused on costs. We believed they would prove as temporary as they were unavoidable. We did not think that we had permanently jeopardized our relations with India or driven India irrevocably to the Soviet side, as was so often and passionately claimed. Nor could we ever have competed with what the Soviet Union offered India for this crisis: six years of weaponry while we embargoed arms to both sides, military threats against Peking to deter Chinese interference, and two vetoes in the Security Council blocking a cease-fire and UN peace- keeping efforts. We could not have outbid the USSR in this dimension -nor do I recall any of our domestic critics recommending that we attempt to do so. Just as our wooing for two decades had not managed to tempt India out of its nonalignment, so India was unlikely to move irrevocably to one side as a result of our defending our own interests. Nonalignment enabled India to navigate the international passage with a maximum number of options. For that reason we were convinced that India would sooner or later seek a rapprochement with us again if only to keep Moscow from taking it for granted. When the immediate crisis was over I reminded Dobrynin of a comment by the Austrian minister Schwarzenberg after Russian troops had helped put down the Hungarian revolt of 1848: "Some day we will amaze the world by the depth of our ingratitude." And this is exactly what happened. After the crisis, US-Indian relations returned quite rapidly to their previous state of frustrated incomprehension within a framework of compatible objectives. We were not so fortunate as to be spared the usual hectoring, but within three years US-Indian joint commissions were working on cooperative projects in a variety of economic and cultural fields. T. N. Kaul, the Foreign Secretary who venomously pushed the policy of confrontation in 1971, was sent to Washington as Ambassador with the assignment to repair relations -a task to which he devoted himself with the same single-mindedness that had characterized India's implacable dismemberment of Pakistap in 1971. Nixon put it well when he told Prime Minister Heath in Bermuda on December 20, after the crisis was over, what we had tried to accomplish: I felt that if it was true that her [Mrs. Gandhi's] goal was to force Pakistan to surrender in the West, there would be serious repercussions on the world scene. It could be a lesson for other parts of the world. ...The Soviets have tested us to see if they could control events .Of course you have to consider the much bigger stakes in the Middle East and Europe. Part of the reason for conducting our Vietnam withdrawal so slowly is to give some message that we are not prepared to pay any price for ending a war; we must now ask ourselves what we are willing to pay to avert war. If we are not, we have tough days ahead. Nixon's view, with which I agreed, was not shared by the media, our ..... .......... it was correct. The crisis also demonstrated the error of the myth that Nixon, aided by me, exercised an octopus like grip over a government that was kept in ignorance of our activities. On some initiatives -especially in the realm of bilateral negotiations -this was true. But in other areas Nixon's methods in art resulted from the fractiousness of the bureaucracy and in part from is own reluctance to discipline the bureaucracy. As so often, the handling of the India-Pakistan crisis reflected deep divisions within our government that were compounded by Nixon's indirection in conveying his views. The upshot was the opposite of the folklore: not widening White House dominance but bitter departmental rearguard resistance; not clear-cut directives but elliptical maneuvers to keep open options; not the inability of the agencies to present their views but the difficulty faced by the Chief Executive in making his views prevail. That these conditions reflected some of Nixon's psychological peculiarities does not change the fundamental conclusion. The history of the ?tilt? is less a tale of Presidential self-will than of the complexity of managing a modern government -especially by a President unwilling to lay down the law directly. Who was right in this dispute is irrelevant; Presidents must be able to count on having their views accepted even if these run counter to bureaucratic preconceptions. I have repeatedly stated that the administrative practices of the Nixon Administration were unwise and not sustainable in the long run; fairness requires an admission that they did not take place in a vacuum. The crisis was no sooner over than the White House found itself in the vortex of a storm of leaks and denunciations. As early as December 13, the columnist Jack Anderson began to publish excerpts from Defense Department notes of WSAG meetings. Our opposition to India's military action -our public position, for which we were indeed attacked -was held to be a startling revelation that proved us liars when we denied an anti-Indian bias. Reams of other classified information sprouted in the newspapers -cables from Kenneth Keating in India, for example, which urged pressure on Yahya or disputed my December 7 backgrounder. (15) The movements of our fleet, which are as a rule secret, found their way instantly into print. Rogers gave vent to years of frustration by contradicting my remarks on Air Force One and announcing at a press conference on December 23 that the Moscow summit was by no means impaired by events on the subcontinent. He also denied that we had any kind of military commitment to Pakistan if threatened by India- which was a fine lawyer's point. And the investigation of the leaks revealed that a Navy yeoman who had served as a clerk on my staff had systematically copied NSC documents entrusted to him and passed them on to his superiors at the Pentagon. Nixon could be as petty in calm periods as he was bold in crises, as small-minded in dealing with his associates as he could be farsighted in defense of the national interest. After the first flush of elation over Mrs. Gandhi's cease-fire, Nixon gave strict orders that all briefings emphasize his central role. But as the criticism mounted, he began to look for ways to get out of the line of fire. No doubt he was influenced in part by an understandable resentment that I had received what he considered exorbitant credit for the foreign policy successes of the Administration, while all the blame for its harsher measures had fallen on him. But the proximate cause was the summit. Though Nixon had talked of canceling the summit on December 8 and was to do so again on December 16, my actually mentioning it to the press on December 14 triggered all his ambivalences. He had his heart set on completing the journey that Eisenhower had planned in 1960 but never accomplished. It meant a great deal to him to be the first American President in Moscow. Though he formally backed me, he was not in fact willing to jeopardize that coup. The result was an effort by the White House public relations experts to deflect onto me the attack on our conduct during the India-Pakistan crisis. The policy became my policy. For several weeks Nixon was unavailable to me. Ziegler made no statement of support, nor did he deny press accounts that I was out of favor. The departments were not admonished to cease their leaking against me. Nixon could not resist the temptation of letting me twist slowly, slowly in the wind, to use the literary contribution of a later period. It was a stern lesson in the dependence of Presidential Assistants on their chief. I did not take kindly - or even maturely -to my first experience of sustained public criticism and Presidential pressures. And then suddenly it was allover. The crisis on the subcontinent did not linger and so there was no focal point for festering criticism. I was soon enough returned to favor with the President and we resumed our previous wary relationship -close on substance, aloof personally. There was other business to turn to. The basic structure of our foreign policy was intact. Planning for both summits was soon resumed. A string of spectacular foreign policy successes soon wiped out the episode and gained popular support. Peking had learned that we took seriously the requirements of the balance of power; Moscow had seen a sufficiently strong reaction not to be tempted to test us in areas of more central concern. We had survived the storm with the rudder intact. We could resume our course. NOTES (1) Bengal was split by the 1947 partition. The eastern portion became East Pakistan; West Bengal remained part of India. (2) SEATO?s membership included the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand (and South Vietnam as a protocol state). CENTO grouped the countries of the so-called Northern Tier, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, with Britain; the United States was a member in all but name. (3) This referred to a movement to detach the border region from Pakistan and connect it with people speaking a similar language on the Afghan side of the Khyber Pass. (4) Washington Star, May 19, 1971. (5) The State Department acknowledged on June 22 that its original announcement of the embargo on April 15 did not mention the fact that earlier transactions would not necessarily be affected by it. See the New York Times, June 23, 1971. (6) Dobrynin also gave the gestation period as a year. Jha told Roberts it was two years, and Foreign Minister Singh gave this figure publicly. After Nixon?s July 15 China announcement, Singh has told the Indian Parliament cryptically that India had been considering countermeasures to a possible Sino-American rapprochement ?for some time? (See Chapter XIX.) (7) Sydney H. Schanberg, ?India Sets Range for Retaliations in East Pakistan,? New York Times, Nov. 29, 1971. (8) The Article read: ?The Government of Pakistan is determined to resist aggression. In case of aggression against Pakistan, the Government of the Unites States of America, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America, will take such appropriate action, including the use of armed forces, as may be mutually agreed upon and as is envisaged in the Joint Resolution to Promote Peace and Stability in the Middle East, in order to assist the Government of Pakistan at its request.? (9) Assurances were given by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, including a letter from President John F. Kennedy to Pakistani President Mohammed Ayub Khan on Jan. 26, 1962; an aide-memoire presented by the US Ambassador on Nov. 5, 1962; a public statement by the State Department on Nov. 17, 1962; and an oral promise by President Lyndon Johnson to Ayub Khan on Dec. 15, 1965. (10) These reports of Indian deliberations -among the most important reasons for our policy- were published by Jack Anderson, but without apparent understanding of their significance. (11) (11) See the Anderson column in the Washington Post, Dec. 21, 1971, and the minutes of the Dec. 8 WSAG meeting published in the New York Times, Jan. 15, 1972. (12) The Washington Post of Dec. 8, 1971, reported on my background briefing with a column headlined, ?White House Softens Pro-Pakistan Stance.? Senator Barry Goldwater was so carried away by my briefing that he inserted it in toto into the Congressional Record without informing us. Congressional Record (daily ed.), Dec. 9, 1971, p.S21012. (13) Brezhnev later made use of the Hot Line during the alert in the October 1973 Middle East War. (14) Milton Viorst, ?War Odious, but Not Always Evil,? Washington Star, Dec. 11, 1971. (15) See the New York Times, Jan. 6, 1972; Washington Post, Jan. 6, 1972. ________________________________________ Dr. Farooq's other pages Personal Homepage Kazi Nazrul Islam Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Bangladesh 1971 Genocide Liberation Hindu Genocide East Pakistan

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