Friday, 3 November 2017

Wars of independent India; USA India relations from that context

While people-to-people and trade relations are important in relations between countries, history shows that it has usually taken war or even smaller level armed conflict to really create or destroy bonds between countries. [Of course, I hope this aspect of history changes and the world moves to lesser and lesser wars and finally no wars. But till we reach that utopian stage we need to deal with reality.] So I thought I should share with readers how this aspect of history has been for India after independence, based on my amateur readings, in the context of its relations with USA.

1) At independence time in 1947, there were armed clashes between India and Pakistan in Kashmir but I think that got settled largely between India, Pakistan and ruler of Kashmir then. Big powers including Britain did not really get involved much. It was settled by force with Kashmir divided between Indian administered and Pak administered areas.

2) 1962 war with China, This ended in a defeat for India with lot of loss of territory.

Why did China get so mad at India to fight a war with it and grab territory? I don't know the details. But at a top level, India giving refuge to Dalai Lama of Tibet in 1959 has been something that angers China ***to this day****. Mao Zedong, I am sure, would have been furious.

From this South China Morning Post article,, which gives the exchange between Khrushchev and Mao in Sept. 1959 (after Dalai Lama had fled to India and been given refuge by then Prime Minister Nehru):

Khrushchev: You were wrong to let the Dalai Lama go. If you allow him an opportunity to flee to India, then what has Nehru to do with it? We believe that the events in Tibet are the fault of the Communist Party of China, not Nehru’s.

Mao: No, this is Nehru’s fault.

Mao: We also support Nehru, but in the question of Tibet we should crush him.

Khrushchev: Why did you have to kill people on the border with India?

Mao: They attacked us first, crossed the border and continued firing for 12 hours.

Zhou: What information do you trust more – India’s or ours?

Khrushchev: Although the Indians attacked first, nobody was killed among the Chinese, and only among the Indians.

Zhou: But what we are supposed to do if they attack us first? We cannot fire in the air. The Indians even crossed the McMahon line.

---- end extracts ----

Ravi: During the initial part of the 1962 war between China and India, USA and USSR were both occupied with the Cuban missile crisis. From, "It is noteworthy that the buildup and offensive from China occurred concurrently with the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962) that saw both the United States and the Soviet Union confronting each other, and India did not receive assistance from either of these world powers until the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved."

USSR seems to have stayed neutral in this India-China war (like Russia stayed neutral when the recent Doklam standoff happened between India (+ Bhutan) and China). Khrushchev is said to have remarked that China is a brother, while India is a friend.

USA under John F. Kennedy then was supportive of India against communist China. But, I guess, that would have been effective only after the Cuban missile crisis had got resolved. Nehru asked Kennedy for fighter jets but did not get his request fufilled. But Kennedy did support India diplomatically, I think.

3) 1965 war with Pakistan: This was over Kashmir (that's the sore thing btw India and Pak to this day) with no formal victor, and with UN and USA and USSR playing a key role in ensuring the end of the war.


Internationally, the war was viewed in the context of the greater Cold War, and resulted in a significant geopolitical shift in the subcontinent. Before the war, the United States and the United Kingdom had been major material allies of both India and Pakistan, as their primary suppliers of military hardware and foreign developmental aid. During and after the conflict, both India and Pakistan felt betrayed by the perceived lack of support by the western powers for their respective positions; those feelings of betrayal were increased with the imposition of an American and British embargo on military aid to the opposing sides. As a consequence, India and Pakistan openly developed closer relationships with the Soviet Union and China, respectively.

--- end wiki extracts ---

4) 1971 war with Pakistan over Bangladesh (East Pakistan) ending with victory for India and liberation/creation of Bangladesh:

Given below is the whole section from the wiki page & section (some part of it is not well written and has grammatical mistakes or is confusing):

Foreign reaction and involvement; United States and Soviet Union

The Soviet Union sympathised with the East Pakistanis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini incursion against Pakistan during the war, in a broader view of recognizing that the succession of East Pakistan as Independent Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals— the United States and China. The Soviet Union gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, it would take counter-measures. This assurance was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in August 1971. [Ravi: The war happened over around two weeks in December 1971. So this Indo-Soviet treaty was done BEFORE the war (from India's side by Indira Gandhi PM of India; Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Nehru).]

However, the Indo-Soviet treaty did not mean a total commitment to every Indian position even though the Soviet Union had accepted the Indian position during the conflict, according to author Robert Jackson. The Soviet Union continued their sympathetic gesture to Pakistan until mid-October when they stressed Pakistan to come up with a political settlement and affirming their continuation of industrial aid to Pakistan. By November 1971, the Soviet ambassador to Pakistan Alexei Rodionov directed a secretive message (Rodionov message) that ultimately warned Pakistan that "it will embarking a suicidal course if it escalates tensions in the subcontinent."

The United States stood with Pakistan by supporting morally, politically, economically, and materially when U.S. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger refused to use rhetoric in a hopeless attempt to intervene in a large civil war. The U.S. establishment perceived to the impression that they needed Pakistan to help stop Soviet influence into the South Asia in an informal alliance with India. During the Cold War, Pakistan was a close formal ally of the United States and also had close relations with the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and where he intended to visit in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of Pakistan would mean total Soviet domination of the region, and that it would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America's new tactical ally, China. Nixon encouraged Jordan and Iran to send military supplies to Pakistan while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan, but all supplies were very limited. The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the "genocidal" activities of the Pakistani military in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram and this prompted widespread criticism and condemnation both by the United States Congress and in the international press.

Then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, George Bush, Sr, introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of armed forces by India and Pakistan. However, it was vetoed by the Soviet Union and the following days witnessed a great pressure on the Soviets from the Nixon-Kissinger duo to get India to withdraw, but to no avail.

It has been documented that President Nixon requested Iran and Jordan to send their F-86, F-104 and F-5 fighter jets in aid of Pakistan.

When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, Nixon deployed Task Force 74 led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. Enterprise and its escort ships arrived on station on 11 December 1971. According to a Russian documentary, the United Kingdom deployed a carrier battle group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle to the Bay on her final deployment. Eagle was paid off by January 1972 at Portsmouth and was stripped of reusable equipment (radars and missile systems primarily).

On 6 and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers and a submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok; they trailed US Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972. The Soviets also had a nuclear submarine to help ward off the threat posed by the USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean.

As the war progressed, it became apparent to the United States that India was going to invade and disintegrate Pakistan in a matter of weeks, therefore President Nixon spoke with the USSR Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev on a hotline on 10 December where Nixon reportedly urged Brezhnev to restrain India as he quoted: "in the strongest possible terms to restrain India with which … you [Breznev] have great influence and for whose actions you must share responsibility."

After the war, the United States accepted the new power of balance and realized India as a major dominant player in the South Asia and immediately engage in strengthening bilateral relations between two countries in the successive years. Soviet Union, while being sympathetic to Pakistan's loss, decided to engage with Pakistan after sending an invitation through Rodionov to Bhutto who paid a state visit to Soviet Union in 1972 to strengthened the bilateral relations that continued on over the successive years.

---- end wiki extracts ----

Ravi: The Indian public remember that USA sided with Pakistan in the 1971 war and that the Soviet Union supported India then. Therefore there is a lot of gratitude from India towards the former Soviet Union and today's Russia.

5) Kargil LIMITED war with Pakistan in 1999 ending with Pakistani backed forces which had made significant gains in high-altitude Kargil area, being forced to withdraw partially by Indian military, and then forced to withdraw completely by USA president Bill Clinton putting pressure on Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Clinton was worried about the war breaking out into a nuclear war.

In 1999 Russia was having its own problems and, I guess, had no role whatsoever diplomatically or militarily in this conflict.

USA president Bill Clinton putting pressure on Pak PM Nawaz Sharif to withdraw forces backed by Pakistan to the Line of Control (before Kargil war), I think, would have been viewed very positively by Indian political, diplomatic and military leaders. I too found USA's role in this Kargil LIMITED war to be positive.

That finishes the wars independent India has been involved in, and the role USA and USSR/Russia played in them.

But there was one very big incident that made USA move much closer to India. That was the 9/11 2001 attack and tragedy in New York City, Virginia (Pentagon) and attempted attack at Washington DC which resulted in tragic plane crash in Pennsylvania.

At that time, I think USA found that Indian govt., military and other security agencies had no hand whatsoever in such extremist group attacks on the West, and that these extremist groups were common enemies of both India and the USA (and the West in general). This, I think, has been a very big factor in USA (and the West in general) getting into warmer relations with India than in the past.

[I thank wikipedia and South China Morning Post and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website (short extract from South China Morning Post) on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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