(Page 2 of 2)
Bass documents the story with, among other things, newly declassified government documents, despite Kissinger’s policy of keeping his papers out of the hands of historians.
Nixon and Kissinger, Bass writes, were engaged in more than Cold War calculations. They also disliked the people of India. When diplomats on the scene—particularly Archer Blood (he of the telegram), consul general in Dacca, East Pakistan, and Kenneth Keating, ambassador to India—protested the U.S.-backed “genocide,” they were scorned as a “maniac” and a “traitor.”
The enormity of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s crimes cannot be exaggerated:
As its most important international backer, the United States had great influence over Pakistan. But at almost every turning point in the crisis, Nixon and Kissinger failed to use that leverage to avert disaster. Before the shooting started, they consciously decided not to warn Pakistan’s military chiefs against using violence on their own population… They did not threaten the loss of U.S. support or even sanctions if Pakistan took the wrong course. They allowed the army to sweep aside the results of Pakistan’s first truly free and fair democratic election, without even suggesting that the military strongmen try to work out a power-sharing deal with the Bengali leadership that had won the vote. They did not ask that Pakistan refrain from using U.S. weaponry to slaughter civilians, even though that could have impeded the military’s rampage, and might have deterred the army. There was no public condemnation – nor even a private threat of it – from the president, secretary of state or other senior officials….
Nixon and Kissinger bear responsibility for a significant complicity in the slaughter of the Bengalis. This overlooked episode deserves to be a defining part of their historical reputations.
The historian Ralph Raico observes that critics of the libertarian world view complain that the market treats people like commodities. Maybe, Raico replies. But the state treats people like garbage.