“The Blood Telegram” by Gary Bass

Clip_144If you get the opportunity to do so,  please read the book: “The Blood Telegram” by Gary Bass, this relates all the horrific doings by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan in 1971.

Terrible atrocities were committed by them , the late Zulfiqar Ali  Bhutto played an important role in ensuring this carnage was carried out with US President Richard Nixon and Foreign Secretary Henry Kissinger deliberately refraining from using their great influence over the Pakistan, to avert this disaster from happening.   Their silence encouraged the Pakistan Army to murder, rape, loot, kill at will including burning down of complete villages, buildings, etc.

East Pakistani (Bengali Muslims) officers’ wives were rounded up to provide entertainment for the Pakistan Army Officers – the list of atrocities committed is endless. The White House then had a poor opinion of India and Indians – and it probably continues.

The only friend the Bengali’ Muslims had was Arthur Blood, the then US Consul-General in Dacca; the White House later fixed him.

Washington DC, December 3, 1971, 10:45am.

US President Richard Nixon is on the phone with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, hours after Pakistan launched simultaneous attacks on six Indian airfields, a reckless act that prompted India to declare war:

Nixon: So West Pakistan giving trouble there?

Kissinger: If they lose half of their country without fighting they will be destroyed.  They may also be destroyed this way but they will go down fighting.

Nixon: The Pakistan thing makes your heart sick.  For them to be done so by the Indians and after we have warned that bitch (reference to Indian PM Indira Gandhi). Tell them that when India talks about West Pakistan attacking them it’s like Russia claiming to be attacked by Finland.

Washington, December 10, 1971, 10:51am.

A week later the war was not going well for Pakistan, as Indian armour scythed through East Pakistan and the Pakistan Air Force was blown out of the subcontinent’s sky.  Meanwhile, the Pakistani military in the west was demoralised and on the verge of collapse as the Indian Army and Air Force attacked round the clock:

Nixon: Our desire is to save West Pakistan. That’s all.

Kissinger: That’s right. That is exactly right.

Nixon: All right. Keep those carriers moving now.

Kissinger: The carriers—everything is moving.  Four Jordanian planes have already moved to Pakistan, 22 more are coming.  We’re talking to the Saudis, the Turks we’ve now found are willing to give five.  So we’re going to keep that moving until there’s a settlement.

Nixon: Could you tell the Chinese it would be helpful if they could move some forces or threaten to move some forces?

Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: They’ve got to threaten or they’ve got to move, one of the two. You know what I mean?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: How about getting the French to sell some planes to the Paks?

Kissinger: Yeah. They’re already doing it.

Nixon: This should have been done long ago. The Chinese have not warned the Indians.

Kissinger: Oh, yeah.

Nixon: All they’ve got to do is move something. Move a division. You know, move some trucks.  Fly some planes.  You know, some symbolic act.  We’re not doing a goddamn thing, Henry, you know that.

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: But these Indians are cowards. Right?

Kissinger: Right, but with Russian backing.  You see, the Russians have sent notes to Iran, Turkey, to a lot of countries threatening them. The Russians have played a miserable game.

If the two American leaders were calling Indians cowards, a few months earlier the Indians were a different breed altogether. This phone call is from May 1971:

Nixon: The Indians need—what they need really is a—

Kissinger: They’re such bastards.

Nixon: A mass famine. But they aren’t going to get that.  But if they’re not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war.

Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there.

The 1971 war is considered to be modern India’s finest hour, in military terms. The clinical professionalism of the Indian army, navy and air force; a charismatic brass led by the legendary Sam Maneckshaw and ceaseless international lobbying by the political leadership worked brilliantly to set up a famous victory. After two weeks of vicious land, air and sea battles, nearly 100,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before India’s rampaging army, the largest such capitulation since General Paulus’ surrender at Stalingrad in 1943.   However, it could all have come unstuck without help from veto-wielding Moscow, with which New Delhi had the foresight to sign a security treaty in 1970.

As Nixon’s conversations with the wily Kissinger show, the forces arrayed against India were formidable.  The Pakistani military was being bolstered by aircraft from Jordan, Iran, Turkey and France.   Moral and military support for Pakistan was amply provided by the US, China and the UK.  Alhough not mentioned in the conversations here, the UAE sent in half a squadron of fighter aircraft and the Indonesians dispatched at least one naval vessel to fight alongside the Pakistani Navy.   However, Russia’s entry thwarted a scenario that could have led to multiple pincer movements against India.

Superpowers face-off

On December 10, even as Nixon and Kissinger were frothing at the mouth, Indian intelligence intercepted an American message, indicating that the US Seventh Fleet was steaming into the war zone.   The Seventh Fleet, which was then stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, was led by the 75,000 ton nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS ‘Enterprise’.   The world’s largest warship, it carried more than 70 fighters and bombers.  The Seventh Fleet also included the guided-missile cruiser USS ‘King’, guided-missile destroyers USS ‘Decatur’, ‘Parsons’ and ‘Tartar Sam’ and a large amphibious-assault ship USS ‘Tripoli’
Standing between the Indian cities and the American ships was the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet led by the 20,000-ton aircraft carrier, INS ‘Vikrant’, with barely 20 light fighter-aircraft.  When asked if India’s Eastern Fleet would take on the Seventh Fleet, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral N. Krishnan, said, “Just give us the orders.”  The Indian Air Force, having wiped out the Pakistani Air Force within the first week of the war, was reported to be on alert for any possible intervention by aircraft from the USS ‘Enterprise’.

Meanwhile, Soviet intelligence reported that a British naval group led by the aircraft carrier HMS ‘Eagle’ had moved closer to India’s territorial waters.  This was perhaps one of the most ironic events in modern history where the Western world’s two leading democracies were threatening the world’s largest democracy in order to protect the perpetrators of the largest genocide since the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.   However, India did not panic.   It quietly sent Moscow a request to activate a secret provision of the Indo-Soviet security treaty, under which Russia was bound to defend India in case of any external aggression.

The British and the Americans had planned a coordinated pincer to intimidate India; while the British ships in the Arabian Sea would target India’s western coast, the Americans would make a dash into the Bay of Bengal in the east where 100,000 Pakistani troops were caught between the advancing Indian troops and the sea.

To counter this two-pronged British-American threat, Russia dispatched a nuclear-armed flotilla from Vladivostok on December 13under the overall command of Admiral Vladimir Kruglyakov, the Commander of the 10th Operative Battle Group (Pacific Fleet).

Although the Russian fleet comprised a good number of nuclear-armed ships and atomic submarines, their missiles were of limited range (less than 300 km).   Hence to effectively counter the British and American fleets the Russian commanders had to undertake the risk of encircling them to bring them within their target.  This they did with military precision.   In an interview to a Russian TV programme after his retirement, Admiral Kruglyakov, who commanded the Pacific Fleet from 1970 to 1975, recalled that Moscow ordered the Russian ships to prevent the Americans and British from getting closer to “Indian military objects”.

The genial Kruglyakov added:

“The Chief Commander’s order was that our submarines should surface when the Americans appear.   It was done to demonstrate to them that we had nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean.   So when our subs surfaced, they recognised us.   In the way of the American Navy stood the Soviet cruisers, destroyers and atomic submarines equipped with anti-ship missiles.   We encircled them and trained our missiles at the ‘Enterprise’. We blocked them and did not allow them to close in on Karachi, Chittagong or Dhaka.”

At this point, the Russians intercepted a communication from the commander of the British carrier battle group, Admiral Dimon Gordon, to the Seventh Fleet commander:

“Sir, we are too late. There are the Russian atomic submarines here, and a big collection of battleships.”  The British ships retired to Madagascar, while the larger US task force stopped before entering the Bay of Bengal.

The Russian manoeuvres clearly helped prevent a direct clash between India and the US-UK combine.   Newly declassified documents reveal that the Indian Prime Minister went ahead with her plan to liberate Bangladesh despite inputs that the Americans had kept three battalions of Marines on standby to deter India  and that the American aircraft carrier USS ‘Enterprise’ had orders to target the Indian Army, which had broken through the Pakistani Army’s defences and was thundering down the highway to the gates of Lahore, West Pakistan’s second largest city.

According to a six-page note prepared by India’s foreign ministry, “The bomber force aboard the Enterprise had the US President’s authority to undertake bombing of the Indian Army’s communications, if necessary.”

Read Christopher Hitchen’s book, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” and see what a maggot of a man he was  – he regarded South-East Asia as ‘termite-colonies’.