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1971 Bangla Desh War – Why was China quiet?

June 17, 2011 13 comments

Why was China militarily neutral in Indo-Pak Wars-1965, 1971? Tibet Card used by Indian Foreign Policy?

Signing of Surrender Document on 16 December 1971 Surrender received by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora (General Officer Commanding (GOC), Eastern Command) from Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi. (Photo courtesy - indopakmilitaryhistory.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Signing of Surrender Document on 16 December 1971 Surrender received by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora (General Officer Commanding (GOC), Eastern Command) from Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi. (Photo courtesy - indopakmilitaryhistory.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

War on two fronts

One of the major reasons why India could take on Pakistan on two fronts – in Bangla Desh and on the Western Front, was because, there was no Chinese action to support Pakistan. China has been positioned as an all-weather friend of Pakistan? So, in the hour of need, China did not lift its little finger to help Pakistan against India?

The Bangla Desh Theatre of war (Graphic courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

The Bangla Desh Theatre of war (Graphic courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

China’s inaction

The 1971 Bangladesh War changed world perception of India – leading to Nixon’s famous outbursts. As the tapes show, the US President pushed, prodded and cajoled the Chinese to act against India – to no avail.

China’s puzzling inaction, similar to its inaction in 1965 also, declassified White House Tapes show, in the 1971 Bangladesh War, is rarely analysed in the current India-China narratives.

Indo-Soviet alliance

The answer for 1971 seems to be the dreaded Soviets.

The Chinese dreaded the Soviets. China’s aggressive posturing against Soviet Russia on the border island of Zhenbao-Damanskii had alienated the Russians. Soviet Russia backed off after China was made to pay a price. It was some US show of support to China, that made the Soviets stop from complete bull-dozing of China. This aspect of international politics is rarely analyzed or factored into analysis. But this does not explain 1965-Chinese neutral posturing.

This extract below from The Guardian gives a perspective on the USSR-China-USA relationship.

The Tribune announcing Niazi's appeal for surrender. Niazi's surrender with 1,00,000 soldiers, was the largest surrender received by any general in 20th century. (Picture courtesy - bangladesh-tour.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

The Tribune announcing Niazi's appeal for surrender. Niazi's surrender with 1,00,000 soldiers, was the largest surrender received by any general in 20th century. (Picture courtesy - bangladesh-tour.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

de facto alliance was personally decided by Nixon in August 1969 just as the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on China. Nixon had decided the Soviets were the more dangerous party and that it was against American interests for China to be “smashed” in a Chinese-Soviet war. “It was a revolutionary moment in US foreign policy,” Kissinger explains. “An American president declared we had a strategic interest in the survival of a major communist country.”

In October 1969, Mao Zedong was so convinced war was nigh, he ordered all Chinese leaders to disperse around the country, except for the indispensable Zhou Enlai. Kissinger says that it was only Moscow’s uncertainty about America’s response that led the Soviets to postpone the project. Soon after, Kissinger, as Nixon’s national security adviser, engaged in the secret negotiations that led to the American president’s meeting with Mao in 1972, an event that astonished America’s enemies and its friends. (via On China by Henry Kissinger – review | Books | The Guardian).


Kissinger on India-China War of 1962

June 4, 2011 8 comments

Looking at events of the 1962 India-China War and the 1971 BanglaDesh War through Kissinger’s eyes.

Richard Nixon and Dr.Henry Kissinger (Image courtesy - foreignpolicy.com). Click for larger image.

Richard Nixon and Dr.Henry Kissinger (Image courtesy – foreignpolicy.com). Click for larger image.

50 years later

India’s official analysis  of the 1962 war with China, usually referred to as the Henderson report, authored by Lieutenant-General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P.S. Bhagat, remains classified. In the absence of a vital half of the story, Indians are left to fend for themselves with Western narratives or the Chinese version of events.

A recent book by Henry Kissinger outlines his version of events in that crucial year of 1962.

Kissinger writes

When the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and was granted asylum in India, China began to treat the issue of demarcation lines increasingly in strategic terms. Premier Zhou Enlai offered a deal trading Chinese claims in the eastern part of the line for Indian claims in the west, in other words, acceptance of the McMahon Line as a basis for negotiations in return for recognition of Chinese claims to Aksai Chin.

On the principle that he was not elected to bargain away territory that he considered indisputably Indian, Nehru rejected the Chinese proposal by not answering it. In 1961, India adopted what it called the Forward Policy.

To overcome the impression that it was not contesting the disputed territory, India moved its outposts forward, close to Chinese outposts previously established across the existing line of demarcation. Indian commanders were given the authority to fire on Chinese forces at their discretion, on the theory that the Chinese were intruders on Indian territory. They were reinforced in that policy after the first clashes in 1959 when Mao, in order to avoid a crisis, ordered Chinese forces to withdraw some 20 kms. Indian planners drew the conclusion that Chinese forces would not resist a forward movement by India; rather they would use it as an excuse to disengage. Indian forces were ordered to, in the words of the official Indian history of the war, “patrol as far forward as possible from our [India’s] present position toward the International Border as recognised by us… [and] prevent the Chinese from advancing further and also to dominate any Chinese posts already established on our territory.”

It proved a miscalculation. Mao at once cancelled the previous withdrawal orders. But he was still cautious, telling a meeting of the Central Military Commission in Beijing: “Lack of forbearance in small matters upsets great plans. We must pay attention to the situation.” It was not yet an order for military confrontation; rather a kind of alert to prepare a strategic plan. As such, it triggered the familiar Chinese style of dealing with strategic decisions: thorough analysis; careful preparation; attention to psychological and political factors; quest for surprise; and rapid conclusion.

In meetings of the Central Military Commission and of top leaders, Mao commented on Nehru’s Forward Policy with one of his epigrams: “A person sleeping in a comfortable bed is not easily roused by someone else’s snoring.” In other words, Chinese forces in the Himalayas had been too passive in responding to the Indian Forward Policy — which, in the Chinese perception, was taking place on Chinese soil. (That, of course, was the essence of the dispute: each side argued that its adversary had ventured onto its own soil.)

The Central Military Commission ordered an end of Chinese withdrawals, declaring that any new Indian outposts should be resisted by building Chinese outposts near them, encircling them. Mao summed it up: “You wave a gun, and I’ll wave a gun. We’ll stand face to face and can each practice our courage.” Mao defined the policy as “armed coexistence”. It was, in effect, the exercise of wei qi [Chinese strategic board game] in the Himalayas.

And then there was a war

Precise instructions were issued. The goal was still declared to be to avoid a larger conflict. Chinese troops were not authorised to fire unless Indian forces came closer than 50 metres to their positions. Beyond that, military actions could be initiated only on orders from higher authorities.

Indian planners noted that China had stopped withdrawals but also observed Chinese restraint in firing. They concluded that another probe would do the trick. Rather than contest empty land, the goal became “to push back the Chinese posts they already occupied”. Since the two objectives of China’s stated policy — to prevent further Indian advances and to avoid bloodshed — were not being met, Chinese leaders began to consider whether a sudden blow might force India to the negotiating table and end the tit for tat.

In pursuit of that objective, Chinese leaders were concerned that the United States might use the looming Sino-Indian conflict to unleash Taiwan against the mainland. Another worry was that the American diplomacy seeking to block Hanoi’s effort to turn Laos into a base area for the war in Vietnam might be a forerunner of an eventual American attack on southern China via Laos. Chinese leaders could not believe that America would involve itself to the extent it did in Indochina (even then, before the major escalation had started) for local strategic stakes.

The Chinese leaders managed to obtain reassurance on both points, in the process demonstrating the comprehensive way in which Chinese policy was being planned… …

With these reassurances in hand, Mao, in early October 1962, assembled Chinese leaders to announce the final decision, which was for war: “We fought a war with old Chiang [Kai-shek]. We fought a war with Japan, and with America. With none of these did we fear. And in each case we won. Now the Indians want to fight a war with us. Naturally, we don’t have fear. We cannot give ground, once we give ground it would be tantamount to letting them seize a big piece of land equivalent to Fujian province.… Since Nehru sticks his head out and insists on us fighting him, for us not to fight with him would not be friendly enough. Courtesy emphasises reciprocity.”

On October 6, a decision in principle was taken. The strategic plan was for a massive assault to produce a shock that would impel a negotiation or at least an end to the Indian military probing for the foreseeable future….

The Chinese attack took place in two stages: a preliminary offensive starting on October 20 lasting four days, followed by a massive assault in the middle of November, which reached the foothills of the Himalayas in the vicinity of the traditional imperial demarcation line.

At this point, the PLA stopped and returned to its starting point well behind the line it was claiming. The disputed territory has remained disputed until today, but neither side has sought to enforce its claims beyond the existing lines of control. (via You wave a gun, and I’ll wave a gun: Mao – Hindustan Times).

Kissinger's 'experience' and 'success' made him a favorite advisor with many US Presidents  |  Cartoonist Tom Meyer Published 04:00 a.m., Monday, December 2, 2002; source & courtesy - sfgate.com  |  Click for image.

Kissinger’s ‘experience’ and ‘success’ made him a favorite advisor with many US Presidents | Cartoonist Tom Meyer Published 04:00 a.m., Monday, December 2, 2002; source & courtesy – sfgate.com | Click for image.

Decades of living dangerously

Post-Stalin Soviet Russia did not see China as any great friend or ally – and the Stalin-Mao treaty of 1950, was dead in the water. China’s aggressive posturing against Soviet Russia on the border island of Zhenbao-Damanskii further alienated the Russians.

After China was made to pay a price.

Stalin’s lukewarm response to Nehru’s overtures and the alleged CIA plot against Nehru in 1955, temporarily brought Nehru close to Eisenhower. After the 1965 War with Pakistan, India-Soviet alliance grew in strength.

The 1971 Bangladesh War changed world perception of India – leading to Nixon’s famous outbursts. China’s inaction, declassified White House Tapes show, in the 1971 Bangladesh War, is rarely analysed in the current India-China narratives. As the tapes show, the US President pushed, prodded and cajoled the Chinese to act against India – to no avail.

Kissinger: I called Bhutto yesterday evening after we talked just for the record, and I said I don’t want to hear one more word from the Chinese. We are the ones who have been operating against our public opinion, against our bureaucracy, at the very edge of legality—

Nixon: That’s right.

Kissinger: And if they want to talk they should move some troops. Until they’ve done it, we don’t want to hear one more word. I really let him have it.

In another conversation

Nixon: Just go to New York and say, I have a message from the President to Chou En-lai. Put it on that basis. I wouldn’t fool around.

Mitchell: What’s the prospect of the Chinese moving?

Nixon: None. Well, that’s what I mean. If there’s a chance, you told me none, Henry, yesterday. Remember?

Kissinger: No, but that was when they thought they were completely wrong. I’m not so sure there’s none, Mr. President. Because they know that this is a dress rehearsal of what may happen to them.

Nixon: What I would like to do in the note to the Chinese is to state exactly that, that I consider this to be a dress rehearsal and I think their move, some move toward the border would restrain India. And that as far as we’re concerned we hold them harmless. The Russians aren’t going to dump the Chinese. Not now.

Kissinger saw the 1971 situation go from bad to worse – for Pakistan, China and USA.

Kissinger: But the Indian plan is now clear. They’re going to move their forces from East Pakistan to the west. They will then smash the Pakistan land forces and air forces, annex the part of Kashmir that is in Pakistan and then call it off. After that has happened—and then you have another message from the Shah saying this section of West Pakistan now would be a mortal threat to the security of Iran. When this has happened, the centrifugal forces in West Pakistan would be liberated. Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier will celebrate. West Pakistan would become a sort of intricate Afghanistan.

Nixon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kissinger: East Pakistan would become a Bhutan. All of this would have been achieved by Soviet support, Soviet arms, and Indian military force. The impact of this on many countries threatened by the Soviet Union or by Soviet clients. … it will have a catastrophic impact on the Middle East. No one could guarantee or give up any territory that they have because they won’t believe it. The Arabs will think if they can get the same cover from the Soviets that the Indians got, they could try another round and maybe more. The Chinese, now this part is my judgment, up to a certain point being aggressive. But if it turns out that we end up with the complete dismemberment of Pakistan, then they will conclude, “All right. We played it decently but we’re just too weak.” And that they have to break their encirclement, not by dealing with us, but by moving or drop the whole idea. So I think this, unfortunately, has turned into a big watershed, which is going to affect our chances in the situation in South Asia.

This web of events proves one thing. Bravado or timidity have no place in foreign policy – not in India, not anywhere else. India’s successes in 1971, Kargil, should give us confidence.

Dependence on foreign defence supplies should worry Indians.


Cuba in a Time Warp – The Atlantic

April 23, 2009 6 comments

“The greatest achievements of Communism are health care, sports, and education. The greatest failures of Communism are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” (via Cuba in a Time Warp – The Atlantic Food Channel).

Poverty in Cuba

The biggest reason for Cuban economic stagnation is the 100 year proxy war that the US has been waging against the former slave colony – which it ‘bought’ from Spain. Cuba’s problems started a 150 years before Fidel Castro.

Tales from the Caribbean

Almost unknown today are the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. These were slave islands – and part of the Caribbean group of islands which were used by the British Navy to run their slave colonies. These were ‘salt colonies’ – not as well known as the ‘sugar colonies’ of Haiti, Cuba, Demerra, Trinidad and other West Indian Islands.

After the original Native ‘Red Indian’ tribes were annihilated in forced labour camps, mines and slavery, these Caribbean islands were peopled by millions of slaves that were imported and subsequently died.

Apart from the momentous slave revolts of Haiti and Cuba, about 200 slave uprising and revolts in the USA before the Civil War, cleared the way for end to slavery in the the Americas. Similarly, more than 20 slave uprisings in the Caribbean, made slavery impractical – and not the Anglo-Saxon concern for human rights or the oozing milk of human kindness. It was this determined Black struggle for overthrow of slavery, the more than 20 slave rebellions between 1789-1833, in the Caribbean – one every 2 years, that ‘persuaded’ the West to abolish slavery.

Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.

The British search and seizure of colonies enriched them – at the cost of the native populations. A significant benefit of the English language to the Anglo Saxon Bloc is the convenient white wash of history in English language media – and tarring of competitive economies and nations.

For roughly 250 years, the Iberian Empires were the most powerful. The slave rebellion of Haiti triggered a collapse of the Spanish colonies in South America. Simon Bolivar, aided by the Haiti’s rulers, initiated decolonization movements across South America – leading to the demise of Spanish Colonialism. The last nail in the Spanish colonial possessions was Cuba – which they lost after the Spanish American War. After the loss of Cuba, Philippines and the American colonies, and the end of slavery, the Iberians imploded much like other slave societies.

A little over a century ago,

125 years after Independence, USA by 1890 was developing colonial ambitions and had acquired a taste of colonialism. On the other side of the Atlantic, earlier the Berlin Conference, sparked of the scramble for Africa. After the Brussels and Berlin conference carved up Africa, there were few places left for America to colonise.

America, then created the ‘Monroe doctrine’ – supposedly an anti-colonial doctrine, a policy to create colonies in the American backyard. ‘Yellow Journalism’ was invented to whip up public sentiment. On April 25th 1898, the US Congress declared war on Spain. For the next 4 months, the US fought The Spanish-American War. On August 12th, 1898, Spain signed the peace treaty. On December 10th 1898, the treaty of Paris was signed.

As a part of the Paris Treaty between Spain and USA, the USA ‘bought’ Philippines from Spain, maintains Puerto Rico as a colony also Guam – and paid Spain US$2,00,00,000. Cubans were nominally declared free but with many conditions. The Cubans refused to honour this ‘purchase’ – for which the USA has waged a war against Cuba for the last 100 years. Of course, the ‘inferior’ populations of these countries – Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico were unfit for inclusion in the Paris negotiations about their future.

In 1915, again the Monroe doctrine was invoked to invade Haiti.And these interventions have continued. Haiti has been invaded many times. In the 1960s-70s, Chedi Jagan and his struggle to break from US domination (in the Caribbean) was sabotaged.

Having paid US$2,00,00,000 of the ‘US taxpayer money’, the US believes that they ‘own’ Cuba – and even today, continues to eye Cuba. It was such thinking that led to the ’sale’ of Cuba, Philippines and Puerto Rico by Spain to the USA. After the purchase, came a century of pain in Cuba, many hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Philippines and the forcible accession of Puerto Rico into the US. Of course, some of these islands have become colonies, of the USA, Britain and the people there continue to serve the interests of these Western nations.

Countries which wished to follow their independent future, like Haiti, Cuba, Granada have been made an example of by Britain and USA. For trying to make a country of themselves. A lot of such places would be quite happy without the Western attention they received – and subsequent ruin that they faced.

US antagonism …

The hostility of the US has its roots in this struggle – when US refused to recognize Haiti for a 60 years after the overthrow of the colonial French Government, which used the Haitians as slaves. US ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain – and hence this hostility. The US feels that they ‘own’ Cuba – and, of course, other and large parts of the world.

After Haiti independence, restrictions on slavery were discussed all over Europe and USA. The US placed restriction on import of slaves – which increased the price of existing slaves in the trade market. But slave traders like Jean Laffitte soon ran rings round this by smuggling slaves from Cuba.

For more than two centuries now, the US has been actively working with an agenda of ‘racial superiority’ which has resulted in slavery and then repeated interventions and manipulation in South America. They have used force and power to derail economies and politics of emerging countries. The example of Haiti’s failure and Cuba’s desperate struggle to survive drove Fidel Castro into the arms of Soviet Russia.

The US record against the growth and stabilisation of Cuba does not bear repitition. Having ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain (like Puerto Rico, Guam and Philippines), USA believes and feels that they ‘own’ Cuba.

In 1904, the US pressured Tomas Estrada Palma, a ‘puppet’ Cuban President, to sign the Platt Amendment. This allowed US intervention in Cuban affairs, if ‘vital’ US  interests were at risk (meaning at at US will) – finally modified only in 1934. Under this ‘new deal’ ‘Cuba would be allowed to export 22% of the sugar the US imported, by paying 0.09¢, a pound tariff duty. In return, little or no duty would be levied by Cuba on goods imported from the USA.’

When the freed slaves of Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, tried to overthrow American-foisted dictator Batista, the US used the American Mafia, to attempt assassination of Fidel Castro.

Elephants in the room …

Western media and academia today glosses over Western record of slavery and colonialism. This ‘collective amnesia’ about the past is widespread and blatant. Other writers forget about the causes leading to abolition of slavery. Seminal events in Haiti, Cuba, Caribbean are ignored, white-washed or brushed under the carpet.

The USA and the West has been at war (or by proxy) with the Black Republics of Haiti, Cuba, Greneda for the last 200 years. Fuelled by a desperate desire to show White superiority. By a need to white wash history. To hide the origins of their misbegotten wealth – built on the foundation of the skeletons of dead and surviving slaves.

Haiti gave the world freedom. Not America – which claims itself to be a land of the free (as long as you are white).

Media ‘White-wash’

A recent article in the British Guardian is a case in point. Richard Gott (the writer of this post) claims that he is a history student … which makes this post very remarkable. In the entire post of 1150 words, he mentions the word slave only once – while the entire history of Cuba for the last 200 years has been about slavery.

He is surprised by the number of Blacks in Cuba – which was the largest slave colony in the Spanish Empire – after the fall of Haiti. The Cuban revolution began in Haiti more than 200 years ago – and Fidel Castro has but been one, in a long line of revolutionaries who tried to break free from their enslaved past. For a history student, can this be ignorance or a more likely attempt at ‘whitewash’ …?

Exactly why is the presence of so ‘Blacks’ so surprising, Mr.Gott …?

Why is Richard Gott so surprised …

It is the ‘white wash’ of history – and the ‘tarring’ of protagonists which is a matter of concern. Haiti’s (and also Cuba’s) crime – they refused to accept the racial agenda of the US. They (including a ‘White’ like Fidel Castro) wanted to build a ‘free society’ for people – without colour being a factor. Perhaps all Whites are not like Richard Gott.

And that is, perhaps, why Richard Gott is so surprised.

Cuba according to Gott

Fidel Castro (L) with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in the 1960s

Fidel Castro (L) with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in the 1960s

The Cuban revolution began 50 years ago … with its charismatic and bearded leadership descending from the hills, young men in their 20s brandishing guns and seizing the cities, and calling for land reform …

Castro began his epic quarrel with the United States – through the US abolition of the sugar quota, the arrival of Soviet oil, the CIA invasion at the Bay of Pigs, and the missile crisis of 1962 … Faced with the implacable hostility of the United States, Fidel decided that he had no alternative except to ally himself with the Soviet Union.

What struck me most was to find an island full of black people. The revolutionary leadership could hardly have been more white … Fidel’s enlistment of the black population was his astutest move, being echoed in the United States (where he stayed in Harlem on a visit to the United Nations) … The only political movement in Cuba that had enrolled black people … was the Communist party, and Fidel (long before his move towards the Soviet Union) had turned to the local communists for help in reaching out to the urban population, both poor and black. The white racist element in the Cuban population had tolerated a black president such as Fulgencio Batista, who had kept the black population under control; they were alarmed by a white man like Fidel who appeared to be mobilising the black people against them. (via Richard Gott: It’s time to let Cuba in from the cold, and Obama is the perfect man to do it | Comment is free | The Guardianellipsis mine).

The Future Of Oil Is The Caribbean

Bretton Woods-II, based on oil-dollar anchor, worked for another 35 years (1973-2008) till now. Oil exploration is a 5-10 year investment. Oil should be made another commodity. An easy option is to create a Republic of Pacific Islands – Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, and other West Indies. These islands can become vast oil production centres – that will help them raise their economies and can feed Asia with oil, peacefully.

Reeling under the curse of history, Western intervention and poverty, the Caribbean islands have been dealt a bad hand. Third World countries are paying through their nose to the OPEC cartel and for a dollar hegemony. Cuba, Haiti and the various Caribbean islands have been hit by poverty and Western intervention.

Oil can break this vicious cycle. Oil exploration in the Caribbean has been negligible. These are promising exploration blocks. A joint venture between ONGC (India), Petrobras, and the various islands could kick-start oil exploration and production – which will change the future of the world.

For one, it would immediately reduce Saudi funding of terror.

What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate.

Brazil takes the first step

On October 14, 2008, 2ndlook had proposed a BRICS-Caribbean accord for oil exploration in the Caribbean. Brazil has also taken the first step. ONGC was already in the game. As is Russia. With India, Brazil and Russia working on Cuban oil exploration, it is a promising first step to a prosperous Caribbean.

“I don’t understand why it took so long to sign this agreement,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who presided over a signing ceremony for the deal with Cuban President Raul Castro. That makes two of us, Mr.President!

Next stop, Haiti?

Europe wants to stay relevant

Europe which has a major say in the IMF and World Bank, after the USA, obviously wants to increase its role – and decrease US importance. To gets its way, it has gone on a major diplomatic offensive – to the extent of restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Is that a sign of times to come?

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