20. Memorandum From Robert Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1

You may want to read attached two cables from Bowles.2 Despite his wordiness, they bring into sharp relief how our India affairs are sliding backwards from the high point of our vigorous response to the ChiCom attack in October 1962. This trend is largely inevitable, as the ChiCom attack recedes and the more normal factors which plague our relations like Kashmir assume their usual place. But as Bowles points out, it is costing us.

The Soviets faltered when Peiping attacked India, while we responded magnificently. But as the Sino-Soviet split widens, Moscow has been making up for lost time. Soviets are now doing more than we to woo the India military establishment. Meanwhile, our Pak friends are doing their best to prove their thesis that India isn’t serious about China, by forcing India to focus on Pak-Indian issues. The more they distract Delhi from Peking the more they hurt us.

This is not a trend likely to create great complications for us this year, or maybe next. Only if the Paks press Kashmir to the point of open violence is a crisis likely. But it is a trend of great long term significance. India, as the largest and potentially most powerful non-Communist Asian nation, is in fact the major prize in Asia.

We have already invested $4.7 billion in the long-term economic buildup of a hopefully democratic power. But our politico-military policy has never matched our economic investment, partly because Pakistan shrewdly signed two alliances with us as a means of reinsurance against India. For this Pakistan has gotten some $700 million in US military aid, all of which has in fact gone to protect it against India. Per capita, the Paks have got much more aid from us than the Indians. We can and should protect Pakistan against India, but we cannot permit our ties—or our taste for Ayub against Nehru—to stand in the way [Page 46] of a strong Indian policy. This would permit the tail to wag the dog, which is just what Paks are trying to do.

With India heading into a succession crisis, we have to keep a sharp eye out. If India falls apart we are the losers. If India goes Communist, it will be a disaster comparable only to the loss of China. Even if India reverts to pro-Soviet neutralism, our policy in Asia will be compromised. These risks are real, and the irony is that they are dangerous for Pakistan as well.

Bowles makes wordy sense on this problem, we think.

Bob Komer 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. I, 11/63–2/64. Secret.
  2. Attached were telegram 2445 from New Delhi (Document 16), and telegram 2457 from New Delhi, February 20. In the latter Bowles sounded the alarm on what he saw as the steadily increasing role of the Soviet Union in Indian military procurement plans. Bowles noted that 3 months had passed since General Taylor had visited New Delhi and encouraged Indian officals to expect that U.S. agreement to a long-term military assistance program was imminent. With no subsequent word on that agreement, the Indian Government had begun to turn toward the Soviet Union to meet its needs. Bowles felt that the situation could still be salvaged and urged a rapid decision on military assistance.
  3. Both Bundy’s and Komer’s typed signatures appear on the memorandum, but only Komer signed it.