24. Letter From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Ambassador to India (Bowles)1
We here have reacted with lively sympathy to your paeans of woe from Delhi, and have been doing all we can to help.2
For what it’s worth, my feeling (and Bob Komer’s, too) is that we’re the victims of an inevitable falling off in US/Indian relations from the high point of Winter 1962. There’s no use blaming ourselves unduly that neither Washington nor Delhi can sustain the high pitch of collaboration which emerged from the ChiCom attack. We’ve had trouble on our side sustaining the momentum of our relationship, but the Indian slate is by no means clean either. VOA was a fiasco, Bokaro failed at least partly because of Indian stickiness, and Delhi’s handling of its military program has been so tediously slow as to damp much of our enthusiasm here. These are facts with which we must live.
As I see it, we’re also going through the painful transition of disengaging from the out and out pro-Pak policy of the 1950’s, and shifting to one more consonant with our real strategic interests. This is not an easy process at best, and I must say that neither our Pak nor our Indian friends make it any easier.
Of one thing you may be sure—the President too sees your problem with lively sympathy. His actions to date should lay to rest any unfounded Indian (or Pak) suspicions that he sees matters differently from his predecessor, and I may add that he is annoyed by these suspicions. His authorization of five-year MAP approaches (which marks much more of a departure in the case of India than in that of Pakistan) is ample evidence of his position.
But you in turn will understand that the struggle over AID is critical here. The President cannot expose his flank right now by promis ing [Page 52] amounts on which he may be unable to perform. I’m sure you realize this. And I know from what he’s said that he counts on you to get this across in Delhi as no one else really could.
On top of all this, we have an election year; the moratorium on politics is over, and we’re going to have to steel ourselves for a lot of silly fuss. So if we’re a little slow in answering your mail or in responding to your counsel, bear with us. Once every four years Washington is on the firing line and we’re going to have to get through November before we can turn as fully to our foreign concerns as our far-flung viceroys would like. So be of good cheer.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Exchanges with Bowles (cont.). Secret.↩
- On March 9, Bowles sent a [text not declassified] cable to Bundy and Komer stating his desire to return to Washington and express his concerns about South Asian policy directly to President Johnson. (Telegram 901600Z from New Delhi; ibid.) Bundy responded [text not declassified] and reassured Bowles that his cables were reaching the President and receiving serious consideration. Bundy added that he and Komer did not see “any far-reaching decisions on Kashmir, aid to India, or pre-empting Soviets being made quite yet, and frankly doubt whether your return just now would prove especially satisfying.” (White House telegram CAP 64069 to New Delhi, from Bundy to Bowles, March 9; ibid.)↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩