7. Letter From President Johnson to the Ambassador to India (Bowles)1

Dear Chet:

I appreciate both your good wishes and your thoughtful words on India and Pakistan.2 Depend on it that I am fully aware of the importance of consolidating the gains we have made vis-à-vis India. You in turn will agree, I am sure, that we must do so in ways which will minimize the risks to our relationship with Pakistan.

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Thus I share your feeling that we must move ahead with “the building of a new relationship with India which will bring her growing industrial and military potential into focus against the Chinese Communists.” But you—and all of our key ambassadors—must bear with the limits of the possible in terms of what I can get the Congress to do back here. The attack on foreign aid restricts our freedom of maneuver until we can get the aid tangle straightened out. In fact, the problem of the moment is as much that of protecting the sizable aid investment we already make in India—by far the largest anywhere—as that of getting new military aid on the scale you suggest. We will simply have to stretch the resources of diplomacy to restrain Indian appetites, while still getting the forward movement we seek.

For this, I count heavily on you. With your experience, you are the right man in the right spot at the right time. So I look to you to carry on the crucially important task of maintaining and strengthening our ties with India at a time when we may be temporarily unable to meet many justifiable needs. I shall expect you to let me know personally any time you feel our affairs are badly off the rails.

With all good wishes,

Lyndon 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Exchanges with Bowles (cont.). Secret. Drafted by Komer and Johnson.
  2. Reference is to Bowles’ letter to the President on December 27, 1963; see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XIX, Document 350.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates the President signed the original.