Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State
June 28, 2005
The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, in conjunction with a conference that it is sponsoring on U.S. relations with South Asia, 1961–1972, held at the Department of State today and tomorrow. This volume, released as an electronic-only publication, is part of the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important decisions and actions of the foreign policy of the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. This is the first Foreign Relations volume to be published in this new format on the Internet. Approximately 25 percent of the volumes scheduled for publication for the 1969–1976 subseries, covering the Nixon and Nixon–Ford administrations, will be in this format.
This e-volume documents the foreign policy of the Nixon administration toward South Asia, 1969–1972, and should be read in conjunction with Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971 (GPO: Washington, March 2005; IBSN 0–16–072401–5), which documents in depth the period from March to December 1971. Together, these two volumes provide full coverage of U.S. policy toward the larger countries of South Asia. For the period January 1969 to February 1971 and all of 1972, the e-volume released today provides full coverage of U.S. policy toward India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the newly created state of Bangladesh. The e-volume also contains documentation that supplements the print volume XI. These additional documents on India and Pakistan for the period March to December 1971 include intelligence assessments, key messages from the U.S. Embassies in Islamabad and New Delhi and the Consulate General in Dacca, responses to National Security Study Memoranda, and full transcripts of Presidential tape recordings that are summarized and excerpted in editorial notes in volume XI.
Even before the “tilt” toward Pakistan during the war, the Nixon administration concluded that peace and stability in South Asia could only be maintained by aiding Pakistan against a stronger India that was receiving military aid from the Soviet Union. In addition, Pakistan was serving as a secret conduit on behalf of Nixon and Kissinger in their attempts to open contacts with the People’s Republic of China. A major theme of this e-volume is the Nixon administration’s policy of so-called one-time only exceptions of arms sales to Pakistan, a policy that reversed the Johnson administration’s moratorium on lethal military sales to both countries after the 1965 war. When, over the objections of Secretary of State William Rogers, Nixon released for sale to Pakistan 100 U.S. tanks (formerly the property of Turkish armed forces), U.S.-Indian relations, which had not been good, deteriorated even further. India responded by closing some United States Information Service (USIS) cultural centers.
After its supplemental coverage of the conclusion of the 1971 war, the major theme of the e-volume is the U.S. adjustment to a new balance of power in South Asia. The Nixon administration offered substantial economic aid and limited military aid to Pakistan under its new civilian president, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Pakistan did not consider the military aid sufficient, but relations between Pakistan and the United States were generally good. U.S. relations with India showed some improvement, as Washington responded cautiously to overtures from India for better bilateral relations. There was, however, the realization among the U.S. intelligence community and the Washington bureaucracy that India had a growing potential for producing nuclear weapons.
The themes of the Afghanistan and Bangladesh chapters are relatively straightforward. The United States was prepared to use diplomacy, aid, and cultural programs to offset Soviet influence in the Afghan kingdom. The issue of whether Afghanistan was spending too much on sophisticated military equipment was a complicating factor to aid programs designed to counter Afghanistan’s general economic backwardness, government inefficiency, and extended drought. The question of Afghanistan’s opium production is a major theme, as it is in the volume’s coverage of Pakistan, especially after the Nixon administration embarked on a program of attacking the sources of the illegal drugs. A final theme is political instability in the government in Kabul, amid signs that the monarchy was in danger.
The main theme of the Bangladesh chapter is U.S. recognition of the country as an independent state. Such a decision was taken in the context of Pakistan’s desire that recognition not be “premature” and with the timing of President Nixon’s historic trip to China. The extent (and timeliness) of U.S. food aid and credits to Bangladesh is another theme. Such aid was given amid persistent criticism of U.S. motives by many of Bangladesh’s political leaders and students.
The volume, including a preface, list of names, abbreviations, sources, annotated document list, and this press release, are available at the Office of the Historian website (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/e7). For further information contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663–1131; fax (202) 663–1289; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.