When Nehru Looked East: Origins of India-US Suspicion and India-China Rivalry 019006434X, 9780190064341

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs from 1947 to 1964, set the framewor

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When Nehru Looked East: Origins of India-US Suspicion and India-China Rivalry
 019006434X, 9780190064341

Table of contents :
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
1. First Encounters
2. Partition: Anglo-US Origins of Strategic Parity between India and Pakistan
3. Kashmir: Onset of India’s Suspicion of the United States
4. Different Worlds: US and Indian Policies toward Nationalist Movements in Asia, Communist Victory in China, and the Chinese Claim to Tibet
5. Korea: India’s “Unneutral” China Policy Stokes US Suspicions
6. US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part I: Collective Security in the Middle East and Pakistan
7. US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part II: India’s “Area of Peace” as a Strategy to Contain US Intervention in Indo-China and Southeast Asia
8. India-China War, 1962
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview



When Nehru Looked East



MODERN SOUTH ASIA Ashutosh Varshney, Series Editor Pradeep Chhibber, Associate Series Editor Editorial Board Kaushik Basu (Cornell University) Steven Cohen (Brookings Institution) Veena Das ( Johns Hopkins University) Patrick Heller (Brown University) Niraja Gopal Jayal ( Jawaharlal Nehru University) Ravi Kanbur (Cornell University) Atul Kohli (Princeton University) Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Centre for Policy Research) Farzana Shaikh (Chatham House) Gambling with Violence Yelena Biberman Clients and Constituents Jennifer Bussell Mobilizing the Marginalized Amit Ahuja Business and Politics in India Christophe Jaffrelot, Atul Kohli, and Kanta Murali The Man Who Remade India Vinay Sitapati Dispossession without Development Michael Levien The Other One Percent Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur, and Nirvikar Singh Social Justice through Inclusion Francesca R. Jensenius



When Nehru Looked East Origins of India-​US Suspicion and India-​China Rivalry

FR ANCINE R . FR ANKEL

1



1 Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. CIP data is on file at the Library of Congress ISBN 978–​0–​19–​006434–​1 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2 Printed by Integrated Books International, United States of America



CONTENTS

Preface  vii Acknowledgments  xvii List of Abbreviations  xix

1. First Encounters   1 2. Partition: Anglo-​US Origins of Strategic Parity between India and Pakistan  28 3. Kashmir: Onset of India’s Suspicion of the United States  54 4. Different Worlds: US and Indian Policies toward Nationalist Movements in Asia, Communist Victory in China, and the Chinese Claim to Tibet  100 5. Korea: India’s “Unneutral” China Policy Stokes US Suspicions  142 6. US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part I: Collective Security in the Middle East and Pakistan  181 7. US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part II: India’s “Area of Peace” as a Strategy to Contain US Intervention in Indo-​China and Southeast Asia  206 8. India-​China War, 1962   243 Epilogue  279 Notes  295 Bibliography  319 Index  323





P R E FA C E

I have admired Nehru throughout my professional career as a visionary, idealist, and political leader. Reading his autobiography, Toward Freedom, inspired my lifelong engagement with India—​culturally, socially, and because of those differences from the world I experience in the United States—​politically as well. Nehru’s legacies to contemporary India as the new nation’s first prime minister and minister of external affairs from 1947 to 1964 are comprehensive and enduring. Second only to Mahatma Gandhi during the nationalist movement and chosen by him to lead India after freedom, Nehru was a moving force in the emergence of a unified nation after partition, a strong federal state, and a resilient constitutional democracy. He was the architect of India’s unique approach to economic development, which combined the goals of agricultural and industrial growth with greater social equality through institutional changes using democratic methods. My scholarship on Nehru’s national policies, first published in 1978, stood me in good stead when I made my request in 1990 for permission to use the closed collection of the Nehru Papers to study the formulation of his foreign policy. The reason for my request was to carry out a comparison of worldviews in India and the United States at the time each country set out its foreign policy toward the other, as well as clarify the causes of mutual distrust between the two democracies despite initial expectations of friendship and cooperation that Nehru called “natural” in 1940. Although some excellent studies have been published about the estrangement between the United States and India during the Cold War, they are written from the Western perspective of a bipolar world that relegates policies toward India and South Asia to regional derivatives of the global struggle between the two superpowers. These analyses, in the absence of any mechanism by India for declassifying official documents, unavoidably encounter limits in delineating opposing Indian perceptions of its role as a subject in foreign policy.1 vii



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When I requested access to the Nehru Papers, there were no formal rules for doing so but a general understanding that the approach should be made first to the Nehru family, then headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. My letter to the Prime Minister’s Office was answered by N. K. Seshan, who was then secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Trust and who granted my request. The project was also approved by the Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, in affiliation with the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, which is where I read the documents. After the tragic assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, Mr. Seshan requested his widow, Sonia Gandhi, to approve permission for my use of the papers and I was informed that she did so. I subsequently called on Mrs. Gandhi to express my deep gratitude. At the time I consulted the Nehru Papers in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, the First Installment, Prime Minister’s Letters, were collected in 814 cyclostyled files in chronological order, not indexed by subject. Each file averaged some 350 pages, a total of about 285,000 pages. Relevant documents could only be identified by reading through this mass of materials, and only 20  percent of each file could be sent for reprography or replication. Many of the passages used in this book come from these copies, which now reside in my study at home. Other important materials were collected in a Second Installment of letters and a Third Installment of individual correspondence. During three visits to India in 1991 and 1992, I completed 616 files of the First Installment as well as selected letters and correspondence. A final six-​week research stay in India, beginning on December 1, 1992, to complete the remaining 198 files in the First Installment for the years 1957 and 1958 was cut short by the unexplained intervention of the then-​director of the Nehru Museum and Library, Dr. Ravinder Kumar. I have consulted materials for these years from the published Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru and the government of India white papers on the correspondence between Prime Minister Nehru and Premier Zhou Enlai related to the onset of the border dispute. These sources, read together, allow for a comparative analysis of the different worlds in which each country came to mistrust the motivations of the other and acted to limit the influence each could exert in the arena of South and Southeast Asia, where their interests directly clashed. Such a balanced perspective, which puts Nehru’s vision of India as a great power in Asia alongside the US strategy as leader of the free world provides the indispensable vantage point from which to understand the inability of the two democracies to work together long after the Cold War. Nehru had been the spokesman on foreign policy for the Indian National Congress during the nationalist movement, and his vision of India’s destiny as a great power was ingrained by the time of independence. A student of world history, he believed that given its size, geographical location, and resources, India





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would necessarily play a very great part in the security problems of Asia and the Indian Ocean, and that its role would be “pivotal” in the consideration of those problems. This vision of India’s potential great power role had its paradoxical aspect—​it did not include plans to build a strong military that could deter aggression. In part, as Nehru himself observed, he had been influenced by Gandhi’s success in using satyagraha, or “truth force,” to tap into the Brahmanical culture of self-​ discipline and nonviolence, rather than unleash potentially uncontrollable violence in opposition to British rule.2 More importantly, Nehru’s realist views were consistent with the emphasis on nonviolence bequeathed by Gandhi. He believed that creating a defense infrastructure to support military modernization could only be built on the foundations laid by industrialization. Until then, India, in the absence of alliances, did not have enough foreign exchange to carry out economic development and military modernization at the same time. Above all, Nehru’s calculation that India had sufficient time to build up both industrial strength and military capabilities was credible in 1947 when India appeared to have no enemies; China was still divided by civil war and, even after Mao’s 1949 victory in establishing the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it was easy to assume that the PRC would be absorbed in constructing a modern economy for the foreseeable future and in need of a long period of peace. Pakistan, although an enemy from the time of partition, marked by the 1947 war over the accession of Muslim-​majority Kashmir to India, was an artificial state divided into two wings separated by one thousand miles of Indian territory, and seemingly in danger of collapse. Nehru’s personal authority and charisma, as the nationalist leader who had left behind his life of privilege and ultimately spent ten years in British prisons, blended seamlessly with his political power as India’s first elected prime minister. His claim to be spokesman of Asia and of India’s role as leader of the smaller countries emerging from colonial rule was not directly challenged. The Nehru Papers are equivalent to a presidential archive and span the period when the guiding principles of India’s foreign policy, those of nonalignment and Asianism, were first formulated. I read the papers alongside comparable US sources, using the Declassified Documents Reference System in the University of Pennsylvania Library and other published records, such as Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948–​1976. In addition, the British records on the 1947 India-​ Pakistan war over Kashmir and the policy of parity adopted by Great Britain and then absorbed by the United States are available from declassified Foreign Office documents in the Public Records Office outside of London, at Kew. During the 1990s, a number of valuable official documents from Russian and East European sources became available to scholars through the Cold



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War International History Project of the History and Public Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. My 2006–​2007 fellowship at the Wilson Center provided access to selected materials from the European records, as well as materials declassified in 2004 by the Chinese Foreign Ministry for the period 1949 to 1960. These documents helped to close the remaining gaps in understanding the evolution of India’s nonalignment policy. Not enough attention has been given to the fact that Nehru’s concept of India’s great power role was formed before partition:  the creation of Pakistan erected unexpected obstacles to India’s potential great power role in South Asia and the Middle East. At once, India lost the advantages of its own geographical location bordering the Soviet Union and the oil rich states of the Middle East. Beyond that, the withdrawal of British power weakened India’s overall strategic reach. It was left without the protection of the Royal Air Force and lacked naval capabilities to defend against conflicts in the Indian Ocean. Moreover, in the rush to transfer power to two states instead of a unified India that was originally envisaged, the British broke apart the Indian army on communal lines, thereby leaving a standing army of less than four hundred thousand men as a diminished and second-​rank fighting force. Against these events, what is striking in reading the Nehru Papers is that partition is not mentioned as a factor impacting independent India’s pivotal role in Asia and the Indian Ocean. There is no evidence that Nehru ever adjusted his worldview to take into account the changes in India’s geographical position that diminished its centrality to a consideration of security problems in Asia and the Middle East at the onset of the Cold War. In his view, Pakistan lacked legitimacy: it had seceded from India, which was the legal successor to the British raj, and it needed great power assistance to endure, most plausibly from the United States. The Cold War merely reinforced Nehru’s position that India’s destiny as a great power had to be protected from becoming an appendage of either bloc. He was ambivalent about the Soviet Union, which supported India on issues of self-​ government against efforts to reassert colonial control, and believed the USSR was much weaker than the United States. This was similar to the argument made by the author of US containment policy, George Kennan, who distinguished between Soviet intentions and capabilities in arguing for strongpoint defense until the USSR recognized its own interest in a negotiated peace. India, like the Soviet Union, had reason to resist the American blueprint for global leadership in a world of internationalism and free trade as it was just embarking on its own five-​ year development plans. While the Soviet Union had yet to build up competitive industries and tended to see a variant of capitalist encirclement, India suspected an effort to impose economic imperialism to fill the vacuum left by the British.





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Whatever Nehru’s sympathies for the Soviet Union, he had rejected the Soviet system of totalitarianism in favor of Anglo-​American constitutionalism long before the Cold War. There was no ideological divide between India and the United States over the values of human rights and freely elected governments. The problem was that Nehru’s conviction in India’s destiny as a great power found no place in the worldview of American policymakers. Largely Europeanists, they had little knowledge of nationalist movements and of India’s unique civilizational and cultural claims to leadership in Asia. Instead, they perceived an undifferentiated group of backward and poor new nations susceptible to Soviet propaganda about the communist model for rapid transformation of an agrarian society into a modern industrial state. Overlapping democratic ideologies became much less important after Kennan’s successors warned against the global “design” of the Soviet Union for world domination and adopted the militarized version of containment. This doctrine required American-​backed mutual defense alliances to protect industrial centers and areas rich in raw materials, such as oil, against Soviet inroads. Far from becoming an ally—​Nehru turned back the informal idea that India anchor a collective security arrangement in Asia—​he apprehended that the United States threatened India’s own aspirations for influence in South and Southeast Asia through its 1954 alliances, first with Pakistan and then in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, of which Pakistan was also a member. This ability to understand Nehru’s worldview and his approach to India’s foreign policy underpins one major theme of this book. During the Cold War, India practiced nonalignment as a strategic doctrine to counter the projection of US influence into the small states of Southeast Asia and the newly independent nations of the Middle East. The US strategy of lining up allies in collective security treaties to stem communist influence in these areas appeared to Nehru as a threat to India’s interests and his own leadership. Within this larger picture, Nehru imagined India’s role as a “big brother helping smaller brothers to the extent they need help.” While it is generally recognized that the US-​India relationship was stunted by mutual suspicion, the underlying cause of estrangement ran much deeper than the conflicting policies of collective security and nonalignment. Nehru believed that the United States was India’s main rival in the Middle East and Asia and considered it essential to deny allies to American-​led mutual security treaties. He actively worked to convince newly independent countries, including Egypt in the Middle East and Burma and Indonesia in Asia, to adopt neutralism and strengthen a third area for peace. Nehru’s assumption that there was no threat to these countries from the Soviet Union or China stood in sharp contrast with his view that US alliances themselves, by aggravating threat perceptions and



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promoting military buildups, were most likely to lead to war, and even the use of nuclear weapons. India’s “area of peace” strategy to contain US intervention was successful in weakening support for the United States among potential Arab and Asian allies for the proposed Middle East Defense Organization and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. Nehru, however, could not prevent the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement between the United States and Pakistan, which, ironically, was advanced more as a way to curb his influence as the proponent of neutralism than to build military support in the Middle East from a weak and Kashmir-​preoccupied Pakistan. The agreement convinced Nehru that the United States was determined to build up Pakistan and undermine India as the preeminent power in South Asia. Almost at the same time, Nehru was blindsided by the success of the United States in bypassing India as a member of the 1954 Geneva Conference on Korea and Indo-​China, a forum where he considered it rightful for India to play a large part in settling the outstanding security issues in Asia. As a result, India’s participation at Geneva was relegated to informal backdoor contacts, whereas China was treated as a de facto great power. A second major theme, more surprising than the bias against the United States, which American policymakers at the time suspected, was India’s policy of unwavering friendship toward China. This was driven by India’s basic security dilemma: its military weakness after partition relative to its largest neighbor. New Delhi pursued its friendly policy toward China in order to persuade Peking (Beijing) to recognize India’s northern boundary as the McMahon Line, its most important security legacy from British government of India-​Tibet treaties. No Chinese government had ever accepted the legality of the McMahon Line, calling it a leftover from history and imposed by British imperialism on a weakened China. Nehru’s feelings of friendship toward China were not new. After Nehru’s visit to Chungking in 1939, at the invitation of Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-​shek, the nationalist leaders of the Kuomintang (KMT), the idea of a close India-​China relationship took hold in his imagination. Nehru’s thoughts about India and China joining together as free countries even led him to think about the possibility of a loose Asian federation. Yet he was unprepared for the Communist victory against the KMT that brought Mao’s PRC to power. Nehru knew that China had been expansionist when united under a strong central government and recognized a potential Chinese threat not only on the border, but also to the small kingdoms whose foreign affairs New Delhi claimed to control. The dilemma for India was that China, with its five-​million-​man People’s Liberation Army (PLA), presented an overpowering threat in the case of an open conflict. In such an event, India would need the help of a great power—​in





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effect, the United States. Instead of modifying his policy of nonalignment to accommodate this new reality, Nehru combined it with the notion of Asianism. A sentiment rather than a strategy, Asianism invoked common experiences of suffering at the hands of the West to build solidarity. It resulted in Nehru’s greatest miscalculation—​of historic importance—​that China would return India’s support on matters of US recognition and membership in the United Nations with a diplomatic solution recognizing the McMahon Line as India’s northern boundary. When India became the first noncommunist nation to recognize the PRC in 1950, it did so without referring to the British government of India’s Tibet treaties in order not to provoke China’s animosity. Nehru stood by as the PLA invaded Tibet and eliminated the buffer the British had created, leaving India unable to refute China’s border claims. A third theme is Krishna Menon’s role in the formulation of Nehru’s foreign policy, which has not previously been acknowledged.3 He emerges as a crucial actor in distancing India from the United States and underestimating the potential threat from China. Menon, along with Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy, maneuvered Nehru’s decision to join the British Commonwealth as a way to strengthen India’s importance to Great Britain and enlarge its options relative to the United States. From the time Nehru named Menon minister without portfolio in 1956, he attended cabinet meetings and meetings with the Planning Commission. His unique friendship with Nehru, dating to the 1930s, also gave him informal access, facilitated by the fact that his residence was across the way from the prime minister’s house. The notion that Nehru drafted all major foreign policy statements has to be modified. Before Menon was appointed defense minister in 1957, he was the de facto minister of external affairs, with Nehru’s abundant approval. Nehru relied on Menon’s judgment almost entirely—​on many occasions he even outlined for Nehru what messages should be sent and to whom, and many cables sent by Nehru would incorporate Menon’s language. On the whole, Menon could rightfully claim to be speaking on Nehru’s behalf. Had there been no opposition in the cabinet to Menon’s procommunist views, Nehru would have appointed him minister of external affairs. As Nehru’s defense minister from 1957 to 1962, there was no one between him and Nehru, not even the chief of the army staff, who could override his ideologically driven view that China, as a communist state, would never attack across the disputed border. Since Menon was virtually Nehru’s sole confidant on India’s policy for China in 1962, this assumption was never reassessed. India’s humiliating defeat marginalized it in Asia and persuaded succeeding governments to rely heavily on the Soviet Union for diplomatic support on Kashmir and imports of defense equipment. An epilogue analyzes strategic realignments in Asia after the 1962 India-​China war and China’s strategy of building up Pakistan, including transfers of nuclear weapons to keep India



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bottled up in the subcontinent, as well as to overtake the United States as the dominant power in the Asia-​Pacific. This book redeems the promise I made long ago to reconstruct US-​India relations from comparable original documents that reveal the origins of mistrust arising from competing national interests and asymmetric power, propelling Nehru’s notion of India-​US rivalry and fueling American distrust. India’s wariness of the United States did not disappear after Nehru’s death. If anything, it hardened as the United States tilted toward Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh War and India moved closer to the Soviet Union, signing the Indo-​Soviet Friendship Treaty. Even after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union when nonalignment became anachronistic, Nehru’s worldview and approach to foreign policy lived on in the mindset of successor generations. The first effort to rethink national security policy, in 2012, was called Nonalignment 2, and its expressed purpose was to rework nonalignment for a changing world. As distilled in this new formulation, the principle underlying alignment is defined as “strategic autonomy.” In the context of China’s current challenge both to India and to the United States, and the American notion of a strategic partnership with India to create a natural balance of power in Asia, India’s policy of guarding its autonomy from the United States without provoking China is familiar from the Nehru years. The realignments in Asia now underway cannot be fully understood without the historical context provided by this study. China’s effort is to keep India off balance with the specter of a two-​front war and to position Pakistan as India’s foremost adversary. India’s effort is to match its military capabilities with those of China, especially in the border areas, but its much smaller economy and defense establishment still induces caution about provoking its powerful neighbor. China’s confrontation with the United States is also not new. Starting with the Korean War in 1950, Mao was determined to push US troops out of Korea as the first step in restoring China’s role as the central power in Asia, and end the American military’s conception of the Pacific as an American lake. Almost seventy years later, China feels powerful enough to resume its challenge to the United States and assert its own ambitions as a global power. The converging interests of the United States and India in balancing China seem obvious. Yet the United States as the dominant power in a partnership with India evokes new suspicion that it could change course for tactical reasons and leave India exposed. India, for its part, seeks to have the United States play the role of balancer while it strengthens its own economy and military with investments and defense imports from the United States that stop short of an alliance. Differences in national priorities help to explain the slow progress toward a strategic partnership. Yet both countries are clear that they do not accept China’s





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dominance in Asia and have agreed that the best way forward is with a “defining partnership” for the twenty-​first century. The question is whether India and the United States can overcome their own histories as quiet adversaries since independence. Starting from partition and the US principle of parity between India and Pakistan, distrust hardened from the time Nehru determined to contain US influence in Asia. The principle of parity was not formally discarded by the United States until the Bush administration’s 2006 break with the pattern of mutual security alliances set during the Cold War and its initiative in approving the nuclear deal with India. Since then, India has become the first “major defense partner” of the United States, including US sales to India of advanced weapons systems previously available only to allies. A  thick network of joint advisory groups on defense and technology have broadened the interests connecting the United States and India. All these changes are relatively recent, and it is too early to tell if a new paradigm based on mutual trust will solidify. Like China’s push to dominance, the outcome of the US-​India pursuit of partnership, successful or not, will shape a new Asian balance.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I feel a profound sense of gratitude to all those who made this project possible. My research would have never moved forward without the initial approval of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the continued consent by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. In addition, approval of the government of India was indispensable; N.  K. Seshan, during the time he was head of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, had regard for the integrity of the project, which ensured a good working relationship with the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. At the time I  started work on the Nehru Papers, I  also received a modest grant from the Finance Ministry of the government of India that, combined with an equal grant from the Ford Foundation, spearheaded the establishment of the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania. As director of CASI, I was able to travel to India each winter for further research and conduct interviews with senior officials and diplomats that deepened my understanding of the contemporaneous (and continuing) influence Nehru’s policies exerted on India’s goals in foreign policy. Once CASI’s counterpart, the University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India (UPIASI), was established in New Delhi, I had the happy experience of working in our offices at the India Habitat Center just two blocks away from my home at the India International Center. The late S. K. Singh, a former secretary of external affairs and secretary general of UPIASI, gave me invaluable insights into the implementation of India’s foreign policy after Nehru. Dr. Eswaran Sridharan, the dedicated director of UPIASI, through his own work and that of younger scholars, kept me in touch with the next generation shaping the discourse on India’s politics and international relations. It was my good fortune to begin writing this book in 2006–​2007 as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars, where my analysis was enriched by access to declassified and translated documents released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and European Archives collected under the Cold War xvii



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International History Project. The excellence of the weekly fellows’ talks about work in progress provided me with ongoing stimulation and incentive to persist in what often seemed an endless journey. I completed the book after my retirement in 2014 with the support of a research fund from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, which continued my ability to recruit several talented undergraduate and graduate students. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance provided by each student spanning my year in Washington and years at Penn: Amrajan Aujla, Praveen Chaudhury, Jennifer Coleman, Allison Carroll Goldman, Vaishak Kumar, Rupal Mehta, Nimrah Najeeb, Sebastien Naji, Autumn Patterson, Lawrence Perry, Phillip Stalley, Lillian Sun, and Hannah Victor. Throughout I had the encouragement and support of my husband, Douglas Verney. He was the mainstay and North Star guiding me to the finish.



A B B R E V I AT I O N S

ASEAN BRI CCP CENTO CFI COAS CPEC CPI CPV DPRK GOI IB ICC INA KGB

Association of Southeast East Asian Nations Belt and Road Initiative Chinese Communist Party Central Treaty Organization Custodial Forces of India Chief Of the Army Staff China Pakistan Economic Corridor Communist Party of India Chinese People’s Volunteers Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Government of India Intelligence Bureau International Control Commission Indian National Army Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (Russian: Committee for State Security) KMAG Korean Military Advisory Group KMT Kuomintang MEDO Middle East Defense Organization NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NEFA Northeast Frontier Agency NNRC Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission NPT Nuclear Non-​Proliferation Treaty NSC National Security Council NSG Nuclear Suppliers Group

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xx A b b r

PL 480 ROK SEATO UNTOK USIS

eviations

Public Law 480 Republic of Korea Southeast Asia Treaty Organization United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea United States Information Service



1

First Encounters

The cause of enduring tensions in Indo-​US relations is often identified with Cold War alignments between the United States and Pakistan on the one hand, and India and the Soviet Union on the other. Not as well understood is the origin of these tensions in preexisting suspicions that began to take form even before Independence, Partition and the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947. The Cold War provided the context in which this distrust sharpened, but its influence was a matter for interpretation. As enmity between the United States and the Soviet Union deepened and came to dominate international political debates, both the United States and India under Nehru envisioned themselves as emblems of freedom. Yet freedom was understood differently in the context of the American versus Indian experience in the mid-​twentieth century. The United States believed it was the leader of the free world, that is, all noncommunist countries potentially menaced by the advance of Soviet totalitarianism. India, just emerging from British colonial rule, defined its role as the spokesman of Asia with responsibility to assist smaller countries still struggling against European powers. Over time, these differences came to overwhelm any sense of common purpose or political partnership between them. At the outset, the long-​standing British mediation of US-​India contacts created formidable obstacles for leaders of each country in their efforts to understand the divergent motivations that influenced foreign policy in the other. The British had early on infected Americans with the imperial understanding of India as a subcontinent divided between upper and lower castes, and Hindus and Muslims precariously balanced at the edge of communal violence. They had similarly imparted to the Indians a supercilious attitude toward Americans as too childish to comprehend India’s complexities. Until 1946, the United States and India never engaged in a direct diplomatic relationship. Requests by the United States either for formal representation in New Delhi or to open new consular offices beyond the principal ports of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were steadfastly rejected. It was only the inescapable necessity of closer wartime coordination between the United When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



2

When Nehru Looked East

States and Great Britain and the importance of India to the defense of the British Empire that led to the first exchange of representatives. Even then, the British insisted that India’s constitutional position as a colony under British rule precluded the direct establishment of diplomatic representation. Instead, both countries simultaneously announced reciprocal appointments of an agent general in the United States by the government of India and of a commissioner to India by the US Department of State in July 1941, and the establishment of an office in Delhi called the Commission of the United States. In Washington, key State Department officials dealt with the agent general, Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, then a member of the governor general’s executive council, as the representative of India in much the same way as with representatives of other dominions. They also supported his idea of sending an economic and production mission to India to help strengthen the Indian armed forces and discuss how they might be able to achieve self-​sufficiency in the production of military supplies. These plans, however, were not expected to get very far unless the growing alienation of Indian nationalists from the British was reversed. The US State Department was confronted with British intransigence, embodied in Prime Minister Winston Churchill, against making concessions to the demands of the Indian National Congress for independence as a condition of India’s active partnership in the war. Washington worried that passive participation would be inadequate to engage India’s influence on events in the Middle East and to draw on the vast reservoir of its manpower, which was estimated at a potential strength of one and one half million men. As early as May 1941, Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle argued that considerations of principle and policy should be pressed to persuade Great Britain to explore possibilities of conferring dominion status on India.1 These sentiments were echoed by US ambassador Winant from London, who also wanted to ensure a friendly India, along with China, as a bridge to the Far East. An approach to Great Britain proposing that India be raised to dominion status was favored by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, although the antipathy of Churchill to such an initiative was so great that only President Roosevelt was considered able to raise the question through informal and personal discussions. Yet even Roosevelt’s appeals in this matter left Churchill unmoved. When the two leaders signed the Atlantic Charter in August 1941, which defined common war aims as respecting “the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live” and wishing to see “sovereign rights and self-​government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them,” Roosevelt, along with Secretary of State Hull and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, believed that the Atlantic Charter had set down universal principles and applied to all countries, including the peoples of India.





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This was not, however, the meaning that Churchill intended. His unrelenting opposition to the loss of India as the bulwark of the British Empire, and his belief “that liberty should not be granted to those he considered his racial inferiors,” led to a restricted interpretation of the Atlantic Charter.2 On September 9, 1941, he clarified in Parliament that the Charter applied only to European nations under Nazi occupation, and not to “the development of constitutional government in India, Burma or such parts of the Empire.”3 Thus, in its earliest encounters with India, the United States was caught between its alliance with Great Britain and a cooperative relationship with the leaders of the nationalist movement. Moreover, US ignorance about the situation in the subcontinent left some sympathetic officials unable or unwilling to directly controvert even false information supplied by authoritative British spokesmen, or to override their advice by asserting their own better judgment. Such diffidence, which continued well after India’s independence, was first expressed by Undersecretary of State Welles in a letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Welles agreed that the Atlantic Charter had to be regarded as all-​ inclusive, but advised against US intervention with the British government on the grounds that the British, who had been governing India for well over one hundred years, had a deeper sense of India’s political climate than the Americans. The British ambassador in Washington, Lord Halifax, told him that any rapid change in the status of India would immediately create internal dissension in India on a very wide scale and in all probability give rise to a situation with which the meager number of British now in India could not cope and the immediate granting of dominion status would create a situation in India exactly opposite of that which those who were advising the President to approach the British forecast. Wells wrote to Secretary of State Hull that deeply as I  sympathize with the objective, I  cannot believe that any officials of our own Government are sufficiently familiar with Indian affairs to make it possible for their judgment and recommendations to be put up against the judgment and recommendations of the competent British authorities themselves.4 Roosevelt also had doubts that he could match the British in their detailed knowledge of events in India, yet he had confidence in his convictions. Diplomatic reports, perhaps with some hyperbole, portrayed him as the most highly esteemed foreigner in India at the time, a hero at the head of all nations that stood for freedom and democracy. This first moment of sympathy and goodwill on both sides offered the best opportunity for a cooperative relationship to develop between the United States and India. It was an opportunity that Roosevelt



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considered important, especially since his postwar vision encompassed a world of free and democratic nations working cooperatively to keep the peace through the new United Nations. During the early years of World War II, FDR and Jawaharlal Nehru shared a set of overlapping objectives for a new world order. In terms of Indian power and politics, Nehru was second only to Mahatma Gandhi, and by 1941, had become his “legal heir” and preeminent spokesman in the Congress Party on foreign policy. He was also the party’s most passionate enemy of all forms of imperialism and, by extension, fascism, which was a “blood brother” to imperialism.5 While Nehru’s anti-​imperialism was informed by Marxist thinking and he had relied on the Soviet Union in the struggle against Western colonialism, he began to see hope from the rise of America under Roosevelt’s leadership. As the Soviet Union resorted to brutal purges, compromised with fascism in the Hitler-​ Stalin Pact, participated in the division of Poland, and conducted war against the small democratic country of Finland, Nehru looked toward America to take up the responsibility for “right leadership” in the cause of democracy and freedom. Writing in the Atlantic Monthly in April 1940, Nehru observed, India is far from America but more and more our thoughts go to this great democratic country, which seems almost alone, to keep the torch of democratic freedom alight, in a world given over to imperialism and fascism, and violence and aggression, and opportunism of the worst type. There was a real possibility that India would emerge as a friendly power to the United States. From the late 1930s, the Indian National Congress had followed Nehru’s lead in condemning fascism and Hitler’s aggression against Czechoslovakia, as well as Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing Hitler. At the same time, Nehru agreed with Gandhi that India would cooperate with the British against aggression by the fascist powers only if the demand for independence was first met. Yet the British viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, did not even consult the nationalist leaders before announcing on September 3, 1939, that India was at war with Germany. In 1939, the Indian National Congress drew a clear distinction between support for a war designed to preserve the status quo of imperialist possessions, and a war on behalf of a world order based on democracy. Using Nehru’s language, the party declared, If Great Britain fights for the maintenance and extension of democracy, then she must necessarily end imperialism in her own possessions and establish full democracy in India, and the Indian people must have the right of self-​determination to frame their own constitution through a





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Constituent Assembly without external interference, and must guide their own policy. A free democratic India will gladly associate herself with other free nations for mutual defense against aggression and for economic cooperation.6 The Congress signaled its resentment, in 1939, by directing its ministries to resign in the eight provinces (of eleven) where the party had come to power in the 1937 elections. This move exacerbated the tensions in their relations with the British, which became even worse after May 1940 when Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain as prime minister and leader of a national government, embracing the Conservative and Labour Parties. Churchill, the indispensable wartime leader in the period of Britain’s greatest peril, imposed his intransigent India policy on even the more sympathetic members of the Labour Party in his government. Congress leaders were torn between their political determination to wrest freedom from Great Britain at a time when the British were weakened by stunning military defeats to the Japanese in Singapore, Burma, and Malaya, and their desire to join the Allied struggle against fascism and defend the cause of freedom. Nehru was especially inflamed at the British for their stubborn unwillingness to address the India issue, an unwillingness that made it impossible for the Indian National Congress to participate in the war, even after the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. They found themselves looking toward President Roosevelt for help in pressuring Churchill to relent. Roosevelt shook off the warnings of his more diffident colleagues and applied considerable pressure on Churchill. In addition to his conviction that European domination of subject peoples was morally indefensible, he was beset by a practical concern that an Indian uprising against British rule would assist the Japanese war effort and complicate Allied plans for supporting China. This worry was intensified by fears expressed to Roosevelt by his Kuomintang ally, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-​shek. He argued that China would be encircled and cut off from supplies over the Burma Road by the imminent Japanese invasion of Burma and that an actively friendly India offered the only opening. The generalissimo was convinced that only a specific British commitment accepting the demands of the Indian National Congress for dominion status could motivate popular anti-​Japanese resistance. Some Indian nationalists already looked upon the Japanese as liberators from colonial rule. Roosevelt’s direct approaches to Churchill, criticizing British colonialism and offering “helpful” suggestions, such as the establishment of a “temporary dominion government,” only served to enrage the British prime minister. Other efforts through personal emissaries, such as Averill Harriman, Roosevelt’s special representative in London, were dismissed with false assertions that



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75 percent of the Indian Army was Muslim, and that Americans were misreading the Indian political situation. According to the British, the Indian National Congress represented a minority of the population, particularly the small Hindu upper castes and intelligentsia (“Brahmins and Banias”), while a majority—​the Muslims, subjects of the Princely States, and the untouchables—​did not accept Congress leadership. Roosevelt’s greatest offensive was carried out by Colonel Louis Johnson, a former secretary of war named as his personal representative to India in March 1942 to head the war production mission to India. The arrival of the US economic and war supply mission coincided with the presence of a political mission to India finally authorized by Churchill and headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Privy Seal and Labour Party proponent of more rapid reforms. Johnson made an effort to help broker a new relationship between Britain and India that would offer a firm commitment to postwar independence while immediately increasing the control of representative Indians over Defense and other key portfolios in the viceroy’s executive council. This held out brief promise when nationalist leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru, expressed interest in the formula. But Lord Linlithgow, furious that Louis Johnson, an American, was trying to mediate an Indian settlement without consulting the viceroy, vented his spleen to Prime Minister Churchill. Churchill lost no time in scuttling the negotiations by suggesting that rejection of a Cripps-​Johnson formula by the War Cabinet would be embarrassing to President Roosevelt. A  more discreet approach was made by William Phillips, who replaced Johnson as Roosevelt’s personal representative. His attempts to foster the idea of a provisional government met with no more success.7 Faced with British intransigence, the Indian National Congress decided to launch the “Quit India” movement in 1942. This ended all hope of cooperation between the nationalist movement and the government of India in the war effort. The British responded by jailing thousands of nationalist leaders and unleashing severe repression to maintain a semblance of law and order. The adamant refusal of the British to establish a representative provisional coalition government and to set a specific date for independence blemished the Allied war effort by creating the image of an Anglo-​American bloc engaged in a war of power politics, in a world where democratic principles were applicable only to the white races. As William Phillips wrote to President Roosevelt in July 1944, If we do nothing and merely accept the British point of view that conditions in India are none of our business, then we must be prepared for the various serious consequences in the internal situation in India which will develop as a result of the despair and misery and anti-​white





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sentiments of hundreds of millions of subject people; the people of Asia—​and I am supported in this opinion by other diplomatic and military observers—​cynically regard this war as one between Fascist and Imperialist powers.8 There remained only one American victory in the unsuccessful campaign waged with Great Britain over dominion status for India. The United States succeeded in getting British acquiescence in membership of India as a full partner in the United Nations. Sir Girja Bajpai thereby became the signatory of the Declaration of the United Nations in 1942 as the representative of India.

Nehru’s First Encounter with China As the window began to close on FDR’s hope that India would enter the new international order as a part of the Western world rather than the “Asiatic,” Nehru had already begun to think of the East, and especially the cultural links that bound India and China from the time of the Buddha with no political clashes between them. Nehru’s admiration for China and his ideas of pan-​Asianism had been influenced by his exposure to Rabindranath Tagore, the protean philosopher, dramatist, poet, and writer, honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature (1913), who had earlier established Shantiniketan with its teachings emphasizing social reform and universal peace. Tagore’s message that China and India, the two great Asian civilizations, should restore their ancient contacts and together lead their 40 percent of the world’s population on the path of love and harmony, appealed to Nehru’s poetic sensibilities, but as Tagore had warned, nationalism most often led to conflict. Nehru’s first visit to China in August 1939, as Tagore’s in the 1920s, did not evoke any resonance around the lofty notion of an Asian identity that could provide civilizational leadership on a higher plane than the materialistic West. But both sides discovered a more urgent and practical potential for a close India-​ China relationship. Refusal of the British to treat India’s claims to equality and freedom with respect, and the scorn with which they responded to the idea that the Indian National Congress could represent all sections of society, made Nehru particularly responsive to the warm reception he received from the Kuomintang leadership. Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-​shek arranged numerous official programs for him in Chungking, and feted him as independent India’s putative leader before his visit was cut short by news that Germany had attacked Poland. The visit, however, left a powerful impression:  Nehru discovered that his desire for India and China to move closer to each other was reciprocated by the



8

When Nehru Looked East

Chiang. On his return journey, he mused about proposals for a future federation of India, China, Burma, and Ceylon. Subsequent correspondence and indirect contacts between Nehru and Madame Chiang Kai-​shek until the summer of 1949, when the Kuomintang collapsed, constructed by Joan Grant from notes and letters in the Nehru papers for this period, reveal the deep affinity between them, as well as the friendship between Nehru and Chiang. Madame Chiang-​Kai-​shek, fluent in English, was full of ideas for establishing India-​China cooperation. Britain’s entry into the war and Gandhi’s decision to lead a “Quit India” movement meant most of these proposals could not be implemented. Once the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war, the Chiang Kai-​sheks used their direct access to President Roosevelt to paint the Indian National Congress as the only important political force in India that could mobilize support for the war effort, if only the British would relent. The same message was conveyed to Roosevelt by China’s ambassador to the United States, T. V. Soong, the brother of Madame Chiang Kai-​shek. Roosevelt was receptive. Nehru’s hopes were briefly buoyed by a message to him from FDR inviting him to write. Yet Nehru needed more assurances from Roosevelt in order to carry Congress support for the Allied war effort than Roosevelt could provide. Requests for a guarantee by Britain, China, and the United States of Pacific War aims ensuring India’s freedom and self-​determination, and a resolution to defend it at all costs, was too far ahead of public opinion in the United States for Roosevelt to consider. Once it was clear that China and the United States would be unable to prevail on the British, Nehru himself moved the Quit India resolution in the Congress Party executive on August 7, 1942, and was arrested with other Congress leaders, spending most of 1942–​1945 in prison. With Congress ranged against the British during the war, most of the proposals for India-​China cooperation could not be implemented. Yet a strong friendship between Nehru and the Chiang Kai-​sheks had taken hold and persisted. The antagonism toward the British, which the generalissimo and Madame Chiang shared, was intensified by British withdrawals from Malaya and Burma, leaving China exposed. The British did not trust China’s intentions after the war; and the generalissimo (as well as General Stilwell, who subsequently created a new command to retake Burma) was certain the British failed to defend Burma in order to weaken China. This notion was apparently born out of extreme suspicion of British motives and disgust at the attitude of the viceroy, Lord Wavell, toward China and the Kuomintang. Nehru would have been able to empathize with China’s leaders when Chiang Kai-​shek protested that he was not treated as an equal among the wartime allies. He was excluded from meetings of the Big Three and angered when the British refused to accept more than a token number of Chinese troops after Chiang offered his military support to help hold back the Japanese in Burma. Chiang’s farewell statement when he left





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India in early 1942 rankled the British by advising them that the wisest policy would be to give India freedom so that it could join the Allies. Madame Chiang Kai-​shek’s deliberate discourtesy throughout the war in declining to be received by British officials or stay in Government House on her stops in India en route to the United States (where she stayed at the White House) poisoned relations further. During the same period, Nehru’s thoughts about the future centered more and more on India and China pulling together, when as free countries tied by unbreakable bonds they would work together for their own good and the good of the world. Similarly, Chiang believed that in the new world of nationalist struggles for freedom, China and India shared common interests and also similar destinies. The two leaders expressed similar sentiments when Nehru was released from prison on June 15, 1945, and Chiang again referred to the ties of friendship between the two peoples who would be able to make great contributions to the establishment of a new world order. The link between Nehru, who became acting prime minister in January 1947, and the Chiang Kai-​sheks weakened by 1948 as the Kuomintang succumbed to the breakout forces of the People’s Liberation Army commanded by the Northwest Communist Government. But according to S. Gopal, his official biographer, Nehru was “determined that India and China should work together; and this idea did not leave him till 1962,” that is, until the very last moment before China’s devastating attack across India’s northern border.9 Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945, and the imminent victory of the Allied forces against Japan in the wake of the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, removed the urgent requirement for Indian support during a prolonged eastern campaign. Subsequently, events in India attracted only episodic attention in the United States. While Indians became caught up in a sustained struggle against white imperial intransigence and began to think about partition and nation-​building, the Americans were generally far removed from these developments. Nevertheless, popular writers created positive images of India’s nonviolent freedom struggle and helped build up a sympathetic public among educated Americans. Eminent American journalists who visited India during the 1930s and 1940s, including Louis Fischer, William Shirer, John Gunther, Edgar Snow, Vincent Sheean, and Margaret Bourke-​W hite helped to create an aura around Gandhi. A few, like Sheean, believed the encounter with Gandhi had brought them closer to a realization of God. Such sentiments were echoed by several Christian missionaries, especially pacifists, who saw Gandhi as a “saint and seer” comparable with the Buddha and Christ in leading a great people to freedom without inflaming hatred and inflicting violence. Yet the reality of America at the time was a total war against fascism, and even Gandhi’s greatest admirers, who struggled to render the complexities of his personality as a shrewd



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politician and disciplined seeker of Truth, could not readily endorse the single-​ mindedness of his commitment to India’s freedom as a higher priority than the fight against the horrible atrocities committed by fascist dictatorships.10 Compared with China, then America’s ally in the Far East and a much longer historical contact, India’s appeal remained limited. As P. N. Haksar, political adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the mid-​1960s subsequently reflected, even among educated and informed Americans, India was a synonym for a backward, primitive country enmeshed in poverty: “The social denigration associated with the universally known and advertised castes and creeds made us look curious. . . . Our alleged spirituality to which we took recourse and the aura of mysticism which attracted the alienated and the distraught of the Western world did not help to promote any deeper understanding of our country . . . I should perhaps hasten to add that we ourselves contributed little to the understanding of our own country.”11

The United States and India on Parallel Paths As FDR concluded that his first responsibility was to preserve the wartime alliance essential to defeat Germany in Europe and its Japanese ally in the Far East, Indian nationalists, caught up in the independence struggle, gave first priority to final victory over British colonialism and recognition of their rights as an equal and free people. The drama and sacrifices of the national movement produced a generation of “freedom fighters” willing to endure material deprivation, physical suffering, and recurring arrests and imprisonment as participants in periodic civil disobedience campaigns. The world war raging in Europe and East Asia necessarily took a secondary place. A small group of nationalists followed the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose in constituting the Indian National Army, which cooperated with Germany against their common enemy, Great Britain. Nationalist sentiment was, as a whole, anti-​Japanese but without a practical way to resist Japan’s advances in Southeast Asia. Under these circumstances, the only US leadership role that could have been relevant for cooperation with India was one as the spearhead of freedom for all nations and, most immediately, for India. Roosevelt’s inability to play this role altered Nehru’s perceptions by 1942: President Roosevelt has spoken . . . eloquently about the four freedoms and his words have found an echo in millions of hearts. But the words are vague, and do not satisfy, and no action follows these words. The Atlantic Charter is again a pious and nebulous expression of hope, which stimulates nobody, and even this, Mr. Churchill tells us, does not apply to India.12





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The quick erosion of trust in America’s commitment to freedom and democracy for all peoples can also be partly explained by the opaque window through which educated Indians viewed the United States. From the 1920s, and during the entire period of the nationalist movement against British rule, the United States was not a palpable reality for most Indians. Whatever knowledge the educated elites had of the United States was filtered through British newspapers and periodicals. These served as source materials for Indian editors without providing their readers with serious knowledge about American history and political institutions.13 The United States could be romanticized by some Indian nationalists as a very idealistic nation that championed the values of freedom for all oppressed peoples. Such notions were based on sketchy impressions about great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, and especially Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the reforms of the New Deal. But Roosevelt’s failure in the end created a very different impression. The United States seemed prepared to put military considerations above moral concerns, and to support imperialism at the expense of anticolonialism if necessary.14 Gandhi’s conception of the United States, which he declined to visit, was ambiguous, inspired as he had been by the writings of Thoreau on nonviolence. His critique was part of a wider attack on Western industrial and capitalist society, which he associated with selfish individualism, exploitation of labor, and an all-​ consuming materialism antithetical to the strict control of the passions required by Brahmanical teachings for the pursuit of Truth, or God. Anticapitalist, if not anti-​American attitudes, also animated the influential socialist wing of the party, which drew inspiration from Nehru directly. As early as 1938, Nehru chaired the National Planning Committee, which began to address the vast problems of economic and scientific development required to raise the living standards of the common man. Many of the members, who were industrialists and financial and technical experts, did not share Nehru’s socialist views. Nevertheless, Nehru believed that simply endorsing the principle of a planned economy to establish a public sector was a step toward “limiting the acquisitive factor in society, removing many of the barriers to growth, and thus leading to a rapidly expanding social structure.”15 Images of America were further clouded for the small inner circle around Gandhi as connections grew with small groups of black activists in the United States who traveled to India in the 1930s to meet Gandhi and gain an understanding of his techniques of nonviolent resistance. They conveyed that Indians, along with other Asians, were barred from becoming naturalized American citizens. These contacts promoted a sense of solidarity in fighting racial oppression that were later given concrete form in the United States through efforts to



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When Nehru Looked East

strengthen the organizational roots of civil rights groups for mobilizing mass support.16 In early 1942, as the number of American troops in India swelled to the tens of thousands to move supplies “over the hump” of the India-​China-​Burma road, Gandhi publicly characterized American military assistance to India as “American influence, if not American rule, added to the British.”17 Americans were seen as an extension of the British and as a foreign power, which made their presence in India equally unwelcome. Suspicions among Indian businessmen about US intentions toward India were also aroused when the issue of a direct Lend-​Lease Agreement between the United States and the government of India arose in January 1943. Vague worries about American “economic imperialism” surfaced because Article VII in the master agreement specified that in return for aid the recipient country would work with the United States to reduce tariffs and trade barriers and eliminate all forms of discriminatory treatment in international trade. Such language could be easily read as promoting American economic interests after the war at the expense of the development of India’s industry, which needed tariff barriers to prosper. The level of concern was pronounced enough for Dean Acheson, then assistant secretary of state, to propose that arrangements should be left as they were, with lend-​lease equipment supplied to Great Britain and then transferred to India. William Phillips, President Roosevelt’s personal representative in India, issued an official statement on April 11, 1943, which concluded “that lend-​lease is not in any way an effort to establish American economic interests in India.” It was intended only for one purpose: to assist India in carrying out its share of the common task, defeat of the Japanese and Nazi aggressors.18 By 1945, most nationalist leaders in Asia had difficulty distinguishing between the United States and the European imperialist powers they were confronting. A  reporting officer, in a telegram to the Department of State, captured the growing sentiment that gradually absorbed the United States into the “West.” USA continues express its belief and sympathy in democracy and freedom but Indian Nationalists consider USA does nothing to implement such ideals in Orient USA is considered most powerful nation and capable of enforcing justice throughout the world  .  .  .  America’s failure intervene in India, Indo-​China, Indonesia has given rise feeling that policies of USA, Britain, France, Holland alike are selfish and imperialistic . . . America’s failure to oppose colonial powers in imperialistic designs in Asia is interpreted by many as American acquiescence or support policies these countries, especially Britain. Nehru at Lucknow on October 28, said “so far as one can judge, American policy in regard to India has been strangely subservient to British policy.”19





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Intersection of India’s Freedom and the Onset of the Cold War As World War II ended, there was no longer any doubt that India would achieve independence. The election in 1945 of a Labour government under Prime Minister Clement Attlee, and Attlee’s commitment to speed up the process of independence, led to the establishment of an interim government in India on September 2, 1946. Nehru became vice president of the executive council and member in charge of external affairs and commonwealth relations. The United States reverted to its role as spectator of the unfolding drama on the subcontinent when supporters of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League contested the claim of the Indian National Congress to represent the whole nation and set out to achieve a separate state of Pakistan. The United States became the first country to establish full diplomatic relations with India before independence. Asaf Ali, a senior member of the Congress Party, became India’s first ambassador to the United States in late 1946, and Dr. Henry Grady, a former assistant secretary of state and the businessman who had headed the 1942 war production mission, took up his ambassadorial post in New Delhi in June 1947. Each watched a new world take shape that had barely been perceptible only a year before. In the United States, the Cold War atmosphere set in quickly. The Wall Street lawyers and financiers, later referred to as the “wise men” who first came to Washington to serve Franklin Delano Roosevelt and help run the war effort, expressed serious doubts within weeks of his death about FDR’s vision of a postwar partnership of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union as the basis of an enduring peace. These men, vividly portrayed by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, were privileged, patrician, dedicated to public service, above partisanship, and imbued with the conviction that the United States was destined to assume a global leadership role.20 Truman, a politician with almost no foreign policy experience, leaned heavily on their advice. Six men, whose lives were intertwined by connections mediated through private schools, Ivy League universities, and careers on Wall Street, were all in key positions to influence postwar foreign policy toward the Soviet Union:  Averill Harriman, ambassador to Moscow; George Kennan, counselor to Harriman; John McCloy, assistant secretary of war; Robert Lovett, undersecretary of state; Charles Bohlen, head of the Soviet Section of the State Department and official liaison with the While House; and Dean Acheson, assistant secretary of state. They were the most prominent of a generation from the same tradition that came to be viewed as the American counterpart of the British elite, dubbed the Establishment. Oriented to England, they were committed to internationalism and free trade,



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bent on reviving Germany to jump-​start European economic growth, and, through prosperity, to secure peace and democracy under American leadership. Unselfconsciously, they articulated a foreign policy design that mirrored the worst fears of Moscow. As Europeanists, they had virtually no knowledge about the nationalist revolutions reshaping power relations in Asia. Considerable ambiguity remained about the real nature of Soviet intentions. One interpretation, as the USSR set out to establish friendly regimes along its borders and resisted pressures from the United States to conduct free elections in Eastern Europe, was relatively benign. Its primary emphasis was on Russia’s historic search for security starting from the period of the tsars and intensified between the wars by “capitalist encirclement.” It could be argued that these traditional security concerns prompted the Soviet’s search for an Eastern European sphere of influence. Churchill, no great believer in self-​determination, had been prepared to directly negotiate spheres of influence with the Soviets in Europe, including Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and, possibly, Poland. In the United States, foreign policy strategists, most notably George F. Kennan, had written off the possibility of a postwar alliance with the Soviet Union. He preferred a ‘realist” view that would spell out spheres of influence in Europe while clearly drawing a line beyond which the Russians could not expand. The Soviets, for their part, had a very different outlook that would eventually lead to an important overlap with that of India in their perspectives on the motivations of the United States despite the vast gulf between the democratic and totalitarian character of their respective regimes. Even stated as a set of laudable goals, US foreign policy suggested several unwelcome consequences. The notion of US global leadership, tightly tied to cooperation with England and Europe, could appear to the Soviets as another variant of capitalist encirclement, or to the Indians as an attempt by the United States to “fill the vacuum” left by the British in Asia. Ideals of free trade tied to internationalism looked very much like “economic imperialism” to both countries. The USSR had yet to build competitive civilian industries, and India was just embarking on the process of industrialization. The Soviets, in 1946, also had to worry about the direct threat to their security from the US monopoly over the atomic bomb and American plans to revive Germany, whose attack on the Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the war in Europe, ended with the loss of 23 million lives.

Containment Washington’s response to a particularly hostile speech by Stalin led the State Department to ask George Kennan for an interpretation of the Soviet point of view. The intellectual diplomat, then posted to Moscow as counselor to





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Harriman, seized the opportunity to display his unique grasp of the complicated historical, cultural, and ideological influences underpinning Soviet policies. His famous 5,540-​word “Long Telegram” sent to Secretary of State Robert F. Byrnes on February 22, 1946, is still remembered as “the most influential cable in the history of the American Foreign Service.”21 According to Kennan, the Soviet Union’s Communist Party ideology, set out by Stalin and based on the thesis that permanent peaceful coexistence between the capitalist world and the socialist world was impossible, was consistent with a “traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity.” This insecurity was attributed to Russian rulers who sensed they could only justify the military and police power of the Russian state by inculcating the Russian people with a dogma that portrayed the outside world as menacing and hostile. The dogma expressed the steady advance of Russian nationalism and was particularly insidious in its new guise of international Marxism. It postulated internal conflicts among capitalist states and the inevitable historic triumph of socialism, and held out the ideal of a much more equal and just world order to all oppressed peoples. Kennan’s inferences from his analysis of Russian history and Marxist ideology for Soviet policy toward the United States was on one level highly ominous, but, on another, amenable to solution short of war. It was this subtle duality in Kennan’s telegram that later caused Kennan to protest his views had been misinterpreted to justify a global policy of military containment against Soviet expansion. The shortest part of his telegram was devoted to how the United States could cope with the problem. This challenge was described as probably the greatest “our diplomacy” will have to face. Kennan’s solution, at that point, was not clear, except that he was thinking primarily in terms of diplomatic strategies. That is, he recorded his conviction that Soviet expansion could be resisted “without recourse to any general military conflict.” A number of reasons were cited for this conclusion, but only his first of four “observations of a more encouraging nature” riveted attention. This was that Soviet power, unlike that of Hitler’s Germany, was not driven by a fixed timetable for conquest, would not take unnecessary risks, and was “highly sensitive to the logic of force.” Thus, if the adversary has sufficient force and “makes clear his readiness to use it, he rarely has to do so.”22 But Kennan stressed, as Nehru also would, that the Soviet Union was by far the weaker force relative to the Western world; its internal power was unproven since Marxist doctrines did not inspire popular inspiration, and Soviet negative propaganda could be countered with an intelligent and constructive program. Kennan’s rendering of the Soviet belief in the historical inevitability of the triumph of socialism, and his view that this allowed the Soviets to accept setbacks as they encountered contrary force, led to his most influential formulation. This was the assertion that



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the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-​term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies . . . it will be seen that the Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counter-​force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy.23 Kennan could claim that his formulation was nuanced in stressing the importance in the conflict of America’s ability to solve its own internal problems and project a “spiritual vitality” that could exert an alternative pole of attraction to the peoples of the world. But his analysis invited an open-​ended military deterrence by asserting that the United States must confront the Russians “with unalterable counterforce at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.”24

Militarized Containment The approach of militarized containment became American doctrine as early as 1950, when Kennan’s successor as head of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Paul Nitze, was tasked by President Truman to reexamine US objectives in peace and war in light of the probable atomic bomb capability and possible hydrogen bomb capability of the Soviet Union. Nitze, a director of the US Strategic Bombing Survey during World War II, had built his career in the Pentagon and was convinced that the best way to avoid a nuclear clash with the Soviet Union was to prepare to win one. NSC 68, written under Nitze’s direction, not Kennan’s Long Telegram, became the authoritative version of America’s global containment policy. NSC 68 briefly summarized the background of two world wars, the decline of the British and French Empires and revolutions in Russia and China, to pose the question of America’s defense policy within the reality that the United States and the Soviet Union had become the two centers to which power had gravitated. In this formulation, the Soviet Union was animated by a “new fanatical faith antithetical to our own” and sought to impose its “absolute authority on the rest of the world.” The logic advanced by Nitze rested on the assumption that development of nuclear weapons faced every person with the possibility of annihilation in the event of total war. If the USSR expanded its area of domination further, not only the United States but “civilization itself ” could be destroyed. The United States had to fight, if necessary, to preserve the American way of life as set down in the Constitution. At the rhetorical level, NSC 68 summed up





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the conflict as between the “slave state” of the Soviet Union, whose implacable purpose was to degrade the individual, and the free society of the United States, which faced a mortal challenge from the Soviet system. NSC 68 concluded that the “Soviet design” for world domination had to be frustrated by the United States in its own interests, and that the United States had to assume the responsibility of world leadership. The fact that the United States had roughly four times the GNP of the Soviet Union did not reduce the threat because the Soviets would earmark a higher proportion for capital investment in building up its military strength. Yet the United States enjoyed an advantage: its economy was not operating at maximum production and could rapidly expand its military-​industrial base. This put a premium on stepping up America’s economic production and military power to deter an attack itself, or to achieve overall superior power in combination with like-​minded states. Military alliances, therefore, became essential to containment as the means of bringing superior aggregate strength to bear in a policy of “calculated and gradual coercion” aimed at modifying the Kremlin’s behavior according to international standards. Neither Kennan nor the authors of NSC 68 had recognized the importance of nationalism as an autonomous force in the vast areas of Asia and Africa. Kennan’s references to “colonial, backward or dependent peoples” were made only in the context of Soviet support for independence movements against Western powers, support that would enable them to place the Soviet Union’s own puppet machines in power. NSC 68 warned that Soviet ideology, with its peace campaigns and portrayals of the rapid advance of the USSR from a backward society to a great power, had impressed “the Asiatics.” Nehru’s forceful arguments that Asia would emerge with new strength and vitality, and the then 400 million human beings in India were no longer passive agents of other powers but determined to shape their own destiny, found no space in this bipolar view of the world.25 The militarized and globalized version of containment endorsed by NSC 68 was silent on any political role for India, a newly independent nation, despite its civilizational continuity, cultural influence, size, potential for economic growth, and determination to follow its own independent foreign policy. The only reference to South and Southeast Asia was as a troubled economic and political area that, after the 1949 communist success in China, was seen to provide a further springboard for communist expansion. Within a year, the doctrine of containment became the dominant American strategy of defense against the Soviet Union. It created a “Cold War belief system” that animated all important decisions in American foreign policy. In March 1946, former prime minister Winston Churchill weighed in with his dramatic speech at Fulton, Missouri, asserting that an “iron curtain” had divided Europe. Churchill called for a “fraternal association of the English-​speaking peoples” in a



18

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special relationship that excluded the Soviet Union. The Truman administration quickly moved to give concrete meaning to the new set of concepts. During little more than the year it took for India to move from an interim government in March 1946 to independence in August 1947, the Truman administration had completely reversed course from the policies of cooperation with the Soviet Union that President Roosevelt had hoped to follow. The Soviet resistance to removing its forces from Iran, put in place during the last days of the war, and its demand for joint defense of the Dardanelles helped persuade American policymakers that the Soviet Union was expansionist beyond traditional security concerns. Combined with the February 1946 decision of Great Britain to withdraw from Greece and Turkey, the Policy Planning Staff under Nitze’s leadership, with approval by Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson and secretary of state General George Marshall, advised President Truman that the United States had to assume Great Britain’s role as guardian of Western interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Truman Doctrine, announced to a Joint Session of Congress on March 12, 1947, sought to convince a reluctant Congress that the United States had to assume Great Britain’s traditional financial and military responsibilities in the eastern Mediterranean. The bipartisan consensus on the rationale for the Greek and Turkish loans represented a psychological transformation that accepted the United States’ role as a global power and “the leader of the free world.” The foundations of containment in Europe were firmly in place by June 1947. Secretary of State Marshall announced the plan that came to bear his name for the economic recovery of Europe, including Germany. As expected, the Soviets refused to participate in the Marshall Plan, seeing in it the resurrection of capitalist encirclement and the rise of a restored Germany to threaten Soviet security. All that remained to harden the final division of Europe into hostile armed camps was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, proposed in 1947, followed shortly by the Warsaw Pact. In this new world, American idealism and support for anticolonialism did not disappear, but its advocates were stymied. The requirements of building military alliances produced contradictions that could not be resolved. The most reliable partner of the United States remained Great Britain, a nation that still imagined itself a great power and was intent on salvaging as much of its empire as possible. France, with colonial possessions in North Africa and Indo-​China, as well as the Netherlands with its colony in Indonesia, became US allies in NATO. Subsequent efforts by India to seek American support in pressing the European powers to give up their colonies invoked strongly held principles of American foreign policy from the time of Woodrow Wilson. It was difficult, however, to put these principles into practice. The European powers, allies in NATO, adamantly rejected such advice. Their recalcitrance put the United





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States in the position of criticizing states on which they relied for solidarity in the struggle to contain the Soviet Union. Moreover, support for anticolonialism, a cause championed by the Soviet Union, could actually be interpreted as helping the Soviets achieve their goals. This dilemma was reminiscent of the problem Roosevelt had confronted with Great Britain in 1942. By 1947, it was writ large across America’s policy as global leader, a leader that relied on the support of the European powers, especially Great Britain.

Dividing Lines between India and the United States in the 1946 UN General Assembly Session The first formal encounter involving the United States and India occurred during the meeting of the UN General Assembly at Lake Success that began on October 23, 1946. This was the first gathering after the San Francisco Conference in April 1945, in which the Charter of the United Nations was adopted. India’s leaders were preoccupied with the wrenching political divisions and communal violence that presaged the partition of the subcontinent. However, the boycott of the interim government by the Muslim League gave full scope to Nehru in choosing the members of the Indian delegation. The five-​person delegation, and four alternates, was led by Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Nehru’s sister, an attractive figure who was familiar to many prominent Americans after her extended 1944 speaking tour in the United States on behalf of Indian independence, and her symbolic leadership of a “nationalist” delegation to the San Francisco Conference in protest at the exclusion of Congress Party members from the official Indian delegation selected by the viceroy, Lord Wavell. Apart from Mrs. Pandit, the most influential members of the delegation were those included among the alternates, especially K. P. S. Menon, a senior official of the External Affairs Department who had attended the San Francisco Conference, and V. K. Krishna Menon (no relation to K. P. S. Menon). Krishna Menon, who was to wield such marked influence on India’s future foreign policies and on Nehru himself, was innocuously described by Nehru in a letter to Lord Wavell as “a person somewhat associated with pro-​Congress activities in England, but apart from this an able student of foreign affairs.”26 Some of the most important elements dividing the United States and India came into full play during the UN session. Nehru was still functioning within the External Affairs Department established by the British government of India, and receiving briefs from English advisers and members of the Indian Civil Service. He was concerned that India’s foreign policy, which was both a continuation of British policies and a reaction against them, had to be carefully developed.



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Nevertheless, Nehru’s attitudes were already quite pronounced. Virtually his first formulation of India’s role in world affairs asserted, We propose, as far as possible, to keep away from the power politics of groups, aligned against one another, which have led in the past to world wars and which may again lead to disasters on an even vaster scale. We believe that peace and freedom are indivisible and the denial of freedom anywhere must endanger freedom elsewhere and lead to conflict and war. We are particularly interested in the emancipation of colonial and dependent countries and peoples and in the recognition in theory and practice of equal opportunities for all peoples.27 Nehru was fully aware that serious polarization between blocs led by the United States and Soviet Union had already taken place in the United Nations. He wrote to Mrs. Pandit on November 14, 1946, about the dilemma India faced in trying to avoid entanglements with either group. An appearance of partiality toward Russia would irritate the “U.S.A. and its satellites,” but there was still the danger of India becoming a satellite of “the Anglo-​American group, which indeed we had been in large measure during the past.” Regardless, India had to steer a middle course both out of expediency and also because it was the “right course” to take. But Nehru’s personal view was not so evenly balanced: In this world tug-​of-​war there is on the whole more reason on the side of Russia, not always of course. If Russia helps us and speaks for us, it is right for us to express our gratitude and friendliness. Not to do so for fear of offending America or England or of losing some votes would be to become totally ineffective and untrue to ourselves. Only those are respected, as individuals or as nations, who have the strength to speak frankly whatever they have in their minds and not be afraid all the time of the results of frankness. Yet obviously too much frankness may break up the best of friendships and one has to draw the line somewhere. . . . The decision will always have to be made by you or others on the spot. I do not want you or our delegation to become camp followers of the Russian group; still less do I  want you to hover around the British Commonwealth group.28 Several items on the UN agenda raised issues on which India’s position more closely corresponded to that adopted by the Soviet Union than by the United States or Great Britain. One of these issues concerned the frequent use of the veto by the Soviet Union, which had produced criticisms by a number of





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members, and also proposals to discuss ways in which to moderate (or even eliminate) the use of the veto. According to Nehru’s English advisers in the External Affairs Department, the Soviet Union was thought to be considering withdrawal from the United Nations. The position Nehru took was indicative of his perception of India’s important role. He urged the Indian delegation to keep the larger perspective in view of preserving the United Nations as a forum in which great powers and small powers could function, and directed that India should act as a peacemaker. Nehru reasoned that any discussion of the veto would only add to the existing tensions, and therefore instructed the Indian delegation not to support any proposal on this issue, and more specifically “not encourage, or be parties to, a kind of mass attack on Russia in the United Nations General Assembly.”29 Nehru’s assumption, as early as 1946, that India could function in the role of peacemaker between the two blocs arose from his certainty that “our natural position in world assemblies is going to be inevitably one of the leadership of all the smaller countries of Asia,30 . . . and more especially of the dependent nations who have so long been the playthings of others.”31 Even more, Nehru articulated the feelings of many members of his cabinet: Whatever the present position might be, [India] is potentially a Great Power. Undoubtedly, in future she will have to play a very great part in security problems of Asia and the Indian Ocean, more especially of the Middle East and South-​East Asia. Indeed, India is the pivot round which these problems will have to be considered. I need not go further into this matter as the importance of India to any scheme of Asian security is vital. It is absurd for India to be treated like any small power in this connection.32 One cluster of issues, those pertaining to colonialism, was of direct concern to India in 1946. The most important involved discrimination by South Africa against Indians and South African nationals of Asian or colored origin, an issue that the Indian delegation was instructed to push hard and place on the agenda of the General Committee for reference to the General Assembly. A related issue concerned a proposal by South Africa to annex the mandated territory of South-​ West Africa, unacceptable to India because of both South Africa’s unequal treatment of the races and the desire to support the interests of Africans. Similarly, India opposed continuation of the trusteeship system that allowed colonial territories (e.g., former Italian territories) to be ruled by a single power under a separate mandate, proposing instead that colonies not yet ready to exercise sovereign rule should, in the interim period, be placed directly under the UN Trusteeship Council.



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Looming above all other issues, from the perspective of India’s cabinet, was the election of three nonpermanent members of the Security Council. The cabinet was so anxious that India should stand for the Security Council that it stated that this should be done regardless of the likelihood of success. “India can no longer take up an attitude other than that demanded by her geographical position, by her great potential and by the fact that she is the pivot round which the defense problems of the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and South-​East Asia revolve. Even in the course of the last war this dominant position of India was obvious.”33 Nehru personally kept in touch about the proceedings with his sister, Mrs. Pandit, Krishna Menon, and K.  P. S.  Menon, from whom he received weekly letters. The letters from K.  P. S.  Menon, written from New  York starting on November 1, 1946, vividly convey the political landmines of attempting to act within Nehru’s instructions to steer a middle course between the blocs, especially when Nehru himself was worried more about appearing to be a satellite of the Anglo-​American group than exhibiting friendliness toward Russia. Adding to the difficulties was the clashing personal styles and ideological outlooks of key members of the delegation, whose political sympathies were more inclined toward one bloc or the other. India’s greatest success in the General Assembly was in getting the issue of discrimination against Indians by South Africa on the agenda, against the opposition of General Smuts, with tacit agreement by Great Britain. The most vociferous support for India’s position came from the Soviet delegate on the General Committee, Andrey Vyshinsky, who went all out to argue that the question was one of the violations of international treaties between India and South Africa, and deserved to be put before the General Assembly. K.  P. S.  Menon, with reason, worried that this “ostentatious support” by the Russian delegation might “prove embarrassing to us.” He wrote to Nehru, We are anxious to avoid the impression—​and you know how quickly impressions are formed—​that we are in any way in the Russian Camp. Our election to the Security Council will largely turn on the support of the South American States. There are 21 of them out of a total of 51 States; they generally vote together; and they are bitterly anti-​ Communist. They must have taken special note of the rather exuberant expression of gratitude which fell from (Delegate) Chagla’s lips and was widely advertised in the American press, namely that “India will never forget the help given by Mr. Vyshinsky to us this evening.”34 Menon’s letter produced a revealing reply from Nehru, who was convinced of India’s importance as a major power, if not immediately, then in the long run:





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I appreciate what you say about not irritating the American bloc and losing their votes because of our exuberant attitude toward Russia  .  .  .  we have to keep clear of entanglements. Nevertheless, I do believe that only a strong and straightforward attitude pays in the long run. We are in the best of bargaining positions and there is absolutely no reason why we should weaken or play second fiddle to anybody. It may be that we may lose a few votes or displease some people. But in the long run and even in the short run respect for us will grow. I am more anxious to make the world see that we have got a will of our own than to gain a seat in any committee or council. I do not want to function on the sufferance of anybody. If a nation or group of nations wants to be tough with us, well we can be tough with them also. In fact, while their toughness may keep us out of a council, I  think our toughness will have more far-​reaching results for them. We play for high stakes and I do not mind losing the first round or two.35 A concerted effort, capped by an eloquent speech by Mrs. Pandit to the General Assembly, finally gave India a victory on December 8, 1946, that was “beyond our wildest expectations.” India mustered the two-​thirds majority, thirty-​one out of forty-​seven votes required, to pass a joint Mexican-​French resolution that affirmed the “treatment of Indians in the Union should be in conformity with international obligations under the agreements concluded between the two Governments and the relevant provisions of the Charter.”36 K. P. S. Menon reported virtually “all of Asia and Africa voted with us,” the South American states did not vote as a bloc, the Scandinavian countries either supported India or abstained, and those in Eastern Europe voted with India. Nevertheless, except for France, the countries in Western Europe, the United States, and Canada voted against India. Efforts by K. P. S. Menon and Mrs. Pandit to avoid aligning with either of the rival blocs did not in the end persuade the United States of India’s full commitment to an independent posture. For one thing, an overwhelming majority of the Assembly voted in favor of Australia’s resolution on the veto, which called simply for a discussion of its use with no other conditions. Yet India was bound to abstain because of Nehru’s injunction to keep away from “a mass attack against Russia.” The Indian delegation’s attempt to vote on the merits on other charged issues also proved extremely difficult. Resolutions formulated by each side embodied tactical moves to score political points against the other. This made India’s motives, regardless of which side it supported, open to question. Additionally, on trusteeship matters, India and the Soviet Union stood alone and “fought a forlorn fight,” encountering



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the strongest opposition from the administering powers. None of their amendments carried. “Here, more than in any other field, it looked as if India had aligned herself with the Soviet.”37 The biggest defeat for India came in the November 20 elections to the Security Council; India received only thirteen votes, six of which came from the Soviet Union and its satellites. The small states of Syria, Columbia, and Belgium easily won election with fifty-​one, forty-​five, and forty-​three votes, respectively. K. P. S. Menon explained the defeat by bloc voting and an alliance between the anticommunist South American and Arab states, brokered by the United States, which rounded up Arab support for Belgium in return for West European support to Syria. In the last of his weekly letters to Nehru, K.  P. S.  Menon reflected on the difficulties of steering a middle course when almost all important questions were decided in terms of bloc rivalries rather than on the merits. But he also believed that the “incautious utterances of some members of the Delegation, gave rise to the totally erroneous, but certainly widespread impression in American circles that India is veering towards the Soviet bloc.”38 He was specifically referring to V. K. Krishna Menon, about whom he had unburdened himself in detail in an earlier letter. Asserting that “if Krishna Menon had his way, he would have reduced India in the eyes of the world, to the position of a Soviet satellite,” he went on to describe Krishna Menon as the major source of discord in delegation meetings: Most of us found Krishna Menon simply insufferable. . . . I have yet to see an individual more self-​opinionated, more bitter, and less impervious to argument, than my namesake. He seemed to think that the fact that he moved about as your personal representative invested him with a special halo. . . . He feels that he is the final authority, and must have the last word, on international questions, that his colleagues are all nincompoops and that officials are worse. If anyone takes a view other than his own, he suspects that he has been egged on to it by some sinister influence. His judgment is warped; he thinks Russia is always on the side of the angels.39 India’s independent perspective, formulated by Nehru, was, in important aspects, the mirror opposite of the worldview of the “wise men.” Yet it was not intended as a confrontational policy aimed against the United States. Indeed, K. P. S. Menon speculated that India’s attempt to follow a middle course may have struck the Soviet Union as too “lukewarm” in support of Soviet positions compared to the unconditional support expressed by the Soviet Union for India on the South African and other issues.





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It was always Krishna Menon’s effort to push at the edges of Nehru’s broad and sometimes vague guidelines and to justify support for Soviet positions that did most to influence American impressions that independent India could be friendlier to the Soviet Union than to the United States. Nehru’s description of Krishna Menon to Lord Wavell hardly scratched the surface of Menon’s background and his intimate relationship with Nehru, a relationship that would grow into a partnership of equals in the conduct of India’s foreign policy. Menon’s relationship with Nehru was unusually close, personally as well as politically. Much more is understood about the ideological basis of their affinity than about the emotional bond that tied them together. Nehru’s first meeting with Krishna Menon, during a brief visit to London in November 1935, occurred at a time when Nehru was most attracted to Marxism, viewed Russia as the land of the future, and thought some variation of its economic and political systems might be suitable for India, but not through the adoption of coercive methods. As president of the Indian National Congress in 1936, he had promised to cooperate with the Communist Party of India in working for the formal affiliation of communist-​led mass-​based workers and peasants organizations with the Congress Party.40 Krishna Menon, for his part, had few connections to leaders of the nationalist movement in India, having remained in England from 1924. He had arrived there under the auspices of the theosophical movement and stayed on to complete his education at the London School of Economics, inspired by Harold Laski, after which he was called to the Bar. His ideological moorings, grounded in Marxism, and his political activism on behalf of India’s independence found expression in close links with communist intellectuals in England and the left wing of the Labour Party, which supported his election as a member of the local council in the working-​class district of St. Pancras. Menon devoted a great deal of his political energies to largely unpaid work as an indefatigable propagandist for the Indian nationalist cause in England. Living in financially straitened circumstances, Krishna Menon had concentrated on winning support from potentially pro-​India organizations, such as trade unions and women’s groups, from his spare office at the India League, and explained the Indian situation through his writings in the League’s broadsheets of the India News and India Review. At the time of their meeting, Nehru and Krishna Menon shared a similar intellectual orientation to a Marxist view of history and an emotional commitment to Indian nationalism. Each in his own way had made extraordinary personal sacrifices on behalf of his ideals. The friendship was quickened in the 1930s by Nehru’s isolation from his own colleagues, including Gandhi, within the senior leadership of the Indian National Congress, who disapproved of his public speeches denouncing the propertied classes in the name of socialism. Krishna Menon provided Nehru with important political and personal support,



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acting as his link to leaders of the Labour Party, arranging for publication of Nehru’s autobiography, which helped enhance his international reputation, and serving as legal adviser on several cases brought by the British government against individual Indians associated with the nationalist movement. All this does not entirely explain the close relationship between the two men after independence, when Menon enjoyed unfettered personal access to Nehru, offered wide-​ranging, and often unsolicited, advice on all aspects of foreign policy from 1945, and extracted pivotal positions from him in the form of “suggestions” for appointments, while professing his undeviating loyalty and affection. As Krishna Menon himself wrote, It has so happened that since I began to know you in 1934, I have always had to ask for the work that I have done on your behalf, whether it be arranging your programmes, or, latterly, work on the International Peace Council, or the Herald, or Congress publicity, or even the present semi-​diplomatic jobs that you have entrusted to me.41 The first of these suggestions for an appointment, which Nehru accepted in June 1946, was to designate Krishna Menon his “personal representative” in developing India’s foreign relations without going through official channels still controlled by the British Foreign Office.42 Nehru, perhaps naively, believed that the viceroy, Lord Wavell, would not object to this arrangement since it involved making informal contacts with foreign countries that might lead to diplomatic relations after independence. The viceroy, probably aware of the extensive reports by British intelligence, MI5, on Krishna Menon’s communist contacts in England, did not “like the look” of the papers prepared by Nehru; most of his colleagues in the External Affairs Department were no more enthusiastic.43 Krishna Menon, nevertheless, began acting de facto in this capacity in September 1946, when Nehru instructed him to meet with the Russian foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, in Paris and ask for Russian help in sending food grains to India to avert famine. Menon had a cordial meeting with Molotov but did not get a promise of food aid because Russia itself was experiencing shortages and rationing bread. The conversations created great consternation in India, especially because Menon exceeded his instructions and discussed assistance of Russian military experts for India’s training schools. Subsequently, Nehru’s plan of sending Krishna Menon to Moscow to follow up these discussions (and also to pursue an invitation for Nehru to visit the Soviet Union in the following year) was scuttled by the decision of the cabinet that arrangements for formal diplomatic relations had to be negotiated on the official level. Although Krishna Menon had no official status as personal representative at the time he arrived in New York to take up his assignment as alternate member





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of the Indian delegation to the United Nations, he always referred to himself as Nehru’s personal envoy. This became a major reason for resentment by other members of the delegation. It inevitably drew special attention to all of Krishna Menon’s statements, those in the General Assembly and to the press, inasmuch as he was considered the authoritative spokesman of Nehru’s views. Among the persons at the UN General Assembly who made a special effort to “come and discuss in corridors and seek opinions” was Menon’s colleague on the Trusteeship subcommittee, a man he described as “the power behind [Republican senator Arthur] Vandenberg,” and the person “who will be in charge of foreign relations” if the Republicans come to power. This man, “called Dulles,” reported Krishna Menon, “is a ‘backroom boy’ well informed and serious. . . . He is a wise bird, republican but very realistic.”44 John Foster Dulles, the wise bird who became secretary of state in 1952 under President Dwight D.  Eisenhower, had made a quick assessment. In a speech to the National Publishers Association dinner on January 17, 1947, he expressed his view that “Indian Soviet Communism exercises a strong influence through the interim government.” In reply to a formal press statement by Nehru on January 20, 1947, that Dulles’s statement “showed a lack of knowledge of facts and want of appreciation of policy we are pursuing,” Secretary of State Marshall explained that Dulles’s speech had not been seen before delivery by any officials of the State Department and that he had spoken as a private citizen. In a separate communication to the American chargé d’affaires in India, Marshall suggested that “Dulles may have obtained an impression [of] Communist influence on GOI from attitude some members of GOI delegation recent UN Assembly session.”45 Dulles subsequently clarified that he did not mean to imply that India’s interim government was a Soviet puppet. Rather, his comments were based “on his impression of the Indian delegation to the United Nations and particularly of delegate Krishna Menon, who he thought a ‘confirmed Marxist’ and a protégé not only of Nehru but of Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.”46 Dulles may have gone too far in assuming that Krishna Menon would be able to exert communist influence inside the government of independent India, whose cabinet members were extremely wary of Menon’s sympathies toward the communists. The larger danger, which became apparent over time, was better understood by Krishna Menon’s very close friend in London, the left intellectual G. Parthasarathy (G. P.), then with the Press Trust of India. G.  P., as early as 1946, believed that Krishna Menon would never be satisfied with a high diplomatic post such as high commissioner to the United Kingdom, to which he was appointed that year. Rather, his ambitions were much grander: to use his close ties to the prime minister to exercise influence on every aspect of governance.



2   

 Partition Anglo-​US Origins of Strategic Parity between India and Pakistan

It is tempting to speculate how history might have changed if President Roosevelt’s suggestions to Prime Minister Churchill on the eve of the 1942 Cripps mission to India had been heeded.1 His basic idea, to set up a “temporary government in India, headed by a small representative group” including different castes, occupations, religions, and provinces, invoked the same principle underpinnings as the interim government finally established in 1946. He foresaw that a period of several years might subsequently be needed to complete the constitution under which the whole country could be governed, and also anticipated the trauma of dividing the subcontinent, which he warned fervently against. Influenced by the catastrophe of the American Civil War, he knew too well the “terrible” human costs of secession by the provinces.2 He believed firmly in preserving a united India and opposed the formation of a sovereign Pakistan. Moreover, he and his aides considered the Congress Party the only representative political organization capable of doing good to the country.3 Yet Roosevelt was also thinking about a bigger picture. He envisioned building a postwar order of free and democratic nations working together to secure peace internationally. He thought Great Britain and the United States should work out an arrangement by which India entered the world organization in the European and American orbit rather than the Asiatic.4 If Great Britain had considered the demand of the Indian National Congress, first made in 1939, to convene a constituent assembly with representatives from the provincial legislatures, the Muslim League would never have gained the bargaining power to demand partition. A united India would have freely entered the war and presumably emerged as a friend to the United States and Great Britain. Yet, by the early 1940s, a very different future was taking shape. The retreat from the empire resulted in a transfer of power to two dominions, Muslim-​majority When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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Pakistan and India, whose leaders rejected the “two nation” theory based on religion. This critical distinction, which ultimately cost Mahatma Gandhi his life at the hands of a fanatical Hindu nationalist, did little to change the mindset of the British, who relied on a deep-​seated communal perspective. The outcome of partition, a direct result of British delaying tactics in granting independence, was perceived by Great Britain only as final confirmation of its prophecy that the subcontinent would collapse into communal violence after it withdrew. British leaders easily equated the truncated, territorially divided, and overwhelmingly rural Muslim Pakistan with the much more populous, geographically coherent, and relatively advanced Hindu-​majority India. This merely reaffirmed the US preconception that all states emerging from colonial rule were backward and impoverished and represented yet another political vacuum for either American-​ style capitalism or communist movements to fill. Nevertheless, Partition weighed more heavily on the minds of the Americans than it did on the British. The United States quickly became aware that partition had created a strategic anomaly. The division of the subcontinent erupted into such violent animosity between Pakistan and India that their mutual cooperation with Great Britain and the United States for the sake of joint defense, as originally envisaged, seemed unlikely. Though the truncated and divided Pakistan was virtually indefensible without assistance from a powerful ally, it occupied a strategic geographical location—​on the flank of the Middle East—​that became more valuable as the Cold War took hold. Thus Pakistan, rather than India, was considered to have the greater strategic value to the Anglo-​American bloc. Equally important was the political consideration that while India’s leaders chose an independent foreign policy in the conviction of their country’s inevitable emergence as a great power, Pakistan’s leaders sought security from a potentially hostile India in an alliance with Great Britain or the United States. With the creation of Pakistan, India had lost a great geostrategic advantage. It was a historic irony of partition that Nehru appeared never to have fully understood this, and continued to act as though India were the pivot of defense in the Middle East and Southeast Asia when, in reality, that pivot was Pakistan. India still possessed the potential to become a great power, but this was less significant in the immediate security calculations of the United States, particularly because India adopted the policy of not joining either of the two blocs. Indeed, the United States, preoccupied with European recovery, was more than willing to let Great Britain assume major responsibility for the security of the noncommunist countries in South Asia, and to provide counsel in solving the problems between India and Pakistan arising from partition. While Nehru continued to act as if India’s importance to any scheme of Asian security was self-​evident, in reality it was his own personality and prestige in a resurgent Asia that allowed India to play an independent role in relation to the great



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powers. Yet the unexpected decision of India to join the British Commonwealth after it became a republic reinforced US inclinations to consult Great Britain on virtually all matters affecting security relations, including military assistance, between the United States and India. Nehru and Krishna Menon, although opposed to British Cold War policies designed to ensure American cooperation in supporting Britain’s strategic primacy in the Middle East, were nevertheless bound to Britain by the personal relationships that gave them direct access to the highest levels of power in the government of their former rulers. They were also persuaded that membership of even an independent India in the Commonwealth was important to Great Britain in its effort to maintain international prestige as a great power, but that the United States would value India’s friendship only from the perspective of a camp follower. In any case, no Indian leader, not even Nehru, could ever break through on a personal level to the highest reaches of the American Establishment. All of this allowed Great Britain to play its preferred role of mediator between the United States and India well into the 1950s. The two democracies hardly developed a direct relationship, much less an intimate one, based on the common values their leaders constantly invoked during the formative period of their relations.

Edging toward Partition It is impossible to say with precision at what time partition of the subcontinent became “inevitable.” Nevertheless, scholars agree that in 1940, when the Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution, asserting “there are in India two nations who must both share the governance of the common motherland,” the claim by Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League to represent India’s Muslims was a hollow one. During the 1937 elections, only one member of the Muslim League had been elected from the Muslim-​majority provinces in the western wing of Punjab, Sind, and the Northwest Frontier Province. Subsequent efforts to create a mass-​based party in Punjab and in the eastern wing of Bengal never penetrated the villages, which were controlled by provincial Muslim politicians who jealously protected their local authority against Jinnah’s claim to represent all Muslims.5 The delay by the British in making a final decision to transfer power appears in retrospect as the most fateful factor in making the “fantastic” notion of two nations in the subcontinent into a nightmarish reality.6 The most recent and readable account is that of Patrick French.7 One element that weighed heavily in the British reluctance to seriously address the demand by the Indian National Congress “to establish full democracy in India” has not received the attention it



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deserves. This was the prevailing perception among policymakers in Great Britain that the Indian National Congress, despite its claim to represent all sections of the population as a secular all-​India movement, was in practice a Hindu party dominated by the upper castes. Such a perception, that Congress was controlled by northern Brahmans and Banias (trading castes), led to the logic that a cabinet government dominated by the Indian National Congress would amount to majoritarian Hindu rule.8 Therefore, the interests of unrepresented sections, especially the Muslims, who accounted for about 22 percent of the population and approximately 35 percent of the Indian Army, had to be protected before a settlement could be made on the basis of dominion status. These premises were embodied in the August 1940 declaration, under which Great Britain promised India full dominion status after the war as soon as Indians could agree on a constitution-​making body and frame their own constitution. The most important condition of the 1940 declaration was that “the new Constitution must be by agreement, and not by coercion of any important elements in India’s national life.” This condition meant two things. First, the Indian states ruled by princes, controlling over one-​third of the subcontinent under treaty agreements conferring “paramountcy” on Great Britain, could choose their own form of constitution, including the right to retain the existing relationship with Great Britain. Second, the constitution-​making body would be made up of representatives from those elected to the lower houses of the provincial assemblies (under the restricted suffrage provided by the 1935 Government of India Act), while allowing for “the non-​adhesion of Provinces which dissent from the Constitution.”9 The August 1940 declaration came nine months after the resignation of all Congress ministries in the provinces (in November 1939) to protest the unilateral decision of the viceroy in declaring India at war. It conformed to the bargaining strategy favored by the viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, who had “a vested interest” in Jinnah’s position, which ensured Muslim League support for the war as a minority dependent on the government of India for recognition of its special position. Indeed, the declaration was informally interpreted both by the British government and the Muslim League as giving to the Muslim majority provinces a de facto veto over a constitutional settlement. The politics of divide and rule, however, do not provide a complete explanation for why the British government, which considered the unification of India among its greatest achievements, failed to reject the idea of Pakistan out of hand. Lord Linlithgow himself evinced a rare sensitivity in defining the element in Muslim thought that found expression in Pakistan. He perceived a profound, if not fully conscious, rejection of the very concepts nurtured under British rule of having institutional safeguards to protect political minorities. “Safeguards” could only improve but “not radically alter . . . the position of a ‘minority,’ which



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remains a minority,” he wrote, “a Cinderella with trade-​union rights and a radio in the kitchen but still below-​stairs.”10 Similar sympathetic attitudes were held by leaders of the Labour Party, known for their support of the nationalist cause. The most surprising were the views of Sir Stafford Cripps, considered so radical even by the standards of the socialist left wing that had expelled him from the Labour Party in 1939 for appealing over the heads of the party executive for a United Front of Labour, the Independent Labour Party, and the Communist Party to defeat the Conservatives and their policy of appeasement. Cripps supported Krishna Menon’s India League and cultivated a friendship with Nehru, whom he invited to his country house in 1935 to meet Clement Attlee and other senior leaders of the Labour Party. Nehru, in turn, had close links with Sir Stafford’s Socialist League and agreed with its policy of forging a united front with the communists.11 In 1939, Cripps traveled to India, China, and Russia in an unofficial capacity to carry on discussions about British war aims. In India, Nehru arranged much of his nineteen-​day tour, which by coincidence occurred just as Congress moved into open resistance to the viceroy’s war policies by calling for the resignation of its provincial ministries. He met with several Congress leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, as well as Ambedkar, Gandhi’s rival for representation of the untouchables, and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Sir Stafford, however, appears to have been most deeply influenced by his discussions with Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his able lieutenant, Liaquat Ali Khan, about the attitudes of the Muslim League. He concluded that there were great difficulties in the way of the constitutional advance Congress demanded unless a third party could bring the Congress and the Muslim League together to bridge the gap between them on meeting Muslim demands, a task that he urged on Lord Linlithgow. At the same time, he told Linlithgow that his talks with Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan had “led him toward the idea that some separation of Hindu and Moslem dominions might be necessary.”12 The British could not imagine that the Congress Party, with a predominately Hindu leadership, was capable of establishing a secular state that recognized the equal rights of Muslims and other minorities. Consequently, their ideas for an all-​India constitution were always formulated around two principles: (1) a weak central government to protect the Muslims and groups such as the “Depressed Classes” from the power of the Indian National Congress, which they identified with a “caste Hindu raj,” and (2) a loose federation of provinces, including the possibility that Muslim-​majority regions might choose to secede. These principles of postwar government were embedded in the proposals to convene a constituent assembly after the war, leading to dominion status. The draft declaration by the War Cabinet in 1942, after Sir Stafford Cripps had again joined the government as an independent, contemplated that an attempt would be



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made to establish a constitution-​making body after the war on an all-​India basis, but included an option for provincial secession in deference to the demand for Pakistan. Accounts of the Cripps mission to negotiate India’s cooperation with the war effort concentrate on the proximate reasons for the collapse of negotiations, briefly summarized in ­chapter  1. These were rejection by Churchill and the War Cabinet of the more sweeping changes contained in the defense formula worked out by Cripps and Louis Johnson, in consultation with Nehru, which would have transferred essential functions of defense, and possibly other key portfolios, to Indian members of the viceroy’s executive council, while also curbing the viceroy’s powers to intervene in the national government. Such changes would have established an informal “cabinet government” dominated by the Congress Party.13 The underlying causes of failure tend to be neglected, although they were spelled out at the time both by Congress leaders and the British government. In their formal rejection of the War Cabinet’s proposals, the Congress Working Committee referred to “certain provisions” introduced as conditions for self-​ determination after the war that “gravely imperil the development of a free and unified national government and the establishment of a democratic state.” These conditions, according to the Working Committee, were first that the ninety million people in the Indian princely states would still be treated as commodities at the disposal of their rulers, allowing enclaves of foreign authority to remain, along with the possibility of foreign armed forces that could be a permanent menace “to the freedom of the people of the States as well as of the rest of India.” The second condition, of “the acceptance beforehand of the novel principle of non-​accession for a Province,” was characterized as “a severe blow to the conception of Indian unity and an apple of discord likely to generate growing troubles in the Provinces . . . which will encourage attempts at separation at the very inception of the Union.”14 Sir Stafford, at a press conference in London, placed the blame for the failure of his mission on Congress’s demand for “complete power immediately for representative Indians” as its condition for participation in the government of India. He explained his objection to this formula as representing the “absolute dictatorship of the majority.” According to Cripps, a “communal settlement” was the necessary precondition for a settlement of political and constitutional questions. Cripps, who was developing a reputation as the only person who understood the India question, asserted: India was divided into “a communal minority and a communal majority neither of which can ever be converted, neither the majority into the minority nor the minority into the majority, and therefore if you are



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going to get an agreement in India, you must satisfy the minority to a certain extent or else impose upon them the majority.15 Psychologically as well as politically, the British were reluctantly edging toward accepting the real possibility that power would eventually be transferred to two dominions. By June 1945, when members of the Congress Working Committee were released from prison, another wave of popular unrest persuaded Linlithgow’s successor, Lord Wavell, that the government of India could soon be faced with a revolt against British rule that could no longer be put down with the armed forces available. The viceroy began to think about a “breakdown plan” in the absence of an agreement between the Congress and the Muslim League. His telegram on February 7, 1946, to the India Office recommended that the British concede Pakistan, but only in districts of Muslim-​majority provinces. In this highly charged atmosphere, the cabinet’s newly reconstituted India Committee, headed by the prime minister, temporized by sending out to India yet another cabinet delegation to consult opinion on the ground. The three-​ member team, composed of Sir Stafford Cripps, readmitted to the Labour Party in March 1945 and president of the Board of Trade; Lord Pethick-​Lawrence, secretary of state for India, and Mr. A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, remained stuck in their old, albeit now more urgent, preoccupation with reaching a settlement of the communal problem before transfer of power to a provisional government. Laboring in India from March to June 1946, during which Cripps was hospitalized with exhaustion, they came up with no novel solutions. Belatedly, they sought to avert an independent Pakistan, which the India Office had concluded was of doubtful viability on vital economic, defense, and finance aspects.16 Partition was bound to destroy the Indian Army, more than 50 percent of which came from the Punjab, and underpinned British and Commonwealth defense. The three members of the cabinet delegation, in their futile efforts to maintain the unity of the Indian Army, elaborated more and more convoluted schemes for creating autonomous Muslim provinces within a “unified” India as a de facto substitute for partition. The cabinet delegation’s plan, put forward as a compromise to meet the concerns of the Muslim League as well as the Congress, revealed how impossible it had become for the British to think of India’s future in anything but communal terms. Ruling out Pakistan, the plan nevertheless proposed a weak central government with control over foreign affairs, defense, and communications, and a central legislature in which major decisions affecting communal issues would require a majority of each of the two communities. As a first step, the constituent assembly would be elected by the provincial assemblies on the basis of proportional representation, with seats divided among Hindus and Muslims according to their percentage in the population. The members elected would divide into



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three sections: one section representing contiguous Hindu-​majority provinces, and two sections the contiguous Muslim-​majority provinces in the northwest and the eastern parts of India respectively. The three sections would meet separately to decide on the provincial constitutions for their group, and, if they wished, a group constitution to identify provincial subjects to be administered in common by their own executives and legislatures. Subsequently, the three groups would meet together to draft a union constitution. An interim government in which all portfolios were held by Indians would be set up immediately. This plan for dividing India short of partition quickly foundered on disagreement between the Muslim League and the Congress on provisions for grouping. While Congress insisted that all groupings should be optional, the cabinet delegation asserted that grouping was an essential part of the scheme. Lord Wavell, attempting to conciliate Congress leaders, assured Gandhi that it was up to the representatives of the provinces once they met in their sections to decide if they wished to have a group constitution. But the cabinet delegation, subsequently backed up by the British government, declared that decisions by each section of provinces to have a group constitution would be by majority vote. Such a procedure closed the loophole allowing non–​Muslim League–​ruled states in the sections of Muslim majority provinces (e.g., Assam in the northeast), and the Northwest Frontier Province in the northwest (which were minority populations within the Muslim sections as a whole) to opt out of the two autonomous “Pakistans” before they were created.17 The Muslim League, which accepted the plan in June 1946, convinced that compulsory grouping provided the basis for Pakistan, was perceived as the more reasonable party, and not only by Great Britain. Nehru’s refusal to accept anything but optional groupings and his insistence that the constituent assembly would settle its own procedures was interpreted as thwarting British efforts to preserve a “unified” India. Criticism by the British was predictable. More irritating to Nehru was the “gratuitous advice,” sent by Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson, already concerned about instability at the dawn of the Cold War, that “it is in the interest of all the United Nations that at this time true statesmanship should surmount any obstacles to the establishment of the Indian Federal Union.”18

Mountbatten and the Transfer of Power The interpretation of the role of Lord Louis Mountbatten in the transfer of power has over the years concentrated on his influence over the final outcome of partition. The “strikingly good-​looking” Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma was the cousin of King George VI and great-​grandson of Queen Victoria.



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He was the youngest officer elevated during World War II to the rank of Supreme Allied Commander, which he held for Southeast Asia (SEAC). Mountbatten’s royal connections, confidence, and charm enhanced his effectiveness as a shrewd negotiator who managed to extract the maximum freedom to maneuver from Attlee in framing the political arrangements for the transfer of power. In India, he was assisted in the “goodwill campaign” to court India’s politicians by his attractive, intelligent, and sociable wife, Edwina, an heiress of indefatigable energy in work for international social welfare organizations and with whom he maintained a fond relationship but an open marriage. Partly as a result of his own reminiscences of his period as viceroy, Mountbatten had been portrayed as the architect of the solution to the India problem that kept British prestige intact and allowed Prime Minister Attlee to claim that the transfer of power was the fulfillment of Britain’s mission in India. As more records became available, revealing that the most difficult decision, to accept partition, had previously been agreed in principle by both the British government and the Congress Party, Mountbatten’s position began to shrink. Gopal has depicted him as merely “work[ing] out the details and effect[ing] the partition demanded by the League and accepted by both the British government and the Congress.”19 Patrick French refers to Mountbatten, who was viceroy for less than five months, as a “bit-​player in the story of Indian independence.”20 It is only by placing Mountbatten in the much larger perspective of India’s emergence as a unified state with a strong central government, as well as the most important Asian member of the British Commonwealth, that his true importance as the architect of contemporary India can be assessed. Mountbatten, the last viceroy, was also the first who did not see Congress through communal glasses. He had experienced the rise of nationalist movements in Southeast Asia, and at his first meeting with Nehru in Singapore, in 1946, encountered a leader who “more than lived up to all my expectations.” Mountbatten faced an extremely difficult task. Although the British government, and the Indian National Congress, had approved the creation of a truncated Pakistan in principle, Prime Minister Attlee, as late as March 1947, hoped for a unitary government, including unity of the Indian Army within the Commonwealth if possible. The Muslim League, meanwhile, remained unreconciled to setting up a state of Pakistan based only on Muslim-​majority districts that would be administratively, economically and militarily unworkable. There was also no agreement on the future relationship of the Princely States to India, the British insisting that paramountcy could not be transferred to an Indian authority, but would lapse, leaving the states independent. The probabilities of political chaos were high. In a report by the Chiefs of Staff of the Ministry of Defense titled “India Defence Arrangements,” prepared



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for Lord Mountbatten on March 18, 1947, the dangers of transferring power to a divided India were dispassionately set out: When previously considering the division of India we have always visualized the division being organized and agreed between the parties concerned. It now appears that this may not necessarily be the case and that what may well occur is an arbitrary partition of the country by the major parties. This situation would greatly increase the danger of communal disturbance and even civil war . . . in certain circumstances it will be impossible to ensure that British forces would not become involved in communal disturbances or civil war.21 Within days of Mountbatten’s arrival, incidents of communal violence spreading to Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province seemed to bear out the defense chiefs’ apprehensions that India faced the beginnings of civil war. The viceroy’s efforts to dissuade Jinnah from pressing for an independent Pakistan by spelling out that only Muslim-​majority districts would be included, and that the new state would be without financial, economic, and military resources to survive, met with the response that Pakistan would seek support from outside allies. Finding Jinnah “completely impractical,” Mountbatten asked Liaquat Ali Khan to act unofficially as his adviser “from the Muslim League angle.” Although Liaquat was more amenable to considering possible alternatives, he was of no help as he was unable to take any decision except on Jinnah’s orders. It was much easier for Mountbatten to find common ground with Nehru, whom he requested to act unofficially as his adviser from the Congress camp. The friendship that they struck up played a major role in the emergence of India as a unified state and the successor in law of the government of India. Equally important, Mountbatten’s success in achieving the transfer of power on the basis of dominion status kept India inside the Commonwealth, at least until the constituent assembly completed its work and paved the way for negotiating a new formula that would permit India to retain membership as a republic after 1950. Indeed, if Mountbatten was not the architect of partition, he was the moving force behind the bargain struck with the Congress leadership to arrange an early transfer of power on the understanding that India would accept dominion status and temporary allegiance to the Crown as a member of the commonwealth. Mountbatten’s determination to secure such an agreement went beyond the general instructions he received from Prime Minister Attlee and the British cabinet to effect a deliberate, honorable, and orderly transfer of power. In fact, opinion about India’s future relations with the Commonwealth was divided both in London and among members of the viceroy’s staff in India, many of whom were doubtful about the real advantages that would come to the United



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Kingdom. The skeptics anticipated a number of problems, especially, as likely, if India demanded a different status in relationship to the king than other dominions as a sovereign republic. Beyond that, “the Indians who were totally different in outlook and fanatically nationalist” would not feel morally obligated to come to the defense of Great Britain as did the other dominions, while they would expect to get military and other assistance.22 Sir Eric Mieville, a member of Mountbatten’s staff in India, was also dubious, speculating that elections might bring a communist government to power that would exit the Commonwealth or that India might follow a foreign policy in alignment with the Soviet Union or China. Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, by contrast, had hinted that Pakistan might be willing to remain part of the empire, and in any case, had decided to ask Britain to allow Pakistan to join the Commonwealth. Liaquat could not conceive of any circumstances under which they would join hands with Russia. It was Mountbatten who told Liaquat, without any apparent authority, that “neither the British nor the Americans (who were now together for defence purposes) would dream of backing one part of India against another, or even getting themselves involved with the loan of officers, equipment, etc.”23 At the same time, Mountbatten insisted to his own military adviser, Lord Ismay, that it would be “disastrous” to allow only Pakistan to remain inside the Commonwealth, arguing that this could involve Great Britain in a war to support one part of India against the other. The viceroy’s calculation appeared to be that Pakistan, a precarious entity, would have to join the Commonwealth in order to seek financial assistance and political support, but that for the purposes of Commonwealth/​empire defense, it was essential that both dominions, and especially India, the more reluctant of the two, agree to come in. Mountbatten’s strategy therefore became to use the “Pakistan threat” as a lever to induce Congress to “take the plunge.”24 The breakthrough formula emerged during a retreat at the Viceregal Lodge at Simla, where the Mountbattens and their staff were joined by Nehru, his daughter, Indira, and Krishna Menon, among others. After a meeting with Nehru, Mieville and V. P. Menon, the first Indian to rise to the rank of reforms commissioner in the government of India, Mountbatten believed he had the plan that Congress would approve allowing Great Britain to attain “our long-​term object,” and that this bargain required the grant of dominion status in 1947. He wired to Lord Ismay, then in London, to obtain the approval of the government “of the line I am taking. You must make them realise that speed is the essence of the contract. Without speed, we will miss the opportunity.” Mountbatten then listed the main advantages to the United Kingdom: (a) the terrific world-​wide enhancement of British prestige and the enhancement of the prestige of the present Government. (b)  the



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completion of the framework of world strategy from the point of view of Empire defence. (c) the early termination of present responsibilities, especially in the field of law and order . . . and (d) a further strengthening of Indo-​British relations which have enormously improved since the statement of 20th February.25 The broad outlines of the bargain represented an about face from “Plan Balkan,” already prepared by Mountbatten’s staff and approved by the cabinet. As its name suggests, the plan would have fragmented the subcontinent, allowing all provinces in British India, as well as the Princely States, to make their own decision on whether to join India or Pakistan, whether to divide, to form alliances, or stand alone. Nehru’s alarmed rejection of this proposal had forced Mountbatten to start all over again, this time with the help of V. P. Menon, his reforms commissioner. The new draft outlined by Menon was in principle approved by Nehru. It provided for a clean partition. As summarized by French, It proposed that power should be transferred to two central governments, one in India and one in Pakistan. The handover would take place on the basis of dominion status, giving the two countries independence within the framework of the . . . Commonwealth. . . . There would be voting in the provincial assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab to see whether they wished to be divided. Rather than waiting for a Constituent Assembly to draw up a working constitution, authority would be handed over at once to the two new governments, and they would operate for as long as they chose under the terms of the 1935 Government of India Act.26 Mountbatten had Nehru’s letter accepting dominion status, if power was transferred in 1947, by the time he flew to London with the new proposals for interviews with the cabinet. Equally important was Mountbatten’s discussion with Winston Churchill as leader of the Opposition. For the first time, Churchill promised that the Conservative Party would help to rush through legislation for India’s independence if Mountbatten could achieve dominion status for both “Hindustan and Pakistan,” and predicted the whole country would rally behind the government. In a note to Prime Minister Attlee, Churchill wrote: I am in a position to assure you that if these terms are made good, so that there is an effective acceptance of Dominion status for the several parts of a divided India, the Conservative Party will agree to facilitate the passage this Session of the legislation necessary to confer Dominion status upon such several parts of India.27



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This opportunity was quickly seized by the formidable home minister and minister of information and broadcasting, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Gandhi’s loyal coworker since the 1920s and the iron leader of the party’s organization. He added to his already sizable powers control over a newly created States Department on June 25, 1947, which he headed as minister and operated with the help of V. P. Menon, now appointed secretary to the ministry. According to the Indian Independence Act, all suzerainty, treaties, agreements, and obligations between His Majesty and the rulers of the Indian Princely States “lapsed” from the date of passing the act. At the same time, the legislation was silent on the obvious option that states might choose to remain independent. Mountbatten had already been enlisted to quietly persuade the British government that the earlier assurances to the princes of their right to exercise this option was impractical. Under the new arrangements worked out by Sardar Patel and V. P. Menon, the provisional government proposed to confront the princes with only one possibility: to join the geographically contiguous dominion on three subjects, external affairs, defense, and communications, in return for internal autonomy and the right to payment of privy purses by the central government, as well as recognition of their personal privileges, such as titles, freedom from taxation, and other marks of status, including gun salutes. Mountbatten, moreover, promised Nehru and Patel that he would make the cause of accession “his own.” At the Conference of Rulers and Representatives of Indian States on July 25, 1947, he circulated a draft instrument of accession, and through numerous meetings, letters, and other personal appeals, pressed the rulers for their signature before August 15, 1947. Mountbatten’s activities were inconsistent with assurances given in the British Parliament that Great Britain would exercise no pressure on the princes to join either dominion. They provoked the secretary of state, Lord Listowel, to remind the viceroy he was acting as mediator in his personal capacity and not on behalf of his ministers “either in form or fact.”28 Mountbatten turned aside this criticism, explaining, “I am trying my very best to create an integrated India which while securing stability will ensure friendship with Great Britain. If I am allowed to play my own hand without interference I  have no doubt that I  will succeed.”29 Since fewer than a handful of the 562 Princely States were located within the territory identified with Pakistan, pressure on them to accede to the new governments before independence greatly expanded the area under control of the provisional government and subsequently facilitated their full integration within the Indian Union. Mountbatten’s efforts were remarkably successful. All states except Hyderabad and Kashmir joined the India Union by August 15. The Congress managed to extract one other concession that it viewed as particularly important in establishing its international preeminence over Pakistan. Mountbatten persuaded Attlee’s India and Burma Committee to accept



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“Hindustan” as the successor of the former India. When Congress chose to call the new nation India, not Hindustan, the independent government of India appeared on the world stage as continuous with its predecessor. The government of Pakistan, of necessity, then became a secessionist state from the Union of India. This legal standing was clearly a matter of the utmost significance for Nehru, who held the portfolio of external affairs, which remained in his control until his death in 1964. On June 23, 1947, Nehru wrote to Asaf Ali, then India’s ambassador in the United States: The first thing to bear in mind is that the proposed so-​called division of India is in fact a secession of some parts of India. That is to say, India and the Government of India continue as international persons and all our treaties and engagements with other countries will also continue. Our membership of the UNO also continues. In fact there is no change in our external relations whatever because we are a continuing entity. On the other hand, the seceding Provinces form a new State which has to begin from scratch. I want you to appreciate this fully because there is too much loose talk of India ending in a sense and giving place to two new States—​ Pakistan and Hindustan. That is completely wrong in law and fact.

Implementing the Rushed “Contract” for Partition While the political benefits, from the point of view of the British government, the viceroy, and the Congress, of proceeding in this way appeared substantial, the long-​term negative consequences of the “contract” negotiated with India (and Pakistan) for partition and dominion status in 1947 appear, with hindsight, to have been blindly destructive of the peace of the subcontinent. The foreshortened timetable for transfer of power inadvertently worsened the enmity between India and Pakistan. From the Indian perspective, the very fact that the Muslim League insisted until the last moment on forcing partition upon the subcontinent was a desecration of the motherland, a sufficient sin for many Indian leaders to feel absolved from any moral, if not legal, obligation. The Pakistanis instinctively felt this to be the case, and did not trust India to honor promises of fair treatment in the future. It was therefore essential that agreed principles of distribution of assets between the new states be worked out, and that machinery be established, headed by a neutral arbiter, to resolve disputes. Among the most important responsibilities abandoned by the British was the process of reorganizing the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force into wholly Indian services, and to replace all British officers with Indians. This process, which had



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only just begun in April 1947, was slowed down once it appeared that partition had become inevitable. Both reorganization and nationalization had been criticized by the Muslim League for proceeding on the assumption of a united India. Partition required the formation of new units that could easily be split up, and also training new personnel, among Muslims, for positions of command. On the eve of independence, the senior officer cadres in all three services were overwhelmingly drawn from among Hindus. According to Lord Ismay, it would be “physically impossible, especially in view of the concurrent process of nationalization, to split the Army by June 1948 without wrecking one magnificent Army and producing two valueless ones.”30 A timetable foreshortened by nine months made any deliberate division unthinkable, nor did Mountbatten have reason to believe that Congress would be cooperative in carrying out this process if India was given early dominion status. Krishna Menon bluntly said that India would not agree to splitting the army, and that “if Pakistan wanted an Army, it would have to be built up from nothing,” except the Muslims released from the Union of India Army.31 All that the Partition Council agreed upon was that British officers and other ranks, including technical personnel, could volunteer to stay on for a transition period of about eight months. At the time of partition, 2,537 officers and 887 other ranks of British personnel in the Indian Army, roughly half of the total, had volunteered to stay.32 The prevailing impression was that the bulk of British officers had decided to go to Pakistan. British officers also acted as commanders of all three services in each dominion. The Joint Defence Council, chaired by Mountbatten as governor general of India, consisted of the defense ministers of the two dominions and Auchinleck at General Headquarters, although there was no central operational control of the two forces after August 15, 1947. Most unconscionable in the rush to transfer power was the fact that plans prepared by the Partition Council to deal with the deteriorating law-​and-​ order situation in the Punjab were glaringly inadequate. The Provisional Joint Defense Council, consisting of the members of the Partition Council, the defense members of India and Pakistan, and General Auchinleck, had its first meeting only on July 26, 1947. They agreed to appoint a British commander and to supply him with a “sufficiency of forces” to maintain law and order in what were expected to be “disturbed areas,” especially in districts with Sikh populations divided by the new boundary line. The situation was so tense that Mountbatten imposed Governor’s Rule on the Punjab. Even so, the British governor sent urgent warnings to Mountbatten that the reported strength of the proposed Boundary Force would not be sufficient, and that the police had to be considered unreliable. The governor’s request for an advance announcement of the Boundary Commission’s award, even by twenty-​four hours so that the population could be mentally prepared before August 15, was ruled out by



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Mountbatten since the British would have to bear the responsibility “for the disturbances which would undoubtedly result.”33 Against the background of these tensions and hatreds, Mountbatten “handed over” power to the new Pakistan Legislative Assembly on August 14, 1947, and to the Indian Constituent Assembly at midnight on August 15, 1947. Only after the independence celebrations had passed off smoothly was public announcement permitted of the boundaries of the two Dominions, whose exact delineation had been kept a closely guarded secret. Even Nehru and Jinnah had never discussed the precise line of the new frontiers; all that Mountbatten had sought was agreement that the leaders of the Congress party and the Muslim League would accept the Boundary Commission’s award. The result was that no effort was made, either by the British or by the Indian leaders of the new dominions, to inform, much less consult, the millions of persons most directly affected by the boundary award, or to organize the communities for an orderly exchange of population from one dominion to the other. There was simply no time to put in place an effective administration and army in Pakistan and Indian Punjab to supervise and provide security for what became a migration of fourteen to seventeen million people, and to moderate, if not prevent, the slaughter of an estimated two hundred thousand to one million persons caught on the wrong side of an international boundary whose exact line was known only the day after independence. British troops stood effectively withdrawn from responsibilities for internal security from the date of the transfer of power; they remained in place only as “sojourners” until arrangements could be made for their complete withdrawal. The hatreds unleashed by the communal carnage effectively ended any possibility of cooperation between the two dominions. Adding to the tragedies accompanying partition was the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. Gandhi’s last lonely campaign, for communal peace to prevent the killings of the Muslim minority left in India, led enraged Hindu extremists identified with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS, or National Volunteers Association) to excoriate Gandhi for his sympathies toward Muslims, perceived as the agents of India’s desecration. Two brothers, believed to have been RSS members at one time, carried out the murderous assault.34

The Strategic Consequences of Partition Mountbatten’s consuming idea, that rapid transfer of power to India and Pakistan, on the basis of dominion status, could provide a strategic framework for empire defense, turned out to be recklessly misconceived. The Joint Defense Committee, which he chaired, was not much more than a paper organization



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at the time of partition. Suggestions that a Chiefs of Staff mission should proceed to the subcontinent for general discussions with the two new governments could not be seriously entertained after the upheavals accompanying independence. In fact, the inability of the two dominions to make arrangements for a unified defense left India as well as Pakistan in a very weak strategic position. Concerns of India’s leaders continued to focus on Pakistan’s weaknesses with little adjustment for calculations about India’s own strategic vulnerability after an acrimonious partition. Nehru was particularly worried that Pakistan might be driven by economic necessity into granting base facilities or other defense concessions to a foreign power. In fact, in May 1947, he had proposed an agreement between India and Pakistan prohibiting either state from granting bases or other rights to any outside power. Since Mountbatten interpreted Nehru’s reference to “undoubtedly” apply to the United States, the India and Burma Committee of the cabinet was happy to agree that “His Majesty’s Government should assist in promoting an agreement that neither India nor Pakistan would lease bases, etc. to any power outside the British Commonwealth.”35 Nehru’s legalistic style of thinking reassured him about India’s superior international position based on her formal standing as the linear successor of the (British) government of India. Yet India’s legal position was irrelevant to the strategic calculations uppermost in the minds of the British Chiefs of Staff, already entangled with their American counterparts in considering defenses against a potential challenge from the Soviet Union. In the event of a war in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, British strategic requirements would have been most effectively satisfied by cooperation between India and Pakistan so that resources, manpower, and bases could be drawn from over the whole area, as during the days of empire. At the same time, the Chiefs of Staff were prepared to argue that “the area of Pakistan is strategically the most important in the continent of India and the majority of our strategic requirements could be met, though with considerably greater difficulty, by an agreement with Pakistan alone.”36 Viewed through a military lens, Pakistan appeared to be more important than India. In 1947, this line of British defense thinking represented more than idle speculation. Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who had been reluctant to authorize the production of atomic weapons and had urged that Britain withdraw from its bases in the Middle East as too costly to maintain, ultimately reversed both positions in the face of strong opposition from the Foreign Office and open revolt from the Chiefs of Staff. The cabinet took a secret decision to produce atomic bombs in January 1947. After the Chiefs of Staff threatened to resign if Britain withdrew from the Middle East, the government also accepted as a basic principle of British strategy “retention of our existing position and influence in the Middle East.”37 This decision made it essential to tie British policy very closely to that of the United States. According to the British ambassador in



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Washington, the Americans would “take it for granted that in its dealings with the Soviet Union, British policy will move along parallel lines to that of their own country.”38 This left no option, as argued by Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, but to support the United States in an anti-​Soviet bloc. The main outlines of this global strategy had been apparent when the cabinet appealed to the Truman administration, in February 1947, to take economic and military responsibility for the security of Greece and Turkey. The problem subsequently became how to win US support for Britain’s continued strategic preeminence in providing Middle Eastern security against the most likely threat from Russia, while lacking the land, sea, and air forces necessary to win a war. Britain’s position was all the more “awkward” because it was unprepared to surrender its claim to great power status. This meant the British could not openly endorse an “Anglo-​American policy” in the Middle East, an area of primary strategic and economic interest to the United Kingdom. It was this problem that was tackled during the “Washington Talks on Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean,” held only two months after partition, from October 16, 1947, to November 4, 1947. The discussions were designed as a far-​ranging review of British defense requirements for the Middle East. They were carried out by a British group, headed by Lord Inverchapel, the British ambassador in Washington, and an American group, led by Robert A. Lovett, the undersecretary of state. The British group, in addition to embassy officials and the assistant undersecretary of state, Foreign Office, included members of the British Joint Staff Mission, and the chief of staff to the Ministry of Defense. The American group, which also drew on senior officers of the US Army, was weighted more heavily toward key policymakers in the State Department, including Loy Henderson, director of the Office of Near East and African Affairs (later ambassador to India), George Kennan, then director of the Policy Planning Staff, and Raymond Hare, chief of the Division of South Asian Affairs. The talks, held under conditions of strict secrecy, carried out a country-​by-​ country analysis of British military and political difficulties and opportunities for maintaining or acquiring access to strategic facilities in Egypt, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Transjordan, Cyprus, and, most surprisingly, Pakistan. Against this background, the two groups developed a common position on the approach to be taken in negotiations with several Arab states to strengthen bilateral and regional security arrangements. Among other outcomes, the British won American agreement to support their efforts to maintain access in wartime to strategic facilities in Egypt by favorably considering Egyptian requests for military, technical, and financial assistance, to support the independence and territorial integrity of Iran, Turkey, and Greece, and to consult closely between themselves and officials of the World Bank on a loan to Iraq for the development of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley.



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One aspect of the talks directly affected India’s security and would have intensified the concern already expressed by Nehru:  both the British and American groups recognized the strategic importance of Pakistan. The British government expressed hopes of entering into a common defense agreement with the Dominion of Pakistan in addition to the Dominion of India, but dwelled more on the “apparently favorable disposition of the people of Pakistan” toward a close understanding with the United Kingdom, and stated its view that Pakistan could make an effective contribution to the stability of the Muslim world. This section of the discussions closed with the conclusion reached by both the British and American groups that “each Government should endeavor to keep the other informed with regard to developments in its relations with Pakistan which would be likely to affect the other Government.”39 The talks were considered so sensitive at the time that the record was drafted on each side in the form of “identic recommendations,” instead of a formal intergovernmental agreement, so that both governments would merely inform the other that it had decided to accept certain general principles. The understanding on mutual consultation between the United States and Great Britain about development of relations with Pakistan remained informal, but it was a significant departure by the British in recognizing a specific US interest within the sphere of Commonwealth defense. The identic statements recognized that the security of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean was vital to the security of the United States, and of the United Kingdom, that each country required the support of the other to carry out such a policy of regional security and should cooperate with each other in doing so. American support for the British strategic, political, and economic position in the Middle East extended to exertion of its full military strength, in consonance with the Charter of the United Nations, and “so far as possible, in cooperation with like-​minded members of the United Nations,” against aggression or invasion of Greece, Turkey, Italy, or Iran. Similarly, the United Kingdom asserted that it must be prepared, “in cooperation with other like-​minded members of the United Nations,” to use its full political, economic, and military strength, in accordance with the spirit and the Charter of the United Nations to maintain the territorial integrity and political independence of Turkey, Greece, Persia, and Italy. On November 24, 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin met in London, and each agreed to accept the recommendations of the Washington talks. The identic records were approved by Prime Minister Attlee and President Truman by December 4, 1947; both countries agreed not to inform the Soviet Union about the discussions. Great Britain transmitted the “tenor” of the discussions to the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand. The British did not inform the prime minister of India.



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The secret agreements between the United States and Great Britain during the very first months of India’s independence accommodated British objectives of keeping the United States from undertaking independent initiatives inside the regions of its primary interest. Equally important for the future of relations between the United States, India, and Pakistan, Great Britain took the first step in projecting its communal perspective into the international arena. Although there was little sign of any Arab interest in the creation of Pakistan, the British linked the strategic importance of Pakistan as a Muslim state to its religious links with the Muslim world and argued that these links could contribute to the stability of the Middle East. The fact that Great Britain and the United States further agreed to consult on the development of relations with Pakistan tended to predispose American policymakers to consider Pakistan at least as important as India in strategic terms. Moreover, the possibility that the United States would develop countervailing economic interests in good relations with India was undercut by political and ideological differences that prevented negotiation of an India–​United States commercial treaty. Initial difficulties of negotiating a commercial agreement, first proposed by US congressman Emanuel Cellar in 1946, were represented by the resistance of the British government of India before independence. The undersecretary of economic affairs, in the US Department of State, whose lot it was to discuss this question “on several occasions” with the government of India, reported back to Cellar in January 1947 that the interim government was still operating under the 1935 Government of India Act, which granted extensive privileges to British commercial interests, and that until a new treaty was negotiated, the United States could not be granted most-​favored-​nation status. After independence, much more intractable obstacles surfaced than those presented by the British. An American draft of a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the United States and India, this time based on the principle of most-​favored-​nation treatment, received formal consideration by both countries in August 1949. This time the draft languished because of clear ideological differences between the United States and India. The draft reflected American premises about the benefits of the free flow of capital and international trade. It contained sweeping provisions for the operation of US-​owned companies in all areas of the economy, including “reasonable and specific” formulas for withdrawal of earnings in dollar currency. This free market ideology left little negotiating room to accommodate the requirements of Nehru’s approach to a planned industrial economy under a socialistic pattern of society. Both secret diplomacy between Great Britain and the United States recognizing Great Britain’s primary responsibility for security in the Middle East and South Asia, and open ideological disagreement between the United



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States and India about the benefits of the free market versus a planned economy in building an industrial base, narrowed the basis for developing a direct US-​ India relationship. These alone were major impediments to the future evolution of close ties.

Difficulties of Bridging the Distance between the United States and India The distance between leaders of India and the United States was further accentuated by the fortuitous evolution of complex personal and political ties that reincarnated Nehru’s, and more importantly India’s, relationship with the British on an equal basis, the first as an intimate of the Mountbattens and the second, as a member of the British Commonwealth. During the year that Mountbatten remained in India as governor general, lifelong emotional connections developed between Nehru, “Dickie” Mountbatten, and Dickie’s wife, Edwina. The relations between Nehru and the Mountbattens, complicated enough, became even more intricate as Krishna Menon extended his role of confidante to go-​ between for Nehru and Edwina and pursued a friendship with Dickie to further personal and political aims. In the 1990s, much more became known about the deep affection, love, and respect that developed between Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten during the last months of the Mountbattens’ stay in India. The discreet quotations from their published letters reveal mutual gratitude at the unexpected gift of intimacy, which allowed each to open up long-​closed “doors and windows” to their innermost ideas and feelings. Gopal, describing Nehru in 1940, as he was awaiting arrest by the British government, in whose prisons he eventually spent nine years, wrote that the nationalist leader faced the prospect in an “almost tranquil mood.” Public affairs had so taken up Nehru’s life that, except for his daughter, none of his friendships, “either with men or women impinged deeply upon him; and his was a life of crowded loneliness” in which “he would seem to have been normally incapable of an equal relationship.”40 Edwina, in very different circumstances, surrounded by admiring women and men at the heights of international society, adored Dickie at a distance and did all she could to advance his career, but always felt stifled by his constant need for attention. She had sought expression in ultimately unsatisfying affairs, and in compulsive overwork on behalf of the Red Cross and other international relief agencies. But Nehru, whose aristocratic background as a Kashmiri Brahman blended easily with the manners of an English gentleman acquired at Harrow and Cambridge, spoke to her as an intelligent woman whose humanitarian work he admired and in such a poetic and sometimes mystical style that she was able, at last, to speak about



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her own feelings. She wrote to him, “It makes me so happy and still slightly incredulous that you should talk to me and write as you do and I want to do the same . . . I have never felt in my life that I wanted to, or could, to anyone, until now.”41 Nehru’s friends found him changed and, in the small circle of Delhi society, the reason was well known. Edwina, sometimes accompanied by one of her daughters, managed to make one or two brief visits a year to Delhi, en route to, and from work with, a variety of medical and refugee organizations, during which she stayed at the prime minister’s house, traveled with him on official engagements, and managed a few short holidays. Dickie was accommodating in England; when Nehru attended meetings of the Commonwealth prime ministers’ conferences, he spent at least one and sometime two weekends with the Mountbattens at Broadlands, Edwina’s eighteenth-​century family estate in Hampshire. They continued their relationship through correspondence and the always too-​short meetings in England and India until her February 1959 visit to Delhi. Edwina continued as usual to a difficult destination, this time North Borneo, where her heart gave out. She died in her sleep on February 21, 1959. The Mountbattens had met Nehru as a family, and, from the beginning, the relationship involved the Mountbattens’ daughters, Pamela and Patricia, and Nehru’s daughter Indira, as well as his colleagues and friends, including Krishna Menon. Dickie and Jawaharlal also kept up a steady correspondence. Mountbatten often took on the role of mentor to Nehru: he suggested solutions for problems that arose out of leftover issues from the British period, was eager to be helpful in proposals for revitalizing India’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry, arranged joint naval exercises with the British fleet (tactfully excluding NATO ships), and offered advice on such far-​ranging matters as how to train a successor, establish a scheme for government honors, and which officer to select for chief of staff. Nehru trusted him enough to respond with detailed criticisms of British policies toward Kashmir, how he was reorganizing the government, including the defense forces, and the crisis that erupted in the early 1950s in his relations with Krishna Menon. Over the years, Dickie rose higher and higher in the naval hierarchy to commander in chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1952, to admiral and Allied naval commander in chief for combined NATO Command in the Mediterranean in 1953, to First Sea Lord in 1955, and finally to the position of chief of the Defence Staff, responsible to the minister of defense. He and Edwina were always willing to be helpful to India from the vantage point of his high positions, to ease Nehru’s contacts with the Conservatives when Churchill came back to power in 1951, and to persuade Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and his wife to visit India in February 1955, where he stayed at the prime minister’s house, just before Eden succeeded Churchill as prime minister. Mountbatten



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also was indefatigable in keeping Nehru positively disposed toward the United Kingdom relative to the United States, and working to make it unnecessary for India to get armaments from Russia. He weighed in, whenever possible, to persuade the British government to be more forthcoming in response to India’s requests for military equipment, especially for the air force and navy. As chief of the Defence Staff, Dickie wrote, “I am sure I don’t need to tell you that anything that lies within my power in Whitehall to do on behalf of India, I will always gladly do.”42 Nehru steered his own course, and it is difficult to say how much Mountbatten’s advice in later years influenced him. Yet, at least on one issue, he had some effect. While still in New Delhi, Mountbatten had expressed the view to Nehru that next to the prime minister and the deputy prime minister, “the most important job in the Government of India was the High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. So much depends upon having the correct high-​level contacts, the correct presentation of India’s case, and the correct interpretation of H.M.G.’s point of view.”43 Certainly, the way in which Mountbatten brought about partition to establish a unified India, and create the basis of a close friendship with Great Britain, made it plausible for Nehru to accept the idea that the posting to London should be the keystone of India’s diplomatic architecture, which had to be constructed from the ground up. It also seems reasonable to assume that Mountbatten spoke to Nehru about the appointment of a high commissioner. On May 1, 1947, as if responding to a query, Nehru wrote to Lord Mountbatten that he believed Mr. Vellodi, the acting high commissioner and a senior officer, was already doing good work in London, and that no fresh appointment was envisaged for “some time to come.” Nevertheless, Krishna Menon once again volunteered that he was the best-​ qualified person to do the job, the natural link to the cabinet ministers in the Labour government after his long years in England. Little more than two months later, on July 11, 1947, Nehru wrote to Prime Minister Attlee that V. K. Krishna Menon was returning to England and would be helpful in explaining the situation in India since he had been in “intimate touch with us during the past few weeks.” Asserting that he attached considerable importance to the post of high commissioner for India in London, and to the future relations of India and the United Kingdom, he informed Attlee, In consultation with the Viceroy and my colleagues we have decided to appoint Krishna Menon to this post. I feel sure that with his knowledge of both India and England and the intimate contacts he has in both countries, he will [be] of great help to us in the new conditions that we shall have to face, I trust that he will receive all possible help from your Government.44



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Krishna Menon, no less than Lord Mountbatten, was determined that India remain in the Commonwealth after becoming a republic. This was a course that Nehru had always insisted India would never take. It was anathema to the socialists who had looked to Nehru for leadership before independence, and saw such a link as the perpetuation of imperialist influence in India. Yet, the first Indian high commissioner to Great Britain, and the last viceroy, ultimately prevailed in persuading Nehru to change direction. Within less than a year of his appointment as high commissioner, and while Mountbatten was still governor general, Krishna Menon began his campaign to convince Nehru that India should find a way to retain the Commonwealth connection even after becoming a republic. He believed that Mountbatten could be used as an intermediary by Nehru to press the Indian government’s views on the British cabinet, especially on Kashmir. More broadly, Menon was convinced that “the Americans are bent on mischief,” and that India should insulate herself from US pressure on matters of industrialization and defense by membership in the Commonwealth. His line of reasoning, pursued in letters to the prime minister during 1947 and 1948, was that India would become an “important factor in pushing British policy on desirable lines.” The Labour government, he reported, was divided on Bevin’s foreign policy, and the implications of “subservience” to the United States as the price of American support for Great Britain’s pretensions to great power status. As a member of the Commonwealth, India would find it easier to pursue an independent foreign policy and to do “more things with impunity.”45 Over the next year, as India’s relations with the United States became strained over Kashmir, discussed in ­chapter 3, and the State Department suspended exports of military equipment to both India and Pakistan to encourage a peaceful settlement, Nehru became much more receptive to arguments that it was the right policy for India to join the Commonwealth. Otherwise, he wrote, India would have to “slope too much toward the United States” and undermine its own role of a friendly neutral to all parties. Reflecting on a “certain inherent conflict between England and the USA” and little evidence of friendship in England for the United States, “partly because they feel themselves dependent on America and do not like it,” he concluded, An India which was isolated completely from the Commonwealth would inevitably have to slope in some direction. Practically speaking, that is in terms of capital goods and money or credit required, that sloping could only have been in the direction of the U.S. America wants very much to tie ourselves with her foreign policy and in a sense relies a little more on us in regard to her Asian policy. All this suffers a slight set back because we are associated with the Commonwealth. Of course



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association with the Commonwealth does not mean any conflict with the U.S. In effect it means something the reverse of it.46 On the eve of the Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers convened to discuss future constitutional arrangements for membership in the Commonwealth on April 21, 1949, in London, Nehru was ready to argue the case to his old socialist colleagues who opposed any link by saying no principle would be given up and no payment, or “very slight payment,” made for the advantage received. He echoed Krishna Menon’s argument that “India plays a prominent and independent role, influencing others more than she is influenced herself.”47 Throughout, Krishna Menon played the pivotal role in discussions with Prime Minister Attlee, Stafford Cripps, and other senior advisers, aimed at reconciling them to India’s insistence that no place could be found in the Indian constitution for the king. Nehru also relied heavily on Menon for the most difficult part of the negotiation, bringing him back to Delhi for discussions in early April 1949 with the British assistant secretary of Commonwealth relations, Gordon Walker, to help overcome deep reservations about giving up a special status for the king. Subsequently, Nehru persuaded the Working Committee of the Congress Party and the cabinet to go ahead on the basis of “Points of Agreement” (or talking points) and a “Declaration” for introduction at the Dominion Prime Ministers Conference, written by Krishna Menon, and amended by Nehru, to provide the basis for the new Commonwealth as a voluntary association of free nations, and “the King as the symbol of this free association.”48 Sir Stafford, ebullient at the success of the Dominion Prime Ministers’ Conference, expressed his belief that Nehru had “done something really big in world history” and gave credit where it was due. He observed of Krishna Menon, “It is curious too that Krishna the revolutionary, the anti-​British Indian Leaguer, has become one of the chief architects of the new and invigorated Commonwealth of Nations! This is a tremendous tribute to his character and vision.”49 The idea that India sacrificed no principle and gave no payment for the advantage of joining the British Commonwealth did not take into account the hidden costs to India’s relationship with the United States. The decision lent substance to the understanding reached by the United States and Great Britain shortly after partition, during the Washington talks, that the British would take the leading role in relations with India and Pakistan, and reinforced the notion that the United States should coordinate economic policies with Great Britain toward the area, and to the extent possible, rely on the British to provide the military requirements of each nation for internal security. As a result, political communications between the United States and India continued to be mediated by the British, in mimicry of the situation during the colonial period.



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Successive British governments never gave up trying to reconcile Pakistan and India in a hopeless effort to devolve more and more responsibilities for imperial defense in the Middle East and Southeast Asia on the Asian members of the Commonwealth. The minister of Commonwealth relations, Philip Noel-​ Baker, called Britain’s decision to keep India inside the Commonwealth an “act of faith,” using precisely the same line of reasoning as Nehru to justify it, although anticipating exactly the opposite result. This was that India’s contact with the United Kingdom would produce “a speedy and effective evolution” toward British views that full collective security was essential to repel aggression, including Commonwealth support for a possible Middle East Pact and a Southeast Asian Pact.50 Meanwhile, the British pursued policies based on parity in their relations with Pakistan and India. Despite the legal position so important to Nehru of India as the successor state of the former government of India, international perceptions of India and Pakistan as two new states created by the religious division of the subcontinent were only reinforced by the entry of both as equal members of the Commonwealth. Indeed, as joint defense remained indefinitely out of reach, it became all the more important for Great Britain to conciliate both India and Pakistan in order to retain their membership in the Commonwealth. All of these factors led Great Britain to insist on parity between Pakistan and India in the first crisis faced by the fledging Indian government, over Kashmir.



3   

 Kashmir Onset of India’s Suspicion of the United States

Historically thin lines of India-​US political communication combined with the onset of the Cold War created a problematical environment for the development of a close friendship between the United States and India. The difficulties were compounded by the role of Great Britain and its “special relationship” with the United States. Although retreating from Empire in the subcontinent, the British counted on US support to maintain their great power status, especially to protect their strategic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Once partition became inevitable, the advance of communism and the possibility of a Soviet attack heightened the importance of retaining access to the northwest airfields of Pakistan, previously in northwestern India. The new situation placed a premium on maintaining close relations with Pakistan without alienating India, the most influential Asian nation in the Commonwealth. Conflict between India and Pakistan over the accession of Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir to India, and the prospect of war between them, threatened Britain’s entire design for Commonwealth defense and raised fears that Pakistan could collapse under the pressure. Great Britain’s need to appear neutral between the claims of the two dominions led London to try and involve the United States as an intermediary to find a solution that would both avoid war and sign off on a formula, appearing to be fair to both dominions, but accomplishing the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. The United States, preoccupied with shoring up stability in Europe, declined to become involved, particularly because any American intervention could be construed as injecting Cold War rivalries into the region. In addition, the United States considered the dispute to fall squarely within Great Britain’s orbit of responsibility for Commonwealth relations. None of this could be considered helpful to the emergence of a cooperative India–​United States relationship. At the same time, Indian leaders knew the British all too well, the Mountbattens notwithstanding. The Congress had lost When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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confidence in the Labour Party no less than the Conservatives for their communal approach, which delayed action to transfer power until it was too late to stave off partition. Although Nehru might have been more concerned about the prospect that Pakistan would forge an alliance with the United States if he had known about the Washington talks, this had seemed an obvious danger before partition. If there is one fateful element in the formative relations between India and the United States, it was the manipulative role of Great Britain in shaping US perceptions of the Kashmir conflict that first erupted in October 1947. Once the Indian cabinet referred the situation to the UN Security Council on December 30, 1947, Great Britain, acting behind the scenes and in secret, contrived to co-​opt the United States on a series of Security Council proposals that would have facilitated the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. The opaque nature of negotiations, which screened British maneuvers from most members, including the United States, led to the very outcome that US policy was meant to avoid. India’s leaders, disillusioned by the failure of the United States to support nationalist movements in Southeast Asia against European colonial powers that were America’s allies in the confrontation with the Soviet Union, made an easy, but unwarranted, inference. This was that the United States was pursuing a bloc strategy biased toward Pakistan. Specifically, they perceived America’s position as dictated by the US desire to acquire bases in Pakistan, including facilities in Kashmir, adding one more bastion against the Soviet Union. Many influential intellectuals, like H.  Y. Sharada Prasad, subsequently Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s press spokesman, initially attracted by the idealism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, dated “India’s awakening on the United States” to America’s policy on Kashmir.1

US Acceptance of Great Britain’s Approach on the Kashmir Dispute The conflict between the two dominions over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the mountainous kingdom in the extreme north of the subcontinent, bordering Pakistan on the west and Pakistan and India on the south, spilled over from the unsettled conditions created by partition. In the months before the transfer of power, the Hindu maharaja Sir Hari Singh postponed a decision on accession to either Pakistan or India, although Muslims accounted for approximately 77 percent of the total population. Instead, he signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan to continue arrangements that had existed with the British government of India in areas of customs, transit, communications, posts and telegraph, and similar matters. The maharaja sent an identical request to the government of



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India to enter into a standstill agreement, but negotiations with Delhi were not completed before the outbreak of the October fighting. The maharaja’s hope that his territory could be insulated from the communal conflict in the plains was soon frustrated. Raids across the border by Muslim tribesmen from West Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province started shortly after independence, aimed at attacking local Hindus and taking loot. Armed Sikhs and militant Hindu members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) crossed over from East Punjab to carry out bloody reprisals against Muslims in the Hindu majority areas of Jammu. By October, the two governments were exchanging official protests and emotionally charged accusations. The government of Pakistan expressed serious concern to the prime minister of Kashmir about reports of infiltration into the Kashmir state of armed Sikhs. The Jammu and Kashmir government “emphatically contradict(ed)” Sikh infiltration, and reiterated charges that armed raiders from Rawalpindi, Jhelum, and Sialkot in Pakistan were operating in Poonch and “murdering, maiming, looting” non-​ Muslims. The foreign minister of Pakistan, in turn, “emphatically and categorically” denied these accusations and leveled more sweeping charges that, Large numbers of armed Sikhs as well as Hindus belonging to the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh have gone to Kashmir with the object of repeating the tactics they followed in East Punjab to kill and terrorise and drive out Muslims. In fact, exodus of Muslims from the State has already started.2 On October 15, 1947, the Jammu and Kashmir government relayed all their charges against Pakistan to Prime Minister Attlee, citing the “obvious connivance of the Pakistan Government” in a threat of invasion along the border that had begun in Poonch. On October 18, the Jammu and Kashmir government released to the press its message to the foreign minister of Pakistan serving notice that it felt justified in “asking for friendly assistance” if the raids from Pakistan and false propaganda about atrocities committed against Muslims were not stopped. The foreign minister of Pakistan, in turn, dismissed the “vague allegations” of infiltration and professed astonishment at the threat of the Jammu and Kashmir government to ask for assistance. He interpreted this as a stratagem “to enable you to join the India Dominion as coup d’état against the declared and well-​known will of the Mussalmans and others who form 85 percent of the population of your State.”3 (In a second message, he warned of the “gravest consequences” if this policy were followed of seeking the armed intervention and assistance of India.) The escalation of the conflict into an invasion of Kashmir by tribesmen from the Northwest Frontier Province; reports that they were incited by the premier of the province and local leaders of the Muslim League to “Jehad,” provided



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rifles and ammunition, and given vehicles to transit through Pakistan; the accession of the maharaja to India on October 24, 1947; and the dispatch of Indian armed forces to push back the invaders, all created the threat of war between the two dominions. The conflict was considered by Great Britain a major threat to the future of the Commonwealth. The outbreak of war would have foreclosed any possibility that British defense requirements in the Middle East and Southeast Asia could be supported by cooperation between India and Pakistan, considered essential by the British military. The loss of Pakistan as a base for forward deployment, communications, and reserve troops, at a time when the British position in the Arab world was weakening, especially in Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine, as well as its hold on Greece, was unacceptable to London’s political and military strategists.4 The British Foreign Office, above all, was determined to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir conflict that could not be seen as imputing blame to either party. Great Britain needed to retain India’s friendship as the most important Asian member of the Commonwealth, and a likely source of support on issues concerning Southeast Asia and the Far East. At the same time, it had to conciliate Pakistan as a potential strategic ally in the Middle East, and a link with Muslim opinion in the Arab world. The policy of “parity” between the two dominions raised an unavoidable dilemma. An open statement of Great Britain’s real position, which was one of support for Pakistan’s claim as a Muslim state to the Muslim-​majority state of Kashmir, would have set the British in opposition to India. Indeed, India’s reference to the United Nations under Article 35 of the Charter requested the assistance of the Security Council in dealing with a danger to international peace and order created by Pakistan’s assistance to the invaders in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, dominion territory legally part of India. This dilemma provided a challenge to the diplomacy of even “perfidious Albion.” Nevertheless, Great Britain possessed major advantages. First, the UK delegation to the United Nations enjoyed a privileged position as tutor to the members of the Security Council, including the United States, on India and Pakistan. Their version of the communal background to the conflict, which sought to avoid the legal issue of aggression by Pakistan on India’s territory, and recommendations for a solution that also gave precedence to religious affinity as the basis of association, was bound to be influential. Second, the Truman administration had agreed that Great Britain should have major responsibility for the Indian subcontinent (referred to as South Asia after partition) and had “already taken on certain commitments in supporting Pakistan internationally which we could not now go back on.”5 Senior State Department officials, moreover, had little difficulty accepting the British approach of equating the government of India and the government of



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Pakistan. From 1946, they had been conditioned by Attlee’s interpretation of partition, which placed blame on the Congress for rejecting the “compromise” plan of the 1946 cabinet delegation for a loose federation, including autonomy for groups of (Muslim) provinces, accepted by the Muslim League. The subsequent decision of Congress leaders to accept partition could be interpreted as implicit recognition by India that Hindus and Muslims could not live together. This perspective was constantly reinforced in repeated references by Jinnah to Hindustan, and by the British to a Hindustan dominion and a Pakistan dominion. The first reflection in American policy of the British approach to parity was visible in October 1947. Secretary of State Lovett rejected the advice of American ambassador Grady in New Delhi to grant an Indian request for ten army transport planes to fly Hindu refugees to safety from the Northwest Frontier Province, citing President Truman’s stipulation that US planes could be provided only if such a request was made jointly by the government of India and the government of Pakistan to facilitate closer cooperation between them. The US propensity to treat India and Pakistan on an equal footing, absorbed from discussions with the British, made the task of the Foreign Office much easier in exercising influence over the formulation of American policy on Kashmir. By the time India requested the assistance of the Security Council in calling upon Pakistan to stop support for the raiders in Jammu and Kashmir, the United States had already conceptualized the dispute as one between India and Pakistan. Even so, Kashmir was one issue on which the United States did not want to be closely involved. Acting Secretary of State Lovett greatly preferred that the dispute be settled in direct negotiations between India and Pakistan, “but if a resolution is introduced by India or Pakistan, and supported by the United Kingdom, the US Delegation should support the Resolution.”6 The United States did not consider that its national interest was engaged by events in South Asia. Adding to this reluctance was the apprehension that in the emerging world of two major blocs, any conflict in which the United States was seen to be involved would be inevitably interpreted as related to competition with the Soviet Union. Seventy years later, it is easy to say that the “Kashmir dispute” raised basically insoluble issues. The claims of the two dominions to the state mirrored the underlying conflict between them about the “two-​nation theory” never accepted by India, and elevated by Pakistan to the principle of national community that had finally led to partition. India and Pakistan each accused the other of using coercive means to force accession of the state to their own dominion. The leaders of each government considered that the future of Kashmir was vital to them. The government of Pakistan believed that Kashmir, by virtue of its Muslim majority population, should accede to the Muslim dominion by right, and that no government could survive that abandoned this principle. The government of India, contending with its own well-​organized Hindu communal groups, then inciting



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attacks against Muslims, needed to establish that Hindus and Muslims were able to live in peace under a secular state so that democratic India could cohere. What happened in Kashmir was linked to the future of Hindu-​Muslim relations in the rest of India. The stakes were so high that the representatives of each dominion were impervious to the arguments of the other about which country had the superior claim.

Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah, and Quit Kashmir Agitation The internal situation was much more complex than allowed by Great Britain’s unexamined assumptions about the communal division of the subcontinent, which led to the idea that the geographically contiguous Muslim majority Princely State should naturally accede to the Muslim state of Pakistan. The most prominent political movement in Kashmir was not primarily mobilized around issues of religious identity but of political and economic reforms. There was a close relationship between the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (originally founded as the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in 1932)  and the All-​India States Peoples Conference supported by the Indian National Congress. By 1939, the National Conference changed its name and broadened its appeal, aligning itself with the demands of the Indian nationalist movement for democratic government and independence from British rule. Jawaharlal Nehru had been president of the All-​ India States Peoples Conference, which worked together with the Indian National Congress, and he labored very hard to develop an unusually close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the towering leader of the Kashmir National Conference. Both men shared a radical socialist ideology and a commitment to reforming the oppressive land system that kept the majority of the population in severe poverty. Like Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah had won widespread popularity in the valley of Kashmir in the early 1930s for his defiance of the maharaja’s absolute rule, which led to his arrest and imprisonment. After his release and the decision by the maharaja to establish a nominal legislature, Abdullah and his National Conference contested elections for the state assembly, while constantly pushing the ruler to introduce responsible government and function as a constitutional monarch. As Abdullah’s appeal spread to Hindu and Sikh youth, who also demanded responsible government, the maharaja and his prime minister, Pandit Rai Bahadur Ram Chandra Kak, found their position threatened. A  “Quit Kashmir” agitation in 1946 was turned against the Rajput Dogra rulers (who alone enjoyed the privilege of serving in the army) by attacks against the Treaty of Amritsar, 1846, under which the British had sold Kashmir to the great-​grandfather of Hari



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Singh. The Kashmir state authorities, in March 1946, quickly arrested Sheikh Abdullah and his senior colleagues in the National Conference. The All-​India State Peoples Conference, determined to make Kashmir into a nationalist issue, elected Sheikh Abdullah its president while he was in prison. The step was a direct challenge to the maharaja and to Prime Minister Kak, serving notice that the Indian National Congress was a staunch supporter of the Kashmir National Conference. In particular, Nehru was determined that Abdullah succeed in his policy of committing Kashmir to join the constituent assembly of India, and not that of Pakistan. The maharaja, cross-​pressured by Mountbatten and by Kak, the first offering advice that he should join one or the other of the two constituent assemblies “to protect themselves against pressure of the Congress,” and the second sounding warnings that accession to India would trigger communal riots, remained frozen in indecision, preferring independence.7 Nehru, for his part, became more and more worried as he lost contact with Sheikh Abdullah. He made two agitated visits to Kashmir, the first in June 1946, disrupting the discussions of the cabinet delegation in Simla, only to be arrested at the border by the Kashmir authorities. He made the second trip two months later, when he was allowed to attend Sheikh Abdullah’s trial and have private meetings with him. Nevertheless, he was rebuffed by the maharaja when he sought an appointment to meet him. Mountbatten’s records leave no doubt that Kashmir’s status after independence was one of the first issues raised by Nehru with him. As independence drew near in July 1947, and Mountbatten’s own visit to Kashmir failed to move the maharaja to declare adherence to one or the other of the two dominions, Nehru insisted that he felt it was his “particular duty” to go there, and that “Kashmir has become a first priority for me.”8 Nehru suffered “great mental distress” because he had not been able to affect the release of Sheikh Abdullah. But he also wanted to “lay before the Government of Kashmir the advantages of joining the Dominion of India.” Mountbatten, Gandhi, and Sardar Patel all seemed unable to talk him out of this, even though Maharaja Hari Singh and his prime minister, Pandit Kak, hated Nehru “with a bitter hatred,” and a visit by him so close to independence would be viewed as lobbying by the soon-​to-​be prime minister of India. After a very difficult meeting on July 29, 1947, it was finally decided that Gandhi would go to Kashmir in place of Nehru. Mountbatten recorded: I have reason to believe that when Patel had tried to reason with Nehru the night before our meeting, Nehru had broken down and wept, explaining that Kashmir meant more to him at the moment than anything else. Patel found it impossible to deal with him and told a friend



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after our meeting that I had probably saved Nehru’s political career, and thus the chance of Congress making good on the transfer of power.9 Among all his other preoccupations after independence, Nehru maintained his concern about the situation in Kashmir. He received reports that the government of Pakistan was trying to force the maharaja to execute an instrument of accession, first by interrupting the flow of essential commodities to the state, but more alarming, by encouraging the Muslim League in the Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province to arm and infiltrate their own people in considerable numbers before winter set in by late October 1947. The solution, which Nehru urged on Kak’s successor, Prime Minister Mahajan, was for the maharaja to release Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference colleagues from prison, seek their cooperation by asking Sheikh Abdullah to form a provisional government, announce elections to the state assembly, and, with the support of a major section of the population, “declare adhesion to the Indian Union. Once the State accedes to India, it will become very difficult for Pakistan to invade it officially or unofficially without coming into conflict with the Indian Union.” Nehru considered that India had a great asset in the National Conference, and in Sheikh Abdullah who “has repeatedly given assurances of wishing to cooperate and of being opposed to Pakistan; also to abide by my advice.”10 Pressures from Delhi, probably applied by Patel, succeeded in winning the release of Sheikh Abdullah from prison on September 29, 1947, but the maharaja showed no sign of forming a popular provisional government. Nehru’s letters to Abdullah and to the Kashmir prime minister, Mahajan, at about this time stressed the dual significance, personal and political, of Kashmir. He wrote that “for me Kashmir’s future is of the most intimate personal significance.” It also was of “vital significance” to the future of India. Stunned by the scale of human suffering in Punjab, Nehru concluded that the Congress had been wrong to agree to the partition of India. He also believed it unlikely that Pakistan could survive. Yet the very fragility of the Muslim state created another danger. This was that Pakistan would try to get Kashmir as a “means of recovering” with the help of external assistance, particularly from the United States. There is no way to account for this apprehension other than the suspicion of America’s motives that had already taken hold in Nehru’s mind. The strategic location of the state, bordered on the northeast by Tibet, on the north by China, and the northwest by the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, despite its inhospitable terrain, would be an attractive playing field for foreign “adventurers.” Nehru believed the Pakistanis intended “to raise capital in America on the strength of Kashmir by giving special privileges, leases, etc, for development there to Americans. All their present policy is to get help from America.”11



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India had already begun sending supplies of petrol and other essential commodities to Kashmir by air and road before receiving word that tribesmen from the Northwest Frontier and soldiers of the Pakistan Army “on leave” had crossed the border into Kashmir on the night of October 22, 1947. They had quickly overwhelmed the state forces and gained control of the southwestern towns of Muzaffarabad and Uri, converging on Poonch, an area that had seen an uprising of Muslim cultivators against Hindu landlords. The route to the capital of Srinagar, some fifty miles further east, lay open, and by the time the invaders covered another twenty miles, the maharaja fled to the safety of his predominately Hindu winter capital of Jammu in the south of the state. When Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to India for military assistance on October 25, 1947, the reaction of the Indian cabinet, led by Patel and supported by a more ambivalent Nehru, was to send armed forces immediately despite the fact that the government of India had no military or political agreement with the state. Writing to British prime minister Clement Attlee, Nehru justified assistance to Kashmir on the basis of national interest, citing the common southern border between India and Kashmir, and the northern frontiers of the state in common with China, the USSR, and Afghanistan.12 The Indian cabinet agreed that this aid need not be contingent on Kashmir’s accession to India. Since Indian Army troops, dispatched in batches by air starting on October 27, 1947, quickly captured Srinagar and forced the tribesmen to withdraw toward their western strongholds around Poonch, proclaimed Azad (Free) Kashmir, this would have been the most direct way to deal with the immediate conflict. Such unfettered action did not, however, suit the British, fearful that it would result in war between the two dominions. At the time, British officers commanded India’s armed services, as well as those of Pakistan. Mountbatten chaired the Defence Committee of the Indian cabinet and the Joint Defence Committee of the two dominions. The British commanders in chief were opposed to granting the maharaja’s request. The Indian cabinet was adamant about sending immediate military assistance. Mountbatten, confronted by yet another political threat to his grand design for Commonwealth partnership between Great Britain, India, and Pakistan, insisted on a legal basis for the entry of India’s troops into Kashmir. The decisions reached by the Defence Committee of the cabinet, and then confirmed by the cabinet, were almost identical to the arrangements urged by Nehru on Kashmir’s prime minister, Mahajan, exactly a month earlier, albeit in reverse sequence. First, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India, dated October 26, 1947, on advice carried to Jammu by V. P. Menon that Mountbatten required resolution of the constitutional problem before approving the entry of Indian troops into Kashmir. Mountbatten, to whom the standard instrument of accession was addressed,



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responded with a one-​sentence letter on October 27, 1947, accepting “this Instrument of Accession.” On the same day, in a separate letter to Maharaja Hari Singh, he wrote, Consistently with their policy that, in the case of any state where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State, it is my Government’s wish that, as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir, and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.13 The letter ended with an expression of satisfaction that the maharaja had decided to invite Sheikh Abdullah to form an interim government to work with the Kashmir prime minister. Mountbatten’s intervention not only made it possible for India to assert legal responsibility for security in Kashmir, now part of the dominion’s territory, but also achieved the political goal of establishing Sheikh Abdullah as chief minister of the provisional government of Kashmir, established on October 31, 1947. Abdullah, a house guest of Nehru in New Delhi at the time of the maharaja’s accession, called on his supporters and all the Kashmiri people to defend the motherland, and promised that once power was transferred to the people of Kashmir, including a joint government of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, a democratic Kashmir would decide on accession to India or Pakistan. The missing element, in the disturbed conditions of the state, was that Sheikh Abdullah was elevated to power without an electoral mandate and became the sole center of authority in a government nominated by him. He also had to carry on in collaboration with a hostile maharaja and his adviser, Prime Minister Mahajan. Uncharacteristically, the legalistic Nehru shrugged all of this off, conceding he did not know how the nominated government would work out, “nor do I very much care, we cannot enter into nice legal details at this stage. The point is that Sheikh Abdullah will have the legal authority to represent the Kashmir Government.”14 Nehru was correct that Pakistan would find it very difficult to invade Kashmir once accession to India had taken place. These maneuvers effectively prevented Jinnah from implementing his orders to the Pakistan Army, on October 27, 1947, to go on the offensive in Kashmir. General Auchinleck, still supreme commander of the armed forces of both dominions, conveyed to Pakistan’s governor general that since Jammu and Kashmir had legally joined India, British officers would have to be withdrawn from Pakistan’s army if regular troops were committed to the fighting. The result, foreseen by Nehru, was that Pakistan’s troops “as such” could not enter Kashmir.15



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The relationship between the government of India and the state of Kashmir quickly took on many of the elements of relations between the British government of India and the states under the old arrangements of “paramountcy.” Nehru appointed Dalip Singh to represent the government of India and “to guard the interests of the Government of India and help the Government of Kashmir State in every way with your advice.” He also instructed Dalip Singh (and separately Sheikh Abdullah) that all approaches by Kashmir to Pakistan should be referred to the government of India. Defence was being conducted by Indian troops, and therefore “in reality the Government of India is functioning in several capacities in Kashmir State.”16 The major difference in the new dispensation was that while Dalip Singh was directed to deal mainly with the States Department, the prime minister kept in constant touch with Sheikh Abdullah. He discussed the military strategy of Indian commanders to drive the raiders out of the valley and surrounding areas, advised Abdullah to direct the civil administration to give the military a free hand in enforcing curfew with the power to shoot violators, “friend or foe,” and constantly urged closer cooperation between Sheikh Abdullah and the maharaja, who remained at odds, as well as Abdullah and the Indian commander of the Jammu and Kashmir forces. All of this reflected Nehru’s conviction that the only person who can deliver the goods in Kashmir is Sheikh Abdullah. He is obviously the leading popular personality in Kashmir. The way he has risen to grapple with the crisis has shown the nature of the man. I have a high opinion of his integrity and his general balance of mind. He has striven hard and succeeded very largely in keeping communal peace. He may make any number of mistakes in minor matters, but I think he is likely to be right in major decisions. . . . But the real point is that no satisfactory way out can be found in Kashmir except through Sheikh Abdullah.17 The prospect that Sheikh Abdullah could deliver sufficient popular support was an important factor in Nehru’s thinking, in late October 1947, that the future of Kashmir could be decided by impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. This proposal was made by Lord Mountbatten at a meeting with Mohammed Ali Jinnah at Lahore in November 1947. Nehru subsequently reiterated the government of India’s commitment to conduct a plebiscite under UN auspices in Kashmir, at the earliest possible date, in numerous private communications to the leaders of Pakistan and Great Britain, and in public speeches to the Lok Sabha and statements to the press. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, then India’s ambassador to the United States, also approached the State Department



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on behalf of Nehru in late December 1947 to express India’s desire for a plebiscite in Kashmir on the basis of adult suffrage held under UN supervision in spring 1948. All of these proposals, however, assumed that the invaders would first withdraw, making it possible for Indian troops to begin withdrawals, and that the referendum would be carried out by the Kashmir government, led by Sheikh Abdullah under the supervision of UN observers. But as the Indian Army succeeded in pushing the raiders out of the valley, Sheikh Abdullah and the leaders of the National Conference started to express strong feelings against a referendum. Nehru told Abdullah, “I share the feeling myself.” However, India could not say to the United Nations it no longer wanted a plebiscite in Kashmir without “harming our cause all over the world.” Nehru therefore suggested to Abdullah not to say anything rejecting the idea of a referendum but to lay stress on the fact that the people of Kashmir, by their heroic resistance, are deciding the issue themselves; also, that it is a little absurd for people to carry on a little war in Kashmir, and when defeated, to want a referendum.18 At the same time that Nehru was trying to placate Sheikh Abdullah, he was also being pressed by ground realities either to attempt a settlement with Pakistan or to prepare for more intensive military operations involving the risk of war. Nehru was increasingly convinced that continuation of the existing situation was intolerable. Despite the Indian Army’s quick success in capturing Srinagar, the mountainous terrain prevented conventional armed forces from operating effectively except in the Kashmir Valley and the Jhelum Valley routes to the south protecting Jammu. They could not drive the raiders out of the Poonch area during the winter, and, with Pakistan troops as well as tribesmen concentrated on the borders, the people of the state would continue to be harassed by raiders while their economic condition deteriorated. If it was of the most vital importance that Kashmir remain with the Indian Union, the goodwill of the population had to be assured, but this could wear thin with further deprivations and the continuing presence of Indian troops. In December 1947, Nehru was confident that the majority of the population was in favor of the Indian Union. In the Jammu area all the non-​Muslims and some Muslims are likely to be in favour of the Indian Union. In the Poonch area, however, there is little doubt that the mass of the population is likely to be against the Indian Union. In the balance probably an overall majority will be in favour of the Union.19



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But he also recognized that the “present position in Kashmir” under Sheikh Abdullah might not last indefinitely. The overall situation was deteriorating. Pakistan had the advantage of fighting a limited war by proxy; training and supplying tribal people with modern weapons, Pakistan sent in groups across the Kashmir border, led by able Pakistan Army officers, who could harass the Indian Army on its own territory and then retreat across the border to rest and regroup. The burden on Pakistan was relatively small, but these tactics tied down the Indian Army indefinitely and undermined its morale. The only way to stop the attacks was to strike at bases and lines of communications in Pakistan’s territory. Although Nehru was clear about the military implications of his own logic, he was hesitant to risk the political repercussions, domestically and internationally. Moreover, even as Nehru considered the option of war with Pakistan, he was being pressured by Mountbatten to involve the United Nations in some capacity to come to a settlement with Pakistan about Kashmir. From Mountbatten’s point of view, this was the one major issue arising from partition which could not be resolved, and thus the only obstacle to cooperation between the two Dominions. At a meeting of the Joint Defence Council, convened by Lord Mountbatten at Lahore on December 8, 1947 (at which Nehru, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Baldev Singh, Liaquat Ali Khan, and Ghulam Mohammed were present), differences between the two sides seemed unbridgeable. Nehru insisted that the invaders had come into territory, at present a part of India, through Pakistan, which provided the major base for their operations and armed the invaders with modern weapons, and with the direct assistance of the government in the Northwest Frontier Province. Liaquat Ali Khan categorically denied that Pakistan was supplying the tribesmen, claiming they had arms factories of their own on the frontier, and that, short of going to war with the tribes, the government of Pakistan could not stop them. The two sides were completely at odds on steps to take toward the ultimate aim of holding a fair plebiscite. India’s representatives stipulated that Pakistan must first do its utmost to get the raiders to withdraw and prevent further raiders from crossing the border. Pakistan’s representatives were adamant that their ability to do so depended upon a declaration by India that Indian troops would be withdrawn, and that Sheikh Abdullah’s administration would be replaced by an “impartial administration” in the period before holding the plebiscite. Nehru, outraged by both demands, declared he would resign the prime ministership and take up the sword himself to rid Kashmir of the invaders if necessary. In more measured language, he reiterated the view that was to become India’s unmovable position. The question of a plebiscite in Kashmir would not arise until the state was cleared of all the raiders and outside elements. Despite all the atmospherics, Mountbatten remained focused on his main priority. He was determined to find a way to involve the United Nations as observers or advisers as soon as possible, arguing that it was the only way to



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stop the fighting on which the future welfare of the two dominions depended. Liaquat Ali Khan offered full support to the proposal that the United Nations should be brought in, whatever the form, suggesting that it could be even introduced by India as an accusation that Pakistan was assisting the invaders. Both Mountbatten and Liaquat spent considerable effort trying to convince Nehru to make a reference to the United Nations.20 Opposed by Sardar Vallabhai Patel but endorsed by the Indian cabinet on December 21, 1947, Nehru’s decision to refer the matter of Kashmir to the United Nations is difficult to fathom. The government of India held its ground in resisting advice from Mountbatten to request a UN team to come to Kashmir and help stop the fighting. The government also refused to link withdrawal of the invaders to preparations for a plebiscite. The reference was brought under Article 35 of the UN Charter as a danger to international peace and security, requesting only that the Security Council ask the government of Pakistan to prevent its military and civilian personnel and other Pakistan nationals from assistance in the invasion of Jammu and Kashmir State and deny invaders access to its territory for operations and military and other supplies. Nevertheless, Nehru’s discussions with Mountbatten, Lord Ismay, and Liaquat Ali Khan left little reason to expect that the actual debate could remain limited to India’s narrow legal reference, that is to the invasion of Indian dominion territory in Kashmir, and the role of Pakistan indirectly and directly in encouraging this aggression. At the least, it paved the way for a rebuttal by Pakistan and the likelihood that the United Nations would send a commission to Kashmir. Indeed, a draft Kashmir agreement between India and Pakistan, mooted by Mountbatten and discussed by Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan in New Delhi on December 28, 1947, provided a clear indication of the enlarged parameters of the debate. Liaquat repeated that the government of Pakistan could not call off the tribes unless India agreed to withdraw its troops, establish an impartial administration, and conduct a fair plebiscite. The British credited Mountbatten with succeeding in persuading India to appeal to U.N.O.  purely on the issue of Pakistan’s complicity in the attacks on Indian troops, and Pakistan accepted this, hoping no doubt at a later date to be able to ventilate all her grievances against India and feeling that she could only gain from an impartial international enquiry. Lord Mountbatten was afraid that the Indian appeal to U.N.O. might be for the record only and that military action would in any case take place. He therefore begged Nehru to keep Mr. Attlee informed of what was happening and . . . messages were exchanged between Mr. Attlee and him. At the same time the text of India’s proposed reference to the Security Council was shown to His Majesty’s Government.21



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Even so, Nehru’s letters suggest that he had his own reasons for what in retrospect appears to have been a terrible mistake. The conflict with Pakistan was not only sapping India’s energies and preventing it from playing its chosen part as mediator between the two blocs to preserve world peace, but a sudden attack against Pakistan would undermine India’s moral credibility. India wanted to “satisfy world opinion, as well as any impartial international body, of the correctness of our view” based on the facts that could be presented.22 Such an explanation would vindicate in advance possible action in self-​defense, under international law, to stop the invasion by striking at bases in West Punjab. At the same time that India made the reference to the United Nations, Nehru informed both Mountbatten and Attlee of all-​round military preparations to enter Pakistan territory if all forms of assistance to the invaders were not stopped. This point was reinforced in the reference to the United Nations on January 3, 1948, which included the statement that if Pakistan did not stop its assistance to the raiders, India’s forces might be compelled in self-​defense to enter Pakistan territory and take “such military action as they consider the situation requires.” On the eve of the Security Council session, the Commonwealth Relations Office alerted the State Department that “this is clearly a situation in which it is highly desirable USG and HMG should keep in close touch everywhere, i.e., New  York, Washington, New Delhi, Karachi, London, Re reaction world opinion to GOI-​GOP conflict.”23 Attlee sent a message to Nehru to beg him as a friend to do nothing that could lead to war. This was coordinated with a formal note two days later from Lovett expressing the view that the Security Council could reach a settlement only if India and Pakistan refrained from any provocative actions while the question was under consideration. The high-​risk reference to the United Nations would have been justified only if India’s claim that Pakistan had committed aggression in abetting the invasion of India’s territory received an impartial hearing. If this indeed was Nehru’s purpose, then he and his colleagues in the Indian cabinet had grossly underestimated Great Britain’s ability to divert attention from the Indian government’s legal position to a settlement of the conflict over Kashmir’s future that would end the risk of war, specifically a plebiscite under UN auspices.

British Proposals to Resolve the Kashmir Conflict: An “Equal” Balance Favoring Pakistan Information available to Great Britain and that available to India about “complicity” of Pakistan in the tribal invasion of Jammu and Kashmir did not differ in significant details. Reports received from the UK high commissioner in Karachi, reflecting the assessment of his deputy after visiting Peshawar, confirmed that



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the fighting had been done by numerous tribes, most dominant being the Mahsuds, who had been worked up to a high pitch of fervour in advance by stories of the oppression of Muslims by the Hindus and Sikhs both in the Jammu Province of Kashmir and in the East Punjab.  .  .  . They regarded themselves as at war with Hindustan and complained that Pakistan ought to have declared war openly. But they did not press this and are, I think, not dissatisfied with the type of help they are in fact getting.24 A subsequent report from Grafftey-​Smith, dated January 3, 1948, based on information provided by the governor of Punjab and inspector general of police and Englishmen recently in the North, provided more specific information about the help received by the tribesmen: Policy is not to involve State in direct military aid but short of that public opinion is such that almost all forms of aid are given. Tribesmen have mainly come by private lorries from the North West Frontier Province. Petrol coupons are provided and money is subscribed. Tribesmen have been removed from Rawalpindi in special trains for which apparently the railway is paid by warrant from the Commissioner. Pakistan Army has given no assistance. All such aid is civilian. When incursions first started they could probably have been stopped. Now they are out of control and can only be stopped by war.25 At about the same time, the British high commissioner in India, citing information obtained from Indian Army Headquarters by his air liaison officer, described a worsening situation. By the end of December 1947, the strength of the raiders was put at thirteen thousand in the vicinity of Uri, with fifteen hundred Pakistan Army “deserters” serving as commanders, wireless operators, and intelligence personnel. Indian troops as well as the raiders were expected to suffer heavy casualties, and as tribesmen massed on the borders, it seemed that Indian forces would be outnumbered and suffer initial reverses.26 The inference that the British drew from this intelligence, confirming that India’s reference to the Security Council was sound in its essentials, was the opposite of that intended by the government of India. The Foreign Office was opposed to any suggestion of an investigation into the past by either dominion before the Security Council because this would only delay a settlement. The Foreign Office defined the immediate problem as “how to prevent the Indian Government from precipitating a state of war by invading Pakistan in order to relieve their hard-​pressed troops in Kashmir.”27



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In fact, British diplomats attempted to obfuscate India’s legal position, with considerable success. In New  York and Washington, they privately expressed doubt about the validity of Kashmir’s accession to the dominion of India, deceptively arguing that the standstill agreement between Jammu and Kashmir and the government of Pakistan placed responsibility for defense and foreign relations of the state on Pakistan. This interpretation deliberately misrepresented the provisions of the Indian Independence Act, 1947. By contrast, the British legal adviser provided clear advice that there seems to be little or no doubt about the technical and formal validity of the accession. The Government of India Act, 1935, Section 6 provided that “an Indian State shall be deemed to have acceded to the Dominion if the Governor-​General has signified his acceptance of an instrument of accession executed by the ruler thereof, whereby the ruler on behalf of the State . . . declares that he accedes to the Dominion.” This section was preserved by the Indian Independence Act, 1947, being modified to give effect to the fact they are now two Dominions instead of one . . . according to the literal wording of Section 6, accession is necessarily valid once declaration of accession is accepted by the Governor-​General.28 The Foreign Office was also advised by Sir Arthur Cadogan, leader of the UK delegation to the United Nations as early as January 1, 1948, that India “unfortunately” was on strong legal ground. In particular, he reported that the government of India could invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter and take measures for self-​defense until the Security Council took “measures necessary” to restore peace. Since Gopalaswami Ayyangar, the spokesman on Kashmir of the Indian delegation to the United Nations, made these same legal arguments to establish India’s responsibility for the defense of Kashmir, it is instructive to reproduce at some length the assessment of India’s position by the leader of the UK delegation to the United Nations.29 (I) Incursions now taking place into Kashmir constitute an “armed attack” upon Indian territory in view of their scale and of the fact that Kashmir has acceded to the Indian Union. This is so irrespective of whether forces in question are organised or disorganised or whether they are controlled by, or enjoy the connivance of, Government of Pakistan. (II) India is therefore entitled to take measures which she may deem necessary for self defence pending definitive action by Security Council to restore peace. Such measures should prima facie be confined to repelling invaders from Kashmir territory and maintaining the frontier inviolate and



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should not (repeat not) involve entry of Indian forces into Pakistan. But it is a question of fact whether degree of force permissible for legitimate self defence may include pursuit of invaders into Pakistan territory, destruction of bases there, etc., as the only way of achieving and securing self-​defence. Accordingly, Security Council could not (repeat not) decide out of hand that India was not justified in so doing in the case envisaged. The imminent prospect of war between the two dominions affected Great Britain’s vital interests. As summarized by T.  S. Tull of the Foreign Office on January 5, 1948, if such a war happens, All British personnel serving in India and Pakistan will be withdrawn, (regardless of whether India is in the right or not) and this will inevitably accelerate the departure of the two Dominions from the Commonwealth. The war once engaged will lead to a repetition of the awful atrocities which attended the partition of Punjab, and will be fought with great bitterness, and will result in no quick victory for either side but rather involve the reduction of both to a state of anarchy and impotence and the complete vitiation of our whole Indian policy.30 The Foreign Office, determined to avert such a catastrophe, considered that the essential first step was to prevail on the Security Council to call on “both parties” not to take any action, pending consideration, that would make the situation more difficult. Such advice was intended to exercise pressure on India to desist from invoking Article 51. The British felt confident that the Security Council would issue an impartial appeal, not imputing blame to either party, “if only because most of its members cannot have more than scanty knowledge of the facts.” This was accomplished on January 17, 1948, through a resolution introduced by the president of the Security Council calling on both the government of India and the government of Pakistan to refrain from any acts that could aggravate the situation and to immediately inform the Council about any material change in the situation. The greater dilemma was how to bring the Security Council to endorse a settlement that would protect Great Britain’s strategic interests in the Indian subcontinent for Commonwealth defense. On the one hand, the United Kingdom needed to preserve an “even balance” between India and Pakistan. On the other, the United Kingdom could not appear to side with India against Pakistan when the Palestine situation was so critical and risk “aligning the whole of Islam against us.”31 Great Britain sought the appearance of an “even balance” rather than the reality of it. The first political premise of the Foreign Office remained that



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a majority Muslim state would naturally want to accede to Pakistan. Any obstacle in the way of this, including the legal accession of Kashmir to India and the establishment of the pro-​India Sheikh Abdullah government, needed to be sidestepped in order to get a “fair” result. According to this view, discussion by the Security Council of the narrow legal issue and an attempt to hold Pakistan responsible for assisting the invaders would not remove the threat to peace. The very circumstances under which accession had occurred perpetuated the violence, and only an accession under conditions perceived as fair could remove the cause of conflict, and with it, the threat of war. The British concluded that the arrangements required to avoid the risk of war were the creation of conditions on the ground that would enable Pakistan to win an “impartial” plebiscite. The corollary of this proposition was that India’s legal responsibility for the security of Kashmir, created by the accession of the state to the Dominion of India, had to be ignored. This line of thinking was reflected in the proposals for the United Kingdom’s delegation to the United Nations developed by the new Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), and its secretary of state for Commonwealth relations, Philip Noel-​Baker, the formidable Labour spokesmen on international affairs and renowned advocate for world disarmament. Sympathetically described by one of his colleagues as an idealist inspired by the highest motives, Noel-​Baker was “obsessed with a solution in Kashmir.”32 The CRO, known as the Dominions Office until July 1947, had absorbed the India Office once India and Pakistan became independent. Its India section was still dominated by officials habituated to think in communal terms of an even-​handed balance between predominately Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. Noel-​Baker, appointed by Attlee to represent the United Kingdom at the Security Council in the “India-​Pakistan dispute,” offered the CRO fifteen proposals to stop the fighting. The proposals never addressed India’s limited reference to the Security Council requesting assistance to end the help being given to the invaders by Pakistan, instead concentrating on persuading the tribesmen that their objective in entering Kashmir would be secured and the lives and property of Muslims effectively safeguarded. According to Noel-​Baker and the CRO, the only practical means of accomplishing these goals was a package of arrangements for securing a plebiscite that equated the military and moral standing of the two dominions in Kashmir, and defined the solution strictly in communal terms. London approved Noel-​Baker’s proposals, calling for the entry of regular Pakistan troops in Kashmir in predominately Muslim areas to replace the tribal forces and stop the activities of their own nationals assisting the raiders; the withdrawal of Indian troops to predominately Hindu areas at force levels equal to that of Pakistani troops; the occupation of Srinagar by equal numbers



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of Indian and Pakistani troops; the appointment by the Security Council of a neutral general to command the India and Pakistani forces; and removal from power of the maharaja and Sheikh Abdullah, as well as the Azad Kashmir administrators, and their replacement by a neutral administration appointed by the Security Council, which would become responsible for carrying out an impartial plebiscite.33 The Foreign Office cautioned Noel-​Baker to handle the Indians carefully because of their “emotional condition.” This was coupled with cynical speculation:  “Possibly, however, by playing on [India’s] respect for legal processes we might get them to accept whatever the Security Council can be brought to recommend.” As noted at the time by the assistant secretary of state for Commonwealth relations, Gordon Walker, the CRO tended to be pro-​Pakistan, and originally produced a policy of bringing Pak troops into K[ashmir]. N[oel]-​B[aker] has in fact become anti-​Indian on this issue because if fighting is to be stopped & Pakistan is to be got to get the tribesmen out of K[ashmir], this can only be achieved if India makes great concessions and abandons in effect the rights deriving from K[ashmir]’s accession to India.34 This set of talking points was used in Washington by the British high commissioner, Lord Inverchapel, to brief the State Department as it prepared a guidance paper for the US delegation. The high commissioner reported that the State Department admitted it was “short of background information,” and this allowed the British to “show them freely the useful materials which [the Foreign Office] prepared” and to “keep them informed of the development of your thought. . . . In this way we have I think been able to help them in the briefing of the United States Delegation at New York and to exercise some influence over the formulation of their policy.”35 The State Department accepted the main thrust of Great Britain’s argument that the Security Council should establish a UN commission to travel to India and Pakistan at the earliest possible moment and prepare the ground for an eventual plebiscite. The United States was especially reluctant to get involved because, with the emergence of “two worlds,” direct US intervention in any dispute could alarm Indians and Pakistanis, who might fear it was an issue of contention with the Soviet Union, and thereby cause them to have suspicions about US impartiality. America’s reluctance to take the lead left the British with no option but to put forward their suggestions themselves, albeit behind the scenes, in the hope that proposals initiated with their support would be backed by the United States.



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Once India’s complaint was formally placed before the Security Council, the chasm widened between the Indian and Pakistani delegations. On January 15, 1948, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, making the statement of behalf on the Indian delegation, whose members included Sheikh Abdullah, provided proof that invaders were being allowed to transit across Pakistani territory, drew much of their equipment and supplies from Pakistan, and were receiving training by Pakistani officers. Ayyangar reiterated that Kashmir’s accession to India had been voluntary, that Indian troops were legally responsible for Kashmir’s defense, and that once the raiders were withdrawn, they could quickly restore peace. Subsequently, the government of India was willing to conduct a plebiscite with the Sheikh Abdullah administration in place. For the time being, however, Ayyangar insisted that India’s reference to the Security Council raised only the specific issue of persuading the Pakistan government to prevent its personnel and other nationals from providing assistance to the invaders. “Pakistan’s Reply to India’s Complaint,” addressed to the secretary general, also on January 15, 1947, by the minister of foreign affairs, Zafrullah Khan, was a daunting indictment of the Indian government. It went far beyond emphatic denials of providing any aid or assistance to the so-​called invaders and broadened the reference to the Security Council to all interrelated disputes between India and Pakistan arising out of partition, which, taken together, endangered international peace and order. Pakistan led off with charges of a preplanned campaign of “genocide” against the Muslim population of East Punjab, endangering the existence of all Muslims remaining in India; the entry of Indian armed forces into Junagadh State, separated from Pakistan by Indian territory, in order to nullify its accession to Pakistan amid a reign of terror; failure to implement agreements arising out of partition to transfer Pakistan’s share of cash balances and military equipment; and the threat by India to carry out a direct attack on Pakistan, all with the objective of the destruction of the state of Pakistan. As far as Kashmir was concerned, Pakistan charged the accession had been accomplished by the use of fraud and violence. Zafrullah Khan’s statement portrayed a plan orchestrated by the maharaja to massacre the Muslim population with the help of armed bands of Sikhs and Hindus, thereby provoking their relatives and fellow Muslims in neighboring districts of Pakistan to come to their aid, and providing the excuse needed by the maharaja to accede to India. Zafrullah Khan outlined a solution to the Kashmir situation consistent with Great Britain’s suggestions being made behind the scenes on January 17, 1948. This included the joint administration by India and Pakistan of Jammu and Kashmir, and control by each country, respectively, of predominately Hindu and Muslim areas. Privately, Zafrullah warned Noel-​Baker that if the United Kingdom pursued a policy favorable to India, the present pro-​British government in Pakistan might be swept away and its successor might go over to Russia.



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Zafrullah emphasized his point by reminding Noel-​Baker that this would be detrimental to the Commonwealth because of Pakistan’s strategic importance. The demonstrable inability of India and Pakistan, on their own, to find a mutually acceptable solution enhanced Great Britain’s arguments that the Security Council must act as quickly as possible to avert an imminent war. The president of the Security Council, Fernand van Langenhove from Belgium, held private meetings with the Indian and Pakistan delegations to discuss a draft resolution, secretly prepared by the British, for the establishment of a commission by the Security Council. Van Langenhove presented the draft text as his own based on an understanding of what would be acceptable to members of the Security Council. The scope and powers of the proposed commission were much broader than those envisioned by India. Under the resolution, a three-​member commission of the Security Council, acting under its direction, was to be established to proceed to Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible. It was authorized to investigate facts under Article 34 of the Charter; exercise any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties; have its own personnel and assistance and right to travel wherever their tasks required; address other situations (than Kashmir) when the Security Council so directed; and establish its own procedures, taking decisions by majority vote. Pakistan and India were each to select one member of the commission, with the third to be designated by the two selected. On January 20, 1948, Noel-​Baker reported a major success in winning acceptance of India and Pakistan and of the members of the Security Council for the resolution to establish the commission. He had good reason to be pleased. The methods used to choose members of the commission and its terms of reference were prepared by the UK delegation, and then put forward by Van Langenhove. India’s reference to the Security Council requesting that the government of Pakistan prevent its military and civilian nationals from assisting invaders of Jammu and Kashmir found no mention. The British were already “intensely active” in advising Van Langenhove and “maintaining close touch” with the American and Canadian delegations about the next steps in reaching agreement on the substance of the Kashmir dispute. These steps were in full agreement with Pakistan’s views, conveyed by Zafrullah Khan, that the fighting could be stopped only by ensuring a plebiscite in Kashmir under the fairest possible conditions and that such conditions required that “Pakistan troops must enter Kashmir and that neutral administration must be established there.”36 Ayyangar, bypassed in these consultations, followed instructions from Nehru, supported by the cabinet, that the Indian government would ascertain the will of the people of Kashmir, but by holding elections in the state, preparing a constitution, and carrying out a plebiscite by the Kashmir government under the supervision of the United Nations. Such an approach was completely unacceptable



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to the UK delegation, which characterized the Indian proposal as “a plebiscite carried out under Hindu military occupation and administration.” By contrast, there was virtually complete agreement between the Pakistan delegation and the UK delegation that bringing a stop to the fighting, setting up a neutral administration in Kashmir, and preparing for a plebiscite were all one problem for which the Security Council should make a comprehensive plan. The major obstacle to this solution, as separately reported by Sir Arthur Cadogan, permanent representative of the UK delegation, and Noel-​Baker, was opposition by India to the two key points: that Pakistan troops enter Kashmir and that an impartial administration be established to replace Sheikh Abdullah’s government. Noel-​Baker was adamant that the Indians had to be made to change their view: We know the Indian Government will not readily accept these two points but success or failure will depend on our ability to persuade them to do so. Practical proposals to achieve this end will . . . be put forward by Van Langenhove who is showing ability of the highest order in handling this whole affair. The fact that he is largely guided by us is not known to the Indian and Pakistan delegations and we take every precaution to ensure that it is not known either to them or to anyone else.37 Subsequently, Pakistan won an important symbolic victory in the Security Council. On January 22, 1948, after a lengthy procedural debate, President Van Langenhove succeeded in pushing through an amendment requested by Pakistan to change the name of the reference in the title of the Security Council’s resolution establishing the commission from “Jammu and Kashmir Question” to “India-​Pakistan Question.” The change effectively moved the focus away from India’s initial reference to request assistance in stopping Pakistan from supporting invaders on Indian territory to the claim by Pakistan that Kashmir’s status was in dispute as one of a number of conflicts arising from partition. Ayyangar did not seem to recognize the importance of what was conceded. He asserted that the Security Council’s resolution could relate only to Jammu and Kashmir, so the words did not affect the substance of the matter.

The United Kingdom Overreaches The UK delegation, in consultation with the Foreign Office and the military, continued to draft concrete proposals for Van Langenhove that could be presented as the proposals of the Security Council. Using the advantage of their “local knowledge,” the British insisted that India’s position, if accepted by the Security Council, would lead to a large-​scale invasion by tribesmen of



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Kashmir, and probably also of Pakistan and India, reinforcing Pakistan’s argument that the “raiders” were acting spontaneously and outside of its control. They insisted that the only possibility of a satisfactory settlement was to provide for joint occupation of Kashmir by India and Pakistan forces, a neutral interim administration, and a plebiscite under UN auspices. These proposals were made available to the American and Canadian members of the Council, with precautions to prevent the Indians from suspecting their origins. The British game was all the more cynical because Noel-​Baker was kept informed by the British high commissioner in Karachi of appreciable staging camps in Pakistan; leakage of military equipment from junior army and police officials; and provisioning by local authorities in West Punjab, and the Northwest Frontier Province of petrol, transport, and food. The British tactics were effective. American, Belgian, and other delegates simply supported the policy which we have consistently recommended and . . . it has only been patient and persistent work by Ismay and our whole delegation which has induced the Americans, Belgium and others to abandon the non-​committal line which they were adopting when the Council’s work began.38 Sir Arthur Cadogan and Noel-​Baker calculated that the British scheme could be imposed on India once discussion in the Security Council revealed that India had been isolated. This strategy was helped by a bellicose speech of Sheikh Abdullah, who was passionately committed to union with India, and created the impression of little regard for due process in carrying out the plebiscite, asserting with rhetorical flourish that “not God himself could be impartial in Kashmir.” By early February 1948, when General McNaughton of Canada succeeded Van Langenhove as president of the Security Council, sentiment was building for a comprehensive solution providing for a neutral administration and a plebiscite under the executive authority of the Security Council. India appears to have been unaware of the role that Van Langenhove and then McNaughton (with Van Langenhove as rapporteur) were playing. This can be inferred from Krishna Menon’s letter to the CRO on January 24, 1948, indicating that India would like to select Belgium for the Security Council commission on Kashmir and would like to see Sweden as umpire. Yet once McNaughton, after consultation with the US and French delegations, introduced the text of the Security Council’s draft resolution for settlement of the Kashmir dispute on February 7, 1948, the Indian delegation was openly confronted with a complete inversion of its position. India had appealed to the Security Council to restrain Pakistan from supporting the invaders and other insurgents. McNaughton’s proposals had the effect of legitimizing Pakistan’s position in Kashmir by



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providing for the entry of regular Pakistan Army troops at the same time as the tribesmen left. The draft resolution made no mention of India’s legal responsibility for security in Kashmir or its appeal to the Security Council asking that Pakistan desist from supporting the invading tribesmen. Instead, it linked the need to stop acts of violence in Jammu and Kashmir with an impartial plebiscite held under the auspices of the United Nations to decide the question of whether Jammu and Kashmir should accede to Pakistan or India. It then went on to set down the basis of a settlement that equated the responsibilities of the governments of India and Pakistan to reestablish conditions of law and order required to conduct a free and fair plebiscite. Both governments were asked to make available regular armed forces, to cooperate with each other in accomplishing the withdrawal of all irregular forces and armed individuals who had entered Kashmir, and to withdraw their regular armed forces once law and order was restored. Subsequently, the Security Council proposed to establish an interim administration and to make arrangements for a plebiscite organized, held, and supervised under the authority of the Security Council at the earliest possible date. By this time, the American delegate, Senator Warren Austin, influenced by British arguments and angered by Sheikh Abdullah’s heated remarks, doubted the credibility of Abdullah’s government to conduct a fair plebiscite. Austin became more vocal in arguing that the duty of the Security Council was to ensure a peaceful solution of the situation through a plebiscite so controlled that all saw it to be fair, free, and just. Nevertheless, Austin still hoped India and Pakistan could reach a settlement with each other on conditions for a plebiscite. The American concern, unlike that of the British, was with the electoral process and not the political result. This crucial distinction between the aim of the British to contrive that Kashmir became part of Pakistan, and of the United States to ensure that the process by which Kashmir acceded to either of the two dominions was free and fair, did not penetrate the perceptual screen of the Indians. On the contrary, US willingness to support a plebiscite conducted under the authority, as opposed to the supervision, of the United Nations, caused India to adopt a Cold War perspective. New Delhi interpreted the pressure from the Security Council as the orchestrated outcome of behind-​the-​scenes manipulation by the Anglo-​American bloc. In an exchange of telegrams between Ayyangar and Nehru, the Indian delegate wrote, “I have gathered the impression we are likely to secure greater support for our case from the U.S.S.R. than from anyone else.” According to Ayyangar, Gromyko had provided assurances of Soviet support of India’s view on the plebiscite.39 At about the same time, the Soviet press agency, Tass, published an article, picked up by newspapers in New Delhi, that Britain and the United States were trying to join Kashmir with Pakistan because of its strategic importance. Evidence that Nehru’s mind was turning in this direction



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came from his decision to retract India’s earlier recommendation that Belgium serve on the UN commission, nominating Czechoslovakia instead. The UK high commissioner in India, in a message to the CRO on February 7, 1948, reported Nehru’s suspicion that the hidden hand behind the Security Council’s hostility toward India was that of the United States. He wrote, I understand that at interviews which Nehru has had with Lord Mountbatten he has made it abundantly clear that the Indian Government is of the opinion that power politics rather than ethics have been the guiding principle of the Security Council. Nehru is firmly of the opinion that it is the basic policy of the United States backed by the United Kingdom and other members of the Council to establish [an] anti-​Russian bastion (one of many such) in Pakistan to the exclusion of all other interests and certainly to the exclusion of an impartial consideration of the present dispute.40 The damage done to India-​ US understanding by America’s support for McNaughton’s resolution (in essence the original scheme worked out by the British) is difficult to overestimate. The Indian delegation found the draft resolution unacceptable on virtually all counts. It could not accept propositions for combined action by Indian and Pakistan troops in Kashmir; withdrawal of Indian troops; a neutral administration and the conduct of a plebiscite under the executive authority of the United Nations. Ayyangar, with some emotion, expressed the feelings of his colleagues that the Security Council had failed to give India the consideration to which she was entitled. He professed his inability to understand why India’s request was treated with such suspicion. Great Britain’s approach to isolating India in debate and “bringing world pressure to bear on the Government of India” represented a major miscalculation by the Foreign Office.41 Instead of acquiescence, the Indian delegation reacted with defiance. They rejected the propositions in the draft resolution and informed the president of the Security Council that they wished the proceedings adjourned so that Ayyangar could return to Delhi for consultations. The British faced the unraveling of their entire approach. The State Department, gradually informing itself about the legality of Kashmir’s accession, instructed Austin that India was rightly exercising external sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir after accession, and that only the government of India was legally authorized to undertake negotiations with Pakistan to settle the problems between them that had arisen in connection with the State. Austin was directed not to approve the proposal for joint action of the Indian and Pakistan armies in Kashmir as part of the draft resolution, because this provision was of doubtful legality and amounted to sanctioning the entry of troops of one independent



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nation on the territory of another independent nation. McNaughton’s view, by contrast, considered that “this is the crux of whole affair, and unless the Americans will agree to it, no useful scheme can be prepared.”42 The break in the Security Council’s deliberations allowed the United States to take the initiative in formulating its own proposals as a basis of discussion with the British. The text suggested by the United States on February 23, 1948, after consultation with the Chinese delegation, sought to be more responsive to India’s concerns. It provided that Pakistan take all possible peaceful steps to bring about withdrawal of the invaders and to withhold supplies from them, and that concurrently Indian troops should progressively withdraw from combat zones, but not from Kashmir. The draft also moderated McNaughton’s proposals for establishing a neutral interim administration by providing that the maharaja of Kashmir, in consultation with the Security Council commission, should establish an interim government representative of all principal political elements in the state; and that this government would be responsible for restoring law and order and conducting normal government business, subject only to exercise by the proposed Plebiscite Commission (converted from the Security Council commission) of powers delegated to it for conducting the plebiscite. The United States nevertheless felt obliged to strike a compromise that met the objections of British “military experts in New  York with considerable experience of India” that there was no alternative to the use of Pakistan troops under a UN commander to restore law and order. The US draft text therefore included a proviso: if the “Interim Government wishes to use Indian or Pakistan troops or both to supplement local forces it may do so in agreement with the two Dominions” (emphasis added), allowing India to exercise a veto. The text also provided for appointment by the Security Council of a plebiscite marshal and plebiscite magistrate to exercise the powers of the Plebiscite Commission relating to law and order, and appellate jurisdiction arising in the state judiciary on matters connected to the preparation and conduct of the plebiscite. The activities of these commissions and its officials would be terminated after completion of a fair plebiscite and arrangements for accession to the appropriate dominion. All of these discussions conducted in secret masked the US attempt to meet India’s concerns. An open discussion of the US approach was torpedoed by the British. T. S. Tull of the Foreign Office, in an internal minute written on March 3, 1948, stated, “The Americans have produced a plan of their own which would be acceptable to India, but not to Pakistan in its present form.” The British were duplicitous with both the Indians and the Americans. Sir Stafford Cripps, in a conversation with Krishna Menon, then India’s high commissioner in London, made general mention of an American plan, but criticized it as unlikely to be



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acceptable to India. The official reaction of the Foreign Office to the American draft, as conveyed to Sir Arthur Cadogan, was dismissive: We appreciate that the State Department plan is put forward with the desire to produce some proposals which India is likely to accept. But we do not think it will work and we also foresee strong Pakistan objections to it in its present form. . . . we imagine that . . . [the Americans] themselves would not be willing to advocate their plan unless we were committed to support it.43 On this advice, the UK delegation in New  York formally conveyed to the State Department that it would be unwise to put forward the American draft. Washington, for its part, did not want to be identified with a formal set of recommendations. The US delegation therefore gave a revised version of its draft resolution to Dr. Tsiang, the incoming Chinese president of the Security Council, and to Belgium, although not to India or Pakistan. American opposition to key British proposals was only one problem affecting the United Kingdom’s whole position in the Security Council. Virtually at the same time, while the debate on Kashmir stood adjourned, India played its own trump card. Krishna Menon informed Prime Minister Attlee that Great Britain’s unwillingness to condemn Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir could cause India to leave the Commonwealth. This was underlined by yet another intervention from Mountbatten, in a strongly worded letter to Attlee citing the “real danger to the future of the British Commonwealth which might ensue” if Noel-​Baker persisted with his plan to bring the Security Council to announce an “award.” Writing that this would “cause the greatest possible offense to Indian opinion,” Mountbatten went on to criticize the British delegation for the unfair way in which it had treated India’s complaint: I must once again give my opinion that when a complaint is brought before an independent tribunal the first thing which should be done is to see that the complaint is dealt with. . . . In this case India’s complaint was passed over at the request of Zafrullah Khan, backed by Noel Baker on 31st January to the extent that the cart was put before the horse, i.e., the plebiscite has now become the first issue. . . . I am at a loss to understand why India who has been brought to her present predominant position in Asia largely through British efforts in the past and which is the only country which is now likely to give a lead in the Far East, is being treated in this way. The policy which you initiated and which I have endeavored to carry out during the past year is now being



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compromised by this leaning towards Pakistan’s cause, and N[oel] B[aker]’s obvious antagonism to India.44 The Foreign Office found itself in the uncomfortable position of having to completely reconsider its position. The basis of British objections to the American draft resolution suddenly stood reversed, with arguments that it did not go far enough in meeting India’s requirements. In particular, the American draft implied that the maharaja’s government would be reorganized under instructions from the Security Council; that Pakistan’s troops could still be brought into Kashmir, albeit only by agreement with India; and state troops, during the period of the plebiscite, would come under the virtual command of an outside plebiscite marshal. The Commonwealth Affairs Committee, on March 2, 1948, thought it more prudent to outline “heads of agreement” for a settlement in Kashmir. These included efforts by Pakistan to secure the withdrawal of the invaders and see no help is given to them; withdrawal by the Indian government of troops from battle areas and reduction and concentration of forces in garrisons; agreement by the Kashmir government to include representatives of other parties; the use by the Plebiscite Administration of local personnel for maintenance of law and order; and delegation by the Kashmir government to the UN commission of all the powers required to hold the plebiscite. The difficulty was that these principles proved unacceptable to Liaquat Ali Khan, who rejected them in a message to Attlee. The Foreign Office, worried that its actions had alienated both Pakistan and India, instructed Sir Arthur Cadogan in New York to let others make the running. The US delegation was left out front with the draft resolution given to the Chinese president of the Security Council, Dr. Tsiang, when debate resumed on March 10, 1948, after return of the Indian delegation. The discussions presided over by Tsiang during March 1948 were the most fateful for the prospect of a peaceful settlement of the future of Kashmir under the auspices of the United Nations. Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, then secretary general in the Ministry of External Affairs, replaced Sheikh Abdullah in the Indian delegation and on Nehru’s instructions took charge of directing India’s policy during the deliberations. At fifty-​nine, the only senior member of the Indian Civil Service respected by both Nehru and Krishna Menon, he was also highly regarded by the British, who had appointed him Indian agent-​general to the United States in 1941. Bajpai persuaded Tsiang and also McNaughton that the Indians had changed their position. They now desired a quick settlement and wanted to help the Security Council conduct the plebiscite under conditions fair to Pakistan, and seen by the world at large to be fair. India’s most pressing concerns were the cost of indefinitely deploying one and a half divisions in Kashmir, and the desire to avoid having to mount a considerable offensive in two or three weeks’ time when the weather improved.



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The main new initiatives carried back by Bajpai concerned the deployment of the Indian Army in Kashmir and the conduct of the plebiscite. The linked proposals were designed to assure the Security Council that an election conducted by a government headed by Sheikh Abdullah would be fair. According to Tsiang’s account of his conversations with Bajpai, India was prepared to withdraw large numbers of troops from Kashmir once the fighting stopped and to concentrate its forces in garrisons away from population centers, while allowing neutral observers of other nationalities to be attached to each Indian unit. The Indian delegation also agreed to the establishment of a Plebiscite Administration, appointed by the Kashmir government, but nominated by the Security Council. The Plebiscite Administration could draw up its own rules and regulations for the conduct of the plebiscite, which the Kashmir government could not amend. The form would be maintained that the plebiscite was being conducted under the auspices of the Kashmir government, but the reality would be that the Security Council exerted complete control over the organization and conduct of the plebiscite. Tsiang’s draft resolution, submitted as his own to the Security Council on March 18, 1948, was the first (and last) set of recommendations by the United Nations for a settlement deemed acceptable by India. The provisions indicated the terms for a plebiscite, if accepted by Pakistan, that could have brought a quick end to the conflict. The first sections finally addressed India’s original complaint and called upon the government of Pakistan to use its best efforts to secure the withdrawal of the tribesmen and deny intruders transport and military or other supplies. The government of India was requested to arrange the progressive withdrawal of its forces from Jammu and Kashmir not required for defense and security, and to station the remainder at points that would not intimidate or appear to intimidate the local population. The government of India was to establish in Jammu and Kashmir a Plebiscite Administration, including six nominees of the secretary general of the United Nations to be director, assistant, or regional directors of the Plebiscite Administration. The director, acting as an officer of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, would have the authority to nominate his subordinates and to draft regulations governing the plebiscite. The nominations and draft regulations, respectively, would be formally appointed and promulgated by the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but the Plebiscite Administration would have the sole and full authority to administer the plebiscite on accession. The government of India further was to undertake an international obligation binding on all public authorities in the state to prevent any threat, intimidation, or coercion of voters. The commission of the Security Council was to certify to the Council at the end of the plebiscite whether it had been free and impartial. As a general provision, the government of India was asked to use its best efforts to provide



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adequate representation for all major political groups in the interim government of the state. According to Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who remained the spokesman on Kashmir of the Indian delegation, the Department of External Affairs had been told by US ambassador Grady in New Delhi that the Security Council would unanimously adopt the resolution. Some discussion of this kind did take place, as indicated in a letter from Grady to Secretary of State George Marshall reporting a conversation with H. V. R. Iengar, acting secretary general, external affairs, in Bajpai’s absence, about the resolution introduced in the Security Council by Dr. Tsiang. Iengar conveyed that the resolution had been “considered by the Prime Minister and his advisers and met with their approval.”45 In New York, Ayyangar also assured Noel-​Baker at some length that the resolution was “very satisfactory as it stood.” The Foreign Office conveyed to Cadogan and Noel-​Baker that the UK delegation should make no further efforts to press its own solution on one side or the other or upon members of the Security Council. London was ready to support Tsiang’s resolution. Yet protests by Zafrullah Khan to Noel-​Baker and Dr. Tsiang, insisting that all Indian troops should be withdrawn and that Sheikh Abdullah’s power as head of the interim government should be further circumscribed, led the UK delegation yet again to intervene by drafting “important amendments” passed informally to Tsiang. The revised draft, given to the India and Pakistan delegations on March 24, 1948, sought to reassure Pakistan on both of its concerns. It called for the staged withdrawal of Indian troops from Jammu and Kashmir to the minimum strength required for the maintenance of law and order, thereby implicitly rejecting India’s legal responsibility for defense and security in Kashmir. It also sought to strengthen the powers of the Plebiscite Administration, including control and supervision of the state forces and police; appointment of special magistrates to supersede ordinary courts in cases bearing on the conduct of the plebiscite. A general provision called on the government of India to “forthwith” invite representatives of major political groups to join the interim government at the ministerial level and to give them a full share of responsibilities. Even while the Indian delegation was working on detailed suggestions for modifications in the amended draft, Zafrullah Khan once again raised the use of Pakistan forces in Kashmir. Tsiang’s further amended draft resolution, circulated on March 30, 1948, to all members of the Security Council contained a new article (5), allowing for the use of Pakistan forces if the commission, in agreement with the governments of India and Pakistan, concluded local forces were inadequate to maintain law and order and arranged for the use of forces of either dominion. Despite instructions from the Foreign Office, the UK delegation refused to support Tsiang’s draft without these amendments. Noel-​Baker’s argument was



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that the revised draft of March 24, 1948, had been agreed between the United Kingdom and the United States as well as the Belgian, Canadian, and Chinese delegations, but put forward by Dr.  Tsiang as his own. Further, Noel-​Baker emphasized, the proposal for control by the Plebiscite Administration of state forces and the police, as well as establishment of parallel courts, was promoted by the United States as essential for a fair plebiscite; the United States supported by Belgium and Canada also suggested the expanded form of the interim government. Article 5 was proposed by Tsiang entirely on his own initiative, supported by the United States and agreed to by the Canadians and Belgians. Prime Minister Attlee, alarmed by messages from both Nehru and Krishna Menon that the UK delegation in New York was following a different policy than the United Kingdom in London, wrote Noel-​Baker on April 2, 1948, protesting that the amendments to Dr.  Tsiang’s March 18 draft had never been authorized by the Commonwealth Affairs Committee of the cabinet. Attlee asserted he would not authorize Noel-​Baker to support the amended proposals, which were in the nature of an imposed settlement. Belatedly, the British prime minister came down on the side of India: It appears to me that while India has made a very considerable advance Pakistan has remained obdurate. Yet the last amended draft makes even more extensive demands on India. We have never authorized the new Article 5 involving the possible introduction of Pakistan troops into Kashmir. The proposal to set up parallel courts in Kashmir is also certain to be strongly resisted by India. Nor have we authorized the subordination of Indian troops to the plebiscite authority for any purposes other than those directly concerned with the carrying out of the plebiscite. . . . I am sure you are optimistic in thinking that India is not serious in stating that she has reached the limit of concession.46 A few days later, Ayyangar formally wrote to Noel-​Baker that India “had gone to the maximum limit by way of concessions.” The amendments to Dr. Tsiang’s March 14 draft resolution were unacceptable. According to Ayyangar, the Indian Army must remain in Kashmir for reasons of defense; the Pakistan Army could not enter the state for any purpose; the Plebiscite Administration would not be given direct jurisdiction over the police, the judiciary, and the state forces; and the interim administration must be Sheikh Abdullah’s government with two or three responsible representatives added.”47 Noel-​Baker remained unmoved both by the prime minister’s disapproval of the amended proposals and the Indian delegation’s rejection of the amended draft. Supported by Sir Arthur Cadogan, he sent a long telegram to Attlee setting down the reasons why it was too late for the UK delegation to change its



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approach. The secretary of state for Commonwealth relations reminded the prime minister that he had followed the brief given to him in January and February 1948 and had reported fully on the delegation’s attempts since mid-​ March to seek a settlement. He considered that Tsiang’s amended draft made no unreasonable demands on India, and that the new Article 5 was “the merest face-​saving for Zafrullah and indeed for the Council for it gives India an absolute veto on use of Pakistan troops.” Above all, Noel-​Baker insisted that it was impossible for the United Kingdom to withhold support for the amended draft, given what “we said to the other delegations in January and February in pursuance of your instructions . . . without making ourselves appear ridiculous.” He asked for authorization to jointly sponsor the March 30 amended draft resolution, repeating that the other members of the Council know that the proposals . . . were our plan for a fair plebiscite in February when Indian delegation withdrew. . . . You asked us not to play a prominent part in the drafting of the settlement and we have not done so. Nothing in the present draft could be attributed to us in particular; if we agree to it will be sponsored by six Delegations and carry all the weight of their joint authority. But the fact that we did not play a leading part has meant that other Delegations have borne the burden of seeking agreement.48 Presented with a united front by Noel-​Baker and Sir Arthur Cadogan, the prime minister and the Foreign Office conceded that “morally we cannot at this stage avoid voting for the resolution of 30th March.” A memo to Noel-​Baker from the Foreign Office, dated April 8, 1948, ruled out abstention, for which the United Kingdom should be bitterly reproached by Canada and the United States, not to mention China. Canada was most reluctant to become involved in this question at all, and there is no doubt that it is only on account of her friendship for us that she took so prominent a position. The same may be said of the United States, while China too has made a real effort to find an acceptable solution. These powers and probably also the other friendly powers in the Council would regard it as morally reprehensible for us to leave them with the baby which was fostered on our account.”49 The most that the prime minister was able to accomplish was a change in the language of the preamble and the last article of the draft in its final form that made clear that the resolution was the best advice of the Security Council to India and Pakistan on proposals for a settlement, and not an award. On April 21, 1948, the



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Security Council voted on the resolution paragraph by paragraph, adopting each one with no opposition, but in the main with two abstentions: those of the USSR and Ukraine. The one point of agreement, accepted by India and Pakistan, was expansion of the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to five members, with instructions to proceed to the Indian subcontinent and put its good offices at the disposal of India and Pakistan. India agreed to confer with the commission on the clear understanding that the terms of the resolution adopted by the Security Council were unacceptable as a basis of settlement. It is quite possible that India could have won a fair plebiscite in the state as a whole in spring 1948, under the terms of the original draft resolution introduced by Dr. Tsiang on March 18 and accepted by India. British observers on the ground reported that the “Vale of Kashmir and eastern districts of Jammu, protected by Indian Army, are solid in support of Sheikh Abdullah and his socialized administration, which clings to India. Western districts of Jammu are held by tribal invaders with support of the ‘Free Kashmir’ insurgents, the only Kashmiris who are actually fighting and like the mountainous North-​West, Gilgit, Baltistan, and Ladakh prefer Pakistan.”50 Yet time was running out. The division between the two parts of Kashmir was hardening around new jurisdictions created by the occupying forces.

Brief Convergence of US and Indian Positions on Kashmir The calculation that the United Kingdom could only lose more prestige by being seen to be involved in the Kashmir dispute accelerated British efforts to push the Americans into the breach. It was therefore the United States and not the United Kingdom that served as a member of UNCIP, along with Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, and Czechoslovakia, when the commission traveled to the subcontinent in July 1948. Characteristically, the British did not share one vital piece of information. Even before the UN Commission on India and Pakistan could set out to the subcontinent, Sir Laurence Grafftey-​Smith was informed by his deputy high commissioner in Peshawar at the end of April, and again in May, that three brigades of the Pakistan Army were involved in the Kashmir fighting.51 By July, Grafftey-​ Smith reported to the CRO that the Pakistan troops were so deeply committed that their withdrawal would create a collapse in insurgent morale. At the time the commission arrived in Karachi on July 7, 1948, regular Pakistani troops were bearing the main burden of the battle in Kashmir. There was no possibility that the Pakistan government could conceal the presence of these forces. Zafrullah Khan informed the members of the commission that the troops had been sent



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into the state in response to a spring offensive by the Indian Army. The shock created by this new development, of finding the Pakistan military in Jammu and Kashmir, was all the sharper because it differed so completely from the situation as presented by the government of Pakistan before the Security Council. The work of the commission was the first activity of the United Nations on the Kashmir issue over which the British had no influence. Indeed, the United Kingdom had no information about the commission’s proceedings. The United States took the position not to convey the discussions to the British because they were secret. The US State Department and the British Foreign Office entertained entirely different views on how the commission should handle the “bombshell” of the presence of Pakistani troops. The British, through the UK delegation to the United Nations, suggested to Secretary General Trygve Lie that the commission would be well advised to call for a simple ceasefire, leaving Pakistan troops in place. The State Department, by contrast, believed the commission had no alternative but to insist that Pakistan withdraw all its troops from Kashmir. It was this view that prevailed in the three-​part resolution of the UN Security Council of August 13, 1948, that submitted proposals for a ceasefire and truce agreement to the governments of India and Pakistan, and provided that after these proposals were agreed, the two governments would consult on fair and equitable conditions for determining the future status of the state. Part I of the resolution called on the governments of India and Pakistan to issue a ceasefire order to all forces under their control, organized and unorganized; and to refrain from any measures to augment the military potential of the forces under their control. Part II set down the principles of a truce agreement. Section A called on the government of Pakistan to withdraw its troops, “as the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council.” Other provisions stated that the government of Pakistan would use its best efforts to secure the withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident in the state; and that pending a final solution, the territory evacuated by Pakistani troops would be administered by local authorities under surveillance of the commission. The August 13, 1948, resolution became for India the defining conditions that had to be satisfied by Pakistan before consultation could be resumed under Security Council auspices on the future of the state. This was also the understanding of the commission. The resolution provided that when the commission notified the government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals have withdrawn, “thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence



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of Indian forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” and that Pakistani forces were being withdrawn from the state, the government of India would begin to withdraw the bulk of its forces in stages to be agreed upon with the commission, maintaining a minimum strength necessary to assist local authorities in maintaining law and order. Part III, the shortest section of the resolution, referred to the wish of the government of India and the government of Pakistan to determine the future status of the state in accordance with the will of the people, and provided that upon acceptance of the truce agreement both governments agreed to enter into consultations with the commission on the ways in which such free expression would be assured.52 The truce proposals followed upon discussions between the commission and Prime Minister Nehru and Krishna Menon. They included assurances, distilled in a letter from Nehru, dated August 20, that the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State over territory evacuated by Pakistan troops would not be brought into question; that Azad Kashmir would not be recognized or otherwise consolidated during the truce period; that the strength of Indian forces retained in Kashmir would be sufficient to ensure security against external invasion as well as to maintain law and order, and that if a solution to the status of the state was sought by means of a plebiscite, Pakistan would have no part in its organization or conduct. On the basis of these clarifications, Nehru informed the commission that India accepted the resolution.53 The chairman of the commission, on August 25, 1948, acknowledged Nehru’s response and agreed with his interpretation. The commission also indicated that the question of authority over the Northern Territories occupied by irregulars and Pakistan troops, once evacuated, could be addressed as part of the implementation of the resolution on the basis of Nehru’s claim that it should also revert to the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s response to the August 13, 1948, resolution was very unfriendly. The government rejected the provisions both for a ceasefire and a truce agreement. As a result, the fighting continued for the rest of the year. Both Pakistan and India described their military actions as “defensive.” Yet Nehru, relying on reports from India’s Defense Ministry, believed the Pakistan Army was progressively building up its forces in Jammu and Kashmir, estimated at thirty-​two battalions. He also had information that from January 1, 1949, all Azad Kashmir troops would be incorporated into the Pakistan Army. Nehru made one more try to avert a permanent conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. At the November 1948 meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in London, he told Liaquat Ali Khan that a settlement was possible on one of two alternative bases: either an unreserved acceptance by Pakistan of the commission’s August 13, 1948, resolution; or partition of Kashmir between India and Pakistan around the areas then held by the Indian and Azad forces respectively. Liaquat refused either course.



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Against the background of the changes on the ground, even before India and Pakistan finally agreed on a ceasefire starting from January 1, 1949, Nehru concluded that a plebiscite in the whole state to determine the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan was no longer a serious option. No mechanism existed for disarming and disbanding Azad Kashmir forces under control of the Pakistan Army. In a note to his foreign secretary, Nehru wrote: I should like to point out that owing to recent developments this whole business of elections and referendum has been thrown out of joint. We should not therefore commit ourselves to any move in this direction. We need not repudiate it, but we should point out that after our recent experiences, it is difficult for us to consider any elections or referendum, seriously.54 India’s response was to tighten direct lines of control in its own area. By late 1948, the Indian Army had been ordered to take charge in every way of the administrative and operational functions of the Kashmir State Forces, which were opened to all Kashmiris, Hindu and Muslim, under an Indian commander. Roughly at the same time the Working Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference took a decision to convene a constituent assembly to frame a democratic constitution for the state. Yet precisely at the time India became persuaded that a plebiscite in the whole state had become impracticable, the United States was unwittingly fulfilling British hopes that Americans would feel a “proprietary interest” in the commission and show the Indian and Pakistani governments they wanted a settlement. The US representative on the commission thought the members should have stayed on in India to make another try. The American delegation, increasingly sophisticated about the legal and political conditions under which Kashmir’s accession to India had occurred, considered that the accession, although technically valid, was not final because a question of “supervening importance” existed. The maharaja had executed the instrument of accession as the condition for India’s assistance at a chaotic time when the government had not been functioning in a normal manner. As implied by Mountbatten’s promise to consult the people once law and order was restored, the accession of Kashmir to India or Pakistan had to be determined under stable conditions.55 Subsequently, the State Department advocated that the issue be put back on the agenda of the United Nations, and that some formula should be advanced constituting a package of Pakistan’s agreement to withdraw its troops and India’s commitment to carry out a plebiscite. Washington was concerned that the India-​Pakistan conflict still constituted a threat to peace, which could be removed only by resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The United States also started to think in Cold



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War terms: failure to reach a settlement would contribute to instability adjacent to Southeast Asia, where communist-​led nationalist movements were gaining ground. The moment of convergence between the US and Indian positions on Kashmir was destined to be short-​lived. Although both Pakistan and India accepted the January 5, 1949, UNCIP proposals for a plebiscite, India did so only after submitting aides-​memoire to the commission, asserting that no action could be taken on the plebiscite proposals until Parts  1 and 2 of the commission’s August 13, 1948, resolution were fully implemented, and that if Parts 1 and 2 were not implemented, India’s acceptance of the plebiscite should not be regarded as binding. The preamble of the January 5, 1949, resolution itself described the proposals as “supplementary” to the commission’s resolution of August 13, 1948, and provided that a plebiscite would be held “when the cease-​ fire and truce arrangements set forth in Parts I and II of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948 have been carried out.” Ironically, the January 5, 1949, plebiscite proposals, reflecting the commission’s firsthand knowledge of Pakistan’s role in the conflict, were very similar to the unamended Tsiang draft resolution that India had accepted in March 1948. It provided for the nomination of a plebiscite commissioner by the UN secretary general, to be formally appointed by the government of Jammu and Kashmir; and derivation of powers required by the plebiscite administrator for conducting the plebiscite from the state government. The final disposition of Indian and state government troops was to be determined in consultation with the government of India, having due regard to “the security of the State.” The civil and military authorities of the state and the principal political elements of the state were required to cooperate with the plebiscite administrator, his assistants, and observers, and to ensure that no threat, intimidation, or coercion was applied against the voters. Nevertheless, the prior condition for holding the plebiscite virtually precluded its effective implementation. The commission’s truce proposals had not been able to take into account the new situation in Azad Kashmir. According to India’s information, the forces in Azad Kashmir territory were made up almost entirely of former Indian Army personnel and were trained and equipped and under the general operational control of Pakistan Army Headquarters. Girja Bajpai, in an internal memorandum, summed up the Indian government’s view that the presence of these forces in Azad Kashmir is a deterrent to Muslims as well as non-​Muslims not in sympathy with Pakistan, voting freely and impartially in a plebiscite, an obstacle to refugees who are not for Pakistan returning to this area and, militarily, a menace to the Kashmir valley which we now hold, menace which



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is intensified by ease with which, in the event of those forces starting hostilities, regular Pakistan troops could come to their aid because of ease of communications. Plebiscite Administrator, his officers and a number of observers could not possibly cope with a force of this kind which is fanatically determined to make Kashmir part of Pakistan.56 The forces in Azad Kashmir created an overriding political problem. Large-​scale disarming and disbanding of these forces, and their replacement with a civil armed force to maintain law and order, required the cooperation of the government of Pakistan. An attempt to convert this mountain into a molehill was sought by an opaque reference in the January 1949 proposals. Article 4B, referred to the “final disposal of the armed forces in that territory [of Azad Kashmir],” which “will be determined by the Commission and the Plebiscite Administrator in consultations with the local authorities.” Yet the “local authorities” were in fact controlled by the Pakistan Army. Nehru assured a worried Krishna Menon, New proposals are addition to August 13 resolution which is confirmed. Thus withdrawal of Pakistan troops is essential before any other steps taken. Further, question of plebiscite only arises when normal conditions have been restored after return of refugees and rehabilitation. It is quite possible that difficulties and delays in way of plebiscite may lead Plebiscite Administrator as well as Commission to consider other ways of ascertaining wishes of Kashmir people. For present, however, we proceed on lines of August 13 resolution as added to by January 5 resolution of Commission. The two must be read together.”57 The best efforts of the commission, which traveled back to the subcontinent, accomplished only the demarcation of the ceasefire line in July 1949. UNCIP abandoned truce talks under its auspices when Pakistan rejected India’s insistence that the disbanding and disarming of Azad Kashmir forces must be discussed; and dismissed India’s claim to authority for the defense of the Northern Territories as part of its sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir State.

Kashmir as a Cold War Issue As the efforts of the UN commission collapsed, the State Department stepped up pressure on India’s representatives in New York and Washington to be more reasonable in considering a new approach to achieving a truce that took account of changed conditions on the ground. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, then ambassador to the United States, wrote the prime minister that a “veiled threat” had been



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made that India might not get the loans it was seeking from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund unless it adopted a more amicable attitude. Mrs. Pandit also wrote Bajpai about her conversation with Secretary of State Acheson, who told her it was too soon for the United States to consider India’s membership for the next year on the Security Council. Instead, Acheson raised “an even more important question,” saying there must be an early settlement in Kashmir. The interview created a “feeling of disquiet,” convincing Mrs. Pandit “that the U.S. would not stop at anything in order to compel us to settle the Kashmir dispute.”58 Similar pressure was applied in New Delhi. Loy Henderson, then US ambassador to India, conveyed to Nehru the criticism of US officials that India was putting too much emphasis on the legal and security aspects of the Kashmir problem. In a memorandum of the conversation, Nehru noted Henderson’s assurances that the United States was attempting to hold the balance even between India and Pakistan, but then commented, We should, however, like to know if in the view of the State Department, legal and moral considerations have no particular weight and an invasion of a friendly territory should be considered an accomplished fact. Do they consider that India and Pakistan are equally guilty in this matter?59 Nor did Nehru hesitate to express his feelings directly to Henderson, informing him that India would do its utmost to prevent Pakistan from taking Kashmir, which would mean its ruin. He wrote to Vijaya Lakshmi that “to balance India and Pakistan as if they were on a level in regard to Kashmir seemed to me utterly wrong.”60 Washington’s impatience soon took on more concrete form. The UN commission, supported by personal messages from President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee, decided to approach the problem “from an entirely new angle and entirely afresh.” UNCIP proposed that questions raised by India and Pakistan regarding implementation of Part II of the resolution of August 13, 1948, should be settled by arbitration, and that the arbitrator decide these questions on the basis of equity, his decisions to be binding on both parties. Fleet Admiral Chester W.  Nimitz was proposed as arbitrator. The new proposal had the effect of wiping out the assurances by the commission to India that Azad Kashmir would not be recognized or otherwise consolidated during the truce period; and that Indian authority over the Northern Territories would be addressed as part of the implementation of the resolution. Nehru was “surprised and distressed” by the commission’s proposal, and sensitive to the “barrage” being launched against India to accept it. The political pressures could not



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be shrugged off. Nehru wrote both Krishna Menon and Sardar Patel that India could not possibly agree to arbitration, and that it would provoke the strongest opposition in the country. At the same time, Bajpai advised the prime minister that it was reasonable to assume the proposal had been advanced with the “foreknowledge” of the United States and the United Kingdom in connection with “Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan’s much publicised visit to Moscow.” Since Pakistan had accepted the proposal and favored arbitration, “especially arbitration by Admiral Nimitz,” the United States and the United Kingdom would expect that in return for their good offices, Liaquat would call off his visit. Yet Bajpai was also worried about the costs to India of losing the goodwill of the United States and the United Kingdom, and of forfeiting support in the Security Council for India’s point of view. The outcome might be an unfavorable award by the Security Council, India’s resistance to it, and an armed clash with Pakistan, at a time when India’s economic situation created “near paralysis of our power.” Bajpai’s counsel was not to reject “the principle of arbitration but only the Commission’s proposal as submitted to us.”61 Nehru followed this tack in his September 1949 reply both to Attlee and Truman, rejecting the proposal for arbitration presented by the commission, but asserting that India did not reject the principle of arbitration as one of the methods endorsed under the UN Charter for resolving disputes endangering international peace. Nevertheless, arbitration should be on a “precise and defined issue” that would create conditions for ending a dispute that threatened international peace. In his letter to President Truman, Nehru went on to spell out the main difference between India and Pakistan about disarming and disbanding of Azad Kashmir forces: If steps to implement the assurance [given to India by the commission that Pakistan troops would be withdrawn from Kashmir] are not taken immediately, it will be impossible for us, consistently with the necessity of safeguarding the portion of the Jammu and Kashmir State against a repetition of the horrors of the invasion of the valley in October, 1947, to withdraw the bulk of our forces. Moreover, if there is to be no large-​ scale disbanding and disarming of the Azad Kashmir forces, one of the essential conditions for holding a free and impartial plebiscite will not be satisfied. . . .The large-​scale disbanding and disarming of the “Azad Kashmir” forces is, therefore, not a matter for arbitration but for affirmative and immediate decision.62 Nehru’s clarification had no effect. The commission reported to the Security Council, in December 1949, that it had exhausted all possibilities of mediation within the framework of its terms of reference, and that “the resolution of 13



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August had become inadequate in the light of factual conditions in the State.”63 According to them, it was still possible that conditions could be created to hold an early plebiscite. They suggested that a single person with broad powers would be more able to effectively conduct the delicate negotiations required between India and Pakistan, and that further consideration should be given to the use of arbitration. Subsequently, the Kashmir issue became a matter of continuing friction between India and the United States. There was no way to avoid the exasperation experienced by both sides. India had concluded, but did not publicly assert, that a plebiscite in the whole state was both undesirable and impractical because it would further inflame communal feelings in both countries, under conditions when a free and fair plebiscite could no longer be held. The prime minister and secretary general of external affairs, Girja Bajpai, favored an alternative basis of settlement to maintain the status quo, combining partition and plebiscite. As sketched out by Bajpai, this could provide that the “Azad Kashmir” area of Mirpur and Poonch and Gilgit in the north go to Pakistan; and Jammu, as well as the administrative area of Ladakh, go to India. A plebiscite would be held in the valley and in the northern territory of Baltistan.64 Such an approach, which would have satisfied the United States and at least one UN mediator, the Australian, Sir Owen Dixon, was unacceptable to Pakistan. The Pakistan government did not trust India to carry out a partial plebiscite, once its right to parts of the state was settled. India was backed into a corner. The Security Council accepted the recommendations of the commission to appoint a mediator with authority to explore all possible avenues of a settlement and did not rule out arbitration. Faced with strong US support for this approach, aimed at demilitarization of the state preparatory to a plebiscite, India “(could) not directly and openly oppose the idea of a plebiscite.” India’s efforts subsequently concentrated on getting both more general and narrower terms of reference. Bajpai suggested that the “mediator should be instructed, with due regard to the resolutions of the Council and the Commission to suggest a just and peaceful settlement of the dispute over Kashmir, taking into account the present situation in all its aspects, and the basic facts of history, geography, language and culture of the State.”65 The evidence is clear that the United States did not start out to favor Pakistan as part of its Cold War strategy. Rather, the State Department’s policy of placing primary responsibility in the United Kingdom for seeking solutions to problems in South Asia left no room for any perceptible distinction by India between the partners in the Anglo-​American “bloc” on proposals for a settlement of the “India-​Pakistan Question” in the Security Council. Guided by the British, the United States supported proposals devised by the United Kingdom to equate Muslim Pakistan and predominately Hindu India, and to create conditions for



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conducting a plebiscite responsive to long-​standing British perceptions that religious affinity should be the primary basis for accession. By mid-​1949, even before the Cold War caught up with Kashmir, the United States, still coordinating its policy with the United Kingdom, did not see how a solution could be found in practical terms that did not take into consideration Pakistan’s claims. Over one-​third of the territory of the state was by then under its military and administrative control. In the 1950s, US preoccupation with communist gains in Asia, the “loss of China, the immediate threat to Indo-​China and the balance of Southeast Asia, the invasion of Tibet, and the reverses in Korea” gave both the United States and the United Kingdom security reasons to argue in favor of Pakistan’s demands.66 Efforts to engage an eager Pakistan in the defense of South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East remained stymied by demands from the government of Pakistan that the Security Council first settle the Kashmir issue through arbitration, and that Pakistan be guaranteed against an attack from India. This led both the United States and the United Kingdom to urge “realism” and “statesmanship” on India as the only basis for demilitarization and the conduct of a plebiscite, and to dismiss as “legal niceties” the core of India’s argument that the issue was one of aggression and not a dispute over territory. The debate returned full circle to the British position in 1947. Three years after India brought the situation in Kashmir before the Security Council, the leader of India’s delegation to the United Nations could only conclude that there was an almost “invincible prejudice against India.”67 Proposals backed by the United States for a new approach based on arbitration necessarily equated the legal and moral position of India and Pakistan in Kashmir. They placed both countries “on parity” in their claims to Kashmir and ignored India’s contention that it had legal responsibility for protecting the security of the whole state. For these reasons, resolutions of the Security Council appointing UN representatives for India and Pakistan to act as mediators between the two countries to “effect the demilitarization of the State,” and which also called on the parties to accept arbitration on all outstanding points, were accepted by Pakistan but resisted by India, which recorded an abstention on the Council’s recommendations. The Australian Sir Owen Dixon (1950) and the American Frank Graham (1951–​1953), who traveled to the subcontinent for consultations with both countries, were received courteously by New Delhi, which also participated in informal negotiations with each mediator. Sir Owen Dixon reported to the Security Council on September 15, 1950, that no agreement on the demilitarization of the state could be reached with India and Pakistan. Indeed, Dixon recommended that the problem of Jammu and Kashmir should be left to the parties to resolve. The United States and the United Kingdom strongly disagreed with this advice. Both countries responded to Pakistan’s alarm about



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the proposed convening of a constituent assembly in Kashmir, which would determine the future affiliation of the state. They joined forces to insist that the Security Council had an obligation under the Charter to seek a solution by all peaceful means, including arbitration. Frank Graham, after exhaustive efforts, nevertheless also reported to the Security Council on March 27, 1953, that agreement was not possible between the two governments and that “the same difficulties which had existed as early as 1949 were still the main obstacles in the way of carrying out the commitments embodied in Part II [of the August 13, 1948, resolution].”68 Meanwhile, the internal politics of Kashmir became much more unfavorable to India. Nehru’s reliance on Sheikh Abdullah to rally the Muslim majority behind a plebiscite for the permanent accession of Jammu and Kashmir proved unrealistic. The Maharaja and his prime minister, Kak, ignored the interim government, tolerated agitations by the RSS and Praja Parishad in Jammu, and stalled implementation of reforms of the Hindu Dogra armed forces to recruit Muslims. Sheikh Abdullah became convinced that India’s leaders would not respect the autonomous status of the state, but seek to integrate it into India along with the other Princely States. The better solution from Abdullah’s perspective was for Pakistan and India to agree on Kashmir’s neutrality and independence. The notion of an “Asian Switzerland,” which took hold in Sheikh Abdullah’s imagination, presented a strategic nightmare to Nehru, wedging a landlocked Kashmir between China, Pakistan, and India. Reports of Abdullah’s growing doubts that he could or should attempt to carry Muslim opinion with him for a permanent accession to India strained the long-​standing personal bonds with Nehru. After the maharaja abdicated in favor of his son, Yuvaraj Karan Singh, the young ruler, on August 8, 1953, dismissed Sheikh Abdullah as premier. Nehru acquiesced in Abdullah’s arrest the following day and his detention for almost a decade, until 1962.69 India’s position on the UNCIP resolutions of August 13, 1948, and January 5, 1949, remained unchanged. Read together, they represented the limit of concessions by India on conditions for a plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. Nehru summed up India’s “unrepentant” feelings over the Kashmir issue in long letters to Mountbatten: The fact of the matter is that right from the beginning many people in England, including Attlee, were firmly convinced that Kashmir being predominately Muslim, must necessarily go to Pakistan. They could only think in terms of the division of India by religion and they seem to think this followed from the Partition. In our minds, this Pakistan was a painful necessity, but at no time were we prepared to accept religion as the basis for division. Once we did so, the whole structure of our



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State would be imperiled because of the 40 million Muslims here. . . . Kashmir thus becomes for us a vital issue involving a principle which affects our whole future existence. Any argument based merely on Kashmiris being Muslim will inevitably be rejected by us.70 By this time, Nehru made no distinction between British policy and that of the United States. He asserted: I think this business would have been long over more or less to the satisfaction of the parties concerned if there had not been a continuous instigation of Pakistan by the authorities and the press in England and of course the U.S.A.  .  .  . It is evident that the U.K. Government as well as the U.S.A. government and their press had long ago decided that Kashmir should go to Pakistan and they are greatly disappointed that we don’t fall in with their wishes. In this matter, as in some others, no arguments are needed or are helpful when we start with the wrong premises and the wrong convictions.71 In 1957, fortified by Soviet support, India was finally prepared to openly argue before the Security Council that its voluntary offer to hold a plebiscite given eight years earlier had been contingent on the implementation of the August 13 UNCIP resolution. Failure to perform this agreement had so changed conditions on the ground that “we are not prepared to permit a challenge to the [legal] validity of this accession.”72 During the 1950s, India also “materially changed” the internal position of the state. In the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir, established in 1951, Sheikh Abdullah, still standing with Nehru in fighting the two-​nation theory, rejected the “most powerful argument” that could be made in favor of accession to Pakistan, that Kashmir with a large majority of Muslims must accede to the Muslim state of Pakistan. Arguing that “religious affinities alone do not and should not normally determine the political alliance of States,” Abdullah derided the claim of religion as a “screen to dupe the common man, so that he may not see clearly that Pakistan is a feudal State in which a clique is trying by these methods to maintain itself in power.” Since one Muslim is as good as another, Abdullah argued, those Kashmiri Muslims worried around religious considerations, should choose the forty million living in India.73 Article 3 of the constitution that came into effect in 1956 provided that the “State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.” The United Kingdom and the United States, in February 1957, supported by Australia, Columbia, and Cuba, cosponsored a draft resolution in the Security Council to challenge the legality of the action by the Constituent Assembly of



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Kashmir to incorporate the state into the Indian Union. This draft resolution, asserting that the state government could not take any action to determine the future affiliation of Kashmir, marked the formal conversion of the dispute into a Cold War issue. The Soviet Union, previously content to abstain on virtually every resolution passed by the Security Council on Kashmir, cast a negative vote against the UK-​US draft resolution. The result was that Pakistan lost support for its proposal to constitute a temporary UN force in connection with the demilitarization of the state. Subsequently, India became dependent upon the Soviet Union to veto any proposal challenging the status of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union.



4

Different Worlds US and Indian Policies toward Nationalist Movements in Asia, Communist Victory in China, and the Chinese Claim to Tibet

The foundations of bilateral foreign policy in the United States and India were established in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Cold War rivalries intersected with revolutionary changes in Asia. Foremost among these were the rising nationalist movements against Western colonialism in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and the unexpected defeat of the US-​backed Kuomintang Nationalists in China followed by the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949. Neither India nor the United States predicted the emergence of a militarily dominant communist power on India’s northern border. Both were completely unprepared to deal with the virtually simultaneous crises of Chinese expansion:  the onset of the Korean War on June 25, 1950 (­chapter 5) and, some three weeks later, the announcement by China of the “liberation” of Tibet. The Europeanists running the US State Department did not initially anticipate any threat to American interests from Mao’s victory on the mainland. The 5-​million-​man People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was poorly equipped, and China appeared an impoverished and industrially backward satellite of the Soviet Union. In New Delhi the reaction was mixed. An awakened China on India’s northern border brought immediate security concerns about frontier boundaries inherited from treaties negotiated by the British with an autonomous Tibet, over which China claimed sovereignty. Nevertheless, most top officials followed Nehru’s lead, viewing the establishment of the PRC an event of greater historical importance than the Cold War. K. M. Panikkar, India’s ambassador first to the Nationalists at Nanking and then to the victorious communists in Peking (Beijing), propagated the dominant idea that China’s victory against Western imperialism demonstrated the resilience of Asian civilization, its ability to incorporate Western knowledge and develop a sense of nationhood that could defeat colonialism from Southeast When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001





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Asia to the Middle East. Nehru did not alter his public confidence in India’s destined role as the leader of Asian nationalist movements fighting Western imperial control. Privately, the Indian prime minister recognized the possibility of rivalry with China for leadership of smaller bordering states in Southeast Asia and Indo-​China, where both countries had historically overlapping claims of cultural hegemony or political control. India and the United States approached their future relationship with uncertainty. During his 1949 visit to the United States, Nehru emphasized the two countries shared a strong ideological affinity based on the universal principles of freedom and equality embedded in the Constitution of the Republic of India, and inspired in part by the US Constitution. They also faced shared strategic concerns. The spread of Soviet-​supported communist parties in several countries of Southeast Asia relied on guerrilla warfare to overthrow colonial rule and threatened to destabilize the region. Only with US economic and military assistance could India strengthen its own role as a force for peace in the area. Differences in worldview, however, prevented a meeting of the minds on how to achieve shared goals. US policymakers believed the struggle against the advance of communism could only be won through mutual security policies that demonstrated military strength. Nehru was deeply critical of this approach. He was convinced that resort to force against revolutionary nationalist movements in Asia, even those led by communists, would be counterproductive. Countries emerging from colonial rule would suspect the motives of the United States in equipping European NATO allies to defend against possible Soviet attack with weapons that could also be deployed to repress local revolts against colonial rule. Nehru resisted US prodding to play a leading role in some form of collective security for noncommunist countries in Southeast Asia, restating his commitment to nonalignment. The State Department, which had earlier ignored British pressure to invite Pakistan’s prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, on a state visit similar to that planned for Nehru, reversed its position once Liaquat announced his intention to visit the Soviet Union. The Pakistani prime minister accepted the US invitation and canceled his planned visit to Moscow. The sequence of these events, according prestige to a friendly Pakistan, was exaggerated in Nehru’s mind as a deliberate effort to bolster Pakistan and push down India. Convinced that the United States was concerned only with recruiting allies willing to play a subordinate role and that this would involve building up Pakistan, Nehru determined to demonstrate friendly relations with China on the basis of a notional mutual commitment to “Asianism.” This approach offered the possibility of moderating the effects of India’s modest economic and military resources on the projection of its political influence by using Nehru’s international prestige to champion Chinese demands for control over Formosa and entry into the United Nations. Assuming that China’s ties to the Soviet Union



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could be weakened and its ties to India strengthened, the idea took hold that careful diplomacy could persuade China to recognize India’s northern boundary and empower both countries to make their own foreign policy in the name of “Asianism” without US interference. During the 1950s, friendship with China became India’s foremost foreign policy priority. Nonalignment was invoked to assert India’s claim to the moral high ground through efforts to find a formula, even if temporary, that could be endorsed by China, and the Soviet Union, to negotiate conflicts with the United States that could escalate to outright aggression or war. The human and political costs of this strategic approach to nonalignment were first revealed by India’s role in facilitating the unequal negotiations between China and the weak nascent nation of Tibet, whose autonomy had been supported by the British since 1912 as a buffer against Chinese aggression across the Assam Himalayas. The Tibetans had enjoyed de facto independence under the Dalai Lama for more than thirty-​five years after the collapse of Chinese imperial rule. India’s decision to refuse quiet American support to strengthen Tibet and then to withhold support in the United Nations for internationalizing the Tibetan appeal against a looming Chinese attack, directly resulted in coerced talks between Tibet and China. The outcome, well understood by Nehru in advance, was that Tibet lost its autonomy and, for the first time, accepted its place as part of China. India’s acquiescence in China’s “peaceful liberation” of Tibet put into question the credibility of its professed commitment to “right means” and respect for law evoked to rationalize its nonalignment position.

India’s Worldview and Perception of Its Role in Asia The US policy of parity between India and Pakistan, passed down by Great Britain, underplayed India’s size, natural resources, democratic institutions, and potential as a major power. It also ignored India’s advantages in Southeast Asian countries struggling to gain freedom, derived from the export of ancient religious ideas, cultural forms (in art, architecture, and dance) and practical knowledge, which left a cultural imprint on the region. India’s leaders remained convinced that they would play a significant role in consultations on security matters in Asia extending to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and that India’s example of not joining any bloc would set the standard for newly independent states.1 A March 1949 intelligence report by the Department of State astutely explained that India’s conception of its future importance in Southeast Asia





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stemmed from a belief in the advantages of “cultural manifest destiny” and its claim as “the cultural fountainhead of the new Asia.”2 Nehru’s strategy for enhancing India’s prestige and strengthening its reputation as the defender of nationalist movements in Southeast Asia was on full display in March 1947, when twenty-​eight of thirty-​three invited countries sent 243 delegates to New Delhi for a ten-​day Inter-​Asian Relations Conference held under the auspices of the Indian Council of World Affairs. Representatives attended from Kuomintang China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. Deliberately excluded from these talks were defense and security issues. The conference formally established an Asian Relations Organization with a Provisional Council to which Nehru was elected president. There was, however, no follow-​ up in establishing national branches of the Asian Relations Organization or national academies of Asian studies. China’s objection to the separate invitation extended by India to Tibet was an immediate problem foreshadowing future rivalry.3 Even so, Nehru considered it fitting that India host the first historic conference of Asia as “geographically she is so situated to be the meeting point of Western and Northern and Eastern and South-​East Asia” and the center of cultural flows from the West and the East, and to distant parts of Asia.4 India portrayed its role as that “of a big brother helping smaller brothers to the extent that they need help.”5 Nehru’s legendary self-​sacrifice for the nationalist movement endowed him with moral authority that seamlessly combined with the political power conferred by office as the first elected prime minister of independent India. Together, they empowered him to assume the role of a leader of Asia against attempts by European powers to reassert their imperial control. Nehru’s influence was demonstrated in the events that followed the Dutch invasion of Java on December 20, 1949, and house arrests of leaders of the fledgling Republic of Indonesia, President Sukarno and Vice President Mohammed Hatta. The invasion occurred after almost a year of failed negotiations under the auspices of the Good Offices Commission (GOC), established by the United Nations to reach a peaceful settlement between the Netherlands and the Indonesian republic for cessation of guerilla warfare and return of the area to republican administration. Nehru had tried unsuccessfully to get strong UK support to pressure the Netherlands; Belgium and France expressed neutrality. The United States shared India’s determination to achieve a negotiated settlement and called for an urgent session of the Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire and the return of troops to their previous positions, but could not prevail upon its allies. The UN resolution, passed on January 28, 1949, simply called on the Netherlands to immediately discontinue all military operations, and on the Republic to order its armed supporters to cease guerrilla warfare. The second part of the resolution called on the Netherlands to immediately



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return officials of the Republic of Indonesia to Yogjakarta so that they could effectively administer the city and its surrounding area. Nehru seized the initiative to host his own Asiatic conference on the Indonesian situation, feeding US apprehensions of “world division on lines of Asia vs. West.”6 The Asiatic conference, held January 20, 1949, was attended by delegates of nineteen countries, extending from Ethiopia and Egypt in the West to the Philippines and New Zealand in the East. Its January 22 resolution went further than the Security Council resolution passed a few days later, calling for the immediate withdrawal of Dutch forces, and return to the republican government of all areas including Yogjakarta held by the Republic on December 18, 1948. The Dutch continued to find reasons why they could not permit the reestablishment of the republican government at Yogjakarta, issuing instead a Dutch plan for a conference in The Hague to discuss an interim federal government. The United States, confronted by the defiance of the Dutch on one hand, and the strong criticism of Australia, India and the Philippines on the other, indicated that India’s views in bringing about a solution would be particularly welcomed. New Delhi subsequently convened a second confidential conference about Indonesia on April 13, 1949 with the same participants as the January conference. The delegates warned of complete chaos in Indonesia, with repercussions in Southeast Asia, if the January 28 Security Council resolution demanding release of political prisoners and the return of republican officials to Jogjakarta was not promptly implemented. Full cooperation between the United States and India did not last long. US policy shifted its emphasis to apply pressure on the republicans for concessions to the Dutch. India, by contrast, held firm to demands for unconditional restoration of republican control over the whole residency of Yogjakarta prior to talks with the Netherlands. Although their goals were similar, the United States and India also disagreed over whether to transfer the Indonesia question to the UN General Assembly for discussion. The United States instructed its delegates both in the Security Council and in the General Assembly to work toward a prompt settlement to transfer sovereignty to Indonesia and lay a solid foundation for prospective Indonesian membership in the United Nations. US pressure on the Netherlands produced substantial progress toward a settlement, which was rationalized as “promising an effective bulwark against Communism in Indo.”7 As early as 1948, India had expressed concern about the failure of the United States and the United Kingdom to recognize the urgency of granting freedom to Indonesia, as well as to withdraw support from the French government’s conflict with the nationalist movements in Southeast Asia. Since the Netherlands and France were associated with the Atlantic Pact and receiving assistance under the Marshall Plan, popular feelings in the region toward the United States were often hostile. India’s conclusion, which Nehru personally conveyed to the UK





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foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, and to US secretary of state, George C. Marshall, when they met in Paris on October 16, 1948, underlined that the United States and United Kingdom were sacrificing friendly feelings in the region and ought to insist colonial powers grant independence without any conditions.8 Apprehensions sharpened once the spread of communist parties in countries of Southeast Asia began to pose a different kind of threat to the independence of nationalist movements. Nehru, in an internal ‘Note on India and Indonesia” dated June 28, 1949, wrote: In effect the Communist Parties of these countries do not think at all in terms of the Countries concerned, or of the conditions prevailing there or of their freedom, or of the betterment of the people, but rather of a wider world policy in which the interests of the Soviet Union are paramount. The fear of world war leads them to think it will be to the interest of the Soviet Union to have a weak, disjointed and chaotic Southeast Asia in the event of a world crisis.9 The threat presented by the communist parties resorting to guerrilla warfare complicated India’s assertion of leadership of nationalist causes in Southeast Asia. Nehru’s assessment that the January 1949 conference on Indonesia represented a turning point in history, that India and Asia would function independently of the great powers in foreign policy, and that inevitably India would play a major role in creating “a new balance of power, if not now, then in the near future,” exaggerated the impact of the conference on great power influence in Asia.10 The Dutch attempt to reassert imperial control over Indonesia could not be turned back until India rallied support from sympathetic leaders in the Commonwealth and Asia to pressure the United States to exert its influence on behalf of the nationalists. This created a difficult choice for Washington: support European allies or preserve the friendship of Southeast Asian countries. India alone could not strengthen the nationalist forces with military assistance. Operations in Kashmir drained away military supplies, and India’s best attempts to purchase military equipment from the United States and Europe had been denied until a solution was reached by India and Pakistan for the Kashmir conflict. Nehru was forced to explain to Thakin Nu, Burma’s prime minister, then attempting to deal with various insurgent groups, including the communists, that India’s army supplies were at rock bottom, and its budgetary deficits precluded the possibility of financial help. The only chance of obtaining assistance would depend on the UK government taking the lead in cooperation with some other Commonwealth countries, but neither the United Kingdom nor the United States would consider helping until internal hostilities ceased, bringing the crisis in Burma back full circle. In the end, Nehru said he would



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be prepared to go to Burma if his visit could clear the ground for negotiations, underlining the extent to which the effectiveness of India’s support of Southeast Asian nationalism was tied inextricably to Nehru’s personal prestige.11 Significantly, Nehru did not express alarm at the imminent rise to power of a strong centralized communist regime in China. The victory of the communists was considered inevitable given the ineptitude and corruption of the Nationalists, an event of historic significance. Nehru’s “friendly approach” to the new China also reflected his overall affinity with the notion of “Asianism,” the pride that the industrially backward and weak countries of China, India, and Indonesia, drawing on their own civilizations and absorbing Western skills, succeeded in uniting their countries against imperialism to rise up as nation states against the Europeans “within a measurable time.”12 Asianism was more a sentiment than a shared national purpose. Nehru identified it with common experience of domination over a long period of colonial rule, in which Asian countries, however diverse, drew nearer to each other “mentally, psychologically and morally,” due to their “common bond of understanding, or experience, of common suffering, of common domination in struggles for freedom and liberty.”13 But the Indian prime minister also anticipated that China was likely to take opportunities for expanding its influence in weak states on its borders, like Burma, and those driven by conflicts between imperialist and nationalist forces, particularly Indo-​China. This complex set of evolving nationalist aspirations and apprehensions of conflict provided potential for cooperation between India and the United States. Both countries were sympathetic to nationalist movements against European powers that were determined to maintain their control in Southeast Asia. India and the United States also shared concerns that communist parties could use nationalist movements as a cover for the expansion of Soviet power. However, beyond these common concerns loomed paradoxes not easily reconcilable. India, the only stable noncommunist anchor in Asia, required military equipment and economic assistance from Washington to fulfill its potential third-​force role, but Nehru refused to deviate from the policy of nonalignment. The United States, playing its part as leader of the free world, found it extremely difficult to deny demands for military assistance of European allies in NATO, even though they were also intent on preserving control over their colonies. US arguments that military equipment for European colonial powers was meant to contain the spread of communism hardly persuaded leaders of nationalist movements, oppressed by that support, to make any distinction between the purposes for which force was deployed. Nehru’s nonalignment policy, on the merits, also provoked irritation among US policymakers by suggesting a superior moral standing in judging which bloc had the better claim. India’s self-​anointed obligation to mitigate, or altogether





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prevent, violence arising from nonnegotiable ideological conflicts was at best considered naive. A corollary assumption that India had a right to be consulted was based on an exaggerated view of India’s key position in world affairs and the assumption that India would play a more and more important part over time. Nehru insisted that India should be treated by the United States as an equal because of its continuous civilizational greatness and future great power role, especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Nevertheless, each country tried to address the concerns of the other and to develop more amicable relations. New Delhi was intent on communicating India’s influence in the world and the changed realities of China’s new position in Asia as a great power. Washington worked to cultivate a deeper appreciation of America’s commitment to principles of democracy, despite the Cold War compulsions to find allies wherever it could. US efforts aimed at persuading India that its militarized struggle against the Soviet Union did not diminish, but instead exemplified, its devotion to principles of freedom for all peoples everywhere. These basic problems confronted the leaders of both countries during Nehru’s first visit to the United States in April 1949.14 The US invitation came at a time when India appeared to have little option but to improve friendly relations with the United States. The Soviet Union had stepped up pressure on India’s ambassador in Moscow, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Nehru’s sister and a prominent champion of India’s nationalist cause in her own right, to decide which of the two great camps, “the democratic or the imperialist,” India would join. The Soviet ambassador in Delhi was more preoccupied with opening secret channels to India’s communists than contacting responsible officials of the Ministry of External Affairs.15

Nehru’s Visit to the United States and Conflicting Signals about the Basis of Mutual Cooperation Nehru’s ambivalence about the United States, expressed in letters to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, reflect a realistic appreciation of US policies that were opposed to India’s interests. These included constant US pressure on India for an early settlement of the Kashmir dispute, “the far from friendly” reception of the US State Department to requests by India’s military mission for modern equipment and supplies, and the grudging State Department support of India’s claim for membership on the UN Security Council as a “Commonwealth country.” According to Mrs. Pandit, the Americans did not wish to “acknowledge our leadership or even our representation of S.E. Asia.”16 All of this did not induce friendly feelings toward the United States, whose diplomacy Nehru felt was immature and reflected too much emphasis on physical might.



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At the same time, Nehru acknowledged that India relied upon the United States “inevitably for many things and we want to be friends with them.” India’s Commonwealth membership protected New Delhi from isolation and provided some access to military equipment, especially because Mountbatten was in a position to take up India’s cause. Otherwise, India would have had to “slope in some direction . . . and that could only have been in the direction of the U.S.”17 Nehru thought a great deal about his visit to America, about how to approach the government and deal with businessmen, and even which “facet of myself should I put before the American public–​the Indian or the European.” In the end, he decided to trust his “native wit” and adopt a general attitude of being friendly and receptive so as to “see their good points and that is the best approach to a country.”18 Nehru hoped his friendly approach would generate much greater interest in the importance of India. He decided to speak in a confident tone rather than stress India’s need for American assistance, and leave others to talk about India’s pressing need for deferred payment for goods, or a gift of wheat supplies. Nehru felt that there was no reason why India should not accept a free gift of wheat, but “to ask for it does not seem seemly.”19 The period before Nehru’s visit was the closest he ever came to considering, in an “academic way,” why India should not “align with the U.S. somewhat and build up our military and economic strength.”20 This turn in his thinking had no doubt been strengthened by pressure from the Soviet Union placed on Mrs. Pandit during her posting to Moscow, and it had produced informal assurances by senior Indian officials to US ambassador Grady that “it was unthinkable that India should be on Russia’s side in event of conflict between Russia and U.S.”21 Girija Bajpai, secretary general in the Ministry of External Affairs, gave the same kind of assurances to Acting Secretary of State Robert Lovett, “with the full knowledge and authorization of Prime Minister Nehru,” buttressing them by referring to the objective reality that only the United States could provide the military and economic assistance required by India to strengthen itself.22 The Truman administration, influenced by Nehru’s entry on to the world stage in calling the Asian conference, and the size and importance of India, referred to as its “specific gravity” by Loy Henderson, made every effort to treat Nehru with respect as leader of the most populous noncommunist nation and as spokesman for the hundreds of millions of newly independent Asians. They hoped to overcome Nehru’s suspicions that the United States was attempting to buttress colonialism and was indifferent to the nationalism then sweeping Asia. Administration officials wanted Nehru to move India, then three hundred million strong, closer to the United States. The importance attributed to Nehru’s visit was affirmed by the press in descriptions of him as the “hero” of India’s fight for independence with a





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“towering stature beyond the confines of his own country,” “perhaps the most influential figure in that vast and rapidly changing part of the world,” and the “key figure in Asia today.”23 His twenty-​three-​day “good-​will” tour of the United States began with President Truman’s gracious gesture of sending his personal plane, the Independence, to London for Nehru’s flight to New  York. Among those present at the National Airport on October 11 when the prime minister arrived were President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson—​Nehru’s admirer from the time he had been President Roosevelt’s personal representative to India in 1942 and attempted to mediate a settlement on postwar independence between Britain and India. James Reston, describing the meticulous preparations for Nehru’s arrival, including a nineteen-​ gun salute and formal military reception, wrote that officials hoped to start a new chapter in US and Asia relations. Nehru’s four days in Washington included an address to the US House of Representatives and separately to the Senate. The prime minister paid tribute to the great achievements of the United States and the universal principles of freedom and equality enshrined in the Constitution, which “burned in the hearts of the builders” of the nation. Referring to the great influence that the US Constitution had on the Constitution of the Republic of India, he drew attention to India’s unfinished economic and social transformation required for the right to live and pursue happiness. Obliquely asking for assistance without strings, Nehru stated India would welcome aid and cooperation on terms of mutual benefit, “But we do not seek any material advantage in exchange for any part of our hard-​won freedom.” The basis and goal of India’s foreign policy, he emphasized, was reconciliation and peace. The last part of his speech, quoted in the press, assured Americans that where freedom is menaced or justice threatened or where aggression takes place, we cannot be and shall not be neutral. . . . The great democracy of the United States of America will, I feel sure, understand and appreciate our approach to life’s problems because it could not have any other aim or a different ideal. Friendship and co-​operation between our two countries are, therefore, natural. I stand here to offer both in the pursuit of justice, liberty and peace.24 Nehru’s theme of natural friendship and cooperation between the two countries fleetingly raised expectations that India might consider becoming the anchor of collective security arrangements in Asia. But he disappointed the hopes of administration officials the very next day during his speech to the National Press Club, in which he appeared unyielding in his policy of nonalignment. Asked whether a defense pact in Asia to check the spread of communism, similar to



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NATO, would be feasible or desirable, the prime minister answered, “There is no talk about such a pact, and I think if there were, it would be premature.”25 The prime minister’s hectic schedule reflected his wishes to make “a voyage of discovery of America” and to meet as many leading figures as possible in politics, education, technology, the arts, and journalism. He spent one week in New York, where he received an honorary degree from Columbia University and visited Eleanor Roosevelt at Hyde Park; and three days in Canada at the invitation of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, where he addressed parliament. Shorter visits were arranged to Chicago, Knoxville (where Nehru inspected the Tennessee Valley Authority), San Francisco, Vancouver, and Madison, Wisconsin.26 Although most accounts of the prime minister’s visit to the United States contend that it was disappointing to both sides, Nehru’s contemporaneous letters to Vallabhai Patel, Krishna Menon, G.  S. Bajpai, C.  Rajagopalachari, N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, and Louis Johnson reflect a sense of exhilaration that the main purpose of his visit had been fulfilled. Nehru described his experiences as “extraordinary” and “overwhelming.” Intellectuals and important persons from various walks of life had been moved by his speeches and expressed great appreciation for what he had said. People generally had been very friendly and came out into the streets to see and to hear him. On October 24, in a letter to deputy prime minister, Vallabhai Patel, Nehru assessed his visit as produc[ing] a great deal of interest and friendliness toward India and a desire to cooperate. . . . My chief business is to create a favorable atmosphere and friendly feelings. That I have done to a remarkable degree. I have done it without making any commitments on our part and always maintaining India’s integrity and independence. Desmukh and others can now carry on.27 After Nehru returned to India, he used the same language to refer to the emotional response his speeches had evoked in a variety of audiences. His talks about seeking international peace and cooperation, and some ways to achieve it, in an atmosphere of dissatisfaction and doubt about world trends, struck “a positive chord in their minds, and for the moment greatness was thrust upon me.”28 The prime minister was satisfied with the discussions he had had with Secretary of State Dean Acheson and President Truman. He set out to explain India’s approach on Kashmir, China, and economic cooperation, and considered that as a result of his conversations the Americans clearly understood New Delhi’s position on each of these issues. Yet Acheson, who hosted a dinner in Nehru’s honor on October 11 and tried to establish a personal relationship with





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him during a long private talk after dinner at his home, believed the conversation had failed in this purpose, noting that Nehru was unable to relax. Acheson’s account of his discussions with Nehru revealed few serious disagreements on substance. He assured Nehru of US support for India’s desire to establish a stockpile of a million tons of wheat in sales at less than world prices, and hoped to have favorable legislation shortly. The secretary of state also recognized the merit of Nehru’s argument that the Dutch needed to be more forthcoming in negotiations with the Indonesians, and was “inclined to agree” with Nehru that Bao Dai did not have the character required to succeed as “emperor” in Indo-​China. Both men considered Ho Chi Minh to be a communist. Nehru failed to convince Acheson that the communists would not succeed in taking over the nationalist movement, perhaps not surprising given his own apprehensions about the motives of communist parties toward nationalist movements in southeast Asia. The issues on which Nehru and Acheson disagreed were two. The first was on the need for a quick settlement of Kashmir, reflecting the persistence of Anglo-​ US hopes for an end to conflict between India and Pakistan that could free up their resources for a common front against communism. The gap on Kashmir proved unable to be bridged. Nehru’s inability to “relax” may have resulted from what Acheson described as the prime minister’s annoyance at US pressure to find an agreement to the dispute through arbitration. The second issue concerned recognition of the new Chinese regime. It was not at that time a disagreement on principle. Both men agreed on the complete failure of the Kuomintang. At Acheson’s instruction, the State Department had published a one-​thousand-​page white paper in the summer of 1949 detailing the incompetence and corruption of the Nationalists responsible for their own defeat. The difference between Nehru and Acheson involved the timing of diplomatic recognition. Nehru, citing India’s proximity to China, said he was inclined toward “early recognition.” Acheson, requiring more time in the face of building Republican opposition, hoped that India would consult before acting. Like Nehru, Acheson believed it was essential to adjust to the new realities and extend early US recognition of the PRC in order to encourage greater independence of China from the Soviet Union.29 He was prepared to seriously consider keeping the agreement reached by the three “great allies” in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, and reiterated in terms for Japanese surrender at Potsdam, July 25, 1945. These agreements, which recognized that Formosa had been ruled since the seventeenth century from China until it fell under Japanese control in the 1890s, could be returned to the PRC as a signal of America’s good intentions. It was the conversation between Nehru and Ambassadors Warren Austin and Philip Jessup, heading up the US Delegation at the United Nations, which Sir Girja Bajpai also attended, that distilled what became the defining



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difference in approach to foreign policy of India and the United States. Nehru was clear there was little basis for cooperation between the United States and Russia. Yet he hoped the ambassadors would not mind if he criticized the US “approach” to the problem. The Indian prime minister believed that the United States “too frequently dealt with the Russians in their own chosen weapons of name-​calling, deprecation, and verbal belligerency,” a field in which the Russians were very hard to beat. Instead, he counseled that “for the sake of our public reactions we must never admit openly our belief in the lack of a basis of cooperation and must make every gesture possible of apparent cooperation.” Similarly, as far as China was concerned, Nehru reiterated that early recognition would help divert the Chinese away from Moscow’s leadership and that so long as recognition was withheld it would be easier for the Chinese communists to blame their failure to fulfill promises of a better life on the hostility of the “foreign devils.”30 Nehru’s discussions satisfied him because he had spoken to US leaders in a tone and attitude of equality about relations between India and the United States and the relations of each country with the Soviet Union, and conveyed a sense of shared understanding and purpose. As the Indian prime minister put it at a press conference on his US visit in New Delhi (November 16, 1949), there was not much misunderstanding of facts among those “who are supposed to know.” The major problems that came in the way of greater cooperation were not caused by miscommunication. Rather, disagreements surfaced over the severity of the Soviet threat and the most effective way of achieving mutual goals.

Differences of Worldview Wider than the disagreement on any specific issue was the chasm in thinking about the approach to foreign policy under conditions of the Cold War that prevented a meeting of the minds. Acheson was convinced there was an “unbridgeable conflict” between the United States and the Soviet Union arising from antithetical ideological convictions about core values of American liberty on the one hand and Soviet tyranny on the other. Perhaps the sharpest contrast between Acheson’s worldview and that of Nehru was the American’s conviction that in the fight with the Soviet Union, “good intentions” were worthless and moral principles “traps.” The struggle could only be won through the exercise of power to “make people do what they don’t like.” It was Acheson’s pragmatism, categorized by Beisner as his opportunism, that made him flexible about ways to achieve large objectives without compromising his fundamental goals.31 Nehru, who referred to Mahatma Gandhi in arguing that means were the same as ends, did not display this level of flexibility.





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Nehru’s friendly discussions in Washington failed to strengthen India-​US cooperation. There was no response on the issues important to India about which Nehru spoke in such detail. The Defense Department persisted in assigning the highest priority in South Asia to a solution of the Kashmir issue, considered the major obstacle to cooperation by India and Pakistan against communist advances. Its fixation on the policy of parity and its totally unrealistic corollary of India-​Pakistan cooperation against communism in the region led the United States to ignore India’s informal indication of interest in a long-​term military collaboration with the United States once the embargo on the export of military equipment to India and Pakistan was lifted in March 1949. The State Department, hemmed in by polarized politics at home, failed to make any progress on the early recognition of China. Acheson’s apparent equanimity about the victory of the Chinese communists involved him in battles on several fronts: against skeptical senior officials in the State Department, by then including Dean Rusk, Philip Jessup, and George Kennan; the China lobby in Congress, which wanted the United States to support Chiang Kai-​shek in efforts to retake the mainland; and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and the Pentagon, which insisted on retaining Formosa for bases in case of war with the Soviet Union. Even more paralyzing, public opinion, stirred to an anticommunist frenzy by Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1950, accepted his conspiracy thinking that “card carrying communists” sheltered by the State Department had been responsible for the “loss of China.” McCarthy singled out Acheson as the fountainhead of “high treason” whose “blasphemy” had awakened the indignation of the American people. President Truman, beset by his personal hatred of the Chinese communists, ruled out any accommodation.32 The United States continued to recognize Chiang Kai-​shek’s Formosa as the representative of China. Acheson’s policy of “staying on the right side of Asian nationalism” collapsed. Most humiliating for Nehru, assurances by President Truman and Dean Acheson in private talks during the early days of his US visit that fairly rapid progress would be made in getting congressional sanction for two million tons of foodgrains on easy terms produced no results, despite several subsequent formal and informal approaches. Nehru understood that Acheson had kept his promise, and was encouraged by the bill finally introduced in the House of Representatives on February 15, 1951, to grant India emergency food assistance of two million tons of wheat. Yet the legislation remained stalled in Congress “for some odd reason, that I could not understand.”33 Mrs. Pandit wrote Nehru that a “hymn of hate” against India was at a high pitch in the press, and that large numbers of members of Congress described India as “pro-​Communist.”34 Neither Mrs. Pandit nor Nehru linked the growing hostility toward India to its policy in the United Nations, which sided with China and the Soviet Union in voting against the US resolution condemning China as



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an aggressor in Korea (discussed in c­ hapter 5). The almost complete disconnect in US and Indian perceptions of China’s intervention in Korea was captured by Mrs. Pandit’s shocked reaction that US public opinion was being whipped up against India because of “our independent policy in the U.N.” Henderson saw it very differently. He frankly told Bajpai that legislation to provide food grains for India was being held up in response to Nehru’s statements supporting China and strong feelings in Congress that India was defending a “Peiping attack on UN Forces resulting in injury to thousands of US and UN nationals,” causing Americans to ask why they should hand over foodgrains to a country rallying support to prevent condemnation of the aggressor.35 Nehru did not help matters by angrily rejecting standard provisions in the food aid bill providing for bilateral US-​India consultations on development projects supported by counterpart rupee funds acquired through purchases of American wheat in the Indian market, which he interpreted as efforts to infringe on India’s sovereignty. He rejected another US proposal that India provide strategic materials (monazite stands) as part of the grant deal, as aid with strings. A compromise worked out five months later changed the whole basis of food assistance from grant aid to a loan from the Eximbank, at India’s decision, despite the greater financial cost. Meanwhile, as the food situation became worse, raising the specter of starvation deaths, India made separate urgent requests for supplies from the Soviet Union and China. The fifty thousand tonnes of milo provided by China was considered a gesture of friendship and created more goodwill than the first shipment of US wheat, which reached India only in mid-​August 1952. The National Security Council fell back on the soft concept of regional associations among noncommunist states on the principle of mutual aid, which the United States would assist, if invited. The NSC proposed to vigorously implement President Truman’s Point IV program of technical assistance. Other elements of Asia policy were to press forward with a Japanese peace treaty, “avoid recognizing the Chinese Communist regime until it is clearly in the United States interest to do so,” attempt to deny Formosa and the Pescadores to the Chinese communists by economic and diplomatic means, but not to use force, and exert US influence in Asia to resolve the nationalist-​colonial conflict “in such a way as to satisfy the fundamental demands of the nationalist movement while at the same time minimizing the strain on the colonial powers who are our western allies.”36

Placating Pakistan As the State Department struggled to maintain its primacy over foreign policy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff turned down requests from India and Pakistan for





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bombers and other war-​fighting equipment, citing the heavy demands for military aid from western European countries worried about possible Soviet attack. The statement of strategic considerations downplaying the importance of countries in South Asia included the qualifying phrase “excepting Pakistan.” The Joint Chiefs pointed out that the Karachi-​Lahore area could have strategic importance as a base for air attacks against the Soviet Union or a staging area for troops engaged in the defense of the Middle East.37 India had long suspected that the United States was interested in Pakistan as a potential strategic ally. Nehru, however, was unaware of the pressure placed on the Truman administration by the British Foreign Office at the time of his visit. The British had unrealistic hopes that the visit would allay India’s suspicions and persuade the United States to make major economic commitments to the development of India, and the rehabilitation of Southeast Asia on the scale of the Marshall Plan to prevent communist infiltration at the back door to the Middle East. They also pushed a parallel program to strengthen Pakistan, and to conclude a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Almost immediately after Nehru’s planned visit to the United States had been announced in March 1949, Pakistan’s prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, made known he had accepted an invitation from Stalin to pay a state visit to the Soviet Union. The British Foreign Office prodded the American ambassador in June 1949 and again in September 1949 to bring up the question of an invitation to Liaquat to pay a state visit to Washington. Barely had Nehru retuned to New Delhi when Acheson confidentially informed the Foreign Office that President Truman had given his approval for Liaquat’s visit to Washington. This had the intended effect of persuading Liaquat to change his Moscow plans and to travel to the United States on May 4, 1950. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, following the preparations for Liaquat’s visit, reacted with incredulity and contempt to the State Department’s plans to reproduce the arrangements made for Nehru in almost every detail. Acheson, in his news conference the same day, recognized the Pakistani prime minister as “one of the most important figures in Asia today.” Liaquat also addressed the Senate and the House, dwelling on Pakistan’s hopes and aims, and expressing interest in receiving whatever modern weapons the United States could spare.38 Mrs. Pandit, calling the US government “pathetic,” wrote to her brother that the State Department had “finally forced” Columbia University to grant Liaquat an honorary doctor of laws degree so that the visit conform to his own, a “ridiculous” decision.39 All these signs of US indifference to India’s key international role were magnified by Mrs. Pandit’s perception, conveyed to Nehru, of a plan to “build up Liaquat Ali as a great Asian leader . . . to hint at your ‘Socialist’ leanings . . . and to give Pakistan a more secure place of leadership.”40 Nehru took this interpretation



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seriously. He went further in characterizing US motives as a “concerted effort to build up Pakistan, and build down, if I may say so, India.”41 As early as May 8, 1950, after Sardar Patel and senior members of the government wrote Nehru they were “deeply concerned” about Liaquat’s requests for military aid, Nehru authorized Bajpai to inform Loy Henderson that “in existing circumstances any supply of military equipment to Pakistan would cause us grave concern.” In a June 4, 1950, letter to Krishna Menon, Nehru referred again to the way the State Department had handled Liaquat Ali Khan’s visit to the United States, interpreting it as “a clear indication of their displeasure with India and their desire to boost up Pakistan,” adding, “Our more or less friendly relations with China also irritate the United States very much.”42 All of these disappointing developments after Nehru’s return from the United States became important factors in his consideration of India’s policy toward China.

Evolving Indian and US Policies toward China The proclamation of the People’s Republic of China did not affect US foreign policy in Asia, which gave highest priority to Japan as a point of “strength” against the Soviet Union. In early February 1950, Acheson named John Foster Dulles, his consultant on Asia, to work on the Japanese peace treaty, which would allow the United States to retain bases there. This policy for ensuring US security in Asia assumed even greater importance after the announcement of a mutual defense treaty between China and the Soviet Union on February 12, 1950. The State Department considered the alliance as “disturbing as the German-​Italian-​ Japanese Tripartite Pact of 1940,” and even Acheson thought it could seriously undermine the Western position in Asia.43 Subsequently, Dean Rusk, the assistant secretary for Far East affairs, made common cause with the Pentagon in insisting that Formosa could not be allowed to fall into Chinese hands. Nehru, by contrast, still insisted that the revolution in China was an event transcending the importance of the Cold War. He believed that Asia was playing a new role in world affairs and that new China had emerged as a great power, which its neighbors and the West, and particularly the United States, had to acknowledge. The prime minister minimized the implications of the Sino-​ Soviet alliance on grounds that China was too big and too nationalistic to be guided by an outside power for very long. Nevertheless, India was unprepared for the new reality. The defeat of Chiang Kai-​shek’s weak, faction-​torn, and corrupt regime by Mao’s disciplined and ideologically cohesive communist forces was a potential threat to India’s leadership in Asia and its claims as a putative equal in relations with the West. Partition had torn apart one of the best fighting forces in the world and left India with a standing





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army of less than four hundred thousand men. The burden of maintaining troops on the Pakistan border left India financially overstretched. By contrast, the success of China’s revolution, resting on the PLA gave it the largest army in the world of five million men, a significant number of modern (captured) weapons, and five million reserves. India’s ambassador in Beijing, K. M. Panikkar, seemed awestruck by the army’s victory and the ubiquitous presence of disciplined troops on the streets who restored order after the flight of the Kuomintang government to Formosa. The new facts on the ground raised the inescapable question of whether China would become a menace to its neighbors and a determining factor in Southeast Asia. Such a danger was implicit in China’s historical claims to territories lost to Western and Japanese imperialism since the Opium War in 1839 during “the century of humiliation.” These regions, from China’s point of view, included Tibet, northern Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, Burma, Bengal, Indo-​China, and Thailand, all of which overlapped with geographical areas either under India’s control or considered by India to fall within its traditional sphere of cultural influence.44 The attempt to deal with the new situation offered most scope by buttressing India’s defensive perimeter along the Himalayas, strengthening relations with Bhutan and Sikkim to protect the Chumbi Valley salient between them, Chinese territory that offered the best passage to India’s northeast. On August 8, 1949, India followed the precedent set by the 1910 Anglo-​Bhutanese Treaty and acted to make Bhutan a protectorate, which agreed to seek Indian advice in the conduct of foreign policy. Nepal represented a more complicated case as a larger country, which extended over a thousand kilometers of the central Himalayas with many passes to the Indo-​Gangetic plains and more room for maneuver between India and China. In late November 1949, Nehru warned the maharaja that Chinese communist forces would invade Tibet and reach the Chinese frontier with India and Nepal and stressed the importance of internal reforms to remove popular dissatisfaction that the communists would seek to exploit. On July 31, 1950, the two governments concluded a treaty of peace and friendship and agreed to respect the “complete sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of each other.”45 Letters ancillary to the treaty provided for bilateral consultation to devise effective countermeasures against any threat by a foreign aggressor to the security of the other, and asserted Nepal was free to import arms and equipment necessary for its security through India. Similarly, on December 12, 1950, Sikkim, which had been under direct British administrative control, became a protectorate of India, with autonomy in domestic affairs, subject to supervision by an Indian political officer, but with no right to have independent foreign relations. These decisive moves to protect India’s security in the vulnerable Himalayan kingdoms contrasted starkly with Nehru’s cautious policies in Southeast Asia



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where Burma and Indo-​China, weakened by internal turmoil, were ripe for communist infiltration. Nehru rejected a proposal from Thakin Nu that India take the initiative in an India-​Pakistan-​Burma defense pact, since it could be construed as a step toward some kind of anti-​China or anticommunist bloc, a hostile act that might begin a cold war and provoke trouble on the border. He rationalized his refusal to take the lead in the core area of India’s security interests by dismissing as futile any military pact between these countries. Altogether, they lacked the power to do anything but defend their own frontiers. Ironically, he explained his default by arguing that the only country that could give adequate help to another was the United States. Yet, with regard to China, Nehru abandoned all caution. The Indian government became the first noncommunist country to recognize the PRC on December 30, 1949, without further consultation with the United States. Pakistan followed on January 4, as did Ceylon and Norway. Great Britain, concerned about protecting its commercial interests, including the future of Hong Kong, acted on January 6, 1950. By mid-​1950, twenty states had broken their diplomatic ties with Formosa and recognized the PRC. Nehru’s insistence on quick recognition of China was influenced by the meetings he had with Panikkar, who in February 1949 returned to New Delhi from Nanking, where as India’s ambassador to the Kuomintang he had witnessed the “inconceivable” defeat of Chiang’s American-​ supported troops. He consulted with Nehru and senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry about what should be India’s policy in dealing with the new communist authorities. Panikkar had first been acquainted with Nehru as a young nationalist. He had been a brilliant student at Christ Church, Oxford, and the Middle Temple, and his service with the Princely States of Kashmir, Bikaner, and Patiala, drew him into the negotiations concerning the privileges accorded the princes after independence. He was also an authority on the history of Southeast Asia and India, with a strong sense of India’s responsibilities in the region. Nehru had been sufficiently impressed that he made Panikkar the second noncareer diplomat after his sister, when he appointed him ambassador to Nanjing. The new ambassador viewed the appointment as one of historic importance, linking the two most populous countries and the oldest civilizations in the world. He was convinced that after the defeat of Japan, leadership in Asia would fall on China, as one of the “Big Five” during World War II. Panikkar considered the triumph of the communists an historical event of a much higher order. The Koumintang’s inability to end endemic corruption and the extreme inflation that ravaged the economy had meant that modernization of the country would depend on American help. The communists’ victory, by contrast, “brought to an end the dominance of the Western powers in China.”46





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This defeat of the Europeans brought exhilaration to India’s nationalists. Yet Panikkar’s reports to Nehru from Beijing warned that during this phase of a decade or so, China would be aggressively procommunist in its external relations and stand solidly with the Soviet Union on all issues of foreign policy. Mao deliberately aimed at “pushing the United States more and more into a position of hostility” in order to establish the monopoly of the Communist Party in internal politics, and denounce as traitors democratic elements that had long looked toward the United States. Beyond this, the addition of China to the Soviet camp had tilted the balance in favor of communism by enlarging the communist bloc to almost one-​third the world’s population. China’s position was thereby transformed from being a great power “by courtesy” to becoming “at one stroke a Great Power in fact.”47 Panikkar’s analyses significantly contributed to Nehru’s reluctance to adopt any policy that could provoke hostility on the part of China. The Indian prime minister’s unwillingness to compromise nonalignment and accommodate the United States left India without the financial or military support of the only country that could have strengthened its ability to defend the frontiers. Panikkar enjoyed a great deal of influence over Nehru in formulating India’s China policy. He was a strong proponent of demonstrating a friendly approach as the best hope of facilitating diplomatic initiatives aimed at preserving India’s position in neighboring Tibet, based on British-​Tibetan treaties never accepted by China. His influence was apparent in the timing of recognition, which was extended after Nehru had received Panikkar’s reports in September 1949, independently corroborated by India’s political representative in Sikkim. These reports agreed that within a year the communists would overrun Tibet, bringing the Chinese in the north and northeast right up to Assam, Bhutan, and Sikkim.48 Nehru ignored the opposite counsel of his deputy prime minister, Vallabhai Patel, against “precipitate unilateral action on recognition,” which was uncertain to ensure goodwill but “might land ourselves in a situation from which it would be impossible to retrace our steps.”49 India, moreover, extended recognition without reference to its inherited treaty rights, the most important of which, the settlement of the India-​Tibet frontier known as the McMahon Line and the Anglo-​Tibet Trade Regulations, had been signed by plenipotentiaries of an autonomous Tibetan government and of the British government during the Simla conference in 1914. This omission of India’s treaty rights signaled that Nehru was not prepared to openly confront China’s aggressive claims of sovereignty over Tibet, which the British had refused to recognize from 1904 once China’s inability to enforce its will on the Tibetans revealed the fictional nature of its claim. Nehru compounded the complications of his precipitate action by making a public statement to parliament in March 1950, defining India’s borders. He



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asserted that the eastern boundary was clearly defined by the McMahon Line, fixed at the Simla Convention of 1914. As part of the same statement, Nehru referred to the northern frontier from Ladakh to Nepal as settled by long usage and custom. This high-​profile definition of India’s boundaries was followed by the decision to occupy the Tawang Tract, located on India’s side of the McMahon Line, on February 12, 1951. The occupation of Tawang, taken without previous reference to Nehru,50 created alarm among local Tibetan officials and suspicions in Lhasa, although the Indian commander explained the legal rights being asserted had been ceded to India in 1914. The area was the location of a great monastery with a Tibetanized population who traditionally recognized the authority of local rajas and monks acting on behalf of the Drebung mother monastery near Lhasa. Its strategic location along the western border of Bhutan could provide access for the Chinese from Tibet to Assam through the almost fourteen-​thousand-​foot-​high Se La Pass. Nehru’s categorical statements and follow-​up action were probably calculated to preempt a challenge from China. Nevertheless, the prime minister’s strong language contrasted with the weak capabilities of the Indian state, which were not certain to prevail over Chinese claims should they choose to enforce them.

China’s Claims to Sovereignty over Tibet China’s claims to sovereignty over Tibet, which had been ruled by the Dalai Lama as a de facto independent state in the seventeenth century, derived from the Manchu’s Qing dynasty, 1720 to 1911, and its proclamation of a Chinese protectorate involving control over Tibet’s external relations. The Manchu’s defeat of the Dsungar Mongols, a lamaistic tribe, responded to the perceived threat that Tibet and Mongolia could unify under the banner of religion. The victorious Manchus installed a provisional government under the supervision of a Manchu military governor and a large Manchu and Chinese garrison reporting to the Grand Secretariat and Grand Council in Peking. Over the long period of the Qing dynasty, the nature and extent of imperial influence greatly fluctuated. China’s overlordship was reflected in the posting of two residential commissioners, or ambans, representing the emperor in Lhasa, and an armed garrison of about two thousand troops with its own military commander. After the final defeat of the Dzungars in 1757, the ambans and the Chinese garrison reported on events to the Chinese emperor, but did not normally interfere in day-​to-​day administration of government. According to Richardson, a regular cycle became apparent in the affairs of Tibet and China. An imperial military expedition against internal rebellion or foreign interference would be followed by the reorganization of the government at Lhasa. Subsequently, a “decline in the





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imperial interest and influence there . . . [led] to an internal crisis calling for another expedition and another reorganization.”51 Once the crisis had passed, less conscientious and obedient ambans tended to defer to the power of the regent acting on behalf of the Dalai Lama for long periods: few children identified as incarnate successors survived to their majority. The Manchus, while claiming to be sovereign, did not incorporate Tibet as a province of China. Rather, after 1757, the link between Tibet and China was described as the relationship of priest and patron. It was useful to both countries during times when Tibet needed protection, and China was able to deploy expeditionary forces against invaders to ensure stability in the region. The emperor ordered the more sweeping reforms of 1793, which appeared to consolidate Chinese control over Tibet’s internal affairs. These involved a new procedure supervised by the ambans to select the Dalai Lama by lottery. Combined with a decree to close off Tibet to foreigners—​both the Chinese and Tibetans suspected the British of supporting the Gurkhas—​evoked a semblance of sovereignty. The reforms, however, did not permanently enhance imperial authority. China did not have the strength to control Tibet’s foreign policy at least from 1888, when Tibetans refused to withdraw a military post from the British protectorate of Sikkim and the British acted to expel them. After China’s defeat in the 1895 Sino-​Japanese War, the Dalai Lama rejected the authority of the ambans to make appointments on behalf of the Tibetans and personally assumed the power of administering justice. Even earlier, Tibet had refused to recognize the legitimacy of any treaties negotiated by China on its behalf with a foreign country, most notably trade agreements concluded by Britain and China in 1886, 1890, and 1893. The British government of India, under Lord Curzon as viceroy, became apprehensive that the policy of the Foreign Office in London, which continued to defer to China’s sensibilities about asserting the symbols of its sovereignty over Tibet, was jeopardizing India’s security and ignoring Russian activities aimed at establishing its own influence in Lhasa. The exhaustive scholarship of Alastair Lamb read together with that of H. E. Richardson, who Lamb believed had written the best short history of Tibet, allows for a summary of the complicated dealings that the British had with Tibet, China, and Russia. It also enabled the British to act on their assertion that the Chinese were suzerain, not sovereign, in Tibet, and that Tibet was autonomous in the conduct of its foreign affairs. The Lhasa Convention, the first direct treaty between Great Britain and Tibet, at which the Chinese amban was present but did not participate, presented an unacceptable challenge to China’s long-​standing claim as protector of Tibet. China’s Foreign Ministry repeated its official position of sovereignty over Tibet, which could make no binding international agreement without Chinese assent. Differences over this issue became the core of all subsequent disputes and the substance of negotiations with China



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(1906) and with Russia (1907) to clarify the rights of foreign powers in relation to Tibet.52 The distinction was a crucial one; China’s insistence on sovereignty meant Tibet was a part of the Chinese Empire and prohibited from negotiating treaties. British recognition of China’s suzerain status was inseparable from its position that Tibet was autonomous and had treaty-​making powers, which could not be exercised by China on its behalf. It is not possible here to reproduce Lamb’s account of London’s wider imperial concerns to ease tensions with Russia in Central Asia, and to delimit the influence each country could exercise in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Such concerns, however, were important in persuading Great Britain to place the Lhasa Convention before China in 1906 in order to “confirm” its provisions, while engaging not to interfere in the administration of Tibet or to annex Tibetan territory. The 1906 Anglo-​Chinese Convention deliberately avoided the issue of Chinese suzerainty or sovereignty, but implied China’s authority over Tibet by providing that both parties should take necessary steps to fulfill the terms of the Lhasa Convention.53 This arrangement addressed China’s claim to symbolic control, which was further enhanced by the return of the Dalai Lama from Mongolia via Peking, where he was “forgiven” by the dowager empress, given a stipend, and instructed to carry out imperial projects. The status of China’s real control, however, remained ambiguous. The 1907 convention, signed by Great Britain and Russia to respect the territorial integrity of Tibet and not to engage in negotiations with Tibet except through the intermediary of the Chinese government, cited the “admitted principle of the suzerainty of China over Tibet.” At the same time, it recognized the direct relations between British commercial agents and Tibetan authorities provided for in the 1904 Lhasa Convention and confirmed by the 1906 Anglo-​Chinese Convention.54 The first use of the term suzerainty in any agreement concerning China’s relations with Tibet, deliberately inserted at the request of the British government of India to counter China’s claims of sovereignty, strengthened Peking’s determination to resist any encroachment on its frontiers. In a historical break with the notion of patron and priest, the Manchu began to concentrate their forces to carry out the conquest and pacification of Tibetan tribal chiefs and monks in the eastern districts of virtually independent states and Chinese-​influenced states, known as the Marches. By February 1910, from strongholds in the Marches, imperial forces were ready for a major attack on the Dalai Lama’s domain in central Tibet. Their purpose was to dislodge the Dalai Lama from the territories he controlled, to assume all internal administrative power, and place Tibet on par with other provinces in China for the first time. Chinese forces occupied Lhasa, the Dalai Lama fled to Kalimpong in Assam (India), and direct Chinese administration was established from the Chinese border province of Sichuan for a short distance westward. The use of force to displace and





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humiliate Tibetan officials associated with the monasteries, and instructions to begin the sinification of Tibetan culture was part of the overall plan to convert Tibet into a province of China. All of these actions destroyed any legitimacy in Tibet on behalf of the old imperial links. Tibetans in the eastern districts reacted by massacring Chinese troops. Once news from Peking reached Lhasa of the Republican Revolution of 1911, the demoralized Chinese forces were beset by attacks mounted by the monks of the great monasteries “fanatically opposed to the Chinese.” They killed prominent Tibetan collaborators in 1912 and attacked the Chinese garrison in Lhasa, whose remnants were evacuated through India with the help of the British. After the departure in April 1913 of the last amban, Chung Ying, Chinese military domination over Tibet came to an end. The Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa and issued a national proclamation. He declared, “We are a small, religious, and independent nation.”

The Simla Conference The British, no less than the Tibetans, drastically changed their assessment of the danger to their position after China’s attempt to extend its control over Tibet. The adjoining hill tracts in the Assam Himalayas, without any permanent British administration, would be easy to infiltrate, and even allow Chinese troops to sweep down to the plains below. After 1912, when the Chinese were cut off from Tibet, the British, this time with support from London, determined to press their advantage. They proposed a partition of Tibet into an autonomous self-​governing Outer Zone coterminous with the Dalai Lama’s domain in central Tibet, and the creation of an Inner Tibet in which some type of Chinese sovereignty would be exercised. The 1914 tripartite Simla conference of Great Britain, China, and Tibet, despite its failure to win Chinese support for this zonal division, remained the defining legacy of the British raj for the security of independent India. At Simla, the Chinese grudgingly accepted the British position that Tibet could not be incorporated as a province of China, that all matters of internal administration must be exercised by the Tibetan government, and that this extended to independent communication and treaty relations with Great Britain. Great Britain’s willingness to recognize the “suzerain rights” of China in Tibet in this context referred to a primarily ceremonial representative with a small armed escort of three hundred men in Lhasa on the condition that China recognize the autonomy of Tibet.55 The Simla Conference also marked the first time that China conceded the equal diplomatic status of Tibet by agreeing to recognize a Tibetan plenipotentiary to negotiate and jointly sign articles of a provisional treaty. Lamb and



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others explain the reasons why the Chinese government refused to ratify the Simla Convention based on the idea of two zones in great detail, but this rejection did not question the right of Tibet to sign the draft convention.56 The term suzerainty, which the British continued to use with respect to Tibet’s status relative to China, was narrowly circumscribed to convey little more than symbolic influence that did not interfere with Tibet’s right to independently sign treaties. China’s decision not to accept the convention made the whole issue moot, and better accorded with Tibetan claims to complete independence. The government of India’s treaty rights in Tibet, the most important referring to the border separating Tibet from India, thereafter known as the McMahon Line, did not depend on the tripartite draft convention, never ratified by the republican Chinese government of Yuan-​Shih-​k’ai. Rather, the McMahon Line, which Nehru claimed in parliament as India’s fixed border in the northeast Assam Himalayas and said was the result of the Simla Convention, more accurately arose from an “exchange of notes” in a bilateral British and Tibetan negotiation held in New Delhi during January and March 1914, which deliberately excluded Chinese participation.57 The agreement was formalized through a declaration signed on July 3, 1914, by the British plenipotentiary, A.  Henry McMahon, and the plenipotentiary of the Dalai Lama, Lonchen Shatra, as binding on the governments of both countries. Similarly, the two plenipotentiaries agreed on a new set of Anglo-​Tibet trade regulations canceling previous agreements of 1893 and 1908 and substantially expanding the rights of the British. These rights allowed them to establish a British Trade Agency, headed by a British trade agent, and to establish trade marts (in addition to Gartok, Gyantse, and Yatung), appoint trade agents, maintain rest houses, and have the right to try British subjects accused of crimes in the British trade agent’s court according to the laws of India. The government of India already enjoyed the right to maintain telegraph lines and postal communications to the Indian border.58 The Assam Himalaya border between Tibet and India was not on the agenda of the full Simla Conference. The British did not want to discuss it with China, and it was negotiated as a secret agreement. At the time, it could have been challenged by the Russians for violating the 1907 Anglo-​Russian convention, committing both states to negotiate about Tibet only through China. This impediment was removed by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, after which the Russians repudiated all imperial treaties. Only one year later, when all remaining Chinese troops in the Marches surrendered to the Tibetans and were evacuated to China, the British felt free to deal directly with Tibet to supply modest amounts of military equipment against the possibility of another Chinese thrust. They also arranged for publication of the Anglo-​Tibetan exchange of notes of March 24–​25, 1914, and the Simla Convention in a revised version of Aitchison’s Treaties in 1929. This replaced the original volume, which did not include these





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documents, with a later, backdated version, to strengthen the claim that the agreements were valid under international law.59 The Chinese were sufficiently concerned by these developments to indicate they wished to reopen the matter of a final settlement over Tibet revisiting the idea of an Inner-​Outer boundary and an emphasis on suzerainty, which the British refused to discuss. One outstanding issue not resolved was the status of Tibet under international law. The British stopped short of recognizing Tibetan independence partly for fear they would be committed to protecting Tibet from attack. They preferred to retain the formula of Tibetan autonomy under Chinese suzerainty endorsed at the Simla Convention. This formulation represented a definition of Chinese rights relating to Tibet, which China had repudiated in 1906, and kept alive the claim by the republican and then the communist government of China to “restore” China’s sovereignty over Tibet. At independence, as far as Great Britain and the United States were concerned, protection for Tibet’s autonomous status devolved entirely onto India. Nehru, who had played the central role in negotiations with Mountbatten to persuade Attlee’s government to accept the government of India as the successor of the British government of India, presided over the interim government. Independent India, with Nehru as prime minister and foreign minister, inherited from the British all treaties and arrangements with other countries. Indeed, no other state had so much at stake in ensuring that Tibet’s autonomy—​and its right to enter into treaties—​was respected.

China Renews Its Claim to Sovereignty over Tibet So long as a weak Kuomintang China ruled in Nanjing, India’s interim government, and then independent India, pursued policies similar to those of Great Britain, treating Tibet as a de facto independent state. This was evident from the separate invitations to Tibet and China to attend the March 1947 Asian Relations Conference.60 In July 1947, formal statements by the British government and the government of India informed the Tibetan government that British obligations and rights under existing treaties would devolve upon the successor Indian government. Subsequently, India and Tibet agreed to continue relations on the same basis of respect for Tibetan autonomy, which had existed with the British government. Nehru rejected Nanjing’s approach in 1948 to revise the 1908 Tibet Trade Regulations, asserting that independent India had inherited all the rights and obligations from treaties and conventions between British India and Tibet and that the 1908 trade regulations had been canceled by the Simla Convention of 1914 and renegotiated through the Anglo-​Tibetan Trade Regulations of the same year.



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The independent government of India gave every indication of intending to assume British rights in Tibet. As described by Hugh Richardson, who remained the representative of the Indian government in Tibet, a seamless transition occurred in Lhasa, “the only obvious change (being) the change of flag.” Indian Army detachments continued at their posts and maintained Indian postal and telegraph communications and rest houses. When Harishwar Dayal, the first Indian political officer in Sikkim, visited Lhasa in 1949, the Tibetan government explained its need for arms and ammunition and received a favorable reply. The Indian government sent senior military officers to Sikkim and Gyantse for discussions.61 Tibet, for its part, assumed the prerogatives of an independent country. The first Tibetan trade delegation sent abroad traveled on passports issued by the Tibetan government (Kashag). It visited India and Nepal, making three visits to India between February 1948 and January 1949. When the Nanjing government was forced back to Canton, the Lhasa administration expelled the Chinese Nationalists’ Kuomintang mission in July 1949 to preempt a possible takeover of the mission’s personnel by the communists, an act that Richardson considered “striking evidence of Tibet’s independence.”62 The international status of Tibetan independence, however, was problematic. The communists asserted that the revolution would be completed only when both Formosa and Tibet were restored to Chinese control. They were categorical that both these territories belonged to China and no other power had the right to interfere in China’s “internal” affairs. Virtually the first priority of Mao’s government was to “liberate” Tibet. By mid-​November 1949, after Panikkar had alerted Nehru to expect that Chinese communist forces would invade by May or June 1950, Tibet turned to India, requesting formal recognition of its independence as the basis of bringing before the United Nations any attack from China as international aggression. Both Britain and the United States, to which Tibet made similar appeals, believed India should assume primary responsibility, but each was prepared to make available military aid for Lhasa if India would cooperate in “quietly” transferring equipment to strengthen Tibet’s capabilities of resistance.63 Richardson, from his vantage point in Lhasa, made a forceful case to Nehru that it would be in India’s security interests, as well as its fulfillment of commitments to Tibet, to respond positively to the Tibetan government’s request for help. He specifically suggested the possibility of obtaining arms from the United Kingdom.64 Richardson argued that Tibet had served as an effective buffer for over forty years and that the GOI’s policy toward Tibet was “based entirely on political grounds.” Relations between India and Tibet were governed by the 1914 convention under which recognition of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was conditional on China’s acceptance of Tibetan autonomy and of the China-​Tibet boundary. Driving this point home, Richardson emphasized that





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“Government of India has not repeat not acknowledged Chinese suzerainty over Tibet since it ended in 1911 repeat 1911. They have on the contrary asserted and exercised their right to have direct dealings with Tibet and have refused transit visas to Chinese travelers to Tibet whose entry is not repeat not agreed to by Tibetan Government.” The logic of these reciprocal relations was that India’s rights as well as obligations were based on the 1914 convention and “we cannot claim the one while repudiating the other.” In particular, if the convention was disregarded, including assurances to the Tibetan government that India would stand by Tibetan autonomy, the boundary as laid down in 1914 would be disregarded and India would be exposed to renewed claims by China to the Assam tribal area.65 Nehru received similar counsel from Vallabhai Patel, with the deputy prime minister reminding him of Great Britain’s considerable political influence and trading rights in Tibet, and the fact that “Chinese suzerainty was merely nominal and Tibetan autonomy verged on independence.” Referring to (republican) China’s refusal to sign the 1914 “Tripartite Convention,” and the tendency of the British to subsequently deal with Tibet bilaterally, he noted that independent India had maintained relations with Tibet on the same basis as the British had done before.66 The advice from Richardson and from Patel came just when China’s leaders “attached enormous importance to India and Nehru during the critical period of their takeover and consolidation of Tibet.” India had alone inherited legal rights in Tibet embedded in the Anglo-​Tibetan treaties. Articles in the Chinese press expressed apprehension that Nehru might act in concert with American forces to threaten the Chinese takeover. “The essential functions of Nehruvian India in the communist scheme of things were not only to prevent external intervention in Tibet but also to seek India’s legitimation of the communist takeover.”67 If ever Nehru could have correctly asserted a legal and moral position of superiority in foreign policy, it was against China’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet and its readiness to use armed force to assert Chinese control. China’s claim had no legal basis and it ignored the autonomous status of Tibet during 1914–​1950, as well as the assertion of independence by Tibet’s government for more than thirty-​five years. The claim represented only the continuing determination to conquer Tibet that had briefly resulted in the military occupation of Lhasa in 1910–​1911. Richardson attributed China’s “obdurate irredentism” to a concept of history in which China remained the center of the world and a universal empire to which Tibet was longing to return.68 Lamb, more measured, referred to the belief of Chinese leaders that Tibet was “in some way” part of China and should not be allowed to slip from its grasp. More unexpected than China’s reassertion of its claim to sovereignty over Tibet was Nehru’s failure to challenge its legitimacy, or reiterate the long-​established



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policy of the government of India that it would recognize Chinese suzerainty over Tibet on condition that China recognized Tibet’s autonomy. Nehru did not publicly state India’s case that it alone had a special position in Tibet, including a mission in Lhasa, extensive trading rights and an agreed border, based on the 1914 Anglo-​Tibetan exchange of notes recognizing the McMahon Line. Even before negotiations began senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs prepared themselves to accept Chinese control of both Tibet’s foreign affairs and defense, and even questioned whether India could give any diplomatic support to Tibet since “the Chinese are hardly likely to give in on any point that they regarded as essential to their interests.”69 Nehru actually rejected opportunities to encourage support for Tibetan autonomy. In January 1950, when Acheson was considering Tibet’s request to send a mission to Washington so Tibetans would not be completely discouraged in efforts to fortify their position against possible Chinese attack, K. P. S. Menon advised it would serve no purpose and might speed up China’s plans for invasion.70 Acheson received the same negative reply to his inquiry about whether India would cooperate with the United States to transfer military aid to Lhasa. As Henderson understood in his reply to an inquiry from Acheson, New Delhi’s reaction would be “somewhat unfavorable.”71 Nehru had become determined to distance India from the United States in order to disprove Mao’s view, congruent with that of the Soviets, that India was still subordinate to Great Britain and the United States, and unable to “overthrow the yoke of imperialism and its collaborators.”72 India’s silence on the legal and moral bases of Tibet-​India relations sent a signal to Mao that China’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet would not meet a serious challenge from the one statesman in Asia with the moral authority to influence international opinion against it. As Qiang Zhai points out, Mao gave instructions to the CCP Central Committee on January 2, 1950, to begin planning the Tibetan campaign two days after India’s recognition. Following recognition from Great Britain and Pakistan, he pronounced international conditions as favorable. Until that time, China was “deeply apprehensive” of efforts to internationalize the Tibetan issue.73 According to Nehru’s message to Richardson, approximately six weeks before India extended recognition, the response to which by Richardson is quoted at length above, the prime minister was primarily influenced by Panikkar, who warned against taking “wrong decisions” without seeing the Tibetan problem from China’s point of view. Panikkar’s formulation, which Nehru repeated, was that India had always “upheld the theory of Chinese suzerainty,” while China had never accepted the Indian position that this was conditional on Chinese recognition of Tibetan autonomy. As Nehru fully understood, the British had insisted since 1914 that they would recognize China’s suzerainty over Tibet on condition that China recognized Tibet’s autonomy. As late as November 28,





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1949, the secretary of state for Commonwealth relations reiterated the British government’s position that for more than thirty-​five years the United Kingdom had been prepared to recognize China’s suzerainty over Tibet only on the understanding that Tibet’s autonomy was recognized by China.74 Panikkar’s formulation, moreover, contradicted his own scholarship in the book for which he was best known, when he concluded that Great Britain’s intervention in Tibet had been “undoubtedly in the alleged interests of India,” and that at the end of the raj, Tibet and Afghanistan each enjoyed the status of neutral countries that retained their independence, although subject to British influence.75 Panikkar did not change his reading of British and Indian history. He adapted his view to the new circumstances created by the imminent invasion of Tibet by China’s much greater forces. He used a legalistic argument to maintain that since Tibet had not been recognized as an independent country, it would be impractical to consider Tibet as a buffer state. Nehru summarized Panikkar’s views for India’s representatives in Sikkim and Lhasa:  if China decided to make her suzerainty effective, India had hardly any right to intervene “so long as our Treaty interests are safeguarded,” the definable interests being trade rights and recognized boundary. The best way of safeguarding these interests, according to Nehru, was on the diplomatic level through “careful negotiation” to protect the rights derived from the treaties.76 Such an approach, which both recognized China’s plan to invade Tibet and claimed India’s rights under the British treaties, negotiated with an autonomous Tibet, defied logic. If, as China insisted, Tibet had always been under Chinese sovereignty, it could not have made any valid treaty agreements. Once Tibet was incorporated into China the burden was placed on India to win China’s friendship and avoid all policies that could be perceived at the “cost of China” in order to win diplomatic recognition of the McMahon Line. The Panikkar-​Nehru policy toward Tibet was ignominious. It was also the most misguided foreign policy decision Nehru made, giving China’s claims to “Southern Tibet” in the Northeast Frontier Agency a sense of credibility. Their friendly approach to China, albeit clothed in the high-​minded argument of “great importance to Asia and to the world that India and China should be friendly,”77 was condemned as appeasement once China-​India border clashes broke out in 1959. Nehru’s reasons for early recognition of China, as explained to Dean Acheson, suggested that a process of rivalry in Southeast Asia had already begun. Referring to the political and economic revolutions at work in Indonesia, Indo-​China, Malaya, and Burma, Nehru argued that communism had found an ally in nationalism and that withholding recognition would not only create a gulf between us and China, with whom we have a history of almost immemorial friendship, but also misunderstanding between



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India and the peoples of Southeast Asia for us, situated where we are the recognition of new China was not only inevitable but urgent.78 In the end, Nehru’s policies toward China rested on an untested assumption. This was that in the name of Asianism China’s ties to the Soviet Union eventually could be weakened—​and China’s ties to India strengthened—​by demonstrating India’s friendship as the foremost champion of Mao’s demands. Nehru’s assumption of a common bond in Asianism turned out to be singularly mistaken. In the early 1950s, it would have been impossible to drive a wedge between China and the Soviet Union. Documents from that period make clear that Mao treated Stalin with adulation. He took the initiative in forging the February 1950 Sino-​Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance to gain validation of his regime as a socialist state, and to arrange economic aid (including $300 million in credits) and military assistance to build an air force and develop long-​range artillery. He was also intent in ensuring China’s security against aggression from Japan “or any other state that may collaborate in any way with Japan in acts of aggression.” As Liu Shaoqi reported to Mao in 1949, his conversations with Stalin made clear that the CCP, after outlining its point of view, would “resolutely carry out the decisions of the Soviet Communist Party.”79 So close was coordination between Mao and Stalin on virtually all foreign policy issues that Stalin formally confirmed to Mao he agreed with the Chinese comrades regarding the mediation of India on the question of the entry of the People’s Republic of China into the membership of the United Nations.80

Chinese Takeover of Tibet Tibet was an early casualty of India’s friendly policy toward China and New Delhi’s efforts to distance India from the United States. Mao’s determination to quickly impose Chinese control over Tibet was sharpened by deep suspicions that Tibet could be turned into an “anti-​Beijing front” in the southwest by “intruding Anglo-​American imperialist forces” in league with India. Mao always assumed that Chinese control would require the use of military force, and his preparations relied on Soviet assistance for air transport and high-​altitude aircraft.81 Reports of Chinese troops moving toward Tibet from three directions—​ north, northeast, and southeast—​in mid-​July 1950 elicited a bland response from New Delhi to the Indian embassy in Beijing, that “a friendly inquiry should be made from Foreign Office in Peking regarding these reports and desirability of settling Sino-​Tibetan relations by friendly negotiations emphasized.”82 Panikkar turned aside Nehru’s instruction, responding that the time was not suitable to





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suggest to the Chinese Foreign Office the desirability of settling Sino-​Tibetan affairs by negotiation because the Chinese had offered Tibet autonomy. Panikkar further repeated the Chinese view that Tibet had been delaying negotiations.83 On August 3, 1950, the commanding Chinese general issued a proclamation stating, “The People’s Liberation Army will soon march toward Tibet for the purpose of driving the British and American aggressive forces so as to enable Tibetans to return to the great family of the Peoples Republic of China.” This produced a sharper note from Nehru to Panikkar expressing “grave concern” about the decision of Peking to march the army toward Tibet and rejecting any rationale for a military action to end control of the “imperialists” over Tibetan authorities. He emphasized that India alone maintained a mission in Lhasa (but without making reference to India’s treaty rights) and that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom had any contact with the Tibetan government.84 The prime minister recognized the forceful argument by India’s representative in Sikkim that Chinese domination of Tibet would cause unrest along the whole of India’s northern frontier and that the GOI should immediately inform the Chinese government that “India is keenly interested in maintenance of full Tibetan autonomy and integrity of her own security.”85 But Nehru’s note for internal distribution, referring to the advice from Gangtok, commented only that bringing pressure on China not to invade Tibet was unlikely to succeed because “ultimately, we have no effective sanctions.”86 All India could do was give “such diplomatic support in so far as it is feasible.” K. P. S. Menon, India’s first ambassador to the Republic of China in 1947 and foreign secretary, echoed Panikkar in his conversations with Shakabpa, leader of the Tibetan mission then in Delhi, under instructions from the Tibetan government to negotiate with China on the basis of Tibet’s independence over the previous forty years. Menon bluntly told Shakabka, “Whatever the legal position . . . the fact should be recognized that at present there was no hope of negotiation except on the basis of Tibetan autonomy and Chinese suzerainty. The alternative was invasion, against which neither India nor any other country was in a position to help.”87 This advice was tantamount to acquiescence in the Chinese takeover of Tibet. Discussions between the Tibetan mission and the PRC ambassador to India on September 16, 1950, had clearly spelled out the Chinese government’s terms for resolving the issue by “peaceful means.” These were that Tibet must accept it was part of China, China would take over responsibility for Tibet’s defense, and China would conduct Tibet’s political and trade relations with other countries.88 K. P. S. Menon did not assert a counterclaim by India to recognition of its own defined boundaries along the McMahon Line. Instead, in a pattern which became familiar, he stated the difficulties that would be created for China in taking military action against a weak country: it would “conflict with the Prime Minister’s effort to achieve admission of China into the United Nations and be seized upon



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by the enemies of China to discredit her” (emphasis added). Reiterating India’s hope that the Tibetan problem would be “settled peacefully and in a friendly manner,” he concluded the interview with an assurance that he would impress upon the Tibetan delegation the need to make an early departure for Peking.89 At the time of this conversation, unofficial information had reached New Delhi from Lhasa that at least a partial invasion of Tibet by China had taken place. Chinese troops crossed the Kuen Lun mountains, “apparently passing through Indian territory in the barren Aksai Chin region in the northwest Tibetan uplands,” and, in early October 1950, overran Tibetan positions in the eastern center of Chamdo.90 Nehru’s message to Panikkar on October 12, 1950, emphasized the need to make India’s position clear to China’s government, stressing the “grave concern” about Chinese military movements in Tibet, along with India’s continued efforts regarding China’s entry into the United Nations, the future of Formosa, and association of China in the solution to the Korean problem. Nehru still made no mention of India’s treaty rights in Tibet, saying, “We have merely asked for continuation of such relations that have been built up between Tibet and us owing to geographical continuity and cultural and economic links. All that we have suggested for Tibet is autonomy within framework of Chinese sovereignty, to be attained by peaceful negotiations.”91 Nehru’s telegram was the first by the Indian prime minister to acknowledge China’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet. Paradoxically, he instructed Panikkar to make a forceful argument to the Chinese emphasizing that if they refused to halt their advance into Tibet and continued the invasion, “they will be convicting themselves of aggression and giving handle to their enemies for denouncing them. In these circumstances it will be difficult for us to continue the effort we have been making for past many months to secure the recognition of China by other nations.”92 Even this was too strong for Panikkar. He repeated the Chinese position that Tibet is “an internal problem, and that the Chinese government will not for a moment accept that they would be committing aggression as they had all along claimed the right as indeed all Chinese Governments had done and no one had claimed it was an international action.” Panikkar added, “So far as I could see the Chinese position is a straightforward one. Out of friendly feelings for us they are prepared to settle matters by negotiations with Tibetans but they cannot wait indefinitely for Tibetans to make up their minds.”93 Nehru finally expressed his irritation with Panikkar’s persistent explanations of Tibet policy from the Chinese point of view. His reply leaves no doubt that he clearly understood the consequences of leaving Tibet on its own without the support of India or the Western powers. Nehru wrote that the Tibetans were afraid to go to China “because the Chinese will dictate terms amounting to complete surrender of autonomy which Tibet has enjoyed for four decades.”94 At last, Nehru stated India’s position on Tibet:





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About Tibet, our position is first of all that our frontiers with Tibet, that is the McMahon Line, must stand as they are. There is no room for controversy over that issue. Internally on Tibet we earnestly hope that Tibetan autonomy will be recognized under Chinese suzerainty and that we will be allowed to keep our representatives for trade and other purposes in Tibet.95 Nehru had delayed too long. The PLA appeared poised for a full-​scale assault. K. P. S. Menon and Girija Shankar Bajpai placed much of the blame on Panikkar’s “lamentably weak” representations of India’s stand against military action, putting all of India’s interests in jeopardy—​the McMahon Line, the trade marts, and India’s representative in Lhasa.96 Belatedly, Nehru informed Panikkar that his representations to the Chinese government were “weak and apologetic.”97 Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhai Patel leveled direct criticism against the Chinese government after reading through the correspondence between the Ministry of External Affairs and Panikkar. Patel concluded that the Chinese deliberately tried to delude India by professions of peaceful intentions to instill a false sense of confidence in Panikkar while they prepared for the onslaught against Tibet. The new situation facing India would be that the Chinese would disown all treaty agreements entered into by Tibet, throwing into “the melting pot all frontier and commercial settlements with Tibet on which we have been functioning and acting during the last half a century.” The deputy prime minister stood alone when he argued that “communism is no shield against imperialism” and that Chinese irredentism and communist imperialism was ten times more dangerous than the imperialism of Western powers because Chinese ambitions were cloaked in ideology.98 Sardar Patel’s death within weeks stilled the only voice at the highest levels of government that could contradict Nehru. The prime minister avoided the arguments of Chinese imperialism and irredentism and refused to criticize the Chinese government. Instead, he placed the blame on India, saying the Chinese had talked about liberating Tibet from mid-​July 1950 and “did not deceive India so much as we may have deceived ourselves.”99 Nehru rejected another offer of US help in early November 1950, saying the United States “could be most helpful by doing nothing” to avoid “giving credence to Peking’s charges that great powers had been intriguing in Tibet and had been exercising influence over India’s Tibet policies.”100 The last desperate effort made by the Tibetans to hold on to their de facto independence by appealing to Britain, Canada, and the United States for help in the United Nations, also floundered on lack of support from India. While the British Foreign Office concluded that the legal position of Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was so amorphous and symbolic that nothing prevented Tibet from



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having its own international identity, the British UN representative advised his government to “modify” its legal view given India’s “strong doubts” regarding the “absolute independence” of Tibet, and the “preponderance of Indian interests in this matter.”101 India refused to sponsor Tibet’s appeal in the United Nations, ultimately introduced by El Salvador, but did briefly consider seconding the resolution. Just at this time the Chinese invasion slowed down, not because of friendly feelings for India, as Panikkar reported, but because of the need to construct drivable roads. Mao shrewdly shifted his emphasis from a military to a negotiated solution with the Tibetan delegation to “reduce Nehru’s fear” and preempt any possibility of internationalizing the Tibet issue.102 This strategy had the desired result. India did not second the Tibetan resolution in the United Nations and instructed the Indian representative to assert that a chance for peaceful settlement still existed and that the UN could facilitate a negotiated solution by not putting Tibet’s appeal on its agenda. Further efforts by Acheson to get Tibet a hearing in the General Assembly, in early January 1951, failed to elicit support from either Great Britain or India, leaving no option for the Dalai Lama but to send a delegation to Beijing. The “negotiations,” concluded on May 24, 1951, legitimized China’s claim of sovereignty over Tibet. Except for the promise of autonomy in the preservation of the Tibetan language and religious beliefs under “the unified leadership of the Chinese People’s Government,” Tibet accepted it was a part of China. China became responsible for Tibet’s defense, trade, and political relations with foreign countries.103 The PLA subsequently entered Tibet without resistance from local leaders to carry out the “peaceful liberation” of the country.

The 1954 Sino-​Indian Agreement on Tibet The new realities on the ground were driven home by China’s demand to transform the Indian mission in Lhasa to a consulate general in return for a Chinese consulate general in Bombay. According to Zhou Enlai, Panikkar told him in June 1952 that the Indian government was anxious to remove through negotiations “existing conditions” in Tibet, such as military escorts, and Indian postal and telegraphic establishments, calling them “vestiges of unequal treaties.” Nehru became increasingly uneasy that, in discussions between Panikkar and Zhou on all these “minor matters,” Zhou remained silent about the frontiers. He wrote Panikkar, on advice from G. S. Bajpai, then governor of Maharashtra State, that it would be preferable to have a comprehensive and general settlement that included the frontier and reminded him of the “instructions to you dated 25th January . . . to specify our interests including those on the frontier. We presume you have done so. If so, we can presume that Chou Enlai’s silence means some





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kind of acquiescence . . . I should like to be assured on this point.”104 Panikkar’s reply, dated June 17, 1952, is not reproduced and can only have warned Nehru not to press for a comprehensive settlement. Nehru responded, “In view of what you say it will be desirable not to raise question of our Frontier at this stage.”105 It was left to Panikkar to inform Bajpai about the decision taken to accept Zhou’s proposal for a “step by step” settlement. Panikkar represented this as the prime minister’s decision based on a number of considerations. India’s attitude was well known and had been stated publicly in parliament, so that it was up to China to raise the issue if it had anything to say about it. If the Chinese raised the frontier as an issue, India should refuse to reopen the question, asserting that there was nothing to discuss about it. Bajpai was clearly disturbed by this reasoning. He wrote to Panikkar that he could not endorse the decision or the arguments advanced in favor of it. The Chinese, never having accepted the McMahon Line can hardly regard this frontier as settled. Naturally, they have no intention of raising it until it suits their convenience. . . . If they are not as friendly to us as we are to them and do not wish silence to be construed as acquiescence we shall know where we really stand.106 Bajpai was no longer alone in warning Nehru about the calculations behind China’s friendship. Panikkar had requested Nehru recall him from Beijing because his wife became seriously ill from the extreme cold during the winters, and he was relieved in mid-​1952. His successor, Nedyam Raghavan, a London-​ trained lawyer, also had ties to Nehru from the 1930s when he was president of the Central Indian Association of Malaya and a member of the executive committee of the Indian Independence League, the political wing of the banned Indian National Army. An overseas Indian, originally from Cochin, Raghavan’s involvement with the INA led to charges of treason and his internment under the British Military Administration after the war. A team of lawyers sent by the government of India negotiated his release in early 1946, and Nehru selected him to serve in the Foreign Service. At the time of his appointment as ambassador to China, he was one of India’s most experienced and highly trusted diplomats with a reputation for objectivity.107 Raghavan’s note on Sino-​Indian relations, summarizing his observations after eighteen months and particularly the period November 1952 to December 1953, when India made the most strenuous efforts to achieve a Korean settlement acceptable to China, described his experience as full of “revelations.” Unlike Panikkar, he asserted the “real attitude” of the Chinese government was to remain friendly without being warm, and wait for the “emergence of ‘Peoples Government of India.’ ” China’s goal was to prepare the way for cultivation of



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warm relations with the “people of India,” as distinct from the government of India, whose achievements were belittled for failing to solve the economic and political ills of capitalism, colonialism, and feudalism. Meanwhile, under Nehru’s leadership as an “Asian statesman,” India could be “useful.” At the same time, Beijing was on the look out to see that “India does not increase her stature in international fields so that China’s ultimate role as the leading Asian Power will in no manner be affected or threatened.”108 China did not wait for formal discussions to mount a series of challenges to India’s special position in Tibet. Local Chinese authorities forced the Indian trade agent, Gartok, to close down his station and hand over his wireless equipment, which “has broken all the canons of Diplomatic obligations for representatives of a Foreign country without any reason.”109 During the same month, China withdrew approval for relief units to be sent for escorts at Gyantse and Yatung when their normal term of duty was completed. In September, Nehru agreed to this unilateral action, characterizing his decision to withdraw all military escorts for trade marts in Tibet as a goodwill gesture. The Chinese also served notice they would not honor “past practices” to approve travel to Gyantse by India’s political officer in Sikkim in summer 1953. Against this background, Nehru’s message to Zhou Enlai on August 30, 1953, expressing great satisfaction with the growing cooperation between India and China in international affairs concealed considerable unease. He expressed “surprise and regret” at the action taken against the trade agent in western Tibet, referring to it as a “petty incident” inconsistent with the friendly relations between the two countries. Setting down his own understanding of assurances by Zhou to India’s ambassador that “there was no difference of point of view in regard to Tibet between India and China” and no territorial dispute or any controversy between India and Tibet in this matter, Nehru stated the real purpose of his message. This was the invitation to Zhou to confer either in Peking or New Delhi at the earliest opportunity to come to a final settlement on “all pending matters” to avoid any misunderstanding or friction.110 Zhou’s response on October 16, welcoming the invitation, proposed discussions in Beijing in December 1953 and referred to a conversation with Panikkar on June 14, 1952, which conveyed that India was anxious to remove her special rights in Tibet, which were vestiges of unequal treaties. Zhou expressed his own approach, which was that relations between India and China in “the Tibetan region of China” should be “built up anew on a new basis through negotiation,” suggesting that India’s northern boundary could be challenged during the talks.111 India’s consul general in Lhasa believed the Chinese were determined to repudiate the 1914 treaty between India and Tibet.112





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On the eve of negotiations in Beijing, India formulated its strategy from a position of weakness on the ground and without the leverage of great power support. New Delhi had already abandoned, one by one, the special rights in Tibet that had been guaranteed by the British government in India-​Tibet treaties. What remained for discussion with China about India’s activities in Tibet were mostly secondary matters—​access to trade marts, camp sites, passes, and pilgrimage routes. The most important question, China’s recognition of the McMahon Line as India’s frontier, remained outstanding. On this “most important issue,” Nehru seemed to be conducting a dialogue with himself, projecting onto China’s leaders his own conclusion. In an internal memo for senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, Nehru wrote: As for our frontier, it is our well-​declared policy that the line is a settled one and not open to argument or discussion, except perhaps with regard to minor tracts here and there which may be doubtful. I cannot go into people’s minds, much less into the Chinese mind, but I can judge from circumstances. It is completely impracticable for the Chinese government to think of anything in the nature of the invasion of India. Therefore I rule it out.113 The most comprehensive discussion paper for the Tibet negotiations, sent from the Indian embassy in Beijing, for the first time centered on whether the question of India’s frontier with Tibet should be raised. The author(s) assumed that China was “likely” to refer to unequal treaties forced by British imperialism on previous Chinese governments. Panikkar, writing from his new post as ambassador to Egypt, offered his advice that India should not allow the matter to be opened at all, “For once we agree to discuss, we accept the idea there is something to discuss. We must be prepared to break off negotiations and must really be firm.”114 This did not rule out some adjustments on the border in specific disputed areas, among them the “Aksai plain in Ladakh” or “Towang,” shown on India’s maps as “ours” but by the Chinese on their own maps as theirs. India’s decision not to raise the question of the frontier at all, and to break off negotiations if the Chinese did so, meant that the best opportunity for coming to an agreement on the two areas at the core of the subsequent border dispute and the 1962 war (which remained unresolved as of 2017)  was squandered at a time when the Aksai plain and Towang, among other places, were recognized as disputed by New Delhi and could have been quietly conceded as “minor adjustments.”115 Nehru agreed with Panikkar’s advice and his diplomats in Beijing, adding without elaboration, “We do not wish to raise aksai chin question.”116 If the



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Chinese raised the border issue, India would point out that during the last two years, when Indo-​Chinese and Indo-​Tibetan problems were discussed, there had been no reference to the frontier; thus it was a settled issue. Negotiations between the Indian and Chinese delegations on Tibet during January to April 1954, carried out under the leadership of Ambassador Raghavan and Chang Han-​Fu, China’s vice minister for foreign affairs, did not raise the question of the frontier. The calculations of the Indian side are clear, but those of the Chinese are opaque. Most likely, Zhou Enlai was thinking about China’s international debut at the Geneva Conference on Korea and Indo-​China, which started on the same date, April 29, 1954, on which the final text of the “Sino-​ Indian Trade Agreement over Tibetan Border (1954)” was released.117 Zhou was intent on demonstrating to the world China’s willingness to negotiate in good faith on Indo-​China and solve difficult problems through compromise on the basis of peaceful coexistence. The first piece of evidence cited by the Chinese foreign minister of his credibility was the agreement concluded on Tibet with India. The 1954 Sino-​Indian Agreement on Tibet dealt with claims by each side to establish trade agencies and trade marts, and requirements for passports, visas, and permits regulating travel. Each side tried to accommodate the other, maintaining strict equality, at least on paper, of the number of trade agencies that could be established (Yatung, Gyantse, and Gartok for India; New Delhi, Calcutta, and Kalimpong for China) and the status and treatment, privileges, and immunities of the trade agencies on each side. The same principle was followed in specifying markets for trade and provisions for pilgrimage in both directions. Both sides agreed to eight mountain passes through which traders and pilgrims could travel, significantly fewer than originally requested by India, but India’s position prevailed in that traders of both countries could enter with certificates issued by the local government of their own country and that petty traders or persons wishing to visit relatives and friends could follow previous custom and not be restricted to the specified passes and routes or required to hold formal documents. Finally, the two parties agreed that the agreement would remain in force for eight years and could be extended by mutual request. The issues resolved by the Sino-​India agreement, difficult as they were to negotiate, were not in themselves very important. Many commentators concluded that omission of any mention of the northern frontier reflected Nehru’s naiveté in construing the Sino-​Indian Trade Agreement over Tibetan Border as an implicit gentlemen’s agreement conveying China’s recognition of the northern boundary. Yet the documentation makes clear that Nehru and his advisers considered the frontier the most important question in the negotiations. China’s





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failure to raise it was interpreted by India’s negotiators as a victory for New Delhi’s diplomacy that went far beyond the agreement’s specific details about trade agencies, markets, pilgrims, and passes. From India’s perspective, the most important section was the preamble that set out five broad principles on which the agreement was based. These five principles conveyed entirely different meanings to the Chinese and to the Indian side. As Zhou told the Indian delegation at the very beginning of the discussions, China had laid out its principles in the 1949 “Common Programme,” that all outstanding problems between China and other countries could be solved on the basis of mutual respect for territorial integrity, noninterference in internal affairs, nonaggression, and peaceful coexistence.118 This formulaic statement of China’s foreign policy, adopted in the immediate years after the CCP’s ascent to power, was meant to reassure apprehensive neighbors of Beijing’s commitment to peaceful relations. Spelled out in the preamble to the agreement at India’s insistence are five separate principles:  mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. They were transmogrified by New Delhi into the famous Panch Sheel (Five Principles) as a new foundation for peace between India and China, and by extension to Asia as a whole. Nehru’s reliance on Panch Sheel was not naiveté. If anything, it could be considered an expression of hubris, the sense that India had taken the measure of China and outmaneuvered its negotiators, refusing to discuss the most important problem of the frontier. Nehru said as much to the Lok Sabha on May 15, 1954, when he described the agreement on Tibet as dealing with a large number of problems, each one of them not very important. By contrast, he called the significant aspect of the agreement “the principles and considerations which govern our mutual relations” and which would result in mutual respect of sovereignty and integrity along the eighteen hundred miles of shared frontier.119 T. N.  Kaul, the Indian diplomat engaged in the actual negotiations with China’s chief of the Asian Department, also was convinced that the importance of the agreement rested on the principles spelled out in the preamble. He read into them “the recognition of our present boundary by implication.” Nehru reinforced Kaul’s advice to establish checkpoints at all disputed areas and administration of the borders, a policy that required coordination between the Ministries of External Affairs, Home Affairs, and Defence. New Delhi assumed that for a long time to come, China would depend on Tibet for its requirements in the region because of the enormous cost of transport. No thought was given to the possibility of China planning a much shorter supply route into Tibet across the disputed Aksai Chin.



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Nehru turned aside criticism, especially from the United States, that India gave up more than it gained by the agreement with China. He wrote to India’s ambassador in Washington that the Americans did not understand that we have only given up what in fact we could not hold and what in reality had gone. We have given up certain rights that we exercised internally in Tibet. Obviously we cannot do that. We have gained instead something that is very important, i.e., a friendly frontier and an implicit acceptance of that frontier.120 The Indian side did not mention what it had given China in return for an “implicit” friendly frontier. The 1954 Sino-​Indian Agreement on Tibet was the first legal acceptance by the Indian government that Tibet formed an integral part of China. It ruled out any future representations about the autonomy of Tibet. Richardson considered that the 1954 agreement “amounted to the countersignature by India of the death warrant of Tibetan independence.”121 Nehru acted almost immediately to convert an implicit frontier into an actual one. He instructed all officers to give up any reference to the McMahon Line, except in historical context, and simply refer to India’s northern frontier. Without consulting China, he issued instructions to print new maps of the northern and northeastern frontier, eliminating any reference to a “line” or statement of undemarcated territory. The “frontier should be considered a firm and definite one which is not open to discussion with anybody.” This was combined with the reiteration of the need to establish a system of checkposts across the entire frontier supported by a border militia.122 In an internal memo, the prime minister confided, Of course, both the Soviet Union and China are expansive. . . . Chinese expansionism has been evident during various periods of Asian history for a thousand years or so. We are perhaps facing a new period of such expansionism. Let us consider that and fashion our policy to prevent it coming in the way of our interests . . . that we consider important.123 Nehru was well aware that the agreement between India and China about Tibet was not a permanent guarantee that relations with China might not worsen. Yet he believed that, in the present and foreseeable future, it was a major step to help preserve peace. This belief persisted, although the celebrated slogan of “Hindi-​Chini bhai bhai” (meaning “India and China are brothers”) that flooded the Indian media was totally one-​sided. The PRC neither changed its maps nor recognized the McMahon Line as India’s northern frontier.





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In the end, Nehru’s friendly approach to China alienated the United States while failing to achieve the border security it sought. As India made every effort to press Chinese claims for sovereignty over Formosa and membership in the United Nations, it downplayed the cost to its own security interests of creating hostile public opinion in the United States. The Korean War played out over the same period as the Chinese invasion and India-​China negotiations over Tibet. Korea pitted the armed forces of the United States against those of China in a conflict perceived in both Washington and Beijing as affecting the balance of power in Asia.



5   

 Korea India’s “Unneutral” China Policy Stokes US Suspicions

Once China entered the Korean War on the side of invading North Korean troops, Nehru’s initial formulation of nonalignment “on the merits” was quietly set aside. The Nehru-​Panikkar approach to achieving China’s recognition of the McMahon Line depended upon India’s demonstration of friendship that avoided all policies that could be perceived as undertaken at China’s cost. Nonalignment was subsequently redefined in practice, but not publicly, as a position of neutrality between Cold War adversaries regardless of the merits. India quickly pivoted to claim the moral high ground as an intermediary committed to find peaceful solutions to dangerous conflicts that could escalate to full-​scale  war. This adjustment in the meaning of nonalignment, applied to the Korean conflict, allowed India to avoid supporting the United States in the UN resolution branding China an aggressor, and to rationalize its role as an advocate of compromise in the cause of peace. Ironically, India’s tactics of bypassing the origin of the conflict resembled those of Great Britain in the Kashmir dispute that Nehru had so fiercely denounced. The United States, in stark contrast, determined to avoid any solution that accepted Chinese terms for peace perceived as providing rewards for aggression that amounted to appeasement. These terms included recognition of China, its membership in the Security Council, expulsion of Formosa (Taiwan) from the United Nations, transfer of Taiwan to China, withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, and a Japanese peace treaty that excluded the United States from establishing bases there. Both the United States and China understood that such concessions would alter the balance of power in Asia. Once the Truman administration refused to pay China’s price for peace, the United States and India, both professing their commitment to avoid a wider war, acted at cross-​purposes. The government of India, following Nehru’s lead as prime minister and minister of external affairs, continued to endorse China’s When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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demands. US policymakers responded by branding India as “unneutral” in its bias toward China and denigrated Nehru’s policy as one of appeasement. Other initiatives by India heightened US disdain and distrust. Nehru and Krishna Menon concentrated on cultivating solidarity in the Commonwealth, particularly with the United Kingdom and Canada, both wary that US policies could provoke a wider, and possibly even a nuclear, war. India also took the lead in organizing an anticolonial Arab-​Asian bloc in the United Nations to undercut automatic American majorities. Relying on its friends and sympathizers, India’s diplomacy, spearheaded by Krishna Menon with Nehru’s support, worked to find a formula for peace in terms acceptable to its noncommunist supporters, but couched in vague language conveyed to Beijing as meeting all of China’s demands. China’s goal, as Panikkar reported from Beijing, was to use the superior numbers of its armed forces to destroy the American-​led UN Command in Korea and remove all Western influence from Asia. The United States responded with unexpected determination and sheer force to compel China to accept the face-​ saving strategy of restoring the status quo in Korea. India became irrelevant as a go-​between in the final negotiation of an armistice between the United States and China, brokered by the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. John Foster Dulles, Acheson’s successor as secretary of state under the Eisenhower Administration, which came to power in 1954, reached a similar conclusion about India’s policies: either Nehru endorsed China’s expansionist foreign policy or he was dangerously naive about communist aims. India’s perceived bias toward China was reinforced by its leadership of the deadlocked Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC), responsible for explanations to North Korean and Chinese POWs and allowing them to make a free decision about repatriation to North Korea or China or to be released. Lieutenant General K. S. Thimayya, the Indian chairman of the NNRC, sided with the Chinese in protesting the role of South Korea’s agents in the POW camps at Panmunjom, whom they blamed for preventing the North Koreans from coming out for explanations. India cast deciding votes supporting Czechoslovakia and Poland against Sweden and Switzerland to charge the UN Command—​in effect, the Americans—​with abetting the abuse of North Korean POWs to intimidate them from expressing their desire to return home. Dulles, exasperated by India’s demand for a special session of the UN General Assembly to discuss impediments placed in the way of the NNRC’s ability to meet its mandate, rejected this interpretation. Rather, the United States proceeded to bypass the United Nations and India. It joined with the foreign ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to announce the April 29, 1954, Geneva Conference to discuss the situation in Korea and in Indo-​China, excluding India as a participant in international deliberations on major security issues affecting



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Asia. Nehru was confirmed in his conviction that the United States was intent on taking the place of the imperialist powers in Asia. From his perspective, India’s responsibility, more than ever, rested on persuading smaller countries to refuse close ties with the United States in the name of Asianism.

North Korea’s Invasion of South Korea North Korea’s unexpected invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, Truman informed Congress, made plain “beyond all doubt” that the Soviet Union had entered a new phase of directing armed invasion and war to conquer independent nations. Such willingness to violate an international border evoked the lessons of appeasement before World War II and the necessity to draw a line against further aggression. Korea became the place for standing firm, to avoid future communist expansion and ultimately war. US knowledge about Korea’s history and culture and its close relations with China was very limited. An insular civilization, called the “Hermit Kingdom,” it had been influenced by Buddhism and Chinese culture over three thousand years of dynastic rule. During the nineteenth century, Korea had been forced open by a series of unequal trade agreements first with Japan, then with Germany, France, the United States, Russia, and Great Britain. China’s formal claim to suzerainty was squashed after the 1895 Sino-​Japanese War. Japan’s victory against Russia in 1905 paved the way for Korea’s annexation five years later. The Communist Party of Korea, established as early as 1925, began “the revolutionary struggle for national liberation” and developed a special relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the 1930s and early 1940s. Some senior North Korean communists went to Yenan and fought in China’s War of Resistance against Japan, and many joined the anti-​Japanese struggle in northeastern China. During the difficult period of the late 1940s, when the KMT gained the upper hand in Manchuria’s northeast, the Korean communists allowed northern Korean territory to become a strategic hinterland. They facilitated the evacuation of wounded CCP soldiers, maintained communication and transportation connections between CCP bases in north and south Manchuria, and used Korean ports to transfer critical supplies of food, medicine, and industrial raw materials.1 Kim Il-​sung, the young Russian-​trained Korean revolutionary leader, began sending thousands of Koreans to fight with Mao in 1947, expanding existing Korean units to division size.2 The Allies took no notice of Korea until the early 1940s, when considering the postwar settlement with Japan. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Chiang Kai-​shek agreed at the 1943 Cairo Conference that “in due course, Korea shall become free and independent.” The Soviet Union concurred when it adhered to the



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Potsdam Declaration and declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945. The quick termination of the Pacific War after the use of atomic bombs by the United States over Hiroshima and Nagasaki spurred the scramble for control in Korea. The Soviet Union managed to occupy Korea north of the 38th parallel by August 15, 1945, resulting in a general order by the US secretary of war that Japanese forces north of the 38th parallel surrender to the Soviet military commander, while those south of that line surrender to the American commander. This military division of the country allowed the Korean Communist Party in the north to set up a Central People’s Committee with the goal of establishing a united “Korean People’s Republic.” Similarly, US occupation authorities established a military government in the south. Within days of each other, the elder, Western-​ oriented nationalist leader Syngman Rhee arrived in Seoul from the United States (October 16, 1945), and the communist revolutionary nationalist Kim Il-​Sung reached Pyongyang (October 20, 1945). The joint commission of representatives of the US command in southern Korea and the Soviet command in northern Korea reviewed proposals submitted separately by the United States and the Soviet Union in March 1946. The two sides could not get beyond the most basic question of identifying “truly democratic” political parties and social organizations that should be consulted in making recommendations for an interim administration to exercise power pending establishment of a Korean government. The Soviets set up “people’s committees” at all levels of administration, whose representatives elected a People’s Assembly as the highest body of state power in North Korea. The People’s Assembly, in turn, established the supreme executive organ, the North Korean People’s Committee, headed by Kim Il-​Sung. By contrast, the United States established an interim government, whose acts required the approval of the military governor and which ordered all communist front organizations dissolved or banned. India was involved in the question of Korean unification from the outset. The Americans’ decision to submit the Korean question to the Political Committee of the Second United Nations General Assembly led to a resolution that called for elections on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot to a National Assembly, formation of a national government of Korea, the withdrawal of troops, and a general plan to establish an independent Korea. K. P. S. Menon, then India’s senior diplomat in the Ministry of External Affairs, was appointed chairman of the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTOK), constituted to carry out these plans, providing for elections by March 31, 1948.3 The Indian-​led commission was limited from the outset by the Soviet refusal to let it operate in the north. The commission did not inspire much more enthusiasm in the south. All Koreans wanted unity. According to K. P. S. Menon (no relation to Krishna Menon) the terms “South” and “North” Korea were “simply



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unknown.” Korea constituted a homogenous society with an interdependent economy. The south’s population of twenty million, approximately double that of the north, was predominately agricultural, while the less populous north had considerable industrial infrastructure constructed during Japanese rule. K. P.  S. Menon considered Syngman Rhee Korea’s most famous political leader, but one who provoked sharply divergent reactions, worshipped by some and detested by others. According to Menon, his age, scholarship, social charm, friendship with President Wilson, and especially his lifelong commitment to Korean freedom could have made Rhee Korea’s national leader in the sense that Nehru was India’s national leader. But Rhee had been swung to the extreme Right by the sudden intrusion of the Right-​Left tussle of which the 38th parallel was a sinister symbol . . . [He] would give no quarter to the leftists and was as Caesarian in his attitude to the American military as he was to the Communists. He set up a police state in South Korea even as Kim Il-​Sung had set one up in North Korea to deal with non-​Communists.4 Japanese laws permitting arrests without warrant remained in force, while the absence of habeas corpus contributed to the atmosphere of political oppression. All of this led Menon to report to the General Assembly, on behalf of the UNTOK, that a separate government established in South Korea could not be called a national government. The United States changed tack. Washington returned to the United Nations to seek a resolution, accepted by the General Assembly, to establish a sovereign state in south Korea, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and to hold UN-​ supervised elections. Subsequently, the General Assembly affirmed that a lawful government had been established, headed by Syngman Rhee, and called for the withdrawal of occupying forces. A new United Nations Commission on Korea (UNCOK), composed of the same countries as the previous commission, was vested with responsibilities to end the division of the country. Menon, recalled to New Delhi as foreign secretary, was succeeded by Anup Singh, India’s representative in Japan. But the prospects for reunification further diminished with the immediate announcement of the establishment in the north of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which claimed jurisdiction over the whole of Korea. It conducted unsupervised elections and elevated Kim Il-​Sung as president.5 Soviet forces left Korea in 1948, followed by the Americans in June 1949. There are several reasons why the Truman administration failed completely to anticipate the North Korean invasion of the South. It did not give sufficient weight to the nationalist passions that motivated Rhee and Kim, each of whom wanted to make the first move toward unification, assuming support from their big



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power patrons. The United States was preoccupied with global military security, and the defensive dispositions against “Asiatic aggression,” ultimately oriented to protection of America’s West Coast. General MacArthur, from his vantage point as supreme commander in occupied Japan, had famously characterized the Pacific as “an Anglo-​Saxon lake” and felt confident that America’s line of defense was assured by control of the Philippines, the Ryuku Archipelago, Japan, and the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska.6 As late as January 1950, Acheson, relying on the advice of MacArthur and the consensus of the Joint Chiefs, publicly omitted Korea when speaking about America’s defense perimeter. Third, the small Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG), which remained on the ground after the US military withdrawal, believed the ROK could contain North Korean forces with US military assistance. General Roberts, chief of KMAG, and Ambassador Jessup, who visited Seoul in January 1950, promised President Rhee that the United States would not permit South Korea to be conquered by the communists. The ROK government was dissatisfied with US policy for not providing more aid and taking a “negative” position on reunifying Korea under Rhee’s command. Rhee became alarmed when Senator Connally, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, publicly stated that Korea was not very important in US defense strategy: “Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines make the chain of defense which is absolutely necessary.”7 Rhee, focusing on the threat from the north, rather than America’s global strategy, regarded Senator Connally’s remarks on Korea as “an open invitation for the Communists to come down and take over South Korea.”8 US intelligence estimates on the eve of the crisis supported Rhee’s concerns but did not receive much attention. They defined the ultimate goal of the Soviet Union and of North Korea as the unification of the Korean peninsula under communist domination and the “elimination” of the ROK regime. On balance, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the communist government, with Soviet assistance, and total armed forces of about 103,000 was superior to South Korean forces in leadership, training, combat effectiveness, armor, and heavy artillery.9 A qualitative advantage of the North Korean army, in addition, was the return, in 1949, of thirty to forty thousand dedicated North Korean communists who had served in the PLA alongside Chinese communist forces in Manchuria.10 In retrospect, many signs pointed to the possibility that North Korea, given the opportunity, could spearhead a successful attack on the South to achieve reunification in continuation of a nationalist conflict that only secondarily involved the larger competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Washington, however, dismissed such a contingency because North Korea was a tightly controlled Soviet satellite, penetrated at all levels of government by



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Soviet advisers, and economically dependent on the Soviet Union for supplies and markets. The DPRK could not take an independent initiative. When North Korea invaded the South, Truman’s advisers were unanimous that the invasion was “Russian-​sponsored” and being “directed from Moscow.”11 Acheson summed up the consensus that the Soviets had mounted an open, undisguised attack to our internationally accepted position as the protector of South Korea, an area of great importance to the security of American-​occupied Japan. To back away from this challenge, in view of our capacity for meeting it, would be highly destructive of the power and prestige of the United States. By prestige, I  mean the shadow cast by power which is of great deterrent importance. Therefore we could not accept the conquest of this important area by a Soviet puppet under the guns of our defensive perimeter with no more resistance than words and gestures in the Security Council.12 Acheson notified UN secretary general Trygve Lee about the Korean attack to call a meeting of the Security Council the next day even before he informed President Truman. Yet, his day-​to-​day chronology for the week following the first news of a heavy assault makes clear that the United States would have acted to repel the aggression of the North Korean forces without UN cooperation. Leading members of the State Department and Pentagon made recommendations to President Truman for a decisive military response, which he accepted without consulting America’s allies or waiting for support from the Security Council. Acting on the belief that only American military intervention could repel the North Korean forces, already demolishing resistance from the South, President Truman interjected US forces at vulnerable points throughout the Far East and Southeast Asia. He ordered the Seventh Fleet to proceed from the Philippines to the Formosa Straits and prevent an attack from either Chinese side upon the other; directed the air force and navy to give all-​out support to South Korean forces; authorized General MacArthur to supply South Korea with additional arms and equipment; strengthened US forces and accelerated aid to the Philippines; directed increased aid to the French for Indo-​China; and, in response to a report from General MacArthur that the South Korean retreat was “a rout,” approved the use of American combat troops. The Truman administration, disclaiming any aggressive intentions, stated its firm decision to fight a limited war directed at achieving the withdrawal of the invading North Korean forces. Viewed from the Soviet Union, China, and other countries in Asia, the wide scope of US interventions was open to interpretation as offensive moves. This interpretation was strengthened by Great Britain’s actions in sending warships



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into Japanese waters and committing combat troops to Korea. Washington appeared bent on exploiting an opportunity to establish US supremacy in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Both the Soviets and the Chinese promoted this perception by circulating disinformation about the onset of the war. The Chinese asserted that the war started on June 25 when “South Korean troops attacked North Korea along the entire length of the 38th Parallel.”13 The Soviets made the same false claim that the attack had been initiated by the South Koreans.14 Nehru was under no such misconception. He relied on the information provided by Anup Singh, India’s representative on the United Nations Commission on Korea, confirming that well-​armed forces of the North Korean government had launched a large-​scale invasion of South Korea. Nevertheless, he considered that the US actions, which mixed up the Korean issue with Formosa, were particularly “maladroit” since they placed the United States in the position of an outside power intervening against the Chinese government, which had the right to Formosa (Taiwan) as Chinese territory.

Origins of the Korean War in Retrospect Chinese and Russian archival sources available in the 1990s have persuaded scholars that the PRC leadership, or at least Mao, whose say was decisive, had decided to assist North Korea before the war began. Stalin had done his best to weigh the risk, relying partly on the judgment of Mao that the United States could not quickly intervene on the Asian mainland, and on Kim’s exuberant assurances that his own forces were sufficient for a quick victory. Even in the worst case of US deployment, the risk seemed manageable. The controlling assumptions of Stalin and Mao about American intervention were that at most it would provide help for a beleaguered Syngman Rhee within the context of a prolonged civil war circumscribed by the aim of reunification. None of the three “coconspirators”—​ Kim, Stalin, or Mao—​anticipated that the North Korean aggression would be interpreted as the “beginning of World War III” (Truman’s fear) or the first of “many Koreas” (Eisenhower’s assessment) in a series of power grabs by an aggressive communism in Asia, which had to be stopped by “drawing the line.” The instantaneous reaction of the United States, combined with the completely unexpected scope of American intervention, evoked Mao’s repeatedly asserted conviction that China and the United States would ultimately be locked in direct confrontation. The great shock was in the timetable, much-​foreshortened from the one Mao had envisaged. China needed more time not only for economic reconstruction, but to build up a modern air force and navy with Soviet assistance. The array of forward military movements by the United States appeared to anticipate Mao’s long-​term strategy to regain China’s central position in Asia by



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assisting communist-​led national liberation movements to create a “rising tide of revolution” in East Asia and provoke the United States, as head of the “reactionary forces,” to launch a desperate attack on China. Like the United States, China considered that the confrontation could start in Taiwan, Korea, or Indo-​ China; Mao actually preferred Korea as somewhat more advantageous because of the previous history of close cooperation between the CCP and the Korean communists, along with relatively short supply lines. Mao’s ambitions in East Asia suffered immediate setbacks; the urgent plans for an amphibious assault against Taiwan, slated for the spring or summer of 1951, had to be abandoned after the Seventh Fleet was deployed to the Taiwan Straits. China also faced a more difficult situation in Indo-​China, where Ho Chi Minh had unilaterally declared independence from the French in September 1945. Mao’s government extended recognition to Ho’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam in mid-​January 1950 and provided military advisers and financial resources. But this was countered by stepped-​up US support to the French and the Bao Dai regime. Korea, nevertheless, became the first test of the Chinese revolutionary model against the “imperialist” United States as the means to reestablish the cultural and moral superiority historically asserted by the “Central Kingdom.”15 Mao, like Acheson, staked his country’s prestige on the outcome. China insisted on nothing less than “total victory,” driving the Americans out of Korea as the first step toward a new order in East Asia. The only acceptable conditions for a “negotiated” peace, according to Zhou Enlai, required all foreign military forces to withdraw from Korea, the United States to recall the Seventh Fleet from the Taiwan Straits, transfer of Taiwan to China, expulsion of Taiwan from the United Nations, seating of the PRC on the Security Council, and an international conference to sign a peace treaty with Japan, recognizing China’s interests in East Asia.16 From the US perspective, such conditions amounted to a fundamental realignment of power that could not be accomplished by negotiations, but by changing facts on the ground. In effect, they precluded a negotiated solution and placed a premium on military victory. President Truman, extending full support to his secretary of state, agreed with Acheson that the only politically acceptable outcome of the Korean War was a withdrawal of Chinese and North Korean troops behind the 38th parallel to vacate their aggression against South Korea. Attempts by the Chinese to impose conditions for negotiating an end to the conflict were completely unacceptable. They amounted to appeasement of an aggressor state.

The United Nations and the Role of India During the several discussions held by Stalin about possible American intervention after North Korea’s invasion, the possibility of a coordinated UN



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response did not arise. The Security Council resolutions on June 25 and June 27, the first backing the United States in calling for a ceasefire and withdrawal of North Korean troops to the 38th parallel, and the second urging UN members to contribute troops and repel the invasion under a UN Command (UNC), could be passed only because of the absence of the Soviet representative, Jakob Malik. Malik had walked out on January 13, 1950, after Moscow’s move to expel Taiwan and seat the PRC was defeated in what Acheson called a procedural issue, instructing the US delegation to vote no.17 The walkout made good the promise of Andrei Vyshinsky to Mao when he was in Moscow that the Soviets would boycott the Security Council if their resolution to seat Beijing failed.18 There is no authoritative answer to the question of why Stalin did not send Malik back to veto the resolutions. Most plausibly, in the absence of precedents, the Soviets calculated that in their absence the Security Council would be paralyzed and unable to take any action at all, implied in subsequent Soviet and Chinese charges that the June resolutions were “illegal.” Whatever the reasons, Acheson’s ability to galvanize a large majority of members in support of both resolutions gave UN approval to what the United States would have done on its own. After the North Korean invasion, India seemed to reconsider its posture toward the West. New Delhi earned goodwill in Washington by joining the ranks of the nine countries voting for the Security Council resolution adopted on June 25, 1950—​Yugoslavia casting the lone abstention—​to call for immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of North Korean armed forces to the 38th parallel. The second UN resolution of June 27, 1950, approved by the same lopsided majority of members, created greater difficulties. Since North Korea had not withdrawn its forces but was proceeding toward Seoul, the United Nations recommended that members “furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack.” The Indian delegation recorded “non-​participation,” awaiting instructions from New Delhi. Nehru was aware of the angry message from Zhou Enlai relayed to the UN secretary general denouncing the Security Council’s resolutions as a violation of world peace in calling upon members to “assist South Korean authorities in support of United States armed aggression,” and asserting that decisions of the Security Council, in the absence of the Soviet Union and China, were “altogether illegal” and that the United Nations had violated the principle of its own charter in calling for the use of force against the territorial integrity of a sovereign state, insisting that Taiwan was an inseparable part of China.19 US ambassador to India Loy Henderson, in a formal letter to Nehru, made clear that the future status of Taiwan would be determined after security was restored in the Pacific, including a peace settlement with Japan, and that US military assistance to the Philippines and the states of Indo-​China would be expedited, including dispatch of a US military mission to closely work with these forces.20



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India’s decision to vote for the July 27 Security Council resolution, announced in a press communiqué on June 29, 1950, described the second resolution as following logically from the first, and acceptance of it as the act of a loyal member of the United Nations committed to the promotion of world peace. Nevertheless, Nehru emphasized that the vote in favor of the second resolution reflected no change in India’s foreign policy, which remained independent. In particular, he informed Panikkar that the decision was limited to support of the Security Council’s resolutions and was not an endorsement of President Truman’s policies relating to Indo-​China and Formosa. Nehru considered “mixing up” the Korean issue with Formosa particularly “maladroit,” since it placed the United States in the position of an outside power intervening against the Chinese government, which had the right to Formosa as Chinese territory. It was too late to separate the UN stand on Korea from America’s broader strategic interventions. New Delhi, therefore, kept its distance, citing India’s financial difficulties, which prevented it from sending military assistance to the UNC. This was persuasive in its own right, but not the only reason behind India’s hedged response. The decision reflected Nehru’s determination not to put any Indian troops at the disposal of General MacArthur, named commander in chief of UN forces, since he would not only be dealing with Korea but probably with Formosa and Indo-​China as well. As Nehru wrote to B. N. Rau, leader of India’s UN delegation, “Our moral help is a big enough thing, which out-​balances the petty military help of some other countries.”21 Yet this was precisely the point on which Nehru was most vulnerable. His effort to advance prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict was welcomed with relief and even surprise by the United States. But a number of Asian and African countries preferred a “bolder lead” with “an Asian bias” against US interference in Asian affairs.22 The prime minister found himself on a diplomatic tightrope. Immediate criticisms came from senior diplomats of his own government. S. Radhakrishnan, the eminent philosopher, then ambassador to Moscow, wrote that India’s support of the Security Council resolutions amounted to “giv[ing] great strength to one bloc against the other,” noting that the Soviet Union would have vetoed the decisions had Malik been present.”23 Krishna Menon, writing that he did not find himself in agreement with the government’s policy on Korea, offered to resign as high commissioner to the United Kingdom.24 Nehru was further discomforted by the publication of reports in American newspapers, most notably the New York Times, that his decision had been taken under the influence of representations made by Loy Henderson. Such reports played into communist propaganda that India had become a tool of the United States and made Nehru “furious,” although he did not consider either the US ambassador or the American government responsible.



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The prime minister, however, was convinced that the Korean hostilities could have been avoided and the problem settled by negotiation had the USSR not boycotted the United Nations. Reasoning without any knowledge of the coordinated planning by Stalin and Mao, which unleashed the aggression by Kim on South Korea, Nehru explicitly placed the blame for the crisis on the United States’ decision preventing Communist China from being admitted into the UN. On this premise, the only hope of peace was to bring about the return of the Soviet representative, requiring the United States to reverse its position and support the entry of Communist China into the United Nations. Henderson, unable to see any logic or evidence to support such a theory, argued there was no connection between Chinese representation in the Security Council and the attack on Korea. According to the US ambassador, every informed person must clearly understand the attack had been planned and directed by Russia with cooperation from Communist China. Nehru could easily dismiss Henderson’s argument as that of an interested party, but he was similarly unresponsive to his secretary general’s overview paper on India’s foreign policy prepared for him in early July 1950. Bajpai argued that Soviet policy without doubt was expansionist, aimed at creating satellites completely subservient to Moscow, and that there was “complete identity” of the foreign policies of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. Given that China was “definitely in the Soviet orbit” and that India was too weak to mount a third-​ force strategy, Bajpai argued for active Indian positions on major foreign policy questions, such as the future of Germany or negotiations for a peace treaty with Japan, without the USSR or China if necessary. None of these positions, including help to Burma against communist insurgents, threatened the policy of nonalignment. Rather, an active policy would help dispel the “impression of intolerance of the faults of the West and of an unaccountable, if not sympathetic reticence over the transgressions of the U.S.S.R.”25 Nehru ignored these arguments in directing his ambassadors in Moscow and Beijing to carry out “informal mediation” efforts. The outlines of the solution arising from these consultations had two separate but related parts. The United States would support the entry of the PRC into the United Nations and the Security Council, and the Security Council, including China and the Soviet Union, would support an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of North Korean troops to the 38th parallel. This would be followed by UN-​sponsored talks to create a united, independent Korea, with special attention to Formosa. The United States and the United Kingdom, although eager to maintain India’s support on Korea, agreed they could not recognize the Beijing regime as the representative of China in the Security Council. This would be acting, in their view, under Soviet coercion and could produce nothing but further aggression. Henderson worried that India was wavering in its decision to support the



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Security Council resolutions, and that its mediation efforts might involve appeasement. He urged Acheson to write Nehru and explain the reasoning behind American action. At about the same time, India’s ambassador to Moscow, Radhakrishnan, asked Nehru to send a message to Stalin. Nehru’s unhappiness with the resistance of the United States and the United Kingdom to a formula that had support in both Moscow and Beijing led him to make virtually identical appeals to Marshal Stalin and Dean Acheson that equated the role of the United States and the Soviet Union in the Korean War. Ignoring the origins of the conflict in North Korean aggression, he explained India’s purpose as localizing the fighting and facilitating an early peaceful solution. Nehru appealed to Stalin and Acheson to break the deadlock in the Security Council by seating the representatives of the PRC so the USSR could return to it and the members could find a basis for terminating the conflict. Gromyko, responding to the Indian ambassador, said the Soviet Union could not commit itself to a discussion of a peaceful solution until the “open aggression” against Korea by the United States, operating under cover of the UN flag, was terminated. As Nehru knew, this was a flagrant misrepresentation.26 Stalin’s formal response was more circumspect. He welcomed Nehru’s peace initiative but underlined that the settlement of the Korean question through the Security Council could come about only with the “indispensable” participation of the Five Great Powers, including the PRC.27 Dean Acheson, aware that the British and the Indians were approaching the Russians to sound out possible compromise solutions for a peaceful settlement, had little patience with these unsolicited initiatives, and contempt for India’s equation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Acheson, nevertheless, managed to express appreciation for the high purpose that motivated Nehru’s message. The secretary of state pointed out there was never any obstacle to full Soviet participation in the Security Council and repeated the US position that the decision between competitive claimants for China’s seat in the United Nations was an entirely separate matter to be decided on the merits. It could “not be decided by an unlawful aggression or by any other conduct which would subject the United Nations to coercion or duress.”28 Acheson followed this up with a much longer message to Nehru explaining all of the reasons the United States opposed seating China in the United Nations, reasons that had been reinforced by its open support of the North Korean aggression. Acheson’s list referred to Beijing’s disregard of international obligations extending to confiscation of American property at its consular offices at Beijing; hostile actions against American citizens in China; support to communist insurgents in Burma, Malaya, and the Philippines; recognition and support of Ho Chi Minh; and cooperation with a degree of Soviet penetration in China.



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Nehru, so responsive to Panikkar’s warning about taking wrong decisions on Tibet without seeing the problem from China’s point of view, made no comparable effort to understand Acheson’s attitudes toward representation of the PRC on the Security Council. The leak of Stalin’s reply to Nehru’s letter in several Delhi newspapers created the impression that Stalin was the statesman in favor of peace and that Acheson was the obstacle to a settlement. Most speakers in the Indian parliament and commentary in the press criticized the United States for blocking the prime minister’s peace initiative. A disheartened Loy Henderson questioned Bajpai about why “not one word of praise had been uttered for the U.S.A.’s action in meeting aggression in Korea, and bearing the brunt of resistance” in the deaths of American boys for the cause of the United Nations. Bajpai turned the question back on Henderson, asking if he had given any thought to the effect on opinion in India of the attitude of the United States toward the Kashmir dispute. “Was there no analogy between Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir and the North Koreans in Korea?” According to Bajpai, the trend of press comments and of speeches in parliament could only be understood against this “psychological background” of Indian thinking.29 Whatever the merits of the US position, Nehru’s policy of friendship with China made him most attentive to Panikkar’s reports. These were based on selective information provided exclusively by senior officials in China’s Foreign Office and discussions with Soviet and Eastern bloc diplomats in Beijing. Panikkar was particularly impressed with Mao during a thirty-​minute conversation after presenting his credentials. He discerned the chairman’s “powerful and analytical mind,” his deep sense of history, and his determination to achieve the withdrawal of Europeans from the continent, and European economic power from Asia. It was unfair, he wrote, to compare Mao with Chiang Kai-​shek, who was “hard” and “self-​centered with a streak of cruelty in him.” The more appropriate comparison was between Mao and Nehru, both men of action but with idealistic temperaments.30 Panikkar’s first impressions of Mao’s humanism and China’s apparent receptivity to Indian friendship provided the background for frequent references in his reports that relations are “most cordial,” and that China shared India’s “Asian” identity. Trivial information was cited as evidence of China’s goodwill, for example that “Zhou En-​lai and all the important members of the Foreign Office have been to dinners and parties at my house and in public parties where one meets them; they go out of their way to show their cordiality. Discussions at the Foreign Office have also been conducted in a very friendly atmosphere.”31 Nehru’s constant pressure on the United States to accept China’s demands ignored Mao’s actions against American diplomats. Panikkar had been India’s ambassador to Chiang Kai-​shek in Nanking at the time of the PLA’s takeover. He narrated firsthand experience of the hardships inflicted on diplomats once Mao



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decided to withdraw diplomatic immunity in late 1949, and that Americans were subjected to the harshest treatment. He recalled the shock that swept through the entire diplomatic community at the news that “an American Vice-​Consul, who had been imprisoned for not obeying orders of the military authorities, was made to apologize and denounce his own imperialist actions.”32 In fact, Mao viewed the United States as China’s foremost enemy, and personally opposed recognition so long as America continued its connections with the Taiwan regime. In mid-​January 1950, Acheson finally announced Washington’s decision to withdraw all American diplomats from the PRC.33 India sustained its efforts on behalf of the PRC’s membership in the Security Council even after the Soviet Union suddenly indicated its intention to return unconditionally and preside over the August session. Malik’s reappearance, at a time when he knew about China’s decision to intervene in Korea by the end of September, continued Gromyko’s duplicitous diplomacy. He welcomed India’s attempt to facilitate mediation but questioned whether it could any longer be considered neutral. China remained friendly and supportive of India’s efforts, but had little to lose in encouraging New Delhi to take the lead, premised on getting the whole Security Council to function by seating the PRC. Against this, Henderson repeated that the time was not opportune to bring China into the Security Council, and the United Kingdom responded to vigorous efforts by India on China’s behalf, replying that the British could not get other members to go along with them. Attlee went further in expressing suspicions of Soviet intentions. He pointed out that the Soviets had involved Western powers in heavy commitments without themselves playing an overt part, and could use the same tactics in Indo-​China and Formosa, while stepping up communist-​ inspired activities in Malaya and even Persia. The British agreed with the French that Chinese recognition of Ho Chi Minh, a communist exploiting nationalist aspirations, created a real threat to the stability of the region and could transform Indo-​China into a communist satellite. India’s dislike of US interventions in Asia hardened anti-​American sentiments even at times when Washington offered significant incentives for closer relations. There is perhaps no better example of India’s hostility toward the United States and its desire for friendship with China than Nehru’s reaction to the State Department’s suggestion, conveyed by Mrs. Pandit, that China should be unseated from the Security Council and India put in China’s place. This question was brought up by Dulles and Ambassador Jessup in late August 1950—​the same month that China decided to march its army toward Tibet. It represented a serious probe on behalf of the State Department that Dulles planned to float with influential journalists to build up public opinion in its favor. Mrs. Pandit, describing her interview with Dulles and Jessup about this suggestion, was dismissive. She wrote her brother that something is being “cooked up” by the State



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Department, and that she had immediately advised her interlocutors to go slow since the matter would not be received “with any warmth” in India.34 Nehru, even though uncertain about how far India could succeed in the effort to create a friendly relationship with China, rejected the US suggestion with some vehemence. He replied to Mrs. Pandit that India was certainly entitled to a permanent seat in the Security Council, but “we are not going in at the cost of China . . . we are not going to countenance it. . . . It would be a clear affront to China and it would mean some kind of break between us and China. I suppose the State Department would like that, but we have no intention of following that course. We shall go on pressing for China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council.”35 India’s determination to maintain its influence in Beijing and affect opinion in Southeast Asia superseded consideration of the negative impact its advocacy of China had on American public opinion, derided as driven by anticommunist hysteria. Bajpai’s September 18, 1950, resolution, drafted after consulting the UK and Norway delegations, called on the General Assembly to recognize the PRC as the only permanent government of China, and to recommend that it be entitled to represent China in the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations. After a speech by Acheson expressing firm opposition, the resolution was defeated with thirty-​three votes against (led by the United States and including Nationalist China), sixteen votes in favor (including the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom), and ten abstentions. The reaction in Beijing was “extremely bitter.” Panikkar reported to Bajpai that Zhou “thrice” repeated the warning that “if America extends her aggression China will have to resist.”36 New Delhi’s attitude remained fixed in the face of alarming news from Panikkar that China had decided on a more aggressive policy to achieve its overall strategic aim of restructuring the international order in the Far East. Panikkar’s’ overview of China’s goals, available from published Chinese documents only in the 1990s, provided Nehru, in 1950, with a full picture of Mao’s aims in Asia. These were to exclude all American influence from Korea and Formosa and Asia generally, recover Taiwan, conquer Tibet, ensure the independence of the Vietminh, and conclude a peace treaty with Japan, preventing the establishment of American military bases. Altogether, these war aims were intended to achieve “recognition of the world of [China’s] position of leading nation in Asia.” Panikkar concluded with the warning that conflict between America and China could not long be averted.37 A few days later, Panikkar reported a “change for the worse” had set in from mid-​August 1950, after considerable forces had been moved up to the Korea-​ China border. A national propaganda campaign, the “Great Movement to Resist America and Assist Korea,” had attained the proportions of a “war psychosis” directed at building popular support for destroying American arrogance and



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inflicting disastrous losses on US troops.38 Panikkar could not avoid the conclusion that the Chinese government had embarked upon the deliberate preparation for war.

Widening the War General MacArthur’s famous amphibious landing at Inchon on September 15, thirty-​five miles south of the 38th parallel, outflanked Kim’s troops in the south and positioned the UNC to push northward. The UNC captured Seoul on September 27, forcing a series of decisions on both sides that inevitably widened the war. Panikkar reported that after Inchon, the Chinese, encouraged by the Soviets, stepped up ideological and military preparations for a victory of the “armed masses” over the “imperialists” with an “inordinate and blind faith in the military powers of the Peoples Liberation Army.”39 Mao still nurtured the ambition of winning a “glorious victory” that would not only settle the Korean crisis but establish the Chinese model of revolution in Asia. Stalin, taken aback by the steady northward march of UN troops, asked Mao and Zhou Enlai to provide the assistance they had promised, worried that if US forces captured the whole of Korea and took up positions on the Korean-​ Soviet border it would transform the balance of power. Under these new circumstances, China’s leaders postponed the date for entry of Chinese troops into the war. Mao needed more time to persuade senior members of the Central Party Committee to take on the aggressive UN/​US offensive, and to pressure Stalin for additional military assistance and artillery, extracting a Soviet commitment to provide air cover for Chinese troops after two to two and a half months.40 Approximately seventy thousand Soviet pilots, technicians, and gunners served in Korea over the duration of the war. The Soviets also mounted a rapid construction plan to provide the PRC with a significant modern air force and navy. Moscow, in addition, sent enough equipment and ammunition for sixty-​four infantry divisions and twenty-​two air divisions.41 Zhou Enlai used the delay to create the impression of giving fair warning to the UNC, making Panikkar the conduit for messages to the United States—​that if the American army crossed the 38th parallel, it would be considered a hostile act and provoke China to take “immediate steps.”42 Panikkar’s credibility as intermediary between Beijing, Washington, and London, however, was too low for the warning to be taken seriously after his earlier reports about an imminent Chinese attack on Formosa proved alarmist. As Mrs. Pandit wrote to Bajpai, top US policymakers and pundits had turned against India. Nehru was no longer a “world statesman” but an “ambitious politician with feet of clay.” The State Department called Panikkar “pannicky” and the “handout is he is sold to Mao



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and is in turn selling the Prime Minister.”43 China’s failure to quickly intervene confirmed for Acheson and Bevin that the warning was a bluff, a view shared by General MacArthur. Peng Duhuai, the commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV), formerly the Northeast Border Defense Army, led some of his troops across the Yalu River on October 18 and struck forcefully at MacArthur’s troops for about a week at the end of October and early November before the Chinese appeared to “vanish.” This first encounter did not change MacArthur’s assessment, earlier conveyed to President Truman during their October 15 Wake Island meeting, that it was highly unlikely the Chinese would intervene, or alter his plans for a general offensive in late November toward the Yalu. As Peng had intended, the UNC troops were lured further north, where the Chinese army of an estimated 250,000 waited to destroy the American and South Korean forces. Chinese and North Korean troops recaptured Pyongyang and pushed the Americans back to the 38th parallel in late November. In a follow-​up offensive, starting December 13, the CPV captured Seoul; by early January 1951, the Chinese reached the 37th parallel. Mao and Zhou Enlai, urged on by Kim Il-​Sung, persisted in their goal of total victory. They remained determined to annihilate the Americans and unify Korea despite the advice of their own military commanders that further Chinese and North Korean gains were unrealistic because of heavy casualties, overextended supply lines, and the absence of air support. Chinese and North Korean determination to achieve total victory after Inchon was matched by the hard line taken by US leaders to inflict maximum damage on Chinese troops. During the initial euphoria following MacArthur’s triumph, it seemed possible to achieve the goal of “an independent, united Korean government” endorsed in the UN resolution of 1947 as the foundation of peace and security. Acheson paved the way by his “Uniting for Peace” speech on September 20, which led to the resolution (sponsored by Canada, France, Philippines, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay) that neutralized the Soviet veto in the Security Council, placing responsibility for further decisions on Korea in the UN General Assembly. India and Argentina abstained.44 In Washington, the Pentagon pushed for the maximum military goals. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the approval of Truman, Acheson, and Secretary of Defense George Marshall, authorized General MacArthur on September 27 to cross the 38th parallel and destroy the North Korean army, subject to the caveats that at the time of such an operation there had been no major entry by Soviet or Chinese forces, no announcement of intended entry, and no threat to counter UNC operations militarily. The greater concern was directed at the possibility of Russian military intervention. In that eventuality, MacArthur was instructed to assume the defense and report to Washington. By contrast, in the event of Chinese intervention, he was told to “continue the action” so long as it



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appeared to have a reasonable chance of success. As a matter of policy, the Joint Chiefs stated that non-​Korean ground troops should not be employed in areas of Korea bordering the Soviet Union or China. Almost immediately, however, MacArthur received a message from General Marshall that offered him virtually carte blanche authority to “feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of the thirty eighth parallel.” The UN General Assembly, following the lead of the United States and the United Kingdom, added its approbation in the resolution of October 7 to ensure conditions of stability throughout Korea as the basis of a “united, independent and democratic Korea.” General MacArthur, feeling free of all constraints and authorized to carry out the decision of the United Nations, shed any inhibitions about using American troops and drove forward at great speed to reach the Yalu River on October 26. If the United States had been completely surprised by the North Korean invasion, the US government’s inability to foresee the major attacks by the Chinese across the Yalu—​backed by Soviet MiG fighters—​possibly is explained, as many scholars have suggested, by the disdain of American leaders for China’s military capabilities as a backward Asian country. Beisner describes the “weird” thinking of US policymakers trapped in a Cold War mindset that regarded the USSR as the only relevant adversary, and China a Soviet puppet that would not intervene since the Russians had not done so. The well-​known result was the “worst rout in U.S. military history,” inflicting eleven thousand UN/​US casualties in seventy-​ two hours.45 Acheson saw Stalin’s hand behind the Chinese attack, reasoning correctly that immense preparation had been needed for the Chinese offensive, and that these plans had been set in motion long before UN/​US advances after Inchon. He viewed the Chinese invasion as premeditated, unprovoked, and immoral, and became determined to prevail in a controversial move to have the United Nations brand China an aggressor state. Acheson’s determination to hold the moral high ground by getting the UN General Assembly to condemn China as an aggressor, combined with MacArthur’s demand that the Joint Chiefs lift all restrictions on air strikes in Manchuria to deprive the enemy of a sanctuary, raised alarm among America’s allies that the United States was preparing for all-​out war with China. This fear was ratcheted up into the specter of a third world war after President Truman’s remarks on November 30, in response to a reporter’s question, that all military weapons, including the atomic bomb, were under active consideration. The possibility that nuclear weapons could be used in Korea opened up political space to pressure the United States into making concessions to China in order to end the war. Although it was Attlee who made the air dash across the Atlantic on December 3, Nehru’s arguments echoed in the counsel he provided Truman to see matters from the Chinese point of view. Asserting nothing was more important than



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retaining the good opinion of Asia, Attlee pushed for discussions on Chinese conditions for a ceasefire, namely UN/​US withdrawal from Korea and Formosa and a seat for China in the United Nations. Acheson responded “acidly” that more important was the security of the United States, and that Americans would regard negotiations with China as appeasement. President Truman and General Marshall concurred that the best way to secure the good opinion of Asia was to preserve US defenses in the western Pacific and demonstrate America’s fighting power. President Truman stated plainly that the United States would stay in Korea and fight. He refused Attlee’s request for joint agreement on any decision to use atomic weapons, expressed the hope that world conditions would never require such a step, and went only so far as to agree to keep the British informed of developments that might change the situation.46

Stoking US Suspicions of India’s Motives India’s determination to prove its friendship for China made it virtually impossible for Nehru to carry out his declared policy of nonalignment on the merits. The government of India avoided all criticism of China even when it became obvious that Mao was planning to prolong the Korean War. Nehru reframed India’s role as defusing mutual suspicions that could themselves lead to war. He dismissed the threat to the United States from Soviet-​led communism, asserting that neither the West nor the communist world wanted war, and argued disingenuously that the PRC had no aggressive intentions against any country in Asia. The premise that international communism did not present a serious national security threat to the United States was useful in facilitating Nehru’s argument that Formosa could have no value to the United States except as a base for operations against China, and that China should have Formosa. Similarly, a solution to the Korean problem had to have the approval of China, and this could be only in the context of an overall Far Eastern settlement. Such a settlement had to rule out Japanese rearmament to reassure the Soviet Union and China that Japan would not be used as a base for operations against them. Henderson’s concerns were the mirror opposite of those voiced by Nehru. The American ambassador asserted Formosa could not be allowed to fall under the control of China or the Soviet Union and be used as a base against Japan or the Philippines. Likewise, an unarmed Japan from which the United States withdrew was an unacceptable solution, leaving Japan to face an armed Russia and China without protection against attack. When Nehru replied that the United Nations could guarantee Japan against aggression, Henderson refrained from using the obvious rebuttal of citing Korea. He concluded that the basis of divergences between the United States and India in foreign policy was



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that India sincerely was “convinced that International Communism had no aggressive intentions and that its motives were primarily defensive.”47 India’s policy of acting as mediator to defuse tensions between the two blocs was most welcomed by US allies fearful of a wider conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Nehru hoped to consolidate a “British-​Canadian-​ Indian Front,” starting with discussions at the Commonwealth prime ministers’ meeting in January 1951. The participants decided to postpone consideration of the US “aggressor” resolution and instead build support for a negotiated settlement. The moment seemed favorable. The UNC faced defeat, the US government was under pressure to approve American bombing of Manchuria, and London wanted to find a compromise with China to retain Hong Kong, Malaya, and vital communications links to the dominions of Australia and New Zealand. Canada had little direct interest in the Far East, finding it difficult to accept the cost of casualties once Korea threatened to involve the West in a long war. The leaders of both Commonwealth countries, uncomfortable about confronting the United States, were happy to let Nehru carry the banner for world peace.48 But as Acheson saw it, any appeal for a ceasefire resolution by the United Nations, a party to the war, in the existing military situation would necessarily be an appeal by the weaker to the stronger side. He also was convinced that Nehru had “bullied” Attlee and Pearson to play “the appeaser.”49 Nehru, while pressing the Commonwealth prime ministers to agree on getting the United States and China to the conference table, consulted with the United Kingdom about his strategy to mobilize an “Asian bloc” in the United Nations that could undercut automatic majorities for US proposals boosted by support of the Latin American states. The resolution he sought had to be acceptable to China. Nehru advocated a short statement whose operative part would strongly recommend a meeting of the United States, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the PRC to “consider outstanding questions in Far East in conformity existing international obligations and provisions of the U.N. Charter.” He explained to Panikkar that “words underlined have been put in at our instance since Cairo and Potsdam Declaration constitute existing obligations in regard to Formosa and thus enable China to discuss the future of island on basis of that Declaration.”50 The prime minister also let it be known that “on no account” would India go along with a resolution condemning China as an aggressor. The January 13 resolution of the First Committee of the United Nations, drafted mainly by Pearson in consultation with Nehru and the United Kingdom, and with input from Washington, called on the General Assembly to set up the four-​nation conference desired by Nehru to discuss the principles for a settlement. During these discussions the language underwent important changes. The resolution made a ceasefire the precondition for discussion and did not incorporate the Chinese point of view regarding its right to Formosa on the basis of the



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Cairo Declaration. The amended text was transmitted by the secretary general to the Chinese government, endorsed by the United Kingdom and Canada and the “Asian” group, of which India was the leading member. It was the first show of strength by an India-​Commonwealth-​Asian coalition, which presented the United States with what Acheson called a “murderous choice.” The American delegation could reject the resolution and risk losing a credible UN majority, or accept it and give way to Chinese demands for a four-​power conference to directly discuss Far Eastern problems, including the future of Formosa and representation of China in the United Nations.51 Nehru was confident that the “resolution by Assembly inviting Peoples Government to Conference is definite step toward admission of New China to U.N.”52 Even so, he was doubtful the redrafted text, which made a ceasefire the basis of discussion, would be acceptable to Beijing. This was also Acheson’s calculation when he got approval in Washington to instruct the US delegation to vote for the resolution. The secretary of state thereby demonstrated America’s commitment to go the last mile for peace. Subsequently, he was in a position to argue he had reached the elastic limits of his government’s position. Mao and Zhou Enlai, convinced that total victory was virtually at hand, responded positively to the proposal of a four-​power conference at which principles for a Korean settlement should be discussed. But they agreed only to a ceasefire for a limited time while agreement on all points, including China’s legitimate status and withdrawal of all foreign troops from Korea, and of American forces from Taiwan, was reached. Acheson dismissed this reply, and subsequent conciliatory clarifications that did not accept the UN call for a ceasefire, as evidence that China had no interest in a peaceful settlement. By the end of January, Acheson regained control of the debate. He used tough talk warning US allies against weakening Western solidarity, implicitly (and, on one occasion, explicitly) threatening that lack of support for the US resolution would jeopardize congressional backing for the Atlantic Pact (NATO). The US resolution condemning China as an aggressor in Korea was adopted on February 1, 1951, by forty-​four votes, with seven opposed, including India, Burma, and the Soviet bloc, and nine abstentions.53 The anti-​American opposition, led by B. N. Rau, head of the Indian delegation, provoked Time magazine to identify Nehru as the “chief advocate of appeasing Communist China.”54 Nehru was unfazed. As he wrote Panikkar, throughout January “All our efforts have been concentrated in pleading China’s cause and making other people understand it,” whether in London, Paris, or at the United Nations. He attributed the vote for the US resolution to the Commonwealth prime ministers’ lack of nerve in risking a break with the United States, which had “worked itself up to a state of hysterical obstinacy.” But with Zhou expressing gratitude for India’s effort in opposing the “illegal” General Assembly resolution, Nehru expressed satisfaction at



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the greater understanding between India and China and commended Panikkar for his “splendid” work in this connection.55 US suspicions of Nehru’s motives reached their highest pitch on the eve of the Japanese peace conference in San Francisco scheduled on September 8, 1951. Dulles and his assistants had worked on the treaty over ten months of consultation, discussion, and negotiation. The text had been hammered out in close cooperation with the Far Eastern Division of the State Department, the secretary of state, and the president, taking into account Republican leaders in the Senate as well as heads of state around the world. Acheson considered the treaty, after so many setbacks in Asia, the greatest accomplishment of the administration. As Dulles liked to point out, it was sensitive to Japanese self-​respect and reestablished peace without any punitive provisions. Dulles made serious efforts to solicit India’s stand on the draft of the treaty before embarking on a series of consultations with heads of European governments in late May 1951. The United States and the United Kingdom wanted to accommodate India’s concerns as the largest Asian democracy, and to avoid a division among countries that had borne the brunt of the fighting against Japan. The revised draft of the treaty, ready in early July 1951, had gone as far as possible from the perspective of both Western allies to meet India’s point of view. Language was modified to make clear that Japan renounced its sovereignty over Formosa, and that the Ryukus and other island chains would remain under Japanese, not American, sovereignty. The possibility that the islands could be placed under US trusteeship was not formally ruled out, but the United States provided private assurances not to seek trusteeship. Also agreed was that the anticipated defense pact between the United States and Japan would not be mentioned in the treaty to avoid any inference that the provisions were being imposed. In the end, none of this succeeded in winning Nehru’s support. He opposed any terms of the treaty that could cause offense to the government of China, insisting the PRC be invited to express its views. Russia had been invited to do so but refused. As early as mid-​June 1951, Nehru had written an internal memo asserting, “It is quite clear to me that there is no chance whatever of our being co-​signatories of the treaty. All we can do is to have our own treaty with Japan.”56 This was consistent with Krishna Menon’s advice not to go to San Francisco and instead prepare a bilateral treaty, which he mistakenly imagined would be applauded in Japan, and to which China and Russia would not object, so that in the long run it would take precedence over the Japanese peace treaty signed in San Francisco. It is doubtful that Nehru shared this delusion. He knew that his ambassador to the United States, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, and his senior-​most adviser, G. S. Bajpai, strongly favored signing the treaty. Bajpai could not see any benefit to India of not doing so. The modifications Nehru sought were impossible



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to expect Japan (or the United States) to make, and were dictated by his desire to get a treaty more to the liking of China. Accordingly, Nehru argued that Japan should not only renounce sovereignty to Formosa, but also return Formosa to China. No foreign armed forces should remain in Japan. Yet Japan, no less than the United States, wanted a mutual defense agreement. In fact, the response to inquiries by the Ministry of External Affairs about Japan’s reaction to India’s abstention from the treaty warned that it would be “misconstrued as an unfriendly act” and that the decision to sign a separate treaty was meant “to please Peking at Japan’s expense.”57 Nehru still ignored advice to sign the treaty and appeared to have wholly adopted the Chinese point of view. He believed Japan’s independence would be strictly limited, and that under the guise of a defense pact, the United States would rearm and exploit Japan’s population in alliance with Chang Kai-​shek to wage war on a big scale in the Far East. Radhakrishnan reinforced such views from Moscow, pointing out the treaty imposed no limits on armed forces in Japan, creating the suspicion of an “aggressive block [sic] in East like NATO.”58 The United States acted formally through Loy Henderson in handing over the final text of the treaty, and the invitation to the San Francisco conference. Henderson expressed particular concern that India would attend as the biggest democratic country in the East whose association with the Japanese peace treaty would guarantee the maintenance of peace in the region. India’s decision not to become a cosignatory of the treaty and to sign a bilateral treaty with Japan at a later date, made by Nehru in early June 1951, coincided with Panikkar’s report of China’s determined opposition to the treaty, and the basic issue at conflict explained to him. This was that war had to continue until the United States gave up its strategic idea that the Pacific was an American lake in which China had no interests and could interfere in the Asian mainland. Nehru offered no criticism of China’s protracted war aims or reports of its stepped-​up efforts to enhance air forces and launch attacks against American air bases that greatly heightened the risk of a wider war. It was important to Nehru that his sister and his ambassador to the United States, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, understand why he could not accept the treaty as drafted. It would put an end to our present policy, and in fact, turn a political summersault. It might mean almost, although not quite, a political break with China. We would have no logic left in the policy we pursue. . . . I want you to appreciate the far-​reaching consequences of our signing the treaty. It means a reversal of what we have been saying and acting upon thus far. It means a submission, under pressure or fear, to American policy in the Far East and Asia.59



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Nehru ran roughshod over opposition inside his cabinet. The deputy minister for external affairs, Dr. B. V. Keshkar, summarizing questions raised in the cabinet’s discussion about the “tentative” decision regarding the Japanese treaty, argued that China and the Soviet Union were acting together to dominate Asia, and India’s interest was served by a better balance of power. Keshkar referred to reports of Indians visiting China that portrayed Chinese aims as irredentist. China, they suggested, was committed to the communization of Southeast and South Asia, not excluding India, which they wanted to bring in line with Chinese communism. Keshkar found no reason to go out of the way to please China, specifically citing its attitude on Tibet, which was not friendly.60 Nehru considered this divergence of opinion “extraordinary and most objectionable.” Keshkar apologized immediately for the “mistake,” saying, “I had not the slightest idea of doing anything independent.” This issue was the first on which Nehru’s foreign policy provoked serious criticism inside the Indian government. Once the decision that “India will not attend the San Francisco conference” was made public, five ministers told journalists in the parliament lobby they opposed the decision.61 One of them, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the law minister who had played a major role in drafting the constitution, referred to several factors affecting his decision to resign from the government, but among them was “anxiety and even worry” about India’s foreign policy. “Anyone who has followed the course of our foreign policy and along with it the attitude of other countries toward India could not fail to realize the sudden change that has taken place in their attitude toward us. On 15 August 1947 . . . no country wished us ill. Every country in the world was our friend. Today after four years all our friends have deserted us. We have no friends left. We have alienated ourselves.”62 Similar sentiments resonated in the conversation between Mrs. Pandit and John Foster Dulles, who described himself as “deeply hurt” by India’s attitude toward the treaty, which had created hostile public opinion in the United States. “We feel that India subscribes to the Chinese slogan of Asia for the Asians and desires to end American influence in Asia. The Chinese hymn of hate against the U.S.A. is also approved in India.” Dulles, asserting that India’s actions did not always correspond with its statements, found it natural that Americans were suspicious of New Delhi’s “real intentions.” He asked Mrs. Pandit if the prime minister could “get across in some way” that India did not endorse China’s expansionist aims and foreign policy.63 The magnitude of Nehru’s miscalculation in always acting as an advocate of China’s terms for a negotiated settlement on Far Eastern issues can be fully comprehended now that his wishful assumptions, shared to some degree by the United Kingdom, stand fully exposed in Russian documents. These reveal that the Soviet Union, and not China, dominated all matters relating to negotiations for ending the Korean War.64



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As Acheson had recognized, negotiations would become practicable only when the military situation changed sufficiently so that each side was persuaded its vital interests could best be protected by an agreed settlement. This opening awaited recognition in Beijing that China’s hopes for total victory on the Korean battlefield had vanished, and in Washington that a wider war on China’s territory was unacceptable to key US allies. Conditions began to ripen in March 1951, after Major General Mathew Ridgeway took over command of the Eighth Army and the Americans launched Operation Killer to inflict heavy casualties on the Chinese. On March 15, the Americans retook Seoul; by April 9, they were in position to hold the “Kansas line” north of the 38th parallel. As Peng had warned, the heavy Chinese counterattack, ordered by Mao in mid-​February, could not regain the offensive from UN/​American forces. Still determined to annihilate the bulk of American troops, Mao ordered a renewed offensive in late April and again in mid-​May at the cost of extremely heavy Chinese casualties, without preventing the Americans from retaking their position on the Kansas Line. The successive defeats forced Mao to concede that the two sides had reached a stalemate. Shrewdly, he redefined the meaning of victory for China as the narrow goal of driving the enemy out of North Korea. MacArthur, the angered Pacific war hero, felt betrayed by a similar reassessment taking place in Washington. At the nadir of the Eighth Army’s reverses, in January 1951, MacArthur repeatedly challenged the decision of the Joint Chiefs not to commit additional ground forces or to blockade China’s west coast and bomb China’s industrial facilities. The general’s criticisms were not blunted by the UNC’s success in regaining the offensive or the president’s personal explanation of his policy to hold a defensible line north of the 38th parallel, in an effort to achieve a ceasefire and a wider settlement. MacArthur strongly believed that the United Nations and the “Communist conspirators” had joined the issue of global conquest in Asia, and China’s military power so exaggerated that his plan to strike in the interior not only would bring about China’s military defeat but also weaken the global challenge of communism to the United States. His decision to make these criticisms public, after several warnings, finally left President Truman and the Joint Chiefs no alternative but to relieve MacArthur of all his commands on grounds of insubordination (on April 6).65 In June 1951, Mao sought Soviet assistance in determining American willingness to discuss an armistice with no conditions, either on the PRC’s entry into the United Nations or the question of Taiwan. At almost the same time, in early June, Acheson, who considered China’s rulers Moscow’s “flunkeys and co-​conspirators in the aggression in Korea,” asked George Kennan to open a direct channel to Malik in order to sound out the Soviet government’s approach to discussions for a ceasefire.66 Malik reported back that the “Soviet people”



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believed the Korean conflict could be settled. The opening of negotiations was approved by ambassadors of nations with forces in the UN Command, and the agreement to begin discussions was brokered by military commanders in the field. By this time, the entire US government unanimously agreed that “exploration through the public procedures of the United Nations or through leaky foreign offices like the Indian would be fatal.”67 “Acheson’s disdain for India was a match for his contempt of China.”68

Ending the Military Conflict and the “Menon Cabal” Once the military conflict in Korea reached a stalemate on the battlefield, the primary contest between the United States and China became the competition for political and ideological gains. Both sides shifted their attention to the terms on which the conflict ended, so each could credibly claim victory. The issue that deadlocked the negotiations, causing General Ridgeway to break off discussions on October 8, 1952, concerned the repatriation of POWs. The number of POWs held by the UN Command substantially outnumbered those in the hands of the communists. Ridgeway, citing basic human rights, insisted on voluntary repatriation, hoping for a major propaganda victory if a large percentage, as preliminary screening suggested, desired not to return to communist control. Ridgway’s views prevailed with President Truman and Acheson that an all-​for-​all prisoner exchange was unacceptable. The Chinese /​North Korean side was believed to hold a maximum of six thousand UNC troops and twenty-​eight thousand ROK troops; while the UNC had approximately 145,000 North Korean and Chinese prisoners. Acheson’s unyielding position on nonforcible repatriation, supported by President Eisenhower some two weeks after the Republicans’ landslide victory on November 4, 1952, became the unwavering position of the US government. The deadlock could be broken only when both sides agreed on some system of classification and screening of the prisoners, although the communist side was unlikely to agree “because of extremely adverse effect that large-​scale defection would have on world-​wide Communism prestige.”69 Acheson’s mastery of the historical and political issues involved, displayed in a four-​hour speech to the First Committee of the United Nations on October 26, resulted in a resolution supported by twenty-​one nations. The resolution called upon the Chinese and North Koreans to accept an armistice recognizing the rights of all prisoners of war to “an unrestricted opportunity to be repatriated and avoid the use of force in their repatriation.”70 Vyshinsky’s reply, on October 29, defined the terms of the propaganda war that continued until an armistice



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agreement was reached in June 1953. The Soviet representative charged that Communist POWs had been subjected to inhuman treatment by the UNC, involving systematic terror and illegal screening, and had been compelled to sign declarations that they did not wish to be repatriated. Beijing’s leaders, abetted by the Soviet Union, defined the issue as a “serious political struggle” and embarked upon a steady propaganda campaign charging the United States with use of biological weapons. They also resumed fighting, assisted by enhanced logistical supplies and additional antiaircraft regiments from the Soviets. The Chinese calculated the United States could not fight a prolonged war that would cost more American lives, strain Washington’s finances, and dilute its strategic emphasis on Europe.71 The Americans refused to yield. They used superior air power to step up pressure on China by bombing airfields, railroads, bridges, and power stations in North Korea, at one point knocking out about 90 percent of North Korea’s electricity and 10 percent of the power in northeast China. As the prospect of a protracted conflict resurfaced and the American political transition heightened fears of a more dangerous war expanding hostilities to mainland China, the India–​United Kingdom–​Canada “front” enjoyed its most favorable conditions since January 1951 and used it to propose a resolution for ending the conflict on terms acceptable to China. Called the “Menon cabal” by Acheson after V.  K. Krishna Menon, who was then handling all matters concerned with Korea on the UN Indian delegation, the latter used this to underline his pivotal position as spokesman for the government of India (that is, Nehru) and as intermediary with the Chinese communists. He set out to formulate the main points of an Indian proposal favorable to China, and accomplish the acquiescence of the United States by mobilizing enough support in the Asian-​Arab bloc to convince the American delegation to abstain. Negotiating secretively, Menon refused to produce a written text, using talking points that conformed completely to China’s demands. He tied his original formulation for repatriation of prisoners to Article 118 of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Prisoners identified and classified, “as agreed by the Chinese,” would be transferred by the detaining powers to the custody of four neutral powers and then returned to their country of origin. Under this proposal, any prisoners not wishing to return would have to approach the neutrals on their own initiative and convince them of their case, after which they would be indefinitely interned pending conclusion of peace, or until they wished to return. The United States considered the proposal completely unacceptable, a formula for indefinite detention of nonrepatriates until they agreed to return. Negotiations during autumn 1952 pitted Krishna Menon, supported by his British and Canadian counterparts, against the head of the American delegation, Warren Austin, and, by extension, against Acheson. Menon argued that



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only a deliberately vague proposal to avoid language spelling out the principle of nonforcible repatriation would be acceptable to China. Acheson, by contrast, stood by the unambiguous twenty-​one-​nation statement that “all prisoners of war on both sides should be released and given an unrestricted opportunity to be repatriated” and that force should not be used to prevent or compel any prisoner to be repatriated.72 The furthest Acheson was willing to go in getting an agreed draft was to concur that all POWs be transferred to a Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) designated by the General Assembly. If unavoidable, as Menon insisted in presenting China’s terms, Acheson agreed to balance the composition of the commission, consisting of two Soviet satellites, Poland and Czechoslovakia, with two neutrals, Sweden and Switzerland, provided it was headed by a neutral umpire with executive powers. The draft resolution formally tabled by India on November 17 had been shown to the Soviet Union and important sponsors of the twenty-​one-​power resolution. The language met some of the objections of the United States, but only superficially. The preamble and the body of the proposal asserted that “force shall not be used against the prisoners of war to prevent or affect their return to their homelands.” The operative part of the resolution, however, called for a Repatriation Commission, consisting of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland, to take control of the prisoners released from custody of the detaining side in agreed demilitarized zones, carry out the classification of prisoners according to nationality and domicile, and return the prisoners to their homelands “forthwith.” When the commission was unable to reach a majority decision, an umpire appointed by the commission would be available and act as chairman unless otherwise agreed. The draft did not specify procedures for determining the wishes of the prisoners. Rather, individual POWs would enjoy freedom and facilities to make representations to the Repatriation Commission about “their desires on any matter.” There was no mention of prisoners unwilling to return as a category, or of machinery for screening. Prisoners unwilling to return to their homelands were to be referred by the Repatriation Commission to the political conference provided for in the draft armistice agreement.73 Nehru forwarded India’s draft resolution the next day to Beijing for favorable consideration amid press reports that the United States found its provisions unacceptable. Acheson’s objection focused on the failure of the proposal to provide “two exits,” one for prisoners wanting to go home and a release for the others as free men. The postarmistice conference was supposed to consider only political issues of a Korean settlement; if the conference became deadlocked, unrepatriated prisoners would be doomed to indefinite detention. An eight-​ nation subcommittee of the twenty-​one-​nation committee agreed to give priority to consideration of the Indian resolution, provided an umpire became the



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fifth full member of the commission and presided over its deliberations, and that nonrepatriated prisoners should not be released to the proposed political conference but to a body of the United Nations. Anthony Eden, who spoke in support of the Indian resolution on November 20, pressed these two points in debate as “clarifications.” Menon revised India’s resolution on November 23 to use language closer to Eden’s suggestions, changes he characterized as “minor.” While all previous drafts had been forwarded by India to Beijing, this final amended text was not. Vyshinsky’s interpretation was that the “minor” changes represented a serious departure. They provided that nonrepatriated prisoners of both sides should be handed over to one side, that is, the United Nations, which was a party to the Korean War and could not be regarded as impartial. Vyshinsky rejected the Indian resolution on the same day. Acheson quickly took the opening to praise India and Menon for great statesmanship in accepting the principle of no force against POWs. He suggested that with some clarifying changes—​for example, release of nonrepatriates from detention and their disposition by the United Nations—​the United States could support India to pass the resolution in the General Assembly. By November 26, Acheson reported to Truman that Menon had been brought around to a position satisfactory to the United States. Vyshinsky nevertheless trumped this apparent victory by announcing that Beijing had informed India’s ambassador it rejected the resolution. In fact, on November 24, the Chinese government, without having seen the final amendments, formally presented India’s ambassador to China, Nedyam Raghavan, with an aide-​memoire, arguing that the resolution’s affirmation of not using force against prisoners to prevent or effect their return was in essence the same as the American principle of voluntary repatriation. Similarly, the provision to hand over prisoners to the Repatriation Commission allowed the United States to use special agents and intimidate POWs “who are marred by scars of shame and tormented by anxiety as a result of having been tattooed and having had their fingerprints taken.”74 Nehru, deeply disappointed by the public rejection of the Soviet Union, kept secret the text of the Chinese aide-​memoire to Raghavan in Beijing. He determined to go ahead with the India resolution in the General Assembly rather than let the twenty-​one-​power (American) resolution submitted earlier come to a vote first. The prime minister still hoped that Zhou Enlai might be persuaded to reconsider the India resolution, but believed it was “probable” the Chinese had been “much influenced” by Soviet pressure.75 Placed in an embarrassing position, Nehru was careful not to say anything that might antagonize the Soviet Union or China. He was also conciliatory to the United States, expressing no objection to Acheson’s rewording of Menon’s text for “disposition” of nonrepatriated POWs not provided for by the political conference, and their transfer to the United Nations.76



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The Indian resolution put to a vote in the General Assembly on December 1, 1952, was carried by forty-​six to five, with the Soviet group opposed and eight abstentions. The proposal as approved was sent by the president of the Assembly to the PRC and the North Koreans on December 5. But Zhou Enlai’s November 28 statement denouncing the resolution for upholding the US position of no forcible repatriation remained unchanged. Zhou declared that China stood with the Soviet Union in demanding a ceasefire first, after which all POWs should be turned over to an eleven-​nation commission for settlement, and that this commission, acting according to a two-​thirds majority, should adopt measures for settlement of the Korean issue.77 Nehru went along with Krishna Menon’s argument for keeping control of the peacemaking process while the Indian resolution had support of the Arab-​Asian group and a number of South American states. The prime minister alerted Ambassador Raghavan to expect an aide-​memoire from New Delhi for the Chinese government with fuller clarification of India’s resolution. The text Nehru sent was drafted by Krishna Menon and spelled out his deliberate strategy of using vague language to reassure China that the India resolution met all of Beijing’s objectives, stating that it “was drafted with that purpose and is not ‘voluntary Repatriation.’ ” Menon argued the wording “deliberately did not try to meet any of the US suggestions for making it acceptable to America.” He emphasized there is “no question of screening or refusal to release any prisoners from custody of detaining power. There is thus no question of forcible detentions. Nor is there any impediment or limitation on prisoners’ return.”78 Menon passed over any possible impact on China of Soviet advice against the Indian resolution, although India’s ambassadors in Moscow and Beijing thought otherwise. K. P. S. Menon reported from Moscow that a settlement in Korea did not suit the Soviet Union so long as the greatest losses from the war in men, money, and prestige were being inflicted on the United States. Raghavan observed from Beijing that China was relying on Soviet guidance, and “nothing we do or say will make Chinese revise attitude.”79 Raghavan drew a number of lessons from the Chinese government’s outright rejection of India’s resolution. They provided Nehru with a completely different assessment of China’s motives in its relations with India that stood in stark contrast to Panikkar’s characteristically rosy view. The new ambassador concluded that Chinese friendship “hangs on a very thin thread.” He spelled out point by point the reasons why New Delhi should be wary of Beijing. Prominent on this long list were that China made policy on the basis of self-​interest, which included its friendship with the Soviets. India’s notion that a new China had predominately Asian feelings was incorrect. Rather, the Chinese were “inwardly jealous” of India’s rising position in Asia and did not want India to gain influence in world councils or Asian and Arab circles. They would stoop to any dishonesty if it served their



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goals. A sentimental approach to China was “out of place,” and the Chinese “have at no time made—​or will they make—​any concessions to Indian opinion or to the opinion of other well-​wishers, except of course to the views of their Soviet allies.”80 In another message, Raghavan expressed his belief that “Chinese [were] chagrined as they thought that Indians would sponsor no repeat no resolution except strictly on the lines and the form previously approved by her.”81 Zhou Enlai, at about the same time, inadvertently confirmed Raghavan’s assessment by angrily questioning India’s motives in a message to Lester Pearson. Zhou characterized the Indian plan as following a “tortuous route” and using “dishonourable methods” to endorse the American proposals for forcible detention of war prisoners rejected by China before the breakdown of talks at Panmunjom.82 The appraisal by Raghavan of India-​China relations and the attack by Zhou Enlai on India made clear that despite India’s most strenuous efforts on behalf of China, Beijing was responsive only to Soviet pressure. India’s policy of building India-​China friendship would have to be on Beijing’s terms. Raghavan’s reassessment of China’s motives, finally taking an Indian point of view, required a difficult adjustment in perspective and in policy, to break through the wishful thinking that was Panikkar’s legacy. Russian documents confirm that the communist side finally decided to conclude an armistice only after Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953, when the new collective leadership, anxious about solidifying its power, adopted a resolution on the Korean War informing Mao, Kim, and Peng Dehuai that the USSR wanted to resolve outstanding issues and reach an agreement. The decision also reflected Zhou Enlai’s urgent proposal when he attended Stalin’s funeral in Moscow to speed up negotiations for an armistice. Once the armistice talks resumed at Panmunjom on April 26, Zhou suddenly displayed a new spirit of flexibility. On June 8, the two sides reached an agreement that accepted the American position on voluntary repatriation. This agreement held despite the unilateral action of Syngman Rhee, on June 18, releasing about twenty-​seven thousand anticommunist North Korean prisoners held by South Korea, and a short punitive Chinese attack on South Korean troops, by then able to hold their own ground. The armistice signed on July 27, 1953, put a final end to the military conflict. The losses during the two years of armistice “discussions,” from July 1951 to July 1953, added another 63,200 US killed and wounded to the 78,800 during June 1950–​June 1951, the period of continuous heavy fighting.83

Panmunjom: Winning the Ideological War The military armistice agreement, signed by the commander in chief of the UNC, the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, and the commander of



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the Chinese People’s Volunteers, settled the demarcation line between the two sides; slightly favoring the South over the North, it established a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between them that remains in place at the time of this writing. The DMZ, in the vicinity of Panmunjom, became the headquarters of the Military Armistice Commission, as well as the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC)—​to observe and inspect any military violations of the armistice—​and the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC)—​responsible for coordinating the repatriation of prisoners of war. Both sides agreed on “Terms of Reference” for the NNRC. POWs who had not exercised their right to direct repatriation during the sixty days of prisoner exchanges provided in the armistice agreement would be transferred from each detaining side to the NNRC for temporary custody.84 During a ninety-​ day period, “The nations to which the prisoners of war belong shall have the freedom and facilities to send representatives . . . to explain to all prisoners of war . . . their rights and to inform them of any matters relating to their return to their homelands.” Nonrepatriated POWs for whom no disposition had been agreed by the proposed Political Conference would be returned to civilian status 120 days after the NNRC assumed their custody, and the commission would cease to function and declare its dissolution.85 The legacy of the “Menon cabal,” lived on in the composition of the NNSC and the NNRC of “neutral” nations by definition, as those powers who had not committed troops to the war. Sweden and Switzerland, nominated by the UNC, and Poland and Czechoslovakia, nominated jointly by the KPA/​CPV commands, staffed both bodies. The US preference for Pakistan as the fifth permanent member, an umpire with executive powers of the NNRC, was overridden. India assumed that position as the only noncommunist state acceptable to China having strong support in the United Nations. The United States acquiesced in this choice. Nothing could persuade President Syngman Rhee that India’s leaders were not communists and pro-​Chinese communists. He signaled his deep distrust by prohibiting Indian personnel from moving into “our rear areas” in South Korea. India’s peacekeepers were in effect quarantined in the DMZ. This included the Custodial Forces India (CFI), the six thousand Indian armed troops charged with receiving all POWs from both sides who had not exercised their right of repatriation. The CFI shouldered the heaviest responsibilities for supervising the facilities and all explanations and interviews to inform each prisoner of his rights relating to return to his homeland. India’s troops, arriving at Inchon, had to be transferred to UNC ships and then airlifted by helicopter into the Demilitarized Zone. Nehru’s directive to Lieutenant General Thimayya, chairman of the NNRC, to treat the terms of reference in the armistice agreement as his “bible” and not



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to favor either side proved unrealistic in dealing with political realities on the ground. As Thimayya discovered, the terms of reference were worded so that each command could read into them its own interpretation. “In reality, the two sides really never reached any agreement on the problem at all.”86 A basic issue concerned the total number of prisoners available for repatriation by each side. The UNC’s final estimate, on March 6, 1953, reported 83,000 POWs in its custody were procommunist and would be repatriated. Of the remaining 50,000, “35,000 are North Korean and will not be repatriated,” 15,000 were nonrepatriate Chinese. The communists, on their side, demanded that all 20,000 Chinese held by the UNC be returned, and a “realistic” number of North Koreans. Although the UNC had initially estimated that the Chinese and North Korean commands could have as many as 6,000 UNC and 28,000 ROK troops in custody, the CPV-​KPA Northern Command never admitted to more than 12,000 prisoners. During the exchange of prisoners after the armistice, the Northern Command returned 12,760 POWs to the UNC and the UNC returned 75,800 POWs to the Northern Command.87 Approximately 41,000 South Korean POWs were reclassified as “civilian internees” and released in response to the request of the ROK, which argued that that these persons had been involuntarily impressed into military service.88 At the time that the NNRC and CFI assumed their responsibilities under the armistice in early September 1953, the UNC, holding to its estimate based on screening, placed 14,700 Chinese in CFI custody, but only 7,900 North Korean POWs, approximately the residual remaining after Rhee allowed some 27,000 prisoners to walk away. The communists, without explanation, turned over a minimal 335 ROK, 23 Americans, and 1 British soldier who refused repatriation. The contentious issue of nonforcible repatriation, which had prolonged the Korean War by two years at the cost of tens of thousands killed and wounded on the UNC side, and much higher numbers of Chinese and North Koreans, boiled down in the end to an ideological struggle between the United States and China over the fate of less than 23,000 POWs, twice as many of whom were Chinese than Korean. This costly ideological conflict was reflected in the disagreement between the American command and the Indian chairman of the NNRC, Lieutenant General Thimayya, on the proper interpretation of the terms of reference for explanations during the ninety-​day period allotted from September 24 to December 23, 1953. Thimayya and General Mark Clark, successor to Ridgeway as commander of the UNC, viewed each other’s motives with suspicion, in large part because they reasoned from diametrically opposed first assumptions.89 According to General Clark, the prisoners transferred to the NNRC for explanations had made their choice many months earlier and the vast majority would adhere to that choice. From the American general’s perspective, it was natural for Chinese POWs to



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prefer nonrepatriation. The Chinese communists “had no use for human life,” and many prisoners had been Nationalists impressed into service. He believed the obvious choice of POWs who rejected repatriation would be Formosa for the Chinese and the ROK for the Koreans. Thimayya wrote Clark that the commission could not accept his view that Korean and Chinese prisoners had made their decision many months earlier and in the absence of coercion would stick to it. Facing a succession of obstructions in bringing out prisoners for explanations, including attacks and abuse of Indian military members of the NNRC by the POWs, and South Korean propaganda rejecting the impartiality of the CFI, Thimayya was inclined to take seriously CPV-​KPA charges that the POWs had never had an opportunity to express their free choice. POWs refused on most days to appear for explanations before Chinese and North Korean communists, confirming for Thimayya the Chinese position that a reign of terror existed in the camps, an interpretation that Nehru also accepted as “well known.” The members of the NNRC divided against each other, preventing agreement on methods of explanation. From the time the POWs were transferred to the custody of the NNRC on September 25, only ten days of the ninety-​day period allotted for explanation were used and some 3,500 men provided explanations of the terms of repatriation. Fewer than 150, or little more than 4 percent, of this number asked for repatriation.90 Krishna Menon, from his position on the India delegation to the United Nations, sent reports to Nehru that built up a crisis atmosphere. He relayed that the South Korean government had officially written to Major General Thorat through the UN commander, Maxwell Taylor, accusing the Indians of evil, unjust, and provocative acts, threatening that unless these actions were rectified immediately, the ROK would be forced to send its army to drive out procommunist Indian forces. UNC assurances that neutrality and peaceful conditions would be maintained did not relieve Menon’s worries. Subsequently, he became determined to raise the issue in the UN General Assembly charging that the UNC supported South Korean authorities who misrepresented the requirement of POWs to listen to explanations, and instead incited them to break out of the UN camps, making it impossible for India to fulfill its mission. Nehru responded with an aide-​memoire to the State Department, to Churchill, and to Louis St. Laurent, prime minister of Canada, saying that the POWs were attacking guards and attempting mass breakouts in response to incitement and that he was prepared to refer the matter to the UN General Assembly. This was too much for Washington. The State Department, bluntly rebutting the Indian complaints, expressed certainty that the prisoners were “not” anxious to be repatriated, as demonstrated by their uncooperative behavior, and those who had wanted to return had been allowed to do so. Anger about these



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accusations ran so high that senior officials, including Dulles, protested India’s “Unneutral” attitude. At the end of November, when Thimayya began discussions with both commands on an interim report, the divide between the Polish and Czech members of the NNRC and the Swiss and Swedes hardened into a complete break. The draft interim report, prepared by the Indian secretariat of the commission, conformed closely to the position of the Northern Command and the Czech and Polish members of the commission in accounting for the refusal of prisoners to come out for explanations. It blamed leadership among the prisoners put in place by the UNC before POWs were transferred to the CFI, and central control exercised by General Headquarters in Seoul, linked directly through branch organizations penetrating all the fifty-​five camp compounds. Such “leaders” committed acts of violence against prisoners who desired repatriation, including murder. The concluding chapter of the draft report reiterated that “no prisoner of war while still in the compound, enjoyed freedom to seek repatriation and was subjected to force or threat of force” and that even prisoners who went through the process of individual explanation were not completely free from the threat of force arising from the camps’ leadership organization.91 Under such circumstances, the commission found it impossible to carry out its responsibilities under the terms of reference. Both the Swiss and Swedish members of the commission found these sections of the interim report and the conclusions unacceptable even as a basis of discussions.92 The final report of the NNRC followed the same lines of division, producing a majority India-​Poland-​Czechoslovakia account and a minority Swiss and Swedish statement. The Swiss and Swedish members disputed the majority’s conclusion that prisoners could not exercise a free choice. They also agreed with the UNC’s interpretation of the terms of reference that, in the absence of a political conference that showed no sign of starting, all nonrepatriate prisoners had to be returned to civilian status as of January 22, 1954.93 On January 20, 1954, the CFI began the transfer of 21,805 men to the UNC; by January 23, the UNC released them from prisoner-​of-​war status. The United States claimed the propaganda victory. The first sentences of the official report submitted by the UN Command to the General Assembly declared that “some 22,000 former soldiers of the North Korean and Chinese Communist Armies, having freely chosen not to return to Communist control . . . vindicated the UNC’s stand for the humanitarian principle that prisoners should not be forced against their will to return to their country of origin. The prisoners chose freedom over Communist tyranny.” The UNC report, commending the Swedes and Swiss for their honest, factual, and objective summary of the operations of the NNRC, rejected the majority’s account of coercion of prisoners by “UNC agents” as unsupported charges. It identified the primary cause of the failure of



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explanations as “the severe disappointment of the Communists to secure more than a nominal percentage of returnees,” and the delaying tactics they used, including the demand for the use of force.94 President Eisenhower respected diplomatic formalities in his February 19 message to Nehru, praising the Indian officers, particularly Lieutenant General Thimayya and Major General Thorat, for their “exemplary tact, fairness and firmness” in a demanding and delicate mission. But he had already written Syngman Rhee about his decision to instruct Congress to ratify the US-​South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty, initialed on August 7, 1953, under which the ROK granted the United States the right to station land, air, and sea forces on Korean territory by mutual agreement.95 For their part, the Soviets announced a major aid plan for North Korea, and the November 23 agreements between North Korea and China created the conditions for incorporating North Korea into the Chinese sphere of economic influence. These agreements all but ensured that the Korean Conference, still under discussion at Panmunjom, could have no political result other than the permanent division of the country. The reaction of the Eisenhower administration to India’s perceived bias against the United States was to reduce New Delhi’s prominence in international deliberations that could be used to project its position as the leader of the neutralist Asia-​Arab bloc. The first opportunity to do this was provided by the US interpretation of the Korean armistice agreement on the composition of the long-​delayed conference on the political future of Korea. Article IV, Paragraph 60 of the armistice agreement, signed by the commander in chief, UN Command, the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, and the commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers, recommended to “the governments of the countries concerned on both sides” that, within three months after the Armistice Agreement was signed and became effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held “by representatives appointed respectively” to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Korean question, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea. Nehru assumed that India would be invited to participate in the conference and that “Krishna Menon will represent us.”96 He even sent a message to Zhou Enlai offering New Delhi as the venue. The United States, however, read Paragraph 60 in a literal way to mean that the conference should be strictly limited to the representatives of the belligerents on both sides, while professing no objection to the nomination of the Soviet Union by China. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., US ambassador to the United Nations, informed Menon that the United States favored a conference of the two sides and not a roundtable because the conference would deal with Korea, and Korean participation was vital. He explained, “It would be a great embarrassment to us in our relations with Korea for India to be a member of the Conference because of the well-​known attitude of the President of Korea.”97



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US ambassador to India George Allen, the highly regarded career foreign service officer appointed by the Eisenhower administration in February 1953, met Nehru on August 26 to urge that he voluntarily withdraw India’s name as a participant in the Korean political conference. Allen reassured Nehru that if the Korean conference was successful and discussions were subsequently taken up on broader Far East issues, the United States would expect India and other countries to formally participate in the discussion of matters of direct interest to them. Nehru, despite his “outburst” on the previous day, maintained a friendly attitude, saying that India was in consultation with “other powers” (which Allen inferred belonged to the Commonwealth) and was waiting for votes in the First Committee of the General Assembly and in the plenary session. The United Kingdom had made a commitment to India supporting its participation and preferring a roundtable conference, including neutral countries, to bolster its own role as a world power and open the way for a better relationship with China. Yet, in the end, the British gave priority to its “special relationship” with the United States and informed India that all possibilities of persuading Rhee were exhausted. Australia, similarly, asked India to withdraw. India’s majority support in the First Political Committee on August 27, approving its participation in the conference, could not have been translated into the required two-​thirds majority in the plenary General Assembly because of opposition by the United States, Latin American countries, Pakistan, and Greece.98 Krishna Menon had no option but to issue a statement asserting that the cause of peace would best be served by not forcing the draft resolution with regard to India to a vote in the General Assembly. On August 28, the US resolution passed in the General Assembly by a massive majority of fifty to five, sponsored by a group of sixteen states. It provided that all countries that had sent troops to Korea should be represented at the Korea conference, with Russia being present provided the other side desired it. The resolution, sent by Dag Hammarskjöld to Zhou Enlai on August 28, 1953, was rejected by China. Zhou replied on September 13 that his government did not agree with the composition of the political conference. He insisted that the participants be the belligerent nations, the Soviet Union, and India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Burma. Suddenly, it seemed the conference might not be held and hostilities could resume. Krishna Menon calculated that the United States would have to change its attitude about India to get a conference. This was not the first time Menon underestimated the determination of the United States or exaggerated the importance of India to its friends in the Commonwealth or to China. The conference on Korea’s political future was arranged in a manner that bypassed the United Nations. The problem of the Soviet Union’s participation, technically not a participant in the conflict, was solved in the quadripartite announcement on February 18, 1954, by the foreign ministers



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of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the USSR at the end of the Berlin Conference on East-​West tensions convened on January 25, 1954. The four powers agreed to call a conference in Geneva on April 26, 1954, to discuss the future of Korea, putting the Soviet Union in the position of a host. This formula, under which China was invited to participate by the Soviet Union, allowed the United States to avoid recognition of China. The United States downgraded its day-​to-​day representation at Geneva from Secretary of State Dulles to Deputy Secretary of State General Walter Bedell Smith. The four powers agreed on the countries invited to participate in discussions of the Korea question in advance. China did not keep up its insistence that India attend. Neither the United States nor the British government initially wanted to include Indo-​China on the agenda, but complex Western alliance dynamics resulted in the decision to do so. The French government needed a meeting with the Chinese to stem public loss of confidence in prosecuting the eight-​year war in Indo-​China between French forces and the Chinese-​supported Vietminh, a disillusionment that also strengthened resistance in France to Western plans for rearming West Germany as part of the European Defence Community.99 Invitees to discussions about Indo-​China had not been decided, and the formula insisted upon by the United States in the talks about Korea could not be invoked by Washington for that part of the conference. Unknown to Nehru, when the question was raised at the outset as to whether India should be invited, it was Molotov, not Dulles, who said he was “not interested in this matter for the moment as India’s participation may weaken the role played by China at the Geneva Conference.”100 At Geneva, Nehru was excluded by both superpowers, paving the way for Zhou Enlai to emerge as the dominant figure representing India’s rival in Asia.



Figure 1  Nehru, Mountbatten, and Jinnah. Photo by Universal History Archive/​UIG via Getty Images.

Figure 2  Nehru arriving at Washington Airport, 1949. Source: US National Archives and Records Administration.



Figure 3  Nehru and Zhou Enlai. Photo by Keystone Press/​Alamy Stock Photo.

Figure 4  Nehru and Mao. Photo by Keystone-​France/​Gamma-​R apho via Getty Images.



Figure 5  Nehru and Eisenhower. Photo by Keystone/​Hulton Archive/​Getty Images.

Figure 6  Menon attended to by his doctor. Photo by Lisa Larsen/​The LIFE Picture Collection/​Getty Images.



Figure 7  The Asian African conference in Bandung, Indonesia, 1955, at which Nehru argued for nonalignment of newly independent countries during the Cold War. Photo by Howard Sochurek/​The LIFE Picture Collection/​Getty Images.

Figure 8  Nehru and Kennedy. Source: US Embassy New Delhi.



6

US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part I Collective Security in the Middle East and Pakistan

The prolonged failure to find common ground in ending the Korean War was so injurious to the India-​US relationship that each country began to view the policies of the other as deliberate efforts to undermine their own most important goals. The United States remained intent on stemming the tide of communist advances in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, lining up allies in collective security pacts that could draw on local troops, facilities, and political support. Nehru derided the US approach of collective security to strengthen vulnerable noncommunist states, asserting there was no threat from the Soviet Union or China. Rather, he considered US-​sponsored regional pacts a form of imperialism aimed at interfering in the nationalist movements and independent governments of the Middle East and Asia, which could only increase tensions and pave the way to conflict. The barriers to a better relationship between the United States and India became even more formidable after the formal signing of the May 19, 1954, Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement between the United States and Pakistan. The agreement was justified by the Eisenhower administration as part of a broader collective security arrangement against Soviet expansion toward the Middle East. Nehru was hardly persuaded: Pakistan was too internally divided and internationally distracted by the unresolved Kashmir dispute to provide troops for use outside the subcontinent. His view of the American initiative was that it constituted a deliberate effort to undermine India as the preeminent power in South Asia, and to discredit “neutralism” as an acceptable foreign policy among Arab and Asian countries. US military assistance to Pakistan provided tangible proof to Nehru of his suspicions since the Kashmir crisis that the United States was intent on building up Pakistan and building down India’s power in the region. When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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Dulles discounted the long-​term deleterious impact on US relations with India that critics in the State Department, the American embassy in New Delhi, and his counterparts in the British Foreign Office forcefully warned against. He was convinced that after a period of understandable anger, India would continue to follow its established policy of nonalignment, without permanent damage to India-​US relations. Bilateral relations were already strained and economic aid was essential to the success of India’s five-​year development plans. Dulles was correct that Nehru would avoid an irreparable breach with the United States in India’s own interest. Yet he was only dimly aware of India’s complex strategy to weaken support for the United States among potential Arab and Asian allies for a Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO), as well as for the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) discussed in Chapter 7.

US-​U.K. Approaches to Middle East Defense Beginning with partition and the secret 1947 Washington talks between the United States and United Kingdom on the defense requirements of the Middle East, Pakistan’s strategic location, including its close proximity to the Soviet Union and adjacency to the oil reserves of Persia (Iran) and Iraq, placed it on the list of states that the British, with American support, hoped to access for base facilities needed to turn back a Soviet assault. During the Truman administration, when the British and Americans consulted closely, the United States raised the idea of setting up a Supreme Allied Command for the Middle East. Both countries, as well as France and Turkey, agreed that the commander in chief would be British and that the optimal defense arrangement should pivot around Great Britain’s access to the massive British military base at Suez, with its major supply depots and airfields in striking distance of Soviet territory and its potential as a staging ground for troops to protect Iran and Iraq. The State Department underlined the importance of recruiting willing partners among local governments, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and members of the Arab League. In addition, the United States, in 1951, told the British that Pakistan’s contribution to Middle East defense was “urgently needed,” and suggested it would be desirable for Pakistan to become a founding member of a Middle East Command. The British accepted the strategic logic but anticipated insurmountable political obstacles preventing Pakistan from providing troops until settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan’s preoccupation with India was so consuming that its motives were suspected as exploiting the Middle East situation to acquire equipment for enlarging its armed forces for use against India. India was expected to react with “violent antagonism” to American suggestions of offering a US-​UK guarantee to Pakistan against aggression from India in





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Kashmir, a notion that had been discussed ad nauseum, and which the British refused to accept because India’s cooperation with the United Kingdom on Far Eastern questions, particularly localizing the war in Korea, was a valuable asset. The Foreign Office, at Washington’s request, produced a draft proposal for a Middle East Command (MEC), advocating the inclusion of Egypt and Iraq but not Pakistan, to which the United States responded that no Arab country should be given preferential treatment except in return for base facilities.1 The first imperative for the Americans, in preparation for a proposed conference in London, centered on providing a framework in which fighting troops, those from the United Kingdom, the southern dominions (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa), and possibly Turkey, would operate in time of war. The British agreed but postponed the conference until negotiations with Egypt, for access to Suez, could be completed. The nationalist revolution in Egypt, which brought General Naguib and Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser to power, overtook all these plans in the early months of the Eisenhower administration. Subsequently, India played a significant role behind the scenes in discouraging a workable compromise that would have involved an Egyptian commitment to make the base available to the British during wartime. New Delhi closely followed the progress of the proposed Middle East defense pact through reports from its legation in Baghdad and embassy in Cairo. In early January 1953, the report from Khub Chand in Baghdad raised alarm in India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Khub Chand passed on British assessments that they were much nearer to the conclusion of a Middle East defense pact than any time before, reassured by Naguib that the bases would remain available to Britain in time of war, although for reasons of domestic politics British forces would not be allowed to remain in Egypt. The British also were optimistic that Iraq would join the pact and that Pakistan, fearing danger not from Western imperialism but from India, had concluded its only option was to seek arms, equipment, and training from the United Kingdom and the United States. Khub Chand, aware of the volatility in Egyptian politics, speculated, “Perhaps the visit of Shrimati Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, which from all accounts has been eminently successful, will make [Naguib] reflect more closely on the step he is contemplating.”2 Nehru reacted immediately. He instructed Secretary General R. K. Pillai to see that the Indian press take up the matter by referring to news reports in other countries of US plans to tie up Pakistan in a scheme for Middle East defense. Discussions between Nasser and K.  N. Panikkar, then India’s ambassador in Egypt, reinforced the nationalist leaders’ determination to separate the issue of a Middle East defense pact from British evacuation of base installations, and refused to discuss the matter except with the British, shutting out the Americans as a third party. The Egyptians, at the same time, inquired whether India would give moral



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support on the Canal Zone.3 Dr. Mahmud Fauzi, Egypt’s foreign minister, told Panikkar, Keeping in mind the views of the Indian Government as explained to General Neguib and to him at different times, the Egyptian Government have now come to the definite and irrevocable decision that they will not sign a pact of any kind for the defense of the Middle East . . . you can assure the Indian Government in the most explicit manner that there is no question whatever of Egypt signing a Middle East Pact. Fawzi further suggested that Egypt and India should work to make the idea of the Arab-​Asian bloc take root, to which Panikkar replied that this was “exactly what our Prime Minister had in mind . . . organizing an Arab-​Asian group” as a “third area” or “third force.”4 The United States and United Kingdom, writing off Egypt’s participation in a Middle East Command, developed a new proposal by mid-​June 1952 for a Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) based in Cyprus as a consultative framework for joint defense planning. The major difference from the MEC held that participating Arab states would not have to provide dedicated troop support. The sponsoring countries were the same as those of the discarded MEC (United Kingdom, United States, France, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa), and the long-​term goals were also the same:  to increase cooperation among countries in the Middle East region to resist aggression and to bolster the eastern flank of NATO to safeguard the oil resources of the Persian Gulf. The Foreign Office, under continuing pressure from the State Department to invite Pakistan to join MEDO, was this time more receptive. The British rationalized that the basic change from a supreme command to a planning organization removed some earlier objections, particularly that Pakistan would not be able to provide forces outside its own boundaries until the Kashmir dispute was resolved. The problem of military assistance also appeared to be mitigated since the United States and Great Britain had both lifted restrictions on purchases of military equipment and, “for other reasons,” had decided to meet Pakistan’s requirement as far as possible. MEDO proposals were based on inviting all the Arab states, except Egypt, to a preliminary conference. Bringing Pakistan into discussions of Middle East defense seemed to be less provocative to India if done as part of a “package.” The Foreign Office, nevertheless, remained considerably more apprehensive than the State Department. They warned against underestimating India’s angry reactions and, at a minimum, damaging any progress on bilateral India-​Pakistan discussions then in progress on Kashmir. The UK high commissioner in New Delhi pointed out that India would fear Pakistan’s entanglement in Western





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strategic plans to provide bases and other facilities, and emphasized it was extremely important to convince India that the participation of Pakistan did not involve any special aid for defense supplies. The proposal for the Middle East Defense Organization met the same fate as that for a Middle East Command. It had to be abandoned in the absence of support for cooperative defense planning among the Middle Eastern states under the leadership of the United Kingdom and the United States. Even classification of Pakistan as a Middle East state had limited credibility. Pakistan’s foreign minister, Sir Zafrullah Khan, who broached the idea of an exploratory conference in Karachi and in 1952 invited the prime ministers of twelve Muslim states to attend (Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan, and Indonesia), postponed the meeting “indefinitely” after receiving repeated requests for clarification about the purpose of the gathering. The implicit assertion by Pakistan of a leadership role in a Muslim bloc was partly directed at domestic criticism by more orthodox Muslims and mullahs, strengthened after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951, of Pakistan’s failure to get the United Kingdom and the United States to condemn India’s refusal to accept arbitration on Kashmir.5 The effective demise of MEDO did little to stop press reports, especially in Pakistan, debating the costs and benefits of joining MEDO. India’s ambassador, G. L. Mehta, met with Dean Acheson in January 1953 and with Dulles in March and received the same answer from both individuals. There had been no invitation to Pakistan because tensions among states in that area prevented any agreement establishing such an organization. This was true, but hardly conveyed what Dulles had in mind by saying he was considering the “whole situation afresh.”

“New Look” Collective Security in Asia The Cold War perspective of John Foster Dulles was well understood, developed in his popular writings (especially the bestseller War or Peace) and multiple statements, addresses, and lectures on the international situation in the run-​up to the 1952 elections. His views had a natural aura of authority based on his family background, education, legal training, and career of public service. Dulles did not become secretary of state until the age of sixty-​five, in 1953, but after graduating from Princeton and studying international law in Paris, he seemed destined to follow both his grandfather and uncle in the position of secretary of state after the long Democrat interregnum. Practicing law in New York, with a specialty in international relations, he was tapped for a variety of assignments by leaders of both parties, starting as a young adviser to President Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference. He was a member of the US delegation to the San



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Francisco Conference in 1945 that drafted the UN Charter. As a US delegate to the UN General Assembly from 1946 to 1950, at the time that Krishna Menon was an alternate member of the Indian delegation, Dulles soon concluded that Menon was a Marxist and a Soviet sympathizer. It is safe to assume that based on India’s perceived bias toward China during the Korean War, and Menon’s leadership of the UN “cabal” against US policy on the Korean armistice, Dulles found little reason to amend his first impressions. Under the Truman administration, Dulles’s reputation gained greater luster as one of the most distinguished statesmen of the twentieth century. He demonstrated a formidable ability to negotiate a security infrastructure in Asia and the Pacific:  the Japanese peace treaty; the mutual security agreements between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand (ANZUS); and the US alliance with the Philippines. The new secretary of state, moreover, enjoyed virtually unchallenged power under President Eisenhower’s reorganization of the national government, giving the State Department clear authority to provide foreign policy guidance to all other agencies. Eisenhower reinforced this directive with a memo to all heads of executive departments emphasizing the primary position within the executive branch of the secretary of state on matters of foreign policy. Dulles thereby became the official channel of authority with responsibility for advising and assisting the president in the formulation and control of foreign policy. This committed the president to his secretary of state’s overarching critique of containment as a “dangerously inadequate” policy for defeating the Soviet Union’s avowed goal of conquering the United States or forcing it to “voluntarily” surrender in the face of overwhelming odds. As Dulles repeated, the Soviets were moving relentlessly toward their goal, engaged in a policy of encirclement to gradually absorb raw materials and markets upon which the Western industrialized economies depended. His standard complaint against containment was that it had already conceded communist control over one-​third of all people in the world, while the “free world,” adopting an almost wholly defensive posture, focused on preventing the communists’ takeover of the countries not yet in their grasp. He dramatized the threat by raising the prospect of the “ ‘sovietization” of the oil reserves of the Middle East, the vast populations of China and India, the rubber and tin of Southeast Asia, and the industrial power of Japan to confront the free world with overwhelming force. Embracing Kennan’s notion of a “vacuum” across nearly twenty-​thousand miles along the “frontier of freedom” (excluding five hundred miles of continental Europe), Dulles deplored the failure of the United States to provide dynamic leadership in Asia. US secretaries of state had made seventeen trips to Europe since 1945, but not one had visited a Pacific or Asian nation.6 The fact that the United States could not create the same kind of conventional defense along twenty thousand miles that had been established for continental





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Europe led to two major alterations in the approach to containment during the Eisenhower administration. The first emphasized collective security or self-​ defense pacts (within the framework of the UN Charter under Article 51) to deter aggression by sharing the costs, and the second, more fearsome, element was to make clear that any new open armed attack by the communists would meet instant retaliation from US nuclear weapons maintained in a constant state of readiness and used as “conventional weapons.” Dulles did not believe the global struggle with communism could be won by military and economic power alone. He understood that Soviet communism had used ideas of peace, democracy, and social welfare to gain propaganda victories in areas like the Middle East, where the West and the United States were portrayed as colonialists, imperialists, and warmongers. What he considered missing in American strategy to counter the Soviets was an appeal to moral law, to expressions of what is right against what is wrong, to eternal verities of religious and moral justice, to concepts of inalienable human rights upon which American constitutional laws and practices were founded. Dulles used the example of the Japanese peace treaty as the accomplishment against which to measure what is possible when the United States invoked ideas in accordance with the principles of moral law. He identified the moral and spiritual dimension of the treaty in US restraint, which did not use its physical occupation of Japan to impose punitive measures, but instead engaged in broad-​based negotiations that invoked “the spirit of forgiveness to overcome vengefulness; magnanimity to overcome hatred; humanity to overcome greed; fellowship to overcome arrogance; trust to overcome fear.” The proof that this approach could regain Washington’s lost initiative, especially over events stirring people in Asia, was that of fifty-​one noncommunist nations invited to San Francisco, forty-​nine accepted and signed the treaty in the “greatest unity for peace-​making the world have ever seen.”7 John Foster Dulles and Jawaharlal Nehru lived in different ideological and moral worlds, each convinced that his own approach, collective security to safeguard universal moral principles based on eternal human rights in the first case, and neutralism, diplomacy, and an expanded “area of peace” to prevent the horrors of modern, possibly nuclear, war in the second, was the best guarantee of world peace, and more particularly, peace in Asia. Dulles could hardly forget India was one of the two noncommunist nations that did not sign the Japanese peace treaty and that Burma followed Nehru’s lead. Nehru, convinced that the approach of collective security and the military alliances that flowed from it would exacerbate tensions between the United States and China and increase the prospects of war in Asia, and of world war, set his face firmly against the entire American strategy. The United States and India came into direct competition for influence in Arab and Asian countries.



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Dulles’s visit to the Near East and South Asia in April 1953 allowed him to make his own assessment of conditions in the area. President Eisenhower made a special effort to create a receptive attitude in Nehru, writing personally that he would be pleased if Secretary Dulles could get a firsthand report from him about political conditions in India and the broad problem of Asia in relation to the Soviet Union. Eisenhower’s approach had some effect in moderating Nehru’s first reaction to Dulles’s visit, that he did not attach special importance to it. The prime minister arranged for G. S. Bajpai to be in Delhi during Dulles’s visit on May 19–​21, 1953, and to prepare a memorandum for Nehru’s reference. Bajpai’s assessment dwelled on the formidable barriers to mutual understanding, created by Dulles’s enmity toward communism and his determination to go beyond the policy of containment. The memo described Dulles’s determination to emancipate countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia from Soviet control, while adopting the same attitude toward China, the situation in Indo-​ China, and in Thailand and Malaya. The tension between India and Pakistan interested the secretary of state from a similar Cold War perspective, that is, as a source of weakness in both countries’ capabilities to resist aggression from the USSR and China. Bajpai advised Nehru that Dulles would not be in an amiable mood. His “study tour” in Egypt and other Arab countries had met with little success. Panikkar reinforced this assessment on the eve of the meetings, reporting that discussions with the Arab states had been dominated by opposition to US policy favoring Israel and that Lebanon had advocated neutrality in East-​West conflicts. The situation in Egypt was worse. The Egyptian government and British troops were moving toward a confrontation, and General Naguib became an “ardent advocate of the doctrine of an ‘area of peace’ stretching from Egypt to Indonesia . . . I need not say that the prospects of a Defense Organization for this area under the leadership of the western nations has vanished for the time.”8 Against this background, the long private talks between Nehru and Dulles were realistic in framing the discussions around the different points of view from each side to “make each other’s position understood.” Nehru discussed India’s general approach to the USSR and China, his view that the PRC did not intend to invade Southeast Asian countries, or have much role in the Indo-​ China conflict, which he claimed had to be looked at from a nationalist point of view. Dulles expressed his unhappiness with the situation in Egypt, where the British were using “old colonial methods” of strong-​arm tactics, and referred to MEDO as a British-​sponsored scheme that had “little relevance today.” Both men managed to express their views on controversial subjects and move on to other matters without pushing their own position to the point of confrontation. Nehru thought the basic purpose had been served, and Dulles also believed they had cleared up some points in the process.9





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Dulles’s conclusions on the trip did not lend themselves to a roadmap for Middle East defense. He found the political stability required for building up defensive strength in the area lacking and the entire region caught up in distrust of the West, not only the British and the French, but also the United States. Support for Israel and the association of the United States in the minds of most people with French and British colonial policies were the proverbial “millstones around our neck.” The danger in the Middle East was the trend toward neutralism. Arab states would not openly join defensive arrangements with Western powers, and “there is virtually no defense in the Middle East, except for the Turkish flank position.” Casting about for a way that the United States could increase its influence in the region, Dulles concluded that nations bordering the Soviet bloc would be more aware of the danger and willing to cooperate, and that “small amounts” of economic development funds and military equipment should be provided to selected states. Such military assistance would be utilized for purposes of internal security, strengthening defense of the area and “obtaining political advantage.”10 Dulles singled out Pakistan for expressing interest in bilateral defense relations with the United States, and Iraq as potentially most receptive to a connection with Middle East defense.

US Decision to Extend Military Assistance to Pakistan The US decision to provide military assistance to Pakistan in 1954 permanently changed the motive forces of the US-​India relationship. Subsequently, US relations with India were held hostage to Pakistan’s demands for parity, involving massive amounts of aid and supplies of state-​of-​the-​art military equipment patently desired to prevail in any conflict with India or assault on Kashmir. Since Pakistan’s motives for seeking military assistance from the United States were clear to any number of critics inside the State Department and abroad at the time the agreement was signed, Nehru’s suspicions of US intentions were well grounded. Dulles’s proposals for a “Northern Tier” defense of states bordering the Soviet Union, anchored by Turkey in the West and Pakistan in the East and encompassing Iran and Iraq, were first floated at Anglo-​American meetings in Washington in July 1953, where Dulles indicated he also had in mind military assistance to Pakistan. The United States did not persist in this approach with the British, who argued that such a grouping, even if possible, could not defend the Middle East without the direction of Great Britain, as well as US financial and troop support. British opposition was heightened by the State Department’s intention to exclude all Western powers from joint military planning, effectively bypassing Britain’s claim to leadership in the region.



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It was not until early January 1954 that the Americans informed the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office about agreement in the US government to provide military aid to Pakistan, provided it could “be set in an appropriate framework.” This framework required linking the initiative with some kind of defense planning between Pakistan and Turkey, leaving open the question of eventual participation by Iraq and Iran. The US ambassador in Ankara, George McGhee, a long-​standing advocate of aid to Pakistan, suggested the Turkish government take the lead in proposing military talks to Pakistan. The British Foreign Office found it “surprising to say the least, that the Americans should have launched this wholly new idea, with its wide implications in the Middle East generally without a word to us first.” The Foreign Office also found it disconcerting “from the Indian angle” to directly link US aid to Pakistan with Middle East defense, which was likely to shock Indian opinion and exacerbate Nehru’s anxiety about linkage between Pakistan and Western defense arrangements.11 The UK high commissioner in India concurred that the proposal to link US military aid to Pakistan with Turkish-​Pakistan defense talks would confirm Nehru’s worst suspicions that the United States intended to build up Pakistan’s military strength on the same scale as had been done for Turkey, a NATO ally. Although the State Department continued to use the rhetoric of collective security in rationalizing the northern tier approach to Middle East defense, the central question about Pakistan’s effective contribution was not resolved. Nor did the Pentagon develop any estimate for the amount and type of aid necessary for Pakistan’s armed forces to play a significant role. McMahon argued that General Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s forceful commander in chief, pressed Washington to speed up the policy decision, with implicit support from Dulles, through a series of deliberate press leaks in November 1953 on the US decision to enter a military arrangement with Pakistan.12 Nehru’s reaction to the prospect of a US-​Pakistan military pact was to place it in the context of the US failure to build up a Middle East defense system. He perceived it as part of America’s grand strategy to develop bases all over the globe and encircle the communist world. The pact, whatever American motivation, was a “matter of the gravest concern to India.” It would change the whole situation in Asia by bringing the Cold War up to India’s borders and arming Pakistan, whose entire foreign policy was focused on enhancing its military strength as a bargaining factor, and if necessary, for open war. Nehru was determined to prevent such a military pact, and thought this could be done because India, in his own word, “counts.” He instructed India’s ambassadors and ministers abroad to bring the proposed pact and its dangers to the attention at the highest level of the governments concerned, including the governments of the Soviet Union and China, and create “if not a world opinion





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on the subject, at any rate an Asian opinion.”13 The situation subsequently took on a momentum of its own, at least partly “owing to India’s extraordinarily stupid tactics,” which allowed the United States to argue the Indian attitude had left no room for maneuver.14 At the end of November 1953, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the secretary of defense, followed Dulles in coming down on the side of the pact with Pakistan for military, and for political, reasons. The military reasons were the familiar ones of strengthening a pro-​Western state in a strategic location that could potentially enhance its capability for regional action and grant access to bases. The political reason was more immediate and gave vent to the frustration with Nehru’s persistent criticism of American policies. The military did not want to disillusion the Pakistanis “and give Nehru (as well as others) good reason to think we dance to his tune.”15 The advice of Vice President Nixon, after a four-​week trip to sixteen countries in Asia in November and December 1953, was wholly political in recommending aid to Pakistan. The vice president’s visit during November 29 to December 4 took place before Eisenhower had made a final decision, and Nixon’s report was expected to carry considerable weight. Nehru observed all of the political courtesies due to the vice president’s position, including an address to both houses of parliament. Nixon said all the right things and got positive press coverage for his “open mind” and “sympathetic ear.” The two men did not, however, find common ground. The vice president, during his debriefing meeting at the State Department on January 8, 1954, found India one of the few countries in the region where there was no reason to be concerned about Soviet communism. He believed India “will continue to be neutral  .  .  .  has a great tradition of freedom, and will stay on our side.” Nixon characterized Nehru as “a great leader for India in India” but could not accept “his contemptuous attitude toward the West.” The debriefing summary included Nixon’s caustic remark that “Mr. Nehru does not like the United States, Great Britain, Communist China, or the U.S.S.R.; he only likes Mr. Nehru and India.”16 The transcript records Nixon’s conviction that “Nehru’s objection to the Pakistan pact is that it is a threat to the neutralist theory and a threat to Nehru’s own thirst for power over Southeast Asia, the Near East and Africa.” Nixon was clear that “it will be disastrous if the Pakistan aid does not go through.” His conclusion had nothing to do with the communist danger; he reasoned that even if this forced out the Pakistan prime minister, it would not drive the people of Pakistan toward communism. Instead, it might bring them into a closer relationship with the Indians. An ambivalent President Eisenhower was finally convinced by Dulles that the United States had to forge ahead. Dulles made clear that his advice did not rest on the prospect of acquiring bases in Pakistan. Rather, he counseled that to give way now “would be to surrender to neutralism.”17 Similar conclusions were



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reached in a meeting of US ambassadors in South Asia. On balance, they agreed that the “linking of military aid to Pakistan with the beginning of a regional defense arrangement in the Middle East will probably be politically beneficial to the US and the free world. One of the benefits will be a weakening of the neutralist sentiment in the area and a strengthening of the hands of those who favor alignment with the West.”18 The most the United States could accomplish before officially committing military aid to Pakistan was the semblance of a closer association between Turkey and Pakistan, misrepresented as an independent initiative of the two countries driven by concern about the danger of Soviet aggression. The agreement was a US prerequisite for formally approving military aid to Pakistan, which then could be represented as the starting point for a security arrangement extending to the Middle East. This time Turkey was willing to cooperate with Pakistan, hoping for more US military support to strengthen its own defense capabilities. The Turkish government, at Pakistan’s request in November 1953, consulted with the Americans in preparing the draft of a pact. The Pakistan-​Turkish communiqué, published on February 19, 1954, called for closer cooperation in economic, political, and cultural matters, as well as methods of strengthening peace and security. There was no reference to joint military planning or to a collective defense arrangement for the Middle East. Cooperation on defense matters was narrowly defined to include exchange of information on technical progress, production of arms and ammunition to meet the requirements of the contracting parties, and “studies” on the extent of cooperation that might be carried out under the UN Charter, should an unprovoked aggression occur. On February 24, President Eisenhower wrote a personal letter to Nehru informing him about his decision to extend military aid to Pakistan before publicly announcing it the next day, saying consultation between Pakistan and Turkey would serve the interests of the “whole free world.” The president assured Nehru that the grant of military aid to Pakistan was not directed against India in any way. If the aid were to be misdirected in aggression, Eisenhower pledged that he would “undertake immediately  .  .  .  appropriate action both within and without the UN to thwart such aggression.” As scripted by the State Department, Pakistan then officially asked the United States for military assistance. The president, in a statement dated February 25, 1954, complied with Pakistan’s request, welcoming the announcement by Turkey and Pakistan as a constructive step toward ensuring the security of the Middle East. The reaction in New Delhi, reported by the UK high commissioner, was one of “bitter resentment” and “deep suspicion.” The resentment was greater “because United States decision is a public rebuff for India and a severe reversal for Nehru personally. Not only is a grant of United States military aid regarded as undermining Indian position and policies in South Asia but the fact that it is to





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be accompanied by Turkish-​Pakistan pact is seen as a direct challenge to Indian influence in the Arab bloc.”19 Nehru was described as “deeply upset,” and his defiant reaction never softened. He was convinced that the purpose of the US policy was to completely outflank “India’s so-​called neutralism” and “bring India to her knees. Whatever the future may hold, this is not going to happen. The first result of this will be an extreme dislike of the U.S. in India.”20 Resentment also surfaced in the US foreign policy establishment among South Asian experts in the State Department and diplomats in New Delhi, who understood that India’s leaders would not easily accept the challenge to its dominance in South Asia and aspirations to a larger leadership role in the Arab-​Asian region raised by military assistance to Pakistan. Senator Fulbright wrote that the Committee on Foreign Relations was never consulted, but simply informed, and that “this unwise and improvident decision” possibly laid the basis of Nehru’s belief that the arming of Pakistan was designed to punish him politically for neutralism.21 The US position elaborated by John D. Jernegan, deputy assistant secretary of state, contrasted the attitudes of India and Pakistan to the dangers faced by the Free World. Pakistan had clearly shown awareness of the need to build up the defensive strength of the Middle East and required outside assistance to realize its potential. India was a great nation and Nehru the leader of a great nation, but “we feel entitled to differ with Mr. Nehru on policy matters involving our own relations with other countries just as he is entitled to differ with us.” Jernegan’s message to Nehru was that events in Eastern Europe, Korea, and Indo-​China indicated “unmistakably” that free peoples of the world were dealing with a conspiracy to enslave them all. The United States’ technique to ensure the survival of freedom, demonstrated in Korea, was a proven one. This technique was based on the concept of collective security. Dismissing Nehru’s criticism, Jernegan asserted that the United States did not believe the “strengthening of freedom-​ loving states invites attack,” but on the contrary, showed it was a deterrent to attack. “We do not agree American aid to any country is a form of imperialism. Turkey, Greece, France, Great Britain and others have accepted our aid and not surrendered their independence.”22 The Pakistan-​American agreement, signed in Karachi on May 19, 1954, enabled the United States to make available military equipment, services, and other assistance to Pakistan under the Mutual Security Act of 1951. It said nothing about collective security arrangements for the Middle East. More than three months later, Gilbert Laithwaite, UK high commissioner to Pakistan, writing a “Note for Record” on his weekly talk with the American ambassador reported that an unhappy Ayub Khan still had no definite information on the target to be aimed at or the scale of military assistance. The ambassador



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explained that the Pentagon did not “yet know where Pakistan ought to fit into a plan.” The financial position was not clear, and the situation in Southeast Asia was such a question mark in planning and finance that it was very difficult to give a clear answer to the Pakistanis.23 The final terms of the agreement for friendly cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan, signed by the two governments on April 2, 1954, did not go beyond the draft treaty in providing for consultation and studies on defense matters. The British dismissed the agreement as almost completely devoid of substance. Neither Pakistan nor Turkey singly or together could provide troops for Middle East defense. All that had changed under Dulles’s “Northern Tier” proposal was the controversial commitment to provide military assistance to Pakistan. The notion, frequently repeated and endorsed by Ayub Khan, that Pakistan was “America’s most allied ally in Asia”24 was only true on paper. The May 19, 1954, Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, on which all military aid rested, was accompanied by an exchange of notes signed at the same time and referred to as Annexe II. According to this annex, the provisions of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement signed by the two governments did not “establish a military alliance or involve any obligation on the part of Pakistan to provide military bases for the United States.”25 Pakistan’s membership in the February 1955 Baghdad Pact, which was initiated by Iraq and Turkey and adhered to by the United Kingdom and Iran, did not significantly alter this anomalous situation. The British, hoping to revive their former influence and regain bases in Iraq if a threat arose in that nation or Iran, went into the pact assuming the United States could be persuaded to become a full member and, in effect, buy British equipment for transfer to Iraq. These expectations proved unrealistic once the State Department considered several adverse factors within the region. The most forceful proponent of the agreement, the Iraqi leader Nuri al-​Sa’id, sought closer ties with the West to challenge his chief rival, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser, in turn, launched a strong public campaign against the pact, claiming it was another attempt to restore Western imperialism, and frustrated British efforts to incorporate Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. On April 6, 1955, India, acting to shore up Nasser’s position, signed a treaty of friendship with Egypt to demonstrate New Delhi’s counterdiplomacy against collective security and to affirm all disputes should be settled peacefully by negotiation. Dulles, confronted with the prospect of offending Egypt, alarming Saudi Arabia with its large American oil interests, and further inflaming Indian anger by joining a military pact of which Pakistan was a member, turned aside the British argument that the Baghdad Pact was constructed along the alignment following the “Northern Tier,” first advanced by Washington. The United States never became a formal member, participating only as an observer, but did provide





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economic and military assistance to individual member states. The bloody revolution against the Iraqi monarchy in July 1958, leading to the death of the king and Nuri al-​Sa’id, quickly resulted in the withdrawal of Iraq from the Baghdad Pact. Renamed the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), it could never develop the military capability for collective security, existing only on paper as a symbolic expression of solidarity among the countries that remained.26 The same can be said of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), established in 1954, to which Pakistan pursued an invitation as a founding state. This occurred although American officials never considered Pakistan capable of making any contribution. Pakistan’s own view, off the record, was similar. Notes on a conversation between Nehru and A. I. Mikoyan, the first deputy minister of the USSR in New Delhi in March 1956, referred to Mikoyan’s discussion with Pakistan’s prime minister, Mohammed Ali, about his country’s membership in the Baghdad Pact and SEATO. Mohammed Ali provided explicit assurances that these pacts were intended to strengthen Pakistan’s military capacity for defense against India and Afghanistan, and that Pakistan “would not at any time fight against the Soviet Union. Nor would they tolerate any aggression against the Soviet Union from bases in Pakistan.”27 None of this prevented Ayub Khan from publicly making the case for larger US military commitments, arguing Pakistan was the only Asian country to be a member of both CENTO and SEATO. Pakistan’s leaders, and particularly commander in chief and defense minister Ayub Khan, believed the country ought to be rewarded simply for “standing up” as an Asian state on the side of the West. The difference between the small military assistance program of $30 million in 1954 initially contemplated by Washington and the $200–​$300  million expected by Ayub foreshadowed a fractious relationship. Escalating demands by Karachi for defense support, and its success in committing Washington to finance force goals of five and a half divisions, disillusioned the State Department and the president by the late 1950s about benefits of bankrolling Pakistan without any tangible return. Chronic political instability and economic disparities between the western and eastern wings of the country raised questions about Pakistan’s viability.28 President Eisenhower, in early 1957, called the alliance a “terrible mistake” and a “burden and blunder.”29 The Joint Chiefs of Staff saw no realistic prospect that Pakistan could contribute to the publicly stated objective of providing troops for the Middle East. There was, however, no turning back. Just as the State Department was giving serious consideration to reducing the US military commitment to Pakistan in early 1958, the Pentagon and CIA were pursuing new priorities. They pressed Pakistan’s government to permit the installation of new electronic listening devices to obtain intelligence on Soviet missile capabilities, and to grant facilities for U-​2 aerial reconnaissance flights over Soviet territory. The Pakistanis correctly calculated that the lure of the airfields and installations



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constructed in Peshawar and Lahore for US surveillance and overflights could indefinitely override any US intention to reduce its military aid. In March 1959, Pakistan succeeded in persuading the United States to sign an agreement of cooperation, cast by the United States in the context of the Soviet threat to the Middle East, but using language that could be interpreted by Pakistan as a security guarantee against a threat from India. The agreement of cooperation committed the United States to take “appropriate action, including the use of armed forces, as may be mutually agreed upon . . . in order to assist the Government of Pakistan at its request.” Pakistan did not get the ally against India that it believed the ambiguous language had secured, but it broke the opposition to more US military assistance. Between 1954 and 1965, the year that Ayub launched an attack against Kashmir and slowed down India’s surprise retaliation across the western Punjab border using US military equipment, Pakistan received $630  million in grant assistance, more than $670  million in concessional sales and defense support equipment, and equipment for one armored division, four infantry divisions, and one armored brigade. The Pakistani air force acquired modern jet aircrafts for six squadrons and the navy received twelve ships.30 The British Chiefs of Staff and the Foreign Office proved much more accurate than the State Department in assessing the long-​term effects of India’s severe reaction to American military assistance for Pakistan. They rightly predicted India would move in the direction of an anti-​American foreign policy, increased friendliness with China and an attempt to consolidate leanings toward neutrality among countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Anti-​Americanism Infects India’s Foreign Policy Nehru made no distinction between the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and a full-​blown mutual defense treaty. The US-​Pakistan agreement, in his view, would make Pakistan virtually a colony of the United States, and the whole country into a base from which attacks against India could be launched. The Indian press characterized it as an “unfriendly act” by the United States. The sense of threat to India’s national security penetrated the Ministry of Defence, Army Headquarters, and the general staff. The Defence Committee of the cabinet, in May 1953, had already concluded that the defense of India against Pakistan would be affected by the shortage of fighter-​bomber aircraft. These concerns persuaded the government to place an order for seventy-​one Ouragon aircraft from France with reserve engines and spares to equip two squadrons, widening India’s advantage in fighter aircraft from an edge of 40 percent in October 1953 to almost 97  percent in April 1954. In October 1954,





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N. K. Vellodi, secretary in the Ministry of Defence, negotiated a government-​ to-​government deal with the UK Ministry of Defence to purchase 320 state-​of-​ the-​art Centurion Mark VII tanks at a reduced price, the same tanks with which NATO was to be equipped. These defense acquisitions were intended to implement India’s policy, set down in December 1953, that “India cannot allow the equilibrium between Pakistan’s military potential and that of India to be upset . . . we shall have to keep our military potential to the same proportion as it is now to the existing Pakistan strength. If the latter is increased ours will have to be correspondingly built up . . . we have to divert a much greater proportion of our revenues and industrial capacity to Defence purposes than at present.”31 The notion that India could maintain the strength of its armed forces relative to Pakistan at roughly the ratios that prevailed at partition of two to one in the army and three to one in the navy and air force was not unrealistic at the time, considering that Pakistan had about one-​quarter the area of India and one-​fifth the population. But any such calculations were upset two years later by reports from the army chief of staff based “on certain Pakistan documents which we have been able to lay our hands on,” subsequently informally corroborated by the American ambassador to Pakistan and the chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the flow of major military equipment to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Air Force would put India at a “distinct disadvantage” by June 1957.32 Nehru met General Shrinagesh, chief of army staff, and Vellodi on January 19, 1956, when they sought his advice on what to do about the emerging situation. On the same day, they discussed defense requirements at a meeting of the Defence Committee of the cabinet. The committee asked the Chiefs of Staff to prepare a composite plan for building up all three services balanced within themselves and in relation to each other, and on a very tight budget for extra capital expenditure—​some Rs. 90 crores (roughly $180 million at that time). The Chiefs of Staff memorandum on the composite plan was submitted to the Defence Committee of the cabinet on March 26, 1956, along with an alarming conclusion. US military aid provided to Pakistan’s armed forces and their intended expansion and reorganization by June 1957 had, in effect, “tilted the balance of military power in her favour.” The urgent challenge confronted by India no longer was defined as maintaining roughly a two to one ratio of armed forces relative to Pakistan, but a much more modest goal of ensuring “at least a position of parity” to match Pakistan’s military potential.33 India’s deficiencies cut across the services. In the army, Pakistan’s “striking force” by June 1957 would include one armored division, one independent armored brigade, and four well-​equipped infantry divisions, each with an integrated armored regiment to provide antitank defense. India’s army, as then organized, relied on a “striking force” of one armored division, one independent armored brigade, and three infantry divisions, none of which had an integrated armored regiment, a pattern



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Pakistan had adopted from the United States. India also lacked effective antitank weapons, as its infantry and artillery weapons, including radar, and ammunition were obsolete. The expansion of the “strike element” of the Pakistan Air Force presented similar dangers to the air superiority of the Indian Air Force. By June 1957, Pakistan would have a minimum of eight fighter bomber squadrons with state-​of-​the-​art Sabre Jets /​Thunder Streaks, two bomber squadrons of Canberras/​Neptunes and forty light (Bristol) aircraft converted to carry a bomb load of eight thousand pounds. India’s eight fighter bomber squadrons were dedicated to interception duties against Pakistan for the defense of Delhi, East Punjab, and the Bombay area. They were unable to support the army or navy, and by 1957, would be outclassed by Pakistan’s modern aircraft. Similarly, India’s two squadrons of light bombers of ten aircraft each would have a limited effect in influencing the outcome of air campaigns. Both the quality and strength of India’s aircraft needed to be increased to prevent Pakistan from achieving air superiority. The defense chiefs gave the highest priority to increasing fighter-​bomber strength by a minimum of four squadrons of modern aircraft. Two additional light bomber squadrons of sixteen aircraft each were also essential in support of the navy and in the struggle for air superiority. Naval Headquarters, already engaged in a modernization plan, strongly argued for the acquisition of an aircraft carrier. All this equipment, presented as the minimum needed over a three-​to five-​year period, involved an additional cost to the government of revenue expenditures for defense in the amount of 358 crores (roughly $716 million), which could only come from cutting expenditures elsewhere, putting the Second Plan then under preparation in serious difficulties. On top of this, the Chiefs of Staff informed the Ministry of Defence that India would require another Rs. 240 crores (roughly $480 million) for defense capital outlay. Nehru responded that he appreciated the defense and security situation, but asked the Chiefs to reconsider, as the amounts requested were “almost wholly beyond our capacity.”34 The Defence Committee of the cabinet agreed to approve the various recommendations relating to 1956–​1957 and 1957–​1958, and proposed to review the entire problem at the end of that period. Apart from finding additional finances, the other crucial question involved the decision about where to get this equipment. Clearly, India could not look to the United States. The United Kingdom, in the short time available, seemed unlikely to be able to provide more than a fraction of the needed supplies. Vellodi believed that no other country except the Soviet Union could supply the required equipment and asked Nehru whether India was prepared to go to Moscow and face the political consequences that could follow such an agreement. The Defence Ministry had already decided to send a delegation to discuss with the Soviets the possibility of purchasing bombers.35 By 1956, after





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discussions in Moscow between India’s air marshal and his Soviet counterpart, about which the British high commissioner in New Delhi was kept informed, Nehru and the defense minister agreed to send a technical team to Moscow to evaluate the IL-​28 bomber. At that time, the minister of defense and Air Headquarters were almost certain that the IL-​28 was the best choice in meeting the air force’s requirements, including radar navigation for bombing, earlier date of delivery, and a cheaper price than the British had quoted for their Canberra. Nehru had no qualms about seeking defense equipment from the Soviet Union, but accepted advice it would be politically wise for the delegation to visit the United Kingdom first. The British had advanced various proposals to meet India’s requirements for a bomber. They had already waived normal security arrangements to allow British companies to cooperate with India in purchasing twenty-​five light Gnat aircraft and Orpheus jet engines of the latest technology, for manufacture in India. Negotiations with France on the purchase of the Mystere fighter aircraft were too far advanced to seriously consider the comparable British Hunter. The Canberra bomber aircraft became the main focus of continuing discussions between Indian and UK officials. The British went to great lengths to meet all of India’s requirements, subject to an explicit understanding that India would not purchase any Russian aircraft, citing a worry that Russian technicians would be interested in learning UK defense secrets. The concessions made by the British were substantial. They accelerated the delivery schedule by delaying orders of bombers and bombsights to the Royal Air Force and NATO, and supplied the latest radar being developed for another purpose and configured it to fit into the Canberra. In addition, they provided the latest bombsight and navigation equipment at no additional charge. This at once made the Russian IL-​28 bomber obsolescent and reduced the gap in price while justifying the somewhat higher cost for a Canberra as the superior aircraft. Possibly the most important role was played by Earl Mountbatten at the pinnacle of his life’s ambition and political power, as admiral and First Sea Lord of the British navy. Nehru and Mountbatten had arranged for the visit of a light fleet carrier squadron to Bombay on February 21, 1956. Mountbatten was convinced that the Indian Navy must acquire an aircraft carrier to rank among the modern navies, “especially since you have one of the longest coast lines of any country and the Indian Ocean to dominate.”36 While making the case for the carrier, Mountbatten carried a message from Prime Minister Anthony Eden, saying he had been authorized to tell Nehru how much he valued the friendship of India and was prepared to go to the farthest possible limit to meet India’s requirements. Mountbatten met the defense minister, the Minister of Defence Organization, the Chiefs of Staff, and Vellodi more than once. He made clear his own role by saying his “position would become impossible and he could not



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persuade anyone in England that the Canberra with these devices” should be sold to India if it went forward with a deal for Russian bombers.37 Mountbatten went further to say that once India went to Russia, it would have to depend upon Russia for all its defense requirements. His last letter to Nehru at the end of the visit expressed gratitude for his very helpful attitude. This feeling was no doubt deepened by the message to him from India’s chief of naval staff conveyed on May 9, 1956, that the government had decided to acquire an aircraft carrier of Majestic class.38 Personal relationships established from before partition shielded the stability of India-​British ties, but the US-​Pakistan mutual security agreement aggravated the animosity between India and Pakistan, and India and the United States. Press reports about a coming military alliance between the United States and Pakistan, circulating from the first part of November 1953, undermined Nehru’s leverage in negotiating a compromise agreement with Pakistan’s prime minister, Mohammed Ali, on Kashmir that bypassed the UN Security Council. Nehru hoped to return to a variation of the solution first sketched out by Bajpai that combined a plebiscite under UN auspices with partition. “Preliminary” issues, particularly India’s demand that Pakistani forces and nationals who came to assist with the war should be withdrawn and Azad Kashmir forces should be disbanded and disarmed, were to be resolved by the two prime ministers. Subsequently, the plebiscite administrator would be appointed formally by the Kashmir government with the approval of India and Pakistan by the end of April 1954. Mohammed Ali, responding to these suggestions on behalf of his colleagues, did not express a definite view but pointed out that a regional plebiscite, which implied the breakup of the state, could not be conducted by a single authority in the state.39 Nehru, responding a few days later, clarified that the plebiscite administrator would function under UN supervision, but insisted that India had de jure authority over the state, including areas occupied by Pakistan, to effectively rule out a direct role for Pakistan in the plebiscite. By the end of October 1953, Mohammed Ali hardened his position. He refused to consider the idea of a regional plebiscite “in any form.”40 Whatever chance, however slim, that the two countries could reach an agreement based on partition had evaporated in the run-​up to the pact between Pakistan and the United States. Nehru found it “rather absurd” to talk about the demilitarization of Kashmir, once the forces maintained by Pakistan in Kashmir were backed up by increased armed strength in Pakistan itself. After Mohammad Ali told a press conference in Karachi on December 17, 1953, that the American, Admiral Nimitz, previously appointed by the UN secretary general, should continue to be plebiscite administrator, Nehru formally brought all questions of further negotiations on Kashmir to an end.





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Nehru’s reaction against Admiral Nimitz represented a visceral suspicion of virtually all US intentions and actions in India and in Asia. Nehru told the Lok Sabha that the policies of the United States and India “come into direct conflict.” Citing testimony before Congress on January 26 by the US assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs, Walter S. Robinson, that the United States must dominate Asia for an indefinite period, and pose a military threat to Communist China until it breaks up, Nehru called American domination of Asia unacceptable, and the context in which military aid to Pakistan must be viewed.41 US activities in India became suspect as directed at penetration of India’s national cultural and political institutions. Nehru directed the government to ask for reports on sending Indians to the United States for training, and US technical personnel coming to India. He recommended the appointment of a senior officer to work in cooperation with the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs to keep records of the number of Americans in India, when they came, for how long, and what “their normal and professed activities are and what their abnormal and undesirable activities are.” Nehru was not only concerned about Americans in official positions but technical aid personnel, professors on fellowships, students, and missionaries, saying it is “clear there is a widespread network of activity which is either directly or indirectly aimed at doing intelligence or propaganda work.”42 The activities of the offices of the United States Information Service (USIS) attracted the greatest distrust. Nehru requested intelligence assessments of USIS activities in India, identifying “subsidized propaganda literature” and special records on Indians employed by the USIS. He instructed the secretary general in the Ministry of External Affairs to officially inform the American embassy that no new offices of the USIS could be opened. Those already established in any place that had no American diplomatic or consular representative had to be closed down. Offices in provincial cities of Lucknow, Hyderabad, Guntur, Patna, Trivandrum, and Bangalore, popular for their library facilities and cultural programs, were shuttered, leaving offices only in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Even the presence of American nationals as UN military observers in Kashmir (twenty-​one of forty-​eight observers on both sides of the ceasefire line were Americans) was considered unacceptable on grounds that US military aid to Pakistan made it impossible for such persons to be impartial toward both sides in the conflict. Nehru would not accept Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld’s argument that the United Nations could not carry out peacekeeping operations except on the principle that all observers, regardless of nationality, once appointed, became part of the UN organization. Nehru was intransigent that US observers in Kashmir were personae non gratae, and that if the United Nations persisted in its view, the Kashmir government would refuse to give the UN force



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any facilities. Hammarskjöld finally agreed that when US observers were due for replacement, they would be replaced by other nationalities. The US government, smoothing the way for the secretary general, informed the Ministry of External Affairs it had no interest in maintaining American observers in Kashmir so long as the practical effectiveness of the observer system remained intact, and withdrew American aircraft that had been placed at the disposal of the group.

India Sidelines Pakistan and Claims a Larger Role in Asia The clash between India and the United States in Asia expanded beyond the US-​Pakistan mutual security agreement. Nehru’s anger had been building ever since he concluded that the United States had applied all kinds of pressure in the UN debate to coerce countries to vote against India’s inclusion in the Political Conference on Korea and Indo-​China, which took shape as the Geneva Conference. The shock of the first break in Arab-​Asian solidarity, marked by the US-​Pakistan military assistance agreement, opened the possibility that other smaller Asian countries fearful of pressures from China could also seek security assurances from the United States. India’s efforts to prevent US interference in Southeast Asia concentrated on inserting its influence into the deliberations of the Geneva Conference by indirect means. The forum used by India to inject its views in the discussions at Geneva was provided by the South-​East Asian Prime Ministers’ Conference (April 28–​30, 1954), called by Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala of Ceylon at Colombo. The five countries participating, India, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon, and Indonesia were ideologically split. Meeting in the wake of the US-​Pakistan mutual security agreement, India found it more difficult to impose its view that countries in Asia had an interest in remaining uncommitted and acting to resolve tension in a peace area, as opposed to the Dulles approach of collective security. The conference had no formal agenda but gave prominence to the conflict in Indo-​China. Sir John, in his opening address, cited the threat to democratic freedom “caused by the aggressive policies of international Communism” on the one hand and attempts to retain colonial rule on the other. He argued that the gravest danger to countries in the region arose from subversive activities to help local communists, and wanted these countries to assist each other against this menace. Nehru opposed Ceylon’s resolution to condemn the activities of international communism on the ground it would amount to aligning India with one of the Cold War blocs. Mohammed Ali and the Pakistani delegation, by contrast,





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fully endorsed the views expressed in Ceylon’s resolution, arguing that if they could say “hands off Asia” to the colonial powers, they could say the same thing to the Soviet Union. The final language of the Colombo communiqué emerged from a drafting committee working from a preliminary statement prepared by the Ceylon delegation, but based on a point-​by-​point discussion of Nehru’s proposals. The communiqué was a vague “consensus” statement welcoming the attempts at Geneva to find a solution to the Indo-​China situation. The points of agreement were (a) a ceasefire should be reached without delay; (b) direct negotiations between France, the Associated States of Indo-​China, and the Vietminh were essential for a solution “as well as other parties invited by agreement”; (c) all countries concerned would be helpful by agreeing not to add to the war potential of the belligerents; (d) France should declare its irrevocable commitment to the complete independence of Indo-​China; and (e) the conference should keep the United Nations informed so that its good offices and machinery might be used to further the purposes of the Geneva Conference and implement its decisions. India failed to overcome the resistance of Pakistan, supported by Ceylon, to a statement affirming that nonintervention by the major powers was essential to a peaceful solution, and settled for phraseology agreeing to “steps necessary to prevent recurrence or resumption of hostilities” that could be read differently by the opposing sides. The text of the Colombo communiqué elicited an immediate reply from Eden, cochair with Molotov of the Geneva Conference, welcoming the moderate and objective comments of the Colombo powers. This was the opening Nehru sought. His reply to Eden, drafted by Krishna Menon, paved the way for India’s claim to be kept informed about the proceedings and to play a role in the final outcome and implementation of an agreement. Starting with the disingenuous remark that Eden’s message had assisted Nehru and others participating at Colombo to realize that “our work and yours at Geneva” were of “complementary character,” Nehru conveyed that the conclusions reached at Colombo were based on India’s proposals. He elaborated that “these will indicate to you that the government of India have taken into consideration the fact that a major responsibility now rests on her in assisting the solution of the problem . . . we would assist in promoting and maintaining a settlement in Indo-​China . . . we are willing to do so in a practical form within the limits of our general policy and our resources.”43 Subsequently, the UK high commissioner in New Delhi, Sir Alexander Clutterbuck, served as a channel for regular communication between Eden and Nehru, including summary reports by the UK delegation of the deliberations in each plenary session of the conference. Krishna Menon, by then a nominated member of parliament serving in the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, or Council of States, remained worried that the



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United States could make inroads in the competition for influence over Asian countries by presenting itself as a protector to Burma and Indonesia, two countries fearful of pressures from China. It was Menon who started to think about agreements between China on the one hand, and Indonesia, Burma, and Nepal on the other, modeled on the five principles in the preamble of the India-​China agreement on Tibet, to strengthen their sense of security and “help us meet the situation created by Pakistan more effectively. . . . He argued that “Pakistan is now politically and militarily part of the Western bloc and is seeking to draw the Middle East and South East Asia into this orbit for the leadership of which she may be regarded as a suitable candidate.”44 Nehru followed Menon’s lead—​and used his language—​in writing Raghavan in Beijing that the US-​Pakistan agreement was complicating India’s efforts to create a “peace area” among countries suspicious of China, which might abandon nonalignment to receive United States assistance for their security. Raghavan was instructed to raise this issue and point out that a more positive Chinese policy of friendship to Burma and Indonesia was urgently needed, based on specific assurances of no help to internal communist forces and insurgents, drawing on the principles of the preamble to the India-​China agreement on Tibet. This approach could reassure the various Asian countries bordering on China about Beijing’s peaceful intentions and reduce their responsiveness to American security assurances based on collective defense. The proposal being urged by Dulles for a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) included Pakistan among its members. Nehru and Krishna Menon proved unable to shed their conviction that Pakistan, supported by the United States, represented the primary threat to India’s military security and political influence. Even after India injected its “suggestions” into discussions with the major powers represented at Geneva through Krishna Menon’s “informal talks,” the issue of neutral supervision of the agreements remained to be decided. The United States proposed that the Colombo powers take responsibility for supervision as an alternative to the United Nations. Eden, citing the value of the communiqué issued by the Colombo Conference, suggested Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan as members of the international supervisory commission. This led to a concerted effort by Nehru and Menon to prevent Pakistan’s participation by insisting it was unacceptable to Russia and China as a member of the American bloc. Nehru told the foreign minister of Australia, visiting New Delhi en route to Geneva, that the Colombo powers would not be acceptable to Russia and China because they did not consider Pakistan a neutral country. Menon favored more forceful intervention to make clear India had no intention of being bracketed with Pakistan as neutral, and had “indicated these as my personal views in private talks without being precise.” Nehru then wrote directly





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to Eden on June 10 that China and the USSR would not agree to the Colombo powers partly because they did not consider Pakistan as neutral. India could only agree to undertake responsibility as a member of the supervisory commission if all parties agreed, and in such circumstances difficulties arose in the cooperation of India and Pakistan. Nehru ultimately succeeded in a deceptive diplomacy, basing India’s claim to be kept informed and to participate in implementation of agreements at Geneva on the Colombo Conference communiqué, which disguised disagreements between India and Pakistan, and India and Ceylon. He answered inquiries from those countries about Krishna Menon’s activities in Geneva, misrepresenting his role. The prime minister said only that Menon, at Nehru’s request, stopped at Geneva on his way to the United Nations, to meet informally with representatives of the principal powers there, and privately convey India’s views on matters under discussion, “in particular, to explain to them the decisions of the Colombo Conference of South East Asia Prime Ministers. He took no proposals from us, apart from the general approach to these questions of the Colombo Conference.”45



7

US and Indian Policies in Direct Conflict, Part II India’s “Area of Peace” as a Strategy to Contain US Intervention in Indo-​China and Southeast Asia

India’s exclusion from the Geneva Conference on Korea and Indo-​China did not prevent Nehru from operating behind the scenes to insert India’s influence into the deliberations of the major powers at the conference. Krishna Menon, in informal discussions at Geneva, helped to bring about an agreed formula between the United Kingdom, China, and the Soviet Union for an armistice in Vietnam and national elections in the three states of Indo-​China—​Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The Geneva settlement reduced fear of Chinese intervention in Indo-​China and of a wider war, weakening the incentive of smaller Asian countries to join an American-​sponsored regional security pact. Simultaneously, it preempted the possibility that China could use the threat posed by potential US bases in Indo-​China as justification for its own expansion. India’s precarious diplomatic balancing act encouraged neutralism in Southeast Asia and, for the time being, enlarged “the area of peace.” China emerged from the Geneva Conference as a rising Asian power willing to compromise on behalf of peace. India enhanced its reputation as the mediator acceptable to both sides in forging a consensus for averting war. Nehru’s area of peace was almost immediately threatened. Washington, supported by Great Britain, announced a new initiative for a “collective peace system.” The proposal for a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) revived apprehensions that the United States was determined to project its power in Southeast Asia and to challenge India’s role in the region. India relied even more on its close relationship with China to insulate the area from American interference. Both countries participated in the first Asian-​African Conference at Bandung, Indonesia, and each saw itself in a decisive role. When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001





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Within a short time, India found new superpower support. After Stalin’s death in December 1953, the Soviet leadership carried out a complete reappraisal of its policies in the Third World. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union adopted a new approach that emphasized the benefits of peaceful coexistence in winning over Asian and Arab nonaligned or neutralist states through generous economic assistance and trade policies, muting the military threat from expansionist communism. This unexpected shift in Soviet strategy changed the terms of rivalry in unaligned states from military domination to economic competition. India’s importance as the preeminent power among noncommunist Asian countries became the greatest prize for the Soviet Union during this competition. High-​ profile visits to India by Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin increased Nehru’s feeling that India’s prestige had been elevated and that its bargaining power with the United States would strengthen. Evidence of this was provided by Eisenhower’s invitation to Nehru for a visit to Washington in November 1956, when the president devoted an unprecedented amount of time to personal discussions with a foreign leader. The outcome did not change the dynamic of US-​India relations. Nehru’s moral authority in the United States was seriously undermined by the perception that he applied a double standard to aggression by Great Britain and France against Egypt in the Suez Crisis and the Soviet Union’s crushing suppression of the nationalist uprising in Hungary. Eisenhower could not understand the reasons why Nehru appeared willing to accept the communist line.

Nehru’s Policy Premise of India-​US Rivalry in Indo-​China Nehru’s conviction that India’s real adversary in Indo-​China was the United States was reinforced continuously by Krishna Menon. On the eve of the Geneva Conference, Menon took it upon himself to write a thirteen-​page “appreciation of the situation in Indo-​China” for Nehru’s consideration in thinking about “what next from us” in influencing deliberations at the conference. His analysis proceeded from the premise that a political turning point had been reached, and that the United States had successfully pressured the United Kingdom and France to back Washington’s decision “about ten days ago” to force the issue in Indo-​China, militarily and politically. “This decision is intervention, ultimately total intervention, by whatever name it is called.” The “Dulles Plan,” according to Krishna Menon, involved the large-​scale supply of arms to American allies in Asia, “Thailand, Philippines, Chiang and Rhee,” backed up by threats of instant retaliation, including the nuclear bomb, in a proxy war controlled within the



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United States. In this design, Asians would be fighting Asians, and Asians would be the victims of air bombardments. As much as Krishna Menon believed the US decision was irreversible, he never gave up hope that the United Kingdom and France could act as a restraint, buying time with the promise of united action in Southeast Asia if the Geneva Conference failed. Since the Indo-​China war had been fought for over seven years, Krishna Menon answered his own question of why the United States would choose to intervene at this particular time without making any reference to the intensified threat perceived in Washington from China in Indo-​China and Southeast Asia. Using only simplified Marxist notions, he stressed factors such as internal divisions in the Republican Party, economic necessities to step up war production, and an installment of hot war required to keep the allies together despite conflicting trade or other policy differences. Above all, Krishna Menon saw in US policy an extension of a new Monroe Doctrine to include Southeast Asia as part of the “US region,” representing a “pincer action in this area” to “neutralize the area’s neutralism” and “pull it or force it the other way,” that is, away from India.1 India’s efforts to prevent US interference in “our area” of Southeast Asia concentrated on inserting its influence into the deliberations of the Geneva Conference. On Krishna Menon’s advice, Nehru, calling Indo-​China an “Asian issue,” made an appeal in the Lok Sabha on February 22, 1954, for a ceasefire prior to the Geneva Conference. The appeal had no effect on the combatants, but allowed the Socialist opposition in the French National Assembly to force a debate on Nehru’s offer to negotiate a ceasefire in place. The beleaguered French government, whose military position in northern Vietnam had been pushed back from the Chinese border to the Red River Delta by regular Vietminh troops equipped with American artillery left by the Nationalists, and also using Chinese territory as a sanctuary, led the American chargé to report that India had “played the Viet Minh hand so effectively they question whether it was inspired.”2 Washington’s military assistance to the French at the onset of the Korean War had temporarily stabilized what became a stalemate. The high-​risk gamble of the French commander in November 1953 to win a victory over Vietminh regular troops at the battlefield fortress built at Dien Bien Phu was doomed to failure. Vietminh guerrillas, using siege techniques and human wave tactics, overwhelmed the French by mid-​March 1954 and provided a stark backdrop to the search for a peaceful solution of Indo-​China at the Geneva Conference.3 The demoralized French made emergency requests to the United States for air support, which the Pentagon resisted as the danger of involving the United States in future hostilities was raised. On the eve of the Geneva Conference, the Joint Chiefs of Staff embraced the “domino theory” because they were convinced that the loss of Indo-​China to the communists would lead to the loss of other countries in Southeast Asia. They determined that it was of “grave concern” to the





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United States and the free world to prevent Indo-​China from falling under communist control, but that only “under the most extreme circumstances, if at all, should the United States take such military measures alone.”4 India continued its efforts to exert influence on the deliberations at Geneva. Krishna Menon again counseled Nehru to persuade the United Kingdom, France, and Canada to give priority to his proposal for a ceasefire, which he reiterated in the Lok Sabha on April 17, 1954. One week later, Nehru made another statement in parliament, calling Indo-​China an Asian country and a proximate area that required India’s best efforts to reach a settlement. He described the war as a nationalist conflict fought by the Vietminh against French colonialism, one in which the nationalists received supplies from the PRC, while the United States provided military aid and equipment to France. Nehru suggested the conference should report its decisions to the United Nations, facilitating formulation of a convention of “nonintervention” in Indo-​China to make the greater parts of Asia a “peace area,” that is, outside the reach of US intervention. This aim had been clear from New Delhi’s refusal in early April to allow American aircraft to fly French troops and military equipment over India to Indo-​China during the height of the Vietminh offensive against Dien Bien Phu, stirring up great anger in Washington. Burma and Indonesia followed India’s lead. Pakistan and Ceylon, by contrast, permitted US planes to land and take off there en route to Indo-​China. India’s influence on discussions at the Geneva Conference was introduced by Krishna Menon. Menon’s ability to assert his authority on issues relating to Indo-​China derived from a strategy he had mastered since his early days in the United Nations. This was to make “personal” recommendations on foreign policy matters, broadly consistent with Nehru’s views, and then suggest that Nehru officially endorse these recommendations. Nehru’s approval on a cable or statement, frequently drafted by Menon, allowed him to represent himself in follow-​up discussions as the prime minister’s “official” spokesman. On Indo-​ China, Menon’s first move was a “proposal” conveyed by Secretary General N.  R. Pillai to Nehru that Menon spend a “few days” in Cairo, Geneva, and London on his way to New York for a meeting of the Trusteeship Council, to talk with the Egyptian prime minister and heads of the British, Russian, and Chinese delegations. These talks were to follow up “the friendly suggestions” that the prime minister had made to Zhou Enlai in his recent telegram to Ambassador Nedyam Raghavan. Although Menon had no official position in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), all of his air travel, reception, accommodation, and interviews in the countries he visited were arranged by the MEA in New Delhi and India’s embassy or senior diplomatic representative at his destination. His arrival in Geneva on May 15, 1954, occurred when the talks were deadlocked, but shortly after Anthony Eden’s personal message to Nehru arrived, saying he



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was encouraged by the prime minister’s recent message that India would take part in the work of supervision and enforcement of any agreement. The conference was torn by antagonism between the Vietminh representative, Pham Van Dong, and America’s delegate, Walter Bedell Smith, the first of whom accused the United States of wanting to transform Indo-​China from a French to an American colony, and the second expressing disbelief that the Vietminh were seeking genuine peace in Indo-​China after invading neighboring Laos in April and December 1953, and Cambodia in April 1954. Zhou Enlai supported the Vietminh, participating as the Vietnam Group of the Chinese delegation and arguing that national liberation movements were fighting colonial intervention in all three countries. He denied that either Laos or Cambodia had been invaded by regular Vietminh troops, calling the war a single colonial war in Indo-​China. The United States and the United Kingdom found no evidence of homegrown resistance movements, and Smith was backed up by the Cambodian representative, who referred to the unprovoked invasion by the Vietminh and peaceful negotiations with France resulting in its independent status. Delegates from Laos took a similar position, asserting their independence could not be protected without French assistance. Both states insisted that the Vietminh had no right to speak for them at the conference. Smith, confronting Zhou Enlai, stated as his first principle that the three Associated States (i.e., including Vietnam) should be independent. He justified US aid to France in accordance with American policy under the Eisenhower Doctrine, asserting the United States would help all states wanting to defend themselves against attacks on their freedom. The United States, Britain, and France took the position that the Vietnam question should be separated from the Cambodia and Laos questions, and since there were no French troops in Cambodia and Laos, discussions of troop withdrawals preceding an armistice referred only to the Vietminh (Vietnamese People’s Army). Zhou Enlai, Pham Van Dong, and Molotov closed ranks to reject any separation of Cambodia and Laos from the Vietnam question, insisting there were resistance “governments” in Cambodia and Laos with their own troops.5 Menon’s meeting with Zhou Enlai on May 22, 1954, was private, making it difficult to judge how important a contribution he may have made to the first breakthrough, formally suggested by Molotov, to start with a single negotiation on principles for an armistice, and then apply these principles in three separate ways for each country. Eden consulted Nehru about separate treatment for Laos and Cambodia, while Menon, without being specific, wrote Nehru that Eden considered his suggestions for meeting Chinese objections very helpful, and advised him “not to be in a hurry to leave Geneva.”6 Nehru responded immediately that Menon should arrange his program according to the situation and at his





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own discretion. Informal talks subsequently led to agreement that the French and Vietminh should meet in Geneva to discuss disposition of forces in Vietnam upon cessation of hostilities on the understanding that regroupment would apply only to Vietnam. Molotov accepted the proposals, Smith did not object, and Cambodia and Laos accepted on condition they would not be involved. Menon left Geneva on May 30, after discussions with Zhou Enlai about the second major issue of the composition of a neutral nations supervisory commission supposed to prevent internal conflicts from recurring, and foreign troops from reentering so that elections could be held in all three states. He referred to his talks, almost daily, with Eden, Molotov, Zhou Enlai, and Smith, as well as discussions with Georges Bidault and Pham Van Dong. The “general feeling in Geneva and abroad,” Menon informed Nehru, is that “the party not in the Conference room, that is, India, is playing a decisive role and comments have appeared on the marked improvement last week. . . . Eden in briefing the British Press had spoken of the significant part we have been and are playing and has spoken to me very generously.”7 Shortly after Krishna Menon left Geneva on June 14, 1954, and reported that acute difficulties had been overcome behind the scenes, Zhou Enlai exhibited some movement in his position. Conceding that the situation was not the same in all three states, he proposed simultaneous cessation of hostilities in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and direct negotiations between representatives of the commands of the Franco-​Vietnamese and Vietminh in Geneva. Separate negotiations in Laos and Cambodia were to concern the amount and type of arms permitted to be introduced for self-​defense. Similarly, the competence of the International Supervisory Commission to extend into Laos and Cambodia would take into account the special conditions in these states. Zhou Enlai assured Eden that China would recognize the royal governments of Laos and Cambodia, provided these governments made internal settlements with the “resistance movements” and no foreign bases were permitted in either country. Harry Chauvel, of Australia, found the Chinese proposals useful; Smith called them restrained. Menon’s views were particularly important in influencing discussions on the composition of the neutral nations commission. Although both Dulles and Eden suggested that the Colombo powers be invited to constitute the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, and the United States insisted that communist states could not be considered neutral, it was Zhou Enlai’s definition that prevailed. This was the meaning of neutrals as nations whose armed forces had not taken part in the fighting. Eden was persuaded to accept one communist state (Poland) and one noncommunist state (Canada) as members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, renamed the International Control Commission (ICC). India served as the third member and chairman of the



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Commission, exercising supervisory powers over the three states of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Nehru and Krishna Menon believed that India’s policy and influence, having little to do with military strength, had greatly shaped the outcome of a ceasefire in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia so that “a world war has been averted.” This assessment, inflating the stakes involved in India’s accomplishment, reflected how completely both men identified the United States with aggressive and expansionist aims. While Menon scrupulously congratulated Nehru and credited his foreign policy with the success achieved at Geneva, Zhou Enlai and others regarded Krishna Menon as the effective spokesman on Indo-​China in projecting India’s influence in negotiations. As Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit put it in thinking over her appointment as high commissioner to the United Kingdom after B.  G. Kher resigned, she was worried at the way “in which Krishna Menon is trying to make himself indispensable,” and could even undermine her own effectiveness because of his personal networks there.8 There was good reason for Mrs. Pandit’s concern, although less on policy toward the United Kingdom, where Nehru was a star presence at Commonwealth meetings. Nehru, however, could not find time to do more than concentrate on the big-​picture policy of widening the “area of peace.” He lost day-​to-​day command of the details involved in negotiations concerning India’s relations with China, carried out with Zhou Enlai by Krishna Menon in Nehru’s name as his “official” spokesman. Increasingly, Nehru found it easier to rely on Krishna Menon’s judgment in charting India’s course, particularly on the most important problems of Formosa and Indo-​China, which raised questions of war and peace. Menon’s visit to Beijing and his talks with Zhou Enlai made him the only person who could discuss these issues with detailed knowledge, whereas Nehru did not trust himself to do so being familiar with only broad aspects of the problems. On August 1, 1954, despite the protest resignation by his most senior colleague in the cabinet, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, then education minister, Nehru appointed Krishna Menon to the cabinet as minister without portfolio. The United States did not play an active part in the final negotiations at Geneva. Dulles withdrew Smith in July, leaving an observer of ambassadorial rank. The US position, however, was clear. A negotiated settlement leading to the division of Vietnam, with the Vietminh and the playboy “emperor” Bao Dai in control of their separate areas, or a united Vietnam under a coalition government, were both unacceptable. Dulles believed, along with the Joint Chiefs, that a ceasefire negotiated with the Vietminh was unenforceable because of the many small pockets in Vietnam under its control, and that infiltration would end in complete communist control of Indo-​China, jeopardizing the continued independence of all Southeast Asia. Washington, in a unilateral declaration, asserted that the United States would not use force to upset a settlement giving part of





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Vietnam to the Communists, but neither would the United States act to prevent use of force by the free part of Vietnam to liberate the north from communist control. Beyond that, Dulles warned that any action on admission of China to the United Nations in the September 1954 session would have “disastrous consequences of a magnitude which is incalculable,” leading to a demand by Congress for withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations.9

The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Euphoric reactions in India to the outcome at Geneva in achieving peace by negotiations rather than armed force gave way to a soberer mood almost immediately. Within days after the Geneva settlement was announced, Nehru received a draft copy from Eden about plans emerging from a recent UK/​US study group meeting in Washington for a “collective peace system” in the general area of Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific. The broad description of the treaty area, excluding Pacific states north of 21 degrees 30 minutes latitude, that is, Singapore and Formosa, was directed at strengthening the resistance of countries in the region to external aggression, infiltration, or armed attack. Eden invited Nehru to attend a planning meeting to consider the “purely defensive” treaty, saying he would like to see the Colombo powers represented in addition to Australia, Siam (Thailand), the Philippines, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in September 1954 at Baguio in the Philippines. Eden argued that SEATO was in accordance with the Geneva settlement and would exclude Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos from membership. He was direct in expressing deep suspicion of China, which had its own defense agreement with the Soviet Union, was closely aligned with North Korea and the Vietminh, and encouraged subversive activities of local communists elsewhere. Neither the United Kingdom nor the United States was willing to trust Chinese declarations of noninterference, and felt justified in seeking proof of Chinese bona fides before relaxing efforts to strengthen the defensive capabilities of countries that might confront further security threats. The proposal of SEATO as a defense organization got banner headlines in the Indian press and unnerved Nehru’s inner circle almost as much as the US military assistance agreement with Pakistan. It added to the apprehension that the United States was determined to project its power in Southeast Asia and challenge India’s role, particularly in Indo-​China. Krishna Menon met Eden in London to give a detailed explanation of India’s regret that any organization of this kind should be contemplated, which could only weaken peace trends in Southeast Asia. Nehru, in his formal reply to Eden, maintained a friendly tone in explaining why India could not participate in the Baguio conference.



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The statement repeated the familiar assertion that it would be inconsistent with India’s policy of nonalignment, but took the argument further to contrast SEATO as a military alliance with India’s search for stability in Southeast Asia based on peace alliances. As examples, he drew Eden’s attention to the preamble of India’s agreement with China on Indo-​Tibet matters, repeating the Five Principles, and to the joint communiqué of Nehru and Zhou Enlai, along with separate endorsements by the prime ministers of Burma and of Indonesia. He claimed these principles might become the pattern of relationships in Southeast Asia, and the basis for restraining and resolving conflicts. Nehru suggested for Eden’s consideration the superiority of his approach to peace in Southeast Asia over military alliances, adding that a great contribution would be made by China taking her rightful place in the United Nations. In effect, Nehru refused to accept a secondary role in matters concerning the peace and stability of Southeast Asia, and held up the Five Principles as the superior guarantor of peace.10 The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, established by the Manila Pact on September 8, 1954, counted two Southeast Asian countries as members, Thailand and the Philippines, both US allies with reasons to be alarmed about the potential of Chinese communist subversion. Pakistan also became a member in the hope of receiving greater levels of military assistance from the United States. As India anticipated, Burma and Indonesia held fast to their neutral position. The treaty as a whole was vitiated by the failure of the signatories to agree on collective action against armed attack on any of the parties. Under Article 4, the parties committed only to meet the common danger, each under its own constitutional processes, and report such measures to the UN Security Council. Dulles revised his “military philosophy” for the area, explaining that in the absence of a concentrated point of industrial power, conditions were not favorable for the creation of forces in the Far East similar to that of NATO. Instead, he rationalized a strategy based on the concept of mobile sea and air forces that could attack the aggressor where it would do most damage. SEATO, nevertheless, raised the greatest alarm in New Delhi once it became known that “The Protocol to the Manila Pact” was signed on the same day as the treaty. The protocol designated the states of Cambodia and Laos, and the free territory under the jurisdiction of the state of Vietnam, for protection under the collective defense provision of Article 4, in case of armed attack. Nehru viewed SEATO as a setback for his area of peace, converting it into an area of potential war. Krishna Menon objected even to the use of the “nomenclature” of Southeast Asia as inconsistent with the attributes of sovereignty possessed by each of those countries. He questioned against whom protection was being extended, and whether the nonparticipant “protectees” were sympathetic to such an arrangement.11 T. N. Kaul, writing an internal memorandum on September 22, 1954, also believed the United States was intent on discouraging





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India’s increasing influence in Southeast Asia. He considered the vague language of Article 4 the most dangerous part of the treaty. It allowed interference by the United States and member states in the internal affairs of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and also Burma, Indonesia, and Ceylon to apply pressure against a policy of neutrality. K. M. Panikkar drew a very strained historical parallel. He saw “strange” similarities between SEATO and the East India Company’s system of subsidiary alliances to protect weak rulers against aggression, which permitted them to acquire political and moral influence that amounted to a new right of paramountcy. Panikkar believed that SEATO is at least indirectly aimed at India’s policy of building up a peace area in Asia. It is meant to widen the breach which was first created in the ranks of the South Asian powers by the U.S.-​Pakistan alliance. . . . It is the counterpart of MEDO which is meant to exclude us from the Middle East. In fact diplomatically America is trying to isolate us.12 India’s policymakers, treating the United States as its enemy and competitor in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, had concentrated since Geneva on making SEATO ineffective by persuading smaller countries that China had no aggressive aims. This strategy enjoyed a significant measure of success. The Manila Pact, originally conceived to meet a threat imagined as the “loss” of Indo-​China within a year, could not adapt easily to the lingering “Spirit of Geneva” and the peaceful posture of China. A general impression took hold that the danger of hostilities in the area had greatly diminished and that the most important priority was economic progress. Article 3 of the SEATO treaty, which called for greater economic cooperation, provided an opportunity to shift the emphasis from military to economic cooperation. Yet the State Department conceded that it had “no specific proposals to offer.”13 A weak SEATO, however, did not change the realities on the ground, which left India as chairman of the ICC, but unable to play an effective role in guaranteeing the Indo-​China ceasefire. The Geneva settlement conferred on India the prestige of chairing the ICC, yet explicitly provided that the ICC and the supervisory commissions established for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia had no obligation or responsibility for enforcement of the ceasefire agreements. The actual execution of these agreements became the responsibility of the two sides in each state functioning through a Joint Commission. If the members of the Joint Commission did not agree on how to cooperate effectively, the ICC, with only supervisory, judicial, and mediatory functions, and limited personnel (in the low hundreds), without operational forces, could never become a serious center of authority. In Cambodia, where the Joint Commission enjoyed the cooperation of both the Khmer National Armed Forces and the Khmer Resistance



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Forces, agreement could be reached quickly on withdrawal of foreign troops and preparations for a national election, so that the Joint Commission was disbanded in October 1954. The situation was entirely different in Laos. Both sides disagreed on practically all issues. The ICC, lacking even transport, could verify neither the claims of the Franco-​Laotian command that young civilians were forcibly recruited, indoctrinated, and trained in North Vietnam and infiltrated into the two northern provinces, nor the counterclaims by the Pathet Lao that there had never been any Royal Laotian government forces in the two northern provinces before the ceasefire. The result was that the Royal Laotian government held elections without the participation of the northern provinces, which remained under the control of the Vietminh-​supported Pathet Lao. The ICC faced its worst situation in South Vietnam. The United States began to treat the erstwhile Republic of Vietnam, bounded in the north at the 17th parallel, as a separate entity, encouraging elections for an assembly under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem, who had deposed the French puppet emperor Bao Dai in a rigged plebiscite. Diem, “nobody’s puppet,” had views analogous to those of Syngman Rhee. He was sympathetic to the people in South Vietnam, hostile to the ICC, and “psychopathically opposed to the Geneva Agreement.” All India could do as Diem refused to consult with the Vietminh on holding countrywide elections, and the Eisenhower administration supported him in this decision without “iron-​clad guarantees” for “really free elections,” was to ask for a meeting of the cochairmen of the Geneva Conference.14

Balancing Further toward China Nehru started moving closer to China immediately after Geneva, following up Krishna Menon’s suggestion to invite Zhou Enlai to stop in Delhi en route to Beijing from Geneva. Menon had held several talks with Zhou, reporting he was “a great and able man” and that the Chinese had no expansionist ideas.15 After almost five hours of discussions, Nehru and Zhou Enlai agreed that Laos and Cambodia should become like India, Burma, and Indonesia, independent without outside interference from external powers. “A peaceful settlement of Laos and Cambodia would produce a climate of peace for the larger area,” with these two countries becoming “States of the Southeast Asian type.” Nehru expanded on this formulation, suggesting that Zhou meet U Nu in Rangoon to assure him that this area was being “neutralized” (mindful of Burma’s suspicions of China’s role in arming Karen rebels). Zhou said he had received a similar appraisal from “Mr. V.K. Krishna Menon under your Excellency’s instructions,” and was amenable to Nehru’s suggestion he travel on to Burma accompanied by Secretary General N. R. Pillai to propose a relationship similar to that existing





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between China and India based on the Five Principles. At the same time, Nehru discouraged Zhou Enlai from framing his policy of peaceful coexistence in Southeast Asia to include Pakistan and Ceylon. He made clear that Pakistan could not be considered a neutral country because its policy was allied with the United States, and dismissed Ceylon’s government as conservative and afraid of India because of its great size, so that it “does not count much internationally.” According to Nehru, the “real countries” in Southeast Asia, apart from India, were Burma and Indonesia. Zhou went along with this formulation that India, Burma, and Indonesia were the major countries in Southeast Asia standing on the side of peace, to which should be added Laos and Cambodia.16 Zhou’s enthusiasm for applying the Five Principles to relations with all states in the region represented a temporary change in China’s foreign policy from one of supporting revolutionary nationalism and constant confrontation with the United States. The shift was calculated to provide China with a more stable international environment in order to concentrate on radical agrarian reorganization at home, starting with the formation of agricultural cooperatives. A tactical rather than strategic retreat from support of revolution in nationalist non-​Western countries, it allowed China to sustain its propaganda that it was “a natural ally of the oppressed peoples of the world in their struggle for national liberation.”17 Unremarked by Nehru or Krishna Menon, Zhou’s direct support for the Five Principles in the “Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of India and China, June 28, 1954,” opened the way for China to compete for the same political space India had identified for itself as the “spokesman of Asia.” The apogee of India-​China friendship, demonstrated to the world, was the official visit to China by Nehru on October 18–​30, 1954, in response to the invitation conveyed by the Central People’s Republic of China (August 27, 1954), to reciprocate the warm reception Zhou Enlai had received in India during his June visit. Nehru, quoted in the Indian press, considered his forthcoming meetings in China “a great event of history,”18 and the arrangements made for him during his ten-​day stay suggest that the aura of his prestige as “the voice of free Asia”19 was acknowledged by his hosts. They arranged for nearly one million “cheering and friendly people” to line each side of the ten-​mile route from the airport in Beijing as Nehru passed by in an open car. Shortly after, Zhou Enlai escorted Nehru to a meeting with Chairman Mao and a handful of China’s most senior leaders.20 Mao professed his wish for peace to concentrate on overcoming China’s industrial backwardness, but expressed frustration at the security threats posed by the occupation of Taiwan and the offshore islands, and America’s intimidation of England and France to make them join SEATO. Nehru, clubbing together India and China as “two big and great countries,” suggested that SEATO was the US reaction against Geneva to show that its strength and influence had not declined. Nehru stressed the need to remove the fear of the smaller countries of the two



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big countries by applying the Five Principles to relations with Indo-​China and neighboring countries, and achieved his purpose when Mao agreed these principles should be implemented. Similar questions about US intentions in the Far East were raised by Zhou Enlai in talks at a private dinner on the same evening, and in long discussions at the Premier’s House on the next two days. Zhou deferred to Nehru’s knowledge of Asia, asking for guidance on the political situation in neighboring countries and repeated his view that the Americans would force or induce small Asian countries to join an aggressive alliance, citing Krishna Menon’s appraisal. Zhou wanted Nehru to explain to the world that the cause of tension came from US activities and not from China. Nehru, still worried that the Americans could succeed in intimidating small Asian countries to join an aggressive alliance, considered it possible that China might respond by forming its own alliances, reverting to military support of revolutionary and nationalist regimes. On both counts, to impress the United States with India’s support in the Arab-​Asia bloc, and to ensure China’s continuing commitment to work for peace in cooperation with India, Nehru decided to tell Zhou Enlai about the Arab-​Asian conference planned by the Columbo powers in 1955, and to say it would be a good idea if China came. Zhou immediately answered that China would like to join the conference. Nehru’s talks with Chairman Mao and senior party leaders on October 23 displayed a less conciliatory side of Chinese thinking. Interested mainly in whether the United States wanted war, Mao made clear that his strategy of economic development and industrialization was the reason China did not favor war at that time. Mao judged the costs and benefits of war according to who got the advantages, and his ideological calculation about whether war would strengthen the revolutionary forces. Mao rejected Nehru’s moral concerns about the vast scale of killing in an atomic war, saying that “men will always find a way out,” and that neither China nor India would sink into the sea “no matter how many people are killed.”21 Mao’s matter of fact and amoral musings on war did not prompt Nehru to call Mao a great menace, the word he used to characterize Dulles in the same conversation, as a narrow-​minded man of bigoted religious views, who “might do anything.” Rather in a jubilant letter to Edwina, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, he described his own unprecedented popular and official welcome in China. Nehru’s vision of Asian cooperation induced him to imagine that the officially staged crowds represented the happiness of the Chinese people that “a great country like India which was not in the Communist fold was friendly to them. Their outlook widened and their assurance increased. A sense of Asian cooperation, apart from communism and the like . . . produced this sense of relief and release.”22





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Nehru was not alone in what proved to be a grand delusion. Ambassador Raghavan also lost any sense of analytical detachment. He wrote in a long message that he had changed his view of the Chinese attitude toward India, which had become much warmer than being only correct and friendly. Using arguments he had previously suspected, Raghavan attributed the new warmth of China toward India to Nehru’s standing in the world arena as a key figure whose words and deeds tended to change the course of events. Among India’s contributions, Raghavan cited the resolution of the Korean impasse, the diplomatic triumph at Geneva, the adoption of the Five Principles, Zhou Enlai’s visit to New Delhi, and Nehru’s friendly approach to China in his periodic speeches and pronouncements. All of these actions, he wrote, paved the way for a correct appraisal of China and its problems, and set the stage for the unprecedented welcome given to Nehru. Raghavan was so carried away that he called Nehru’s reception “perhaps unprecedented in the History of any country” and went so far as to say, “As far as human memory could recall no country had ever accorded a more rousing reception to any foreign visitor.” From this hyperbole, Raghavan quickly moved toward a spirit of condescension. He believed that Chinese leaders with their meager knowledge of other countries appreciated they were receiving valuable information from Nehru. He called the Chinese government “flattered” by the visit because it gained in stature and prestige from it, and knew anything that Nehru said would get sympathetic publicity for China on the world stage. India’s ambassador considered the visit a “diplomatic triumph of the greatest possible significance,” stating that China had recognized India’s role of leadership in Southeast Asia, and developed a consciousness of being an Asian power as much as a communist power.23

Bandung: Setback to Asianism and Nehru’s Role as “Spokesman of Asia” Zhou Enlai may have sincerely welcomed Nehru’s friendliness in sharing insights into the political situation of neighboring countries and US intentions in Southeast Asia, but most important for the Chinese Foreign Ministry was Nehru’s invitation for China to participate in the proposed Asian-​African Conference at Bandung, Indonesia. Zhou had been carefully following the fortunes of the proposed conference from May 1954, aware that China had not been on the first list of seventeen nations invited by Indonesia, which were limited to Asian-​African members of the United Nations. At the end of 1954, the five Colombo powers and cosponsors, meeting at Bogor, had been divided. Pakistan and Ceylon opposed an invitation to China. Indonesia was hesitant,



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suggesting that because China belonged to the Soviet group, it should not participate. Nehru bypassed this issue by saying all independent governments in Asia and Africa should be invited, except Taiwan, nominated by Pakistan, to which Burma expressed vehement opposition. The reluctance of Egypt and some Arab League states to invite China was interpreted by Nehru as a reaction to expressions of displeasure from the United States and the United Kingdom, which he found very “irritating.”24 Like India, China viewed the proposed conference as a counterweight to a Southeast Asian collective defense treaty and saw itself in a decisive role. The PRC Foreign Ministry believed China could exert its influence to make the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence the political basis of foreign relations among the members of the conference. Such a declaration would undercut US efforts to strengthen control over Asian and Arab countries through “organizing and expanding syndicates of aggression,” that is, collective security pacts, equated with preparation for new wars. The Chinese Foreign Ministry gave priority to achieving two outcomes at Bandung: a final communiqué endorsing the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence; and a recommendation by other countries to propose the Asian-​African Conference be established as a permanent institution in which China could exert its full weight, outside the similar group in the United Nations. The Foreign Ministry had its own categories for identifying participating countries based on relations with China. India was clubbed with Burma, Indonesia, and Afghanistan “as peaceful and neutral.” The largest number of participating countries was called “close to peaceful and neutral.” A smaller group aligned with the United States was labeled close to “anti-​peaceful and anti-​neutral” countries, and US allies in SEATO—​Thailand, the Philippines, and Turkey—​were classified “anti-​peaceful and anti-​neutral.” China’s overall aim was to “unite the countries of the first category, win over the second, influence the third and isolate the fourth in the conference.”25 China’s delegation, led by Zhou Enlai, set out to win over Asian and Arab countries by projecting its policy of peaceful diplomacy and acting in a manner that was “warm and humble (and) down-​to-​earth.” Strategically, the delegation took “a specially cautious attitude toward India in order to avoid the impression of contending for leadership with it, which will give imperialism and its lackeys a chance to sow discord between China and India.”26 Tactically, the Chinese adopted the approach of “seeking common ground,” while recognizing differences between countries and targeting key countries with which to establish diplomatic or trade relations, such as Nepal, Egypt, and Syria. Excluded from discussion within the conference were “China’s special issues,” bound to create divisions. At the top of this list was the flare-​up between China and the United States over Taiwan and the offshore islands. The Chinese delegation was instructed to speak separately with as many delegations as possible





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outside the conference meetings, the most important being those of India, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ceylon, the Philippines, and Thailand, to expose and criticize aggressive US policy and acts. Inevitably, the informal discussions injected Cold War rivalries into deliberations intended to expand closer ties among Arab and Asian states. The tense situation between China and the United States over Taiwan erupted as planning for the conference began. China’s December 2, 1954, announcement that it held thirteen American prisoners, eleven of them in uniform, and had tried and sentenced them as spies started a confrontation with the United States. President Eisenhower responded that the Americans were soldiers captured in the Korean War and must be treated as prisoners of war under the armistice and released. Within days, a US resolution, sponsored by sixteen members of the UN General Assembly, was approved requesting the secretary general to make unremitting efforts to secure the prisoners’ release. Shortly after, President Eisenhower made a formal declaration of a mutual security pact between the United States and Taiwan. Zhou Enlai’s reaction, circulated at his request by the president of the UN General Assembly to all member delegations except Taiwan, charged the United States with attempting to legalize its seizure of Chinese territory in 1950, and take the first step to create “two Chinas,” in preparation for an aggressive war against the Chinese mainland. China’s bellicose reaction was framed along the same line of argument previously used to justify marching its troops into Tibet. Asserting Taiwan was China’s territory and that the United States was infringing on China’s internal affairs, the Chinese government called this an act of aggression that could not be tolerated. The “unyielding demand” of China was that the United States must withdraw all its armed forces from Taiwan, the offshore islands, and in the Taiwan Straits, after which the Chinese people would liberate Taiwan peacefully and complete the unity of their motherland. Beijing used Tibet as an example of peaceful liberation.27 Krishna Menon, before leaving for Bandung, had conveyed to Nehru that Dulles and Eisenhower were determined to fight for Formosa and were preparing the American public to accept the idea of a “limited atomic war.” He kept up pressure on Nehru to push for direct negotiations between China and the United States, and to persuade the United Kingdom and Canada of the urgency of working together to arrest the drift to war. Menon agreed with the Soviet Union on a plan to hold a ten-​power conference outside the United Nations, modeled on Geneva, and with Zhou Enlai’s demand that such a conference exclude Taiwan and reject any inference that there were two Chinas. He did not deal with the US State Department’s official position that Nationalist China must be represented in talks with the PRC on Formosa, or the Commonwealth prime ministers’ doubts that Formosa legally belonged to the PRC, or Australia’s



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great uneasiness that US surrender of Formosa would create a breach in the chain of islands critical for the defense of the South Pacific and the prevention of communist infiltration into Indonesia and the Philippines. Even Eden’s practical objection that Formosa could not be excluded if a conference was to be productive was ignored. Menon prevailed on Nehru with his characteristic maneuver of emphasizing that discussions were necessary to prevent war and that, for this reason, “I suggested myself that if you agreed in thinking that we had to make this endeavor, I should go to Peking . . . if Chou En-​Lai is agreeable to my going there soon after he returns (from Bandung).”28 As the delegates made public speeches about world peace and Asian-​African unity, Krishna Menon, in a three-​hour talk with Zhou Enlai, prepared the ground for Zhou’s invitation to him to visit China after Bandung. At Bandung, there was little difference in the foreign policy approaches of Zhou Enlai and Nehru. Both pressed for a declaration by the conference endorsing the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence. Nehru’s long-​standing support of China’s position on Taiwan was well known, and India’s delegation actively backed Zhou Enlai in the informal discussions outside the meetings. China reciprocated by supporting Nehru’s demand that Portugal, which claimed sovereignty over the small territory of Goa on India’s west coast, negotiate to terminate its presence. Many observers writing about their impressions of the conference dwelt less on substance than style to differentiate Zhou as more conciliatory and Nehru as more intolerant of opposition. This was Zhou’s first international conference at which the Soviet Union was not present to overshadow China. The delegates were impressed by the Chinese leader’s diplomatic skills, charm, and gracious manor as he advanced the strategy of “seeking common ground.” Speaking on both days of the conference, Zhou did not mention communism and told his “rapt audience” that differences in ideologies should not cause divergences between countries that had all suffered the calamities and oppression of colonialism. Zhou expressed solidarity with the strong feeling of Arab countries that opposed the creation of the State of Israel and wanted to discuss the Palestine issue, providing a contrast with Nehru, who attempted to block the discussion: India had recognized Israel and never endorsed the Arab position. Zhou also assured the delegates that China could never interfere in the affairs of other countries. Rather, China was itself struggling against subversive activities carried out by the United States. The well-​received speeches, and the special effort Zhou made to meet individual delegates in informal discussions and at parties given by heads of delegations, also contrasted with Nehru’s decision to work quietly and not seek the limelight, but to rely on Krishna Menon to advocate India’s views. One result was that Zhou Enlai emerged as the second key figure alongside Nehru at the





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conference. Zhou’s warm reception seemed to serve Nehru’s purpose of drawing China closer to India and the rest of Asia, while conveying to the United States that the Asian-​African bloc would resist American influence. But in the larger context of India’s aspirations as spokesman of Asia, the consequences of Zhou’s emergence as a central figure at the conference were unintended. Zhou virtually preempted Nehru’s place as the spokesman of peace in Africa and Asia, the advocate of ending imperialism and colonialism, and a foe of the “new imperialism” practiced by the United States. His promise to live in peace with all countries and to negotiate all disputes elevated China’s prestige and evoked friendly feelings even among anticommunist leaders. Nehru made a less favorable impression. His more self-​righteous attitude required all countries, regardless of security risks, to renounce participation in defense pacts equated with preparation to fight aggressive wars. Pakistan, Turkey, and several of the smaller Asian and Arab countries, including Ceylon, Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Vietnam, were vocal in expressing an opposite view. They argued the greater threat to peace was from the “new colonialism” supported by the global communist ideology of the Soviet Union and China. Many of these countries regarded mutual defense pacts with the United States as essential to their security and rejected Nehru’s “area of peace” approach as one that weak nations could not safely adopt. Pakistan’s Mohammed Ali argued that every country should have the right of self-​defense, singly or collectively, rejecting Nehru’s insistence that peaceful coexistence was the only alternative to war. Turkey, Iran, and Iraq called military pacts with the United States and the United Kingdom essential to their own defense. Countries with reason to worry about the “new colonialism” considered Nehru to be interfering with their sovereign decisions to adopt the foreign policy they believed to be in their own best interest. Suspicions of China’s “peace-​loving intentions,” which Zhou could not completely allay, combined with India’s support of China’s position on Formosa and willingness as chairman of the International Control Commission in Vietnam to accept Ho Chi Minh’s approach to elections without UN supervision, strengthened the notion that Nehru was biased toward China. Some countries called peaceful coexistence a “communist term.” The final communiqué of the African-​Asian Conference adopted a compromise declaration on the promotion of world peace based on ten principles of friendly cooperation, the first of which was respect for fundamental human rights and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Both Nehru and Zhou Enlai failed to have the conference endorse the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence. Pakistan scored the most obvious success in winning approval for “the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.” This legitimized collective security pacts, with the caveat that nations should



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abstain from the use of arrangements of collective defense “to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers.” Zhou was said to have stolen “the peace thunder” by publicly stating the Chinese government was willing to sit down and negotiate with the United States on relaxing tension in the Taiwan area. Although this statement drew a great deal of media attention in India, it was coolly received by the United States because of the immediate caveat that China would not retreat from its position that the Chinese people enjoyed the sovereign right to liberate Taiwan. On the other end of the spectrum, an “uncompromising group” of Turkey, Lebanon, Pakistan, Thailand, Iraq, and the Philippines tried to write into every resolution that the danger of the new communist colonialism was as great as that of any other. This group enjoyed “the negative success of demonstrating to their own satisfaction that Mr. Nehru does not speak for everyone in Asia and Africa.”29 An analysis by India’s MEA shed light on its miscalculations about the extent of pro-​American support among the countries of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The eleven countries of the Middle East were mainly concerned with the Palestine issue and had little interest in larger Asian-​African perspectives embodied in nonalignment. Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran aggressively advocated the American and Western point of view. Iran and Lebanon particularly surprised India by aligning with Turkey and Pakistan, both of which lobbied pro-​American countries of Liberia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Sudan referred “respectfully” to Pakistan and cosponsored a resolution on the “new colonialism.” On the other side, China went all out to win over Middle Eastern countries by supporting their position on Palestine.30 Altogether, Bandung showed that India’s leadership in this region was much more limited than it had believed, and that China could become a formidable rival for support of the African-​Asian nations. Nehru received further information from India’s ambassador to Egypt (Ali Yaver Jung) of a “deliberate and widespread propaganda in Asian and Middle East countries depicting him as “arrogant” and India as “pro-​Communist” with ambitions to become the dominating power in the region and the “boss” of other countries.31 He brushed this off as attributable to jealousies of India’s progress, and a propaganda campaign carried out through the United States and its agencies in other countries. Although Nehru never directly acknowledged it, the unexpected criticism of his approach at Bandung revealed the limits of “Asianism” embodied in nonalignment as the bedrock of his foreign policy. He expressed satisfaction at the emergence of Africa and Asia on the world stage, but would make no commitment in answer to questions from China and other countries about a date for another meeting.32 Nehru wrote frankly to Marshal Tito on April 3, 1956, explaining why a second session of the Asian-​African Conference was





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indefinitely postponed:  “We were rather apprehensive that if this Conference was held, it would not be possible to maintain a common front which we had adopted at Bandung. There would be fierce controversies which would tend to split up the countries represented there.”

The Rising Status of China and the Reduced Relevance of India’s Mediator Role At Geneva, Eden had accepted Zhou Enlai’s claim that China deserved the status of a great power as an actual fact. At Bandung, China gained recognition as one of the two major powers in Asia. China’s ability to deal directly with Western powers, and its growing prestige in Asia, left it much less dependent on India as an intermediary in its conflicts with the United States. Among the leaders who offered their services to mediate the crisis over Taiwan were Prime Minister Anthony Eden (Great Britain), Prime Minster U Nu (Burma), and Prime Minister Mohammed Ali (Pakistan). Dulles called Bandung useful and expressed satisfaction at the outcome. The United Nations and the Charter of the United Nations had been recognized as the forum and the legitimate source of international principles available to all member states for resisting aggression. Journalists described Washington as relieved that the conference did not develop into an anti-​Western diatribe, while the divisions among Asian leaders “dropped in American laps the proof they have been searching for their thesis that there is no thing as Asian unity nor such a thing as an Asian voice and that not all Asians and Arabs are prepared to follow Nehru.”33 Within less than a month after Bandung, Dulles sounded Nehru on India’s willingness to act as a conduit for US aid and military assistance to a newly independent Cambodia. When Nehru predictably declined, the United States signed a military assistance agreement with Cambodia. The agreement was subject to an exchange of notes between the two governments dating to December 1951 under which Cambodia committed to make contributions consistent with its resources to its own defensive strength and the defensive strength of “the free world.”34 The 1955 agreement used language embraced by the Bandung communiqué to pledge assistance mutually agreed upon in order to increase Cambodia’s individual or collective defense or to facilitate its effective participation in the collective security system contemplated by the UN Charter; and to accept a military advisory group attached to the American embassy to supervise training of Cambodian troops. India, as well as the Polish member of the International Control Commission in Indo-​China, considered the agreement a violation in letter and spirit of



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Geneva. France and Canada adopted the opposite view that the agreement conformed to Geneva. China, certain that the agreement was “disruptive,” was blindsided. Zhou Enlai, at that time in discussions in Beijing with Krishna Menon about relaxation of tensions with the United States, read about the US Military Assistance Agreement with Cambodia in the newspapers. Krishna Menon, whose credentials as an intermediary rested on his own claim, backed by Nehru, that India had the contacts and the friendship of both China and the United States, had to admit he did not know about the agreement “because we have not got any English newspapers here.” Krishna Menon in fact, was operating on his own, with no reports to, or from, Nehru and improvised that the war mentality in the United States was another adverse factor that China and India had to overcome by strengthening the forces of reconciliation. Overwrought by his embarrassment, Menon expressed India’s concern about US military assistance to Pakistan, naval assistance to Ceylon, and military assistance to Cambodia and told Zhou Enlai: “We are not unaware of these things; we are not infants. We know they are encircling us. We know this is part of their policy to break our idea of non-​commitment. But that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands in the air. We only hope that counsels of peace and efforts toward peace will break the efforts toward war.”35 All Menon could do was ask Zhou Enlai if India could be helpful in some small thing or big thing that could move the Formosa crisis toward a settlement without violence. At Bandung, Zhou had already expressed his government’s decision to release four of the imprisoned American airmen. Since Zhou Enlai was willing to give Menon, rather than UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld, credit for this breakthrough, Krishna Menon returned to India able to claim a first step toward the relaxation of tension. Saying this would set “currents in motion,” he imagined no further raids in the Formosa Straits, the removal of Chiang Kai-​shek’s troops from the coastal islands of Quemoy and Matsu, and unification of the islands with China. The remaining problem of Taiwan might be settled later on through negotiations. The obstacles to moving discussions between China and the United States on these issues up to the foreign ministers’ level on both sides, from India’s point of view, were created by the United States. They were similar to those Nehru first encountered in Acheson’s opposition to the recognition of China and its entry into the United Nations at the onset of the Korean War. At a discussion arranged for Krishna Menon with President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles on June 4, 1955, at which Menon advocated opening direct negotiations between the United States and China, Eisenhower said, “It was a principle of his life-​time and one that his country always sought to follow that would not impose a solution on a country small or large or settle its fate without its consent,” and that applied to Formosa.36 At a follow-​up meeting between Krishna Menon and





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Dulles two weeks later, the secretary of state took a harder line. When Menon argued that China’s gesture in releasing the four American fliers provided a sufficient basis to begin negotiations on the issue of Taiwan, Dulles responded that the whole problem of American prisoners was being dealt with by the United Nations, and intervention by “other persons” could weaken the UN secretary general’s hands. Menon, surprised, suggested the matter of US prisoners could be dropped if India’s efforts were jeopardizing their release. He told Dulles his purpose in going to China was not to get the fliers released but to discuss the general question of US-​China relations and lessen tension in the Far East. This provoked an exchange, which Menon later described to Nehru as “provocative and somewhat embarrassing if not humiliating.”37 Dulles made clear the United States would not think of withdrawing from Quemoy and Matsu, suddenly raised by China after five years of communist rule. Menon did not restrain himself in virtually threatening Dulles with the prospect of a third world war if the United States did not take advantage of the present lull to reach a satisfactory settlement with China. China, he said, could attack these islands, forcing the United States to withdraw or risk war. Dulles who certainly envisaged a third possible outcome, that of indefinitely keeping China at bay, responded that “if Germany, Korea and Viet Nam could be partitioned, why not China?” Why not accept the concept of “two Chinas” for the time being? A provoked Menon exaggerated China’s power relative not to India but the United States, and equated the two countries. He said the United States should not forget that American forces were being used by the Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Straits to support Chiang Kai-​ shek, “so renunciation of force by both sides would involve withdrawal of this fleet and withdrawal of this support.” Dulles terminated the meeting by asking if there were any “marginal problems” on which Krishna Menon would like to make suggestions.38 During a third conversation between Krishna Menon and Dulles on July 6, 1955, at which no progress was made, Dulles repeated the United States would not think of giving up Quemoy and Matsu and objected to China’s threat of taking the offshore islands and Formosa by force as a violation of the UN Charter. Menon repeated that the United States’ support of Chiang Kai-​shek’s regime constituted a threat by force to the Chinese mainland. Krishna Menon did not seem to understand the extent to which he was regarded as “violently anti-​American” and unreliable as an interlocutor between the United States and China.39 Yet, as Menon did appreciate, China hoped that after the release of the airmen, India would be able to assist in moving interactions from ambassadorial-​ level talks at Geneva on narrow issues, approved by President Eisenhower in August 1955, to talks at the level of foreign ministers on Formosa. Menon’s mistaken judgment, expressed to Zhou Enlai at Bandung, that the United States would have to negotiate to avoid war, demonstrated once again how much India underestimated the depth of American determination to



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reject an appeasement policy toward China and to recognize China only when it was in the US interest to do so.40 Meanwhile, the United States was able to carry sufficient international support among its allies and other recipients of its military or economic aid to render Nehru’s nonalignment and negotiation approach ineffectual. Menon, whose “formulas” were exposed as unwanted in Washington, turned responsibility back on Nehru. He wrote that the hostility that he encountered not only from Dulles, but from Dag Hammarskjöld and Henry Cabot Lodge, arose from the “heavy weather” Americans made out of Nehru’s joint statement with Bulganin during his official visit to the Soviet Union.41

The Soviet Union’s Zone of Peace Nehru’s visit to the USSR took place after the completely unexpected new thrust of Soviet policy in the post-​Stalin era, foreshadowing Khrushchev’s February 25, 1956, “Secret Speech” to the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. His dramatic denunciation of Stalin’s despotism detailed the unrelenting repression and liquidation of citizens who in any way disagreed with him or were suspected of hostile intent.42 Moves toward internal liberalization suggested the possibility of a more conciliatory foreign policy. This shift was apparent in the change from Stalin’s “two-​camp” formulation, which rejected the possibility of neutrality, to Khrushchev’s advocacy of temporary alliance with independence movements directed at expelling Western influence. The new doctrine allowed the Soviets to compete for influence in the Middle East and in South and Southeast Asia by embracing “non-​socialist peace-​loving and non-​aligned” states to prevent the imperialists from launching war. Using language very similar to that of Nehru, Khrushchev aimed at creating a vast “Zone of Peace” and advised that relations between countries in the region could best be strengthened by subscribing to the Five Principles adopted by India and China. Soviet tactics emphasized aid without strings, starting with the first arms sale to Egypt (via Czechoslovakia) in late 1955, and diplomatic and economic assistance in South and Southeast Asia. The most important prize in the Zone of Peace was India by virtue of its size, strategic location, and leadership of nonalignment. Nehru became the foremost subject of Soviet blandishments. He was invited on an official visit to the Soviet Union in June 1955 and arrived to an “incredible” reception and “stunning” ovation. Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens pushed into the streets, leaving only a narrow lane for Nehru’s car to pass.43 Another one hundred thousand persons attended a mass meeting at which Nehru and Premier Nicolai Bulganin spoke, and Bulganin pledged himself to





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the Five Principles as common ground for consolidating peace. The Soviet government assured Nehru that the one-​million-​ton Bhilai steel plant being built for India would use the latest equipment and that training would be provided for five hundred Indian technicians in Russia, involving payment for the machinery received, with no political strings attached. The joint statement by Nehru and Bulganin on June 22, 1955, revealed virtually no daylight between the two leaders. They affirmed that peaceful coexistence was the main hope of lowering world tensions and enlarging the area of peace, hailed the historic importance of the Asian-​African Conference at Bandung, and called for the admission of the PRC to the United Nations, as well as satisfaction of the legitimate rights of the PRC to Taiwan. Nehru came away from the “triumphal visit” believing that international communism as a doctrine had ceased to have much application inside the Soviet Union, and that except for the Cold War and constant fear of world war, change would have been very rapid. The return visit to India of Khrushchev and Bulganin over a nineteen-​day period in November–​December 1955, broken by six days in Burma, brought India and the Soviet Union closer. Nehru wrote to Krishna Menon that the two Soviet leaders had a tremendous reception, including a “truly stupendous” meeting in Calcutta at which an estimated two million people came out to greet them. These meetings were “of course government sponsored” and “inevitably created powerful reactions in Western countries.”44 Nehru took satisfaction from impressing the Soviet leaders by his own popularity with the public, which convinced them that “India’s friendship was something worthwhile” and that India “has an important place in the world and is worth wooing.” Similarly, Nehru attributed reactions of anger and resentment in Western countries to the fact that politicians and others “have been completely shaken up,” and that while one result might be more hostility toward India, there was also “a feeling that India being even more important than they thought, far greater efforts should be made to win her on their side.” Nehru was certain that India’s prestige and status in the world had been raised by the visit. “It is realized more than ever that India makes a difference and cannot be ignored.” At the time, Nehru was disturbed by the formal meeting in Baghdad of the Baghdad Pact countries, in which Great Britain and Pakistan were allies, and the United States stood ready to offer economic and military cooperation. He echoed Krishna Menon’s assertion that India was being encircled by SEATO on the one side and the Baghdad Pact on the other. The Soviet leaders, traveling in India, publicly denounced the United Kingdom and the United States for their military alliances, which they equated with aggressive intentions and evidence that the United States could not manage without war to stimulate its economy. Although Nehru later pointed out privately that such language did not seem “appropriate,” he was grateful for their public statements of unequivocal support



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for India against Pakistan on Kashmir, and for India against Portugal on Goa. Nehru accepted, with only mild protest, denials by Khrushchev that the Soviet Union was providing policy directions to the leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and was supplying large funds to them, although he knew both claims were true and amounted to Soviet interference in India’s internal affairs. The most significant outcome came on the last day of the talks; Nehru drew attention to the proposal before the United Nations for admission of eighteen countries and the need for the Soviet Union to throw its weight in favor. Soon after, “the remarkable and rather sensational developments” took place of sixteen countries being admitted on the initiative of the Soviet representative, which “strengthened their own position and embarrassed the United States.” The joint statement issued at the end of the visit covered familiar ground. Both countries expressed their firm adherence to the Five Principles as the basis of India-​Soviet cooperation. They agreed that the formation of military alliances and regional blocs increased fear and tension, widened the frontiers of the Cold War and came in the way of peace.45 After the visit, Nehru had a note prepared by the Intelligence Bureau that documented the activities of the official Soviet Tass News Agency, headed by Russian nationals in New Delhi, and the methods used by them to subsidize the activities of the Communist Party, especially their extensive circulation of low priced pro-​Soviet publications offering 60 to 65 percent commission to the agents selling them. The report concluded that the Tass News Agency “actually functions as a propaganda unit of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and also as a means of subsidizing the activities of the Communist Party of India, besides helping in its propaganda.” Nehru had these facts brought to the attention of the Soviet ambassador in New Delhi, saying only that these activities “appear to us undesirable.”46 Khrushchev’s second visit to India in February 1960, after he had consolidated his power, paved the way for a series of bilateral agreements that greatly strengthened Indo-​Soviet ties. A trade agreement signed in 1953 had created the basis for exports from India primarily of jute manufactures, tea, commodities, raw materials, and films in return for imports from the USSR of food grains, petroleum products, iron and steel manufactures, and heavy machinery and equipment. The greatest advantage for India of the agreement was that payments for commercial transactions would be made in Indian rupees held in the State Bank of the USSR and the Reserve Bank of India, with balances replenished if necessary by payment in sterling. The volume of foreign trade, under these terms, steadily increased, with India eventually becoming the largest noncommunist trading partner of the Soviet Union. The Soviets paid special attention to funding industrial projects in the public sector, which the US Congress, wedded to free market ideology, refused to support. Within a short while, between February





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1955 and February 1961, Soviet aid for heavy industry in the public sector totaled more than $800 million. Ironically, just as Nehru directed his government to keep special records of all exchanges between Indians and Americans and to make periodic intelligence assessments of American activities in India, the doors were opened wide to the exchange of Indian and Soviet nongovernmental delegations, to the import of subsidized Soviet pamphlets, magazines, and books, and to the Indo-​Soviet Cultural Society with its 150 city and village branches (by 1962) and its scores of libraries and reading rooms. This gave a tremendous boost to left-​leaning intellectuals in influencing the ideological climate and the political leaders of the Communist Party of India (CPI), who established direct links with Moscow. Neither Nehru nor the Intelligence Bureau realized how thoroughly the Indian embassy in Moscow was being penetrated by the KGB, starting in the early 1950s, or how rapidly KGB operatives were infiltrating the intelligence community and bureaucracy in India and secretly funneling funds to the CPI through an import-​export business for trade with the Soviet bloc in cooperation with the Soviet embassy in New Delhi. During Nehru’s time in office the KGB also cultivated his daughter and hostess, Indira Gandhi, to facilitate access to the prime minister, and claimed to engage in active measures designed to strengthen Krishna Menon’s position in India. Once Indira Gandhi became prime minister in 1966, the groundwork had been laid for an Indo-​Soviet special relationship, which was celebrated as a triumph for the KGB and a “model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government.”47 Nehru’s calculation that all these manifestations of increasing Soviet influence would finally convince Washington that India was too important to ignore and had to be won over had some practical consequences. The Eisenhower administration, concerned by the Soviet Union’s new approach of concentrating on neutral nations in Asia, revised its assessment of India’s importance to US policy as preeminent among free Asian-​African countries and one of the leading powers in the world. Still unable to conceive of India as an equal worth cultivating in its own terms, it viewed the need to improve bilateral relations through an altered Cold War prism that shone clarity on an emerging concern. This was the tacit rivalry between Communist China and India in the development “race” between them, which would influence smaller Asian countries in their assessment of totalitarian methods versus democratic processes. Prominent Republicans understood the argument that if the vast population of India should lean toward communism, there would be a major impact on US interests in all of Asia. Yet ideological influences cut the other way. Providing grants to India for state-​ owned industrial projects could only strengthen the development of state socialism or communism. The militarization of containment, moreover, meant that in the mid-​1950s over 80 percent of funds for national security programs



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were spent on military assistance and less than 9 percent on foreign aid. A review of nonmilitary programs showed that Indo-​China and five countries—​Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, Iran, and Pakistan—​accounted for over 50 percent of total grant assistance. Projecting to fiscal year 1957, the program proposed for India was $81 million, of which $10 million was for technical aid and $70 million for developmental assistance. This could not begin to address India’s requirement for several billions in foreign exchange needed to complete its Second Five-​Year Plan.48 The United States could compete only on one front, with its agricultural surpluses. The Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, subsequently known as Public Law 480, was approved for agreements between the US Department of Agriculture and foreign governments for sales of agricultural commodities at low interest rates with extended repayment over thirty years in the local currency (rupee payments in India), which was expected to fund primarily agricultural and community development projects. This kind of aid had much less visibility than the major industrial projects financed by the Soviet Union in the public sector, but it was crucial to mitigating food shortages and supplying the public distribution system that provided a safety net to the poor. Between 1955 and 1971, India received fifty million tons of food grains, nearly 40 percent of all food grains made available under PL 480, and 25 percent of all commodities.49 The USAID mission in New Delhi with some three hundred personnel ultimately extended the equivalent, including food commodities of $10 billion in development funds. Similar cooperation between the two governments in responding to international crises remained much harder to achieve.

Missing an Opening for Better India-​US Relations: Hungary and Suez, 1956 The overlapping crises of foreign intervention by the Soviet Union in Hungary, and of Britain and France in Egypt in late November and December 1956, could have provided an opportunity for close cooperation between President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Nehru had India not believed that friendship with the Soviet Union would increase its prestige and bargaining power with an overbearing United States. The greatest advantage of the Soviet Union in responding to these crises was that that it could denounce the old colonialism without any damage to its own interests, while US alliance ties with Britain and France continued to raise questions about US credibility. The crisis in Suez involved collusion between Britain and France, in concert with Israel, for an attack on Egypt in response to Nasser’s abrupt nationalization of the Suez Canal Company on July 26, 1956. The company functioned as





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an authority under the Egyptian state to operate the canal and ensure freedom of navigation and security of ships in conformity with terms of the 1888 Convention of Constantinople and the Anglo-​Egyptian Agreement of 1954. The 1954 agreement would have continued the concession of the Suez Canal Company until 1968. The Egyptian government had declared the agreement would not be renewed, but previous Egyptian governments had taken that position before renegotiating the terms of the concession. The Suez Canal was an integral part of Egypt and the Suez Canal Company was an Egyptian Company, and in Nasser’s view, subject to the laws of Egypt alone. Great Britain, which held 44 percent of the shares of the company and, together with France, had twenty-​five of thirty-​two directors on its board, completely distrusted Nasser’s intentions. Anthony Eden considered the only bases for a negotiated solution were that Egypt could not be left in “unfettered control” of the canal and that any arrangements reached had to include means of enforcement.50 These principles, in practice, meant that ultimate responsibility for overseeing the operations of the canal on the basis of fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of all nations as provided in the 1888 convention had to be internationalized. Nasser’s justification for nationalization without notice fed deep suspicions that he had made a power grab with the aim of establishing Egypt as the dominant force in the Middle East. He mentioned vague “imperialistic efforts [to] thwart Egyptian independence,” and the decision of the United States not to provide aid for building the Aswan High Dam. According to Nasser, revenues from the nationalized Suez Canal Company, after compensating shareholders, would allow Egypt to build the dam without US assistance.51 The Israelis had ample reasons for wanting to remove Nasser from power. Ever since 1949, after the Arab states led by Egypt had been defeated in their attempt to destroy Israel, the Israelis refused to go back to the 1947 partition borders. Israel and Egypt recognized only the armistice agreements of 1949, leaving in place a state of belligerency between them. Egypt closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping and, despite orders by the UN Security Council, refused entry to ships flying the Israeli flag. Nasser, in 1955, presented a heightened threat. Egypt, with arms from the Soviet Union, announced its “heroes” would ensure there was no peace on Israel’s border because “we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel’s death.”52 The French, blaming Nasser for instigating the Algerians against their rule, and Britain, worried that the loss of Suez would relegate it to a second-​class power, approved a plan that made use of Israel’s fear of Egyptian aggression. The three nations agreed that “Israel would land paratroopers near the canal and send its armor across the Sinai Desert. The British and French would then call for both sides to withdraw from the Canal Zone, fully expecting the Egyptians to refuse. At that point, British and French troops would be deployed to “protect



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the canal.”53 Israeli forces crossed the border between the Negev into the Sinai Desert on October 30, 1956, expelling the Egyptian Army from the Gaza Strip, which had been used as a center for “gangs of murderers and saboteurs” against Israel’s villages in the South. British and French forces landed on October 31, as expected, after the Egyptians refused an ultimatum to cease hostilities, withdraw more than fifteen miles from the Suez Canal, and allow the British and French to occupy strategic positions in Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez. The British believed Egypt would be easily defeated and planned to restore international control of the Canal Zone, provisionally stationing Anglo-​French troops there. The British-​French offensive, targeting Ismailia, Suez, Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo, destroyed two-​thirds of the Egyptian Air Force, portions of the navy, and large supplies of Soviet and Czech armaments, defeating Egypt’s aspiration to military dominance in the region, in preparation for the advance on the Canal Zone. Almost immediately, the government of India issued a public statement condemning Israeli aggression and the invasion of Egypt by British and French forces, calling these acts a reversal of history and the revival of colonialism. Nehru wrote to Anthony Eden protesting the invasion as clear aggression and a violation of the UN Charter, and repeated this denunciation in similar letters to President Eisenhower and to Dulles, saying, “I cannot imagine a worse case of aggression.”54 Eisenhower and Dulles were equally enraged. Britain and France had invaded Egypt without any consultation with the United States. Dulles did not believe expectations of a quick victory were realistic and anticipated that international resentment would worsen as anger grew against great powers attacking a newly independent and weak state. The Suez crisis revived hatreds of the “old” colonialism and enormously complicated the effort to consolidate international support against the Soviet Union’s “new” colonialism then being challenged in Eastern Europe. In late October 1956, a broad nationalist revolt in Hungary against the Stalinist leadership imposed by the Soviet Union was reaching its peak, similar to the riots and demonstrations that had forced out the pro-​Soviet faction in Poland and restored to power the “rehabilitated” nationalist leader Wladysklaw Gomulka as first secretary of the Communist Party. It appeared that events in Hungary would follow the same path as in Poland, after huge demonstrations in Budapest, led by students and including Hungarian soldiers, demanded democratization of the state and the return to power of “Hungary’s Gomulka,” Imre Nagy. Nagy was named premier on October 24 and Gero, the hard-​line Communist Party secretary, was replaced by the “rehabilitated” Janos Kadar. Nagy, however, faced a much more violent revolution. Armed demonstrators attacked public buildings and security forces in street battles with Soviet troops,





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requested by Gero just before he was ousted from power, to crush the “counter-​ revolutionaries.” According to accounts from Belgrade reaching New Delhi, over seventy Soviet tanks were used against the demonstrators, whose ranks included units of the Hungarian Army. Casualties among the Hungarian demonstrators reached about ten thousand, and another two thousand fell among the Soviets.55 K. P. S. Menon, then India’s ambassador to Moscow, reported that the revolt was an “expression of Hungarian nationalism and accumulated resentment at moral and material rigours of Communist regime in Hungary,” but mistakenly asserted it was Nagy who had asked for Russian troops.56 A  longer telegram from the chargé d’affaires at India’s legation in Budapest reviewed the events surrounding the disturbances in detail and clarified that Gero had called for assistance by Soviet troops under the Warsaw Mutual Security Pact.57 At about the same time, another message from Dayal in Belgrade reported that the intervention of Soviet forces had provoked strong anti-​Soviet feelings and a revulsion for communism itself.58 Nehru explained the disturbances in Poland and Hungary to his cabinet as “cases of nationalist rising against Soviet domination.”59 Moscow appeared to accept the overthrow of the Stalinist leaders as a fait accompli on October 30, conjuring up a new “Soviet Commonwealth of Nations in Eastern Europe” to be regulated under the Five Principles.60 On November 1, a jubilant Allen Dulles, then head of the Central Intelligence Agency, told President Eisenhower the events in Hungary were a “miracle.” They “disproved that a popular revolt can’t occur in the face of modern weapons. Eighty percent of the Hungarian Army has defected.”61 Fortuitously, October 30, the same day Moscow raised the idea of a Soviet Commonwealth of Nations in Eastern Europe, Israeli troops had invaded Egypt. The day after, British and French troops landed. Further diverting attention from the situation in Hungary, France and Great Britain vetoed the US-​sponsored resolution in the Security Council of October 31, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Egypt and the withdrawal of all foreign troops behind the armistice lines. The two Western powers responded to a similar resolution passed in an emergency special session of the General Assembly on November 3 by stating specific conditions under which they would stop military actions in Egypt. These conditions continued the charade that both countries had entered Egypt to prevent a war with Israel and to protect the canal. They therefore demanded Israel and Egypt accept a UN force to keep the peace and that such a force remain in place until a peace settlement was reached and satisfactory arrangements adopted, to be guaranteed by the United Nations to ensure the security of the canal. Until then, both Israel and Egypt should agree that Anglo-​French forces would be stationed at strategic points along the canal. Nasser’s reaction was to reject all these demands, sink ships in order to block the canal, and declare martial law.



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As anger remained directed at the Western powers’ intransigence in Egypt, the Soviet Union made the most of its opportunity. Confronted by a potentially destabilizing blow to national security from spreading resistance to Soviet control in the countries of Eastern Europe, Moscow made the decision to send back to Budapest troops who had returned to their bases on October 27–​28. In the early morning of November 4, long lines of Soviet tanks and Russian soldiers armed with heavy weapons poured into Budapest. Pravda published the new party line that Nagy, who declared Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and its neutrality, then requested UN protection, had failed to push back the forces of reaction. According to a report from Belgrade, Soviet troops placed Nagy’s government under arrest and recognized a rival government formed by Janos Kadar, which “can hardly be regarded as having any greater legitimacy than the deposed Nagy Government.”62 Kadar promptly requested the assistance of Soviet troops under the Warsaw Pact to restore order. The Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolution unleashed wide-​scale violence. The uprising was unorganized, cutting across students, workers, intellectuals, and soldiers. The killings cannot be accurately counted, but one news report at the time said that thousands of Hungarians were massacred “in the last fortnight.”63 Escott Reid, Canada’s high commissioner in India during this period, hoped, perhaps quixotically, that the United States and India, the “only great powers with clean hands,” could speak in the United Nations for “the conscience of mankind,” and that Nehru might find it possible to persuade the majority of Indians that Soviet aggression in Hungary was at least as terrible as British and French aggression in Egypt.64 President Eisenhower sent a sober message to Nehru suggesting that it was “our duty to mankind not only to bring before world opinion the facts with respect to the deplorable situation in Hungary, but to make it clear that the leaders of free and democratic countries cannot remain silent in the face of such terrifying pressures upon our fellow human beings.”65 Nehru did not directly reply to Eisenhower’s suggestion of a joint response. On the contrary, Nehru’s guidance to the Indian delegation at the United Nations had the effect of ruling out such a common effort. On the one hand, he advised that the people of Hungary should be left to decide their own future without external pressure, which “follows from Panchsheel.” On the other, he asserted that “without further information we would not like to agree to any resolution condemning the Soviet Government.”66 Even before Krishna Menon, on Nehru’s orders, reached New York to replace Arthur Lall as head of the delegation, India abstained on the resolution brought by the United States to the emergency session of the UN General Assembly on November 4, 1956. The resolution, which passed by an overwhelming majority, drew attention to the “grave situation created by the use of Soviet military forces to suppress the efforts of the





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Hungarian people to reassert their rights,” and requested the secretary general to investigate the issue of the Russians in Hungary. India’s ambassador in Washington, Gaganvihari Mehta, kept Nehru informed of the “deep concern” created by India’s abstention on the resolution condemning the Soviet Union for its use of force in Hungary. Paul Hoffman, a member of the US delegation to the General Assembly and a close personal friend of President Eisenhower, requested Mehta to convey his message to Nehru that by abstention “an opportunity was missed by you to stand firmly with President Eisenhower against the use of force in the settlement of international disputes and against intervention by a foreign power in the internal affairs of other nations.” Hoffman made an “earnest request” that the prime minister and the Indian delegation in the United Nations unequivocally condemn “Soviet armed intervention and repression in Hungary.”67 India’s silence on Hungary, compared with its vehement denunciation of armed intervention by Britain and France in Egypt, created considerable feeling in the United States that India was adopting a double standard in the two crises that raised the same fundamental issue of strong powers using armed force against weak states. Nehru’s instruction not to condemn the Soviet government until India received further information meant, in practice, accepting the version of events requested from the Soviet Union. New Delhi had in fact received a great deal of information from its diplomats at embassies and legations in Belgrade, Vienna, Moscow, and Budapest. All of these sources broadly agreed that the revolt in Hungary was a spontaneous nationalist uprising expressing hatred of Soviet domination and had been crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. These assessments were very similar to those of the United States conveyed from Washington. The Soviet Union’s account of the events in Hungary was presented in a note by Bulganin to Nehru on November 8, 1956, the same day that Ambassador Mehta forwarded Paul Hoffman’s message requesting India to unequivocally condemn Soviet intervention and repression in Hungary. Bulganin’s version of what had happened, written in the style of standard communist ideology, acknowledged the political mistakes and economic difficulties of the leadership in Hungary that provoked discontent across the different strata of the population. His account then diverged from the generally accepted understanding of a nationalist uprising against Soviet control to place the blame for violence on reactionary elements supported by outsiders influenced by Western countries. According to Bulganin, the Soviet Union had initially supported the reformers seeking to correct the government’s mistakes, but reactionary elements “led by the counter-​revolutionary underground” and the “Horthy-​fascist elements” were trying to “establish a fascist dictatorship in the country.” The Soviet note said that many officers had returned from Western countries where they had



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been preparing for subversive activities against the people’s Hungary. They drew armed groups into the streets of Budapest and provoked mass disorder. The Hungarian government, under the Warsaw treaty, requested the Soviet government to bring in its military and secure order, which the Soviet government could not refuse to do. Once the Soviet troops were withdrawn from Budapest, the reactionary elements, with captured weapons, turned on “honest Hungarian patriots filling the streets of Budapest with hanged bodies of democratic leaders and workers.” The honest patriots left the Nagy government and went over to Janos Kadar to preserve the democratic achievements of the Hungarian people. The Kadar government then asked the USSR government for Soviet troops to prevent a fascist coup d’état. “This is the objective picture of the developments in Hungary.”68 Bulganin did not offer any evidence for this version of events. His account was probably predictable given Soviet suspicions of Western intentions and concerns that the Hungarian revolution could go too far in endangering national security by demands for independence from Soviet control. An interpretation implicating Western subversive elements helped to deflect blame onto outside influences and justify unleashing the war-​fighting weapons of the Soviet army against mainly unarmed rebels. More remarkable than Bulganin’s note was the reaction to it of Nehru and Menon. Both followed Bulganin’s version of events, in its essentials, to argue that Hungary’s government had become engulfed in a civil war rather than a nationalist revolution against Soviet domination. The implication, made explicit by the Soviet government, was that the conflict should be understood as an internal matter of Hungary and not a question for the United Nations. Nehru, on November 9, told a meeting of the executive committee of the ruling Congress Party (the All-​India Congress Committee) that what happened in Hungary was a civil conflict. When the government lost control of the situation and there was a good deal of “mutual killing,” different Hungarian governments, on two occasions, invited Russian forces to come in and put down the disturbances. Nehru said, “I am giving the facts, without any comment.”69 Ambassador Mehta, in a second letter to Nehru on November 9, wrote out of his sense of duty to make clear how disturbed India’s “sincere friends” were about the different standards being applied to Western aggression and to Soviet aggression. He spelled out the main point of criticism about the “central fact” that Soviet forces had brutally crushed a national popular uprising, and that “no amount of instigation from outside could have built up the spirit of resistance to such a pitch.” Mehta worried that India’s international position achieved under Nehru’s leadership on “our moral stand” would be diminished “if the feeling grows that we use different yard-​sticks to measure the actions of the Russians





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and those of the West.” He was “immensely” distressed by the discussion and voting in the General Assembly on November 9.70 Krishna Menon, handling two further resolutions on Hungary in the United Nations, both dated November 9, made so many specious arguments that many enraged Americans concluded that India had lost any moral authority to claim an impartial role in conflicts between the two blocs. Menon went beyond Nehru’s instructions not to vote for a resolution on Hungary condemning the Soviet Union for intervention to vote against a resolution sponsored by Cuba, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, and Peru, which called for withdrawal of Soviet forces and free elections in Hungary once law and order was restored. India was among the nine nations voting against, with the Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia. Menon’s rationalization for not abstaining revealed his fixation on Pakistan. He cabled the Ministry of External Affairs that the resolution was a “Pakistan propagandist initiative to show they were different from most of the rest of the Asians,” who had abstained on the resolution of November 4, and also on the joint resolution of November 9. “Simple abstention by us on the Pakistan resolution would not have sufficed.”71 Menon’s argument in debate asserted the “Pakistan” resolution demanded action and “cut across” the Assembly’s previous resolution asking for an inquiry into the events in Hungary. Menon next led the Indian delegation to abstain on a resolution sponsored by the United States for the distribution of food and medical supplies urgently needed by the civilian population in Hungary. The United States refused to accept amendments to remove condemnatory language, and alleged obstruction by Russia and Hungary, which Russia denied and for which “we have nothing but the U.S. statement.”72 For all of Menon’s mental acrobatics, his true position on Hungary was that “under the treaties Russia has the right and the obligation to prevent the return of fascism to Hungary. It may be mentioned that Spain and Italy are the foremost supporters of military intervention in Hungary.”73 Menon also wrote a personal telegram to Nehru saying, “There is little doubt that the Hungarian counter-​revolutionaries with considerable U.S.A. and European interventionist assistance were planning a major coup.”74 The English and French forces withdrew from Egypt after announcing a ceasefire on November 6, shortly after Bulganin warned the situation could lead to war. The Israelis pulled out their forces from the Sinai and Gaza in response to US pressure. India played almost no role in the final resolution of Suez, left to the superpowers that used the leverage of threatening force, or of withholding protection. An idea of what India lost by its decision to offer blind support for the Soviet version of events in Hungary is suggested in a telegram to the Security Council from the US labor leader Walter Reuther, regarded as a friend of India. Reuther observed, “Had the Government of India spoken out forthrightly against invasion of human rights by the Soviet Union in Hungary, its



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position and role as a spokesman for justice in international relations would have been heightened beyond measure . . . a timely forthright statement by Mr. Nehru would have demonstrated to the leaders of the Soviet Union that the voice of Asia needs to be reckoned with in those countries.”75

Eisenhower’s Overture to Nehru The timing of a meeting between Eisenhower and Nehru to informally discuss matters of importance to both countries, originally broached in the summer of 1955 and subsequently delayed by President Eisenhower’s illness, finally was scheduled in March 1956 and took place in mid-​December 1956, at the tail end of the crises in Suez and Hungary. President Eisenhower, resolute in his determination that the (then) four hundred million people of India should never be allowed to come within the communist orbit, stuck to his original plan of making an unprecedented attempt to establish personal rapport with Nehru. Eisenhower’s own account of Nehru’s visit best provides an understanding of the limitations of accomplishing such a breakthrough. Like many Americans, Eisenhower thought Nehru was ambiguous, sometimes exasperating, and somewhat inexplicable. Eisenhower’s effort to engage Nehru in completely private talks at his farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was remarkable. He set aside the most time he had spent with any foreign visitor, inspiring comparisons in the American press with the wartime, one-​on-​one meetings of Roosevelt and Churchill. The discussions at the farm took up much of December 17 and part of the next morning. The fourteen hours of conversation, filling fourteen pages of notes, did not lead to any revelations. Nehru was more vehement in expressing his horror at the Russian intervention in Hungary, but Eisenhower could not get his guest to agree that the objectives of the West and those of the Russians were quite different, and that the forceful domination by Russia of Eastern Europe was far more alarming than a few vestiges of Western colonialism. Nor would Nehru concur that it was impossible to trust the word of the Russians and that agreements only could be carried out when the West had the ability to enforce them. Nehru repeated his commitment to neutralism, defining it as an aloof position from power combinations, and illustrated the advantage of neutrality when it came to dealing with China across their eighteen hundred miles of common border that otherwise India would need to be prepared to defend. On subjects ranging over socialism, partition, Pakistan, and a divided Germany, Eisenhower tried but made no real progress in creating a sympathetic understanding for the threats perceived by the United States. Similarly, Nehru did not dent the president’s worldview that the overarching threat for all nations in the





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free world was the Soviet Union’s drive for world domination. Eisenhower, nevertheless “liked Nehru” and concluded, like Acheson, that while Nehru was difficult to understand, he sincerely wanted to help his people and was essential to his nation. Nehru’s suspicions of US policies that could undermine India’s autonomy in economic or foreign policy did not diminish. Although India was faced with a potentially crippling foreign exchange shortage for its Second Five-​Year Plan, India’s ambassador to Washington, B. K. Nehru, a cousin of the prime minister, could not understand Nehru’s anti-​American feelings and refusal to consider any arrangement of bilateral economic assistance from the United States. It was President Eisenhower who prevailed in getting approval of the National Security Council to find a way to assist India that reflected the fundamental objectives of the United States to avert a situation of millions of starving people vulnerable to Soviet domination and which private enterprise was unable to confront.76 In August 1958 Nehru was persuaded that a proposal under World Bank auspices for an Aid-​to-​India Consortium, involving thirteen countries led by the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, would satisfy his condition of aid without strings. The consortium, which met annually to set the amount of foreign exchange costs to be provided by the World Bank and each member country, allowed India to receive nonproject loans that reached over $1 billion annually until the mid-​1960s, underwriting the foreign exchange costs of major projects, most of which were in the public sector. The bulk of American aid went to fertilizer plants, large-​scale irrigation, power and electrification, dairy development, agricultural extension, and establishment of agricultural universities. In 1963, India and the United States signed a thirty-​year agreement for cooperation in the development of atomic power. The president’s decision to accept India’s invitation to dedicate the US exhibition at the World Agricultural Fair in New Delhi in December 1959—​the impetus for an eleven-​nation visit allowing five days in India—​produced an ease of communication with Nehru that the president believed also deepened understanding between the two governments. President Eisenhower’s experiences had been overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands of people spontaneously welcomed him at the airport, offered garlands of flowers, and shouted greetings in what Nehru described as the largest demonstration since Independence Day. Eisenhower addressed a joint session of the Indian parliament to an ovation and after formally opening the World Agricultural Fair, traveled to the Taj Mahal as well as to a small impoverished village close by. Returning to New Delhi for a civic reception, the audience seated in the field was again over five hundred thousand. At a private dinner, Nehru talked of India’s “history, her needs, her principal problems, both domestic and foreign and of his hopes for her. His views were palpably honest and sincere.” Eisenhower said that during his stay in



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India he “constantly asked [himself], who could possibly be qualified to take Mr. Nehru’s position if he should be forced to give up?”77 Eisenhower’s respect for Nehru’s indispensable leadership of India was different from the “chemistry” and “warm affection” that he experienced for President Ayub on the same trip during their meeting in Pakistan. The US president still could not understand the reasons why Nehru at times trod the communist line. He was completely unable to comprehend Nehru’s confidence in V. K. Krishna Menon, who “appeared to have more respect for Communist doctrine than for Western culture, government or leaders.”



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Nehru’s policy of nonalignment had always rested on the assumptions of “Asianism.” These assumptions were of two major powers in Asia—​India and China—​that historically had coexisted peacefully, shared experiences of suffering under colonialism, and would be able to resolve their dispute over the legality of the McMahon Line through diplomatic methods. As the weaker of the two, India under Nehru set out to conciliate China by showing unwavering support for its claim to be treated as a great power in the United Nations as well as a major power in regional forums, most notably at Bandung, without always appreciating how China’s growing prestige could overshadow India’s. Nehru’s underlying belief that he could lead by example and exercise moral leadership among newly independent nations appears to have sustained a sense of superiority to China like that he felt toward the United States. In any case, he never conceded that India could be considered of lesser importance than China based on the military disparity between them. The notion that the border dispute could be settled short of war was what made the policy of nonalignment possible. It preserved India’s ability to offer itself as an intermediary in conflicts between the West and the communist bloc without having to rely on the United States for support. As border clashes broke out between India and China in Ladakh and the Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1959, and each country rejected the protests of the other, India used uncompromising language telling the Chinese to withdraw before there could be negotiations about disputed areas. At that time, Nehru was confident that both the Soviet Union and the United States were vying for India’s support and that China would not go too far and risk the condemnation of world opinion. Nehru’s unwillingness to recognize that China might attack to enforce its border claims stemmed partly from his conviction that the Chinese were raising difficulties in response to India’s decision granting asylum to the Dalai Lama and some of his followers after revolts broke out against the Chinese invasion of Tibet and “reforms” threatened the traditional religious hierarchy of society. When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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India’s explanation to China that New Delhi was unaware of the Dalai Lama’s movements until he reached the border and then was granted asylum under international usage had no effect on China’s suspicions that India was trying to weaken the links between Tibet and China to restore its own privileged position under the raj. Another cluster of considerations, more deeply rooted, reinforced Nehru’s view that the Chinese did not pose an imminent threat on the border. He had been led by Zhou Enlai to think that China had not had time to revise its “old” maps and, while insisting that the McMahon Line was illegal, would never cross it: Indian troops had reached the line and the China-​India friendship had to be preserved. Apart from Zhou’s assurances, Nehru believed that China, like India, needed a decade or more to concentrate on economic development, and that China’s leaders, both Mao and Zhou Enlai, were grateful to him for easing the way out of their country’s isolation at Geneva and Bandung. Only a few years earlier, in October 1954, Nehru had been received by Mao and Zhou in Beijing in what India’s ambassador, Nedyam Raghavan, had called the most rousing reception ever arranged for a foreign visitor by any country. His mistaken inference was that China had accepted India’s leading role in Southeast Asia. Krishna Menon took his lead from Nehru. His assessment, guided by ideology, made him even more certain that China, as a communist country, would never attack. This assumption, shared by Nehru and Menon, became the guiding principle of India’s border policy and most disastrously, of the Forward Policy, adopted in 1962, until the Chinese crossed the McMahon Line in force on October 20, 1962. Both Nehru and Menon, moreover, could never have publicly conceded the possibility of an attack by China. Open conflict would topple the cornerstone of India’s claim to act as an intermediary between the West and the communist bloc, especially China, destroying the rationale of nonalignment. Giving up nonalignment would leave India without any independent international role and make it reliant for military support on the United States, made clear after the USSR declared its neutrality on the border dispute. Even admitting that China was an expansionist power, which Nehru realized in personal correspondence, meant that India would have to seek military assistance, including modern equipment for border troops, from the United States, shattering the foundational principle of Asianism as the underpinning of nonalignment. Unlike Menon, Nehru was not guided by ideology, but by history. He knew that China had been expansionist in the past under a strong central government, and its unification under Mao presented the possibility of a long-​term threat along the borders. He observed that China was emerging as a great power and would increase in strength, writing to V.  T. Krishnamachari, then deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, on November 26, 1959, after the border





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clashes at Longju and Kongka Pass, that he had little doubt the situation on the border would not improve “for some years to come” and that it “may of course grow much worse.” He believed that “defense has become more important.”1 He even agreed, “on the whole,” with the World War II British commander, Field Marshal Montgomery, in his assessment, when he visited New Delhi in October 1959, that China was past the stage where it could be suppressed. Nehru shared Montgomery’s note with senior officials in the MEA, including his prediction that China, with its great population and industrial advance, would become, over time, the strongest power in the world.2 Nehru was left to wrestle with the dilemma that proved to be unsolvable. On the one hand, India must not surrender to Chinese claims, which he believed reflected recent advances in Ladakh and had no historical basis in NEFA. On the other, India had to remember that “China is our permanent neighbor and to invite trouble from China is wisdom neither in the present nor in the future.”3 Since this had been the basic assumption underlying India’s friendly policy toward China from the time that the CCP had taken power in Beijing in 1949, he warned that India could not be swept away by public excitement over the border incidents into any “adventurist line of action” but had to build its industrial strength, “which can be reflected in the defense forces.”4 He envisaged another decade or more that could be spent removing the institutional obstacles to economic growth and closing the industrial gap with China. Nehru thereby pushed the concern over a possible collision comfortably into the future.5

Nehru and Krishna Menon At the time, in September 1959, when Zhou Enlai first made clear that China regarded its border with India as the boundary drawn on its “old” maps, Nehru had a very small circle of advisers whom he consulted on foreign policy. Krishna Menon had no formal position in the MEA, which continued to be wary of his pro-​communist and pro-​China sympathies, but Nehru had ensured his power in the cabinet when he appointed Menon defense minister in 1957, after putting his personal prestige and political weight behind Menon’s election to parliament from the Bombay constituency. Moreover, Nehru extended Menon’s reach even into MEA when he instructed the foreign secretary, Subimal Dutt, to circulate all telegrams concerning the MEA to him. The main counterbalance to Menon on policy toward China over the border dispute was exercised by the home minister, Pandit Pant, the last towering leader of the independence movement and the linchpin of Congress politics in India’s largest state (Uttar Pradesh). After Pant’s death in March 1961, however, there was no one between Menon and Nehru.



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Initially, Menon’s appointment as defense minister was welcomed by the army. His high profile in the press as leader of India’s UN delegation gave credibility to his image as champion of India’s national interests. Lieutenant General K. S. Thimayya, who became chief of the army staff (COAS) at roughly the same time Menon joined the cabinet, was aware of his pro-​communist sympathies but assumed he would have an ally in the defense minister as he attempted to win Nehru’s support for building up the strength of the army after border clashes with China erupted. Thimayya, however, never understood the unusual interdependence of the two men. It is clear why Menon was dependent upon Nehru. Distrusted by the MEA as biased in favor of the communists, he had to rely for support on his friendship with the prime minister for all assignments on foreign policy, his chosen interest. As noted in ­chapter 1, Nehru had designated Menon his personal representative in June 1946 against opposition from the British-​run External Affairs Department, but without official status and in an honorary capacity. Even after Nehru appointed Menon high commissioner to Great Britain in 1947, seemingly addressing the problem of official standing, Menon worried that senior Indian officials were acting against him, and that Nehru, with his enormous burdens as prime minister and Congress Party president, no longer could reciprocate the devotion that Menon believed they had shared from the 1930s. This was the time when Menon had been Nehru’s intermediary with the publishing world in London, and the untiring publicist for the nationalist movement and India’s independence. Ideologically, Nehru, then in his most radical phase, contemplating a political partnership with communist-​led agrarian movements in India against Gandhi’s wishes, also found a political soul mate in Menon. The two men traveled to Spain to witness the resistance to a fascist takeover during the Spanish Civil War. Krishna Menon’s breakdown in September 1950 left him totally dependent on Nehru’s intervention to salvage his position and reputation. Menon’s personal situation seemed dire. He was virtually subsisting on tea, confined to his bed in the office of the high commissioner, and dependent on stimulants for energy. In one scandalous incident, he had emerged from seclusion with his naked secretary, Kamala Jaspal, who was believed to be running the High Commissioner’s Office. M. O. Matthai, Nehru’s trusted personal secretary, sent by him to London, reported that Menon’s doctors very strongly recommended he should be relieved from his appointment, at least temporarily. Mountbatten, back in London, agreed that this was the best psychological help for him. But Nehru, aware that Menon “does not like the idea at all,” temporized. He sent senior officials from the Finance Ministry to oversee expenditures at the mission after complaints surfaced that the High Commissioner’s Office was not making available records required for audit by the Finance Ministry in New Delhi.





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Nehru postponed taking action until, as Mountbatten reported, Menon showed an “almost miraculous improvement” in clarity, logic, and behavior, pulling himself together until it was “too late” to request his resignation on grounds of ill health. More accurately, as Mountbatten noted, Menon refused to consider stepping down for reasons related to his health. Nehru would have had to dismiss him, an event involving a direct confrontation confirming that Menon no longer had the prime minister’s confidence. Unwillingness by Nehru to treat Menon as he would have another high commissioner in the same circumstances signaled the onset of a tortuous relationship. Menon became adept at emotionally manipulating Nehru, whom he privately criticized for retreating from his socialist convictions to maintain support with more conservative colleagues in the government and the Congress Party, as well as with senior administrative officials who had served the British. This had led to destructive arguments, made worse for Menon by Nehru’s disappointment in him after his breakdown when he concluded “the quality of work” by Menon was lowered.6 It is less easy to fully understand Nehru’s strong bond with Menon. The friendship had its roots in the 1930s, when Menon established the India League in London, attracted advocates of India’s independence from among left intellectuals and politicians, especially communists and more radical members of the Labour Party, and served as councilor in the local government of St. Pancras constituency. Menon’s ties to Labour Party politicians and the publishing world provided Nehru with a wide network of contacts when he visited London in 1934. One outcome was the publication of Toward Freedom, the cornerstone of Nehru’s international reputation as a writer and nationalist leader. Nehru and Menon kept up a correspondence until independence, and, through this time, Nehru relied upon Menon in discussions with the viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, on the critical issues of national unity (to avert balkanization), as well as the formula under which India entered the British Commonwealth by recognizing the king as a symbolic, but not formal, head of the association. It is fair to say that by the time of independence, Nehru had incurred a considerable personal and political debt to Menon. There seems, however, to have always been an asymmetrical emotional relationship. Menon, who never married and had no family except relatives in his native Kerala, considered Nehru the only person in India to whom he felt unconditionally attached. Nehru, for his part, had multiple loyalties: to his comrades in the nationalist movement; his colleagues in the government and the Congress Party; his family, including his sisters; his daughter Indira; and, after independence, his intimate friendship with Edwina Mountbatten. Menon was on that list but could not be his first priority.7



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As Menon put it, he always had to ask Nehru for any position he wanted, and that had included his initial designation as Nehru’s personal representative in 1946. After independence, the close friendship, based on intellectual affinities, provided a safe space in which Nehru could freely express his socialist sympathies without drawing criticism from long-​standing friends and colleagues. He also had the highest respect for what he considered Menon’s brilliant mind, as well as ability to live in near penury in London while he propagated the cause of India’s independence. Even as high commissioner, Menon did not draw down his salary and kept a bedsit in his old working-​class neighborhood. He deliberately cultivated the image of self-​sacrifice, keeping his chauffeur-​driven Rolls Royce, but asking the driver to drop him a block away from his rooming house. His expensive parties and expanding staff were duly noted in London. When Nehru’s commitment to a socialistic pattern of society and to nonalignment found only tepid support inside the Congress Party—​Nehru was indispensable not because of his policies but because of his mass support that allowed Congress to win national elections—​criticism of Menon was often perceived by him as criticism of his own core policies. Nehru remained convinced that Menon had done an “amazingly” good job politically and diplomatically in London before his illness, and that his “keener intelligence and brain” put him “head and shoulders above others.” At the same time, Nehru was aware that Menon was “self-​willed, self-​opinionated, highly sensitive and difficult to get on with.” He was also on guard that Menon should not again succumb to “excitement,” which is how he referred to the possibility of another breakdown. He wrote to B. G. Kher, Menon’s successor as high commissioner in London, As you have no doubt realized Krishna Menon is a person who is full of internal conflicts and is mentally rather ill. . . . He can be exceedingly useful because of his great ability, but his mental distress and difficulty have come in the way of his being useful.8 One immediate problem was the “Jeeps Scandal.” This received extensive coverage in the press from April 1951 and confronted Nehru with embarrassing disclosures about the procurement practices for defense supplies of jeeps and ammunition under Menon at the High Commission. Since records of these purchases had to be submitted to the director of audit in the Finance Ministry and presented to parliament, the failure of the High Commissioner’s Office to make papers available resulted in a long-​running scandal. Not only had Menon personally approved of contracts with Marshall Cornwall & Company, a financially strapped distributor, to supply these items, but when the jeeps reached India they were rejected by the army as used vehicles rather than the new jeeps the High Commission had been authorized to procure. This put the government





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to significant extra expense to refit them and make them usable, leading to a lawsuit in England filed by the contracting company for payment, a case in which Menon was supposed to testify. Only in April 1960 was Nehru finally able to put the jeeps case behind him when it was settled out of court, ending the long-​ running investigation by the Public Accounts Committee, but his efforts to shield Menon exposed the favoritism to his friend. Menon finally stepped down as high commissioner on July 4, 1952, having completed five years of what appeared publicly as a full term. Yet Nehru had been shocked to see Menon in London, in Paris, and on a leave in Delhi when he “could not function normally” and had to be “quite rightly often in bed.”9 Nehru’s letters to Menon saying unambiguously that he should go on leave and seek treatment had gone unanswered. When Menon did return to Delhi, with no official position, feeling that he had become an embarrassment to Nehru and that a “whispering campaign” was underway to impugn his integrity after the Jeeps Scandal, his sense of futility led him to go back to London and live frugally at the India Club on the Strand for as long as possible. This escape was closed off when B. G. Kher made it clear to Nehru that he could not function effectively as high commissioner so long as Menon was in London and in touch with his own network of British government officials, creating the sense of two centers of authority from India. Menon applied emotional pressure on Nehru. He periodically sent long, handwritten letters (marked “For Himself, Personal and Confidential”) hinting at suicide. Saying he was “finished” and wanted to “fade away” and that his detractors were intent on isolating him from Nehru’s “mind,” he managed to convey that his mental state would be improved by recognition of his services to India in a ministerial appointment. He offered to return to Delhi to lighten the burdens on Nehru by providing him with useful counsel and help in foreign affairs and defense. Nehru did not want Menon to feel “let down.” He tried to find a place for him that would confer prestige without the burdens of administration and financial responsibilities he had been unable to handle in London. Menon turned down the suggestion that he become vice chancellor of Delhi University and preempted an official offer he believed would be made of ambassador to the Soviet Union. He further refused an appointment to the Planning Commission that carried cabinet rank. Although it was believed Menon would be appointed minister of external affairs after the 1955 Bandung Conference, when Nehru floated this idea with his colleagues, it was clear that Menon was not considered acceptable. Those who knew about Menon’s breakdown—​a small circle, including M.  O. Mathai, Nehru’s private secretary, the Mountbattens, Finance Minister C.  D. Desmukh, a few senior officials in the Finance Ministry, and others following the Jeeps Scandal—​recommended he would make a useful ambassador-​at-​large



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preparing reports for the MEA on conditions in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia, about which India’s fledging diplomats knew very little. This was the general approach Nehru took. He asked Menon to insert India’s views at the 1954 Geneva Conference (from which the United States had excluded India largely in response to the “Menon Cabal” at the United Nations after Korea). Menon accompanied Nehru to Bandung in 1955, where Zhou Enlai, on his own initiative, invited Menon to Beijing for further talks. Nehru also decided to entrust Krishna Menon with “U.N. matters,” as a member of the Indian delegation, something he told Nehru he would do since the prime minister wished it but would not have chosen for himself, making clear that he had assumed the offer was to be head of the delegation. At the time, Nehru’s sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, was the leader of the India delegation. She provided Nehru with detailed reports on how Menon operated in Nehru’s name, still introducing himself as his personal representative—​he had represented himself to Zhou Enlai at Bandung as Nehru’s official spokesman. She herself had been completely outmaneuvered. Menon functioned as a “one man team” and was “allotting work subject wise in Committees so he could speak on every important subject himself.” When Mrs. Pandit advised “embittered” members, frustrated that they were denied an opportunity to make any contribution, to bring up the matter at a delegation meeting, they demurred, saying that “they were afraid to do this since you had such a high regard for Krishna.”10 By this time, Menon was considered the de facto foreign minister, and became the leader of the Indian delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1958. The question remains why Nehru, knowing more than anyone else the serious limitations of Menon’s mental instability, controlling style, and inability to accommodate the reasonable expectations of others, should have appointed Menon defense minister. This decision, it is clear, had nothing to do with Menon’s knowledge, or experience, on issues of national defense. A vacancy in that position, which Nehru himself had temporarily filled, presented an opportunity to address Menon’s dissatisfaction, while keeping him close by—​Menon, in fact, lived in a house allotted to him by M. O. Matthai in the prime minister’s compound and meant for his staff affiliated with the MEA. There was less opposition to his appointment as defense minister than as minister of external affairs, where even-​handedness in disputes between the superpowers was needed to implement the guiding policy of nonalignment. In 1957, by contrast, defense was considered a relatively low priority. No threat was envisaged on India’s northern border, and little thought was given to the idea that India needed to build up its own armed forces against aggression by a neighbor. Nehru could look forward to talks with Menon, during which he relaxed and might freely express his own suspicions of the United States.





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After it became clear that China would reject India’s claims to the McMahon Line border in NEFA and its map-​drawn boundary in the western sector of Kashmir as lines imposed by British imperialism, the paramount question was how to interpret Chinese motivations. Could the dispute be settled by compromise, or would the Chinese use their superior PLA military presence in the area to enforce their own expansive claims? Krishna Menon, who had implemented Nehru’s policy in advocating for China’s admission to the United Nations in place of Taiwan, had been flattered by Zhou Enlai’s invitation, after Bandung, to enter discussions in Beijing aimed at finding a formula to bring the United States into talks for transferring Quemoy and Matsu to China pending US recognition of Formosa as part of China. Menon justified his role as intermediary to Nehru by discounting the question of which side was right and which side was wrong to make it a question on which India could promote its leadership of Asianism and avoid war. When President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles made clear that India was badly overestimating its influence on sparking a US-​China dialogue on an issue of America’s acute national interest, Menon’s own prestige as the indispensable negotiator who enjoyed the confidence of both sides was punctured. Both his personal interest in remaining acceptable to China as an interlocutor and his anti-​American political ideology reinforced his conviction that China, as a communist state, would never attack. This perspective was the one he shared with Nehru at a time when the prime minister felt he could not trust himself on issues relating to China for lack of detailed knowledge, which he considered Menon to possess, after his talks with Zhou Enlai at Geneva and in Beijing. Nehru did nothing to shift Menon from the defense portfolio even when he realized that defense had become very important. As a result, the two most powerful men in the cabinet responsible for external affairs and defense, the prime minister and his defense minister, believed that the only threat to peace in Asia came from the United States, SEATO, and, most especially, Pakistan, armed by the United States.

Conflict between Krishna Menon and Lieutenant General K. S. Thimayya The only voice able to contradict Nehru and Krishna Menon in arguing that the northern border had to be defended against the near-​term possibility of attack by China was that of K. S. Thimayya, appointed COAS in March 1957, a month before Krishna Menon was elevated by Nehru to minister of defense. Thimayya, called Timmy by all ranks in the Indian Army, was India’s fourth



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COAS and held in high esteem among the service chiefs. He had commanded a battalion in the last year of World War II and was the only Indian officer to have commanded a brigade following the surrender of Japan. Mountbatten, who accepted the Japanese surrender in Burma, called Thimayya the equal of the best field commanders he had known. More than once, he recommended Thimayya to Nehru as a future chief of the general staff, hoping that Nehru would see the wisdom of reorganizing the services to create a central command for coordinating the army, navy, and air force in strategic planning. Nehru chose not to follow Mountbatten’s advice, leaving the Ministry of Defense as the superior authority in all aspects of defense planning. Nehru was favorably disposed toward Thimayya. He had served after independence on Mountbatten’s Nationalization Committee and the Punjab Boundary Force and was charged with driving the Pakistani raiders out from the Srinigar Division in Kashmir under General Cariappa’s command. In 1953, Nehru turned to Thimayya to become chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) in Korea, a post in which he scrupulously followed Nehru’s instruction to demonstrate India was neutral. President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, as well as Zhou Enlai and Kim Il-​sung, expressed appreciation to the Indian government, thereby elevating Thimayya to a status of “solider statesman.”11 Thimayya’s private opinion about the Chinese, however, was considerably different from what he felt could be published in the official NNRC report. He did not trust the Chinese after his experience in Korea and was concerned by their behavior in Tibet. He used the opportunity of his appointment to army commander, Western Command, with responsibility extending to Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh, to encourage the collection of military intelligence in an effort to assess Chinese strength in Aksai Chin. As asserted by Sidney Wignall, who led the 1955  “lightweight” mountaineering expedition to climb the highest peak in Tibet and entered illegally without a permit from China, his mission was to gather photographic information (in the period before aerial surveillance) about the Xinjiang-​Tibet road, then under construction, and the Chinese buildup in Tibet. His contact was an Indian Army officer at the Indian High Commission in London. Wignall was told he was one of “Timmy’s boys” and wrote that Thimayya “set in motion intelligence-​gathering operations to obtain proof the Chinese were building up a huge army in Tibet and had ambitions to wrest territory from India by force if necessary.”12 Khanduri had a different version and says Thimayya had sent an officer patrol, including Wignall, a “volunteer US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent,” into the area to ascertain the alignment of the Xinjiang-​Tibet road.13 Almost immediately after crossing into Tibet from Nepal, Wignall and two companions were arrested as CIA spies by Chinese troops at Taklakot near





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Gartok in west Tibet, along the planned route of the Xinjiang-​Tibet strategic highway. Nevertheless, he managed to complete his intelligence assignment, relying on information unwittingly provided by a Chinese prison guard and the local Chinese commander charged with his interrogation.14 This information, which he committed to scraps of toilet paper and cigarette wrappers from his cell, was that the strategic highway would reach Taklakot in two years, that is, 1957, and that the Chinese claimed as part of China the Aksai Chin plateau, all of NEFA as part of Tibet, as well as parts of the border between Pakistan and Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, and an area of northern Burma.15 Wignall’s intention, from the beginning, was to pass the information through his contacts in the Indian Army to Nehru. He had been told that after the 1954 Sino-​Indian agreement on Tibet, in which India recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet, the Nehru government instructed military intelligence not to gather information on the Chinese presence across the Tibetan border. Wignall’s Indian Army contact blamed Nehru and “that extremely vindictive man Krishna Menon” for directing the army to concentrate on Pakistan while dismissing any threat from the Chinese.16 When, in December 1955, Wignall and his companions were released by the Chinese in response to international pressure from the United Kingdom, supported by India and Nepal, and were told to trek back to India during the winter when snow closed the mountain passes, it is probable the Chinese expected them to die. When Wignall appeared in New Delhi at the Ministry of External Affairs to express thanks to Prime Minister Nehru and the government for their efforts to secure his release, the official he met (who is not named in the documents) said only that he had caused the government considerable embarrassment given the excellent relations between India and China.17 His Indian Army contact, for whom he had written out the information gathered from Tibet, believed that Thimayya could make Nehru understand the threat, but he would not have any luck with Menon: “Menon adores China, Mao Tse-​tung and Chou-​lai.”18 Thimayya’s relationship with Krishna Menon, his civilian superior, could never have been easy. Menon, who had spent twenty-​three years in London living in penurious circumstances to agitate among leftist British intellectuals and politicians for Indian independence, viewed senior Indian military officers and bureaucrats (with the exception of G. S. Bajpai) with suspicion for their service to the British. It is not clear if he was familiar with Wignall’s expedition or Thimayya’s interest in collecting intelligence in Tibet, and it does not seem that Wignall’s information ever reached Nehru or, if it did, it had been dismissed as an effort by the CIA to upset relations between India and China. Even so, Thimayya’s international reputation and popularity within the army put Menon on guard that he could orchestrate a coup, like Ayub Khan the one had staged in Pakistan in November 1958, a warning he often repeated to Nehru.



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Tension between Thimayya and Menon arose directly from their conflicting views of the threat from China. Thimayya’s effort was to assess the readiness of the Indian Army to meet a potential Chinese attack and to prepare a defensive military strategy that made best use of the limited resources available. Several shortcomings were obvious. There was virtually no physical presence by Indian patrols in the uninhabited area of Aksai Chin. Official recommendations to build roads to the border from 1951, reinforced by Nehru in 1954, had not been implemented. Force levels remained stagnant at seven divisions with primary responsibility for the Pakistan border, and the army’s weapons and equipment were obsolete. War games, one in the eastern sector and one in the western sector, concluded that “with the troops, equipment and communications available at that time, it was difficult to contain or even delay any aggression by China.”19 Thimayya briefed Nehru and Menon in a meeting on May 10, 1957, saying the Chinese could not be trusted and would be able to “play their checkers” over the 3,500 km of border with larger forces, better roads, improved logistics, and more landing areas. He recommended that India take up defensive measures immediately.20 In early June 1957, when aerial reconnaissance confirmed the alignment of the Aksai Chin road and the Chinese military buildup, information Wignall had uncovered some eighteen months earlier, Nehru asked Thimayya about the strategic importance of the road. Thimayya pointed out that China could more easily transfer troops from Xinjiang and Tibet to India’s northern borders and recommended the army take over the defense of Ladakh and move to defensible areas. This line of reasoning was rejected by Menon, who told Thimayya to ignore China and focus on the enemy on the other side.21 Thimayya persisted in arguing for a buildup of three divisions against the threat from China and Pakistan, the first armed by the Soviets and the second by the United States. Against China, he also highlighted the need to acquire semiautomatic rifles, medium-​range guns, and warm clothing for high altitudes. Projections by Army Headquarters for the higher force level, including training and deployment, along with budgetary estimates, meant to achieve parity with China on the border, reached Menon in May 1959. They were accompanied with recommendations to equip all forces with modern weapons and the development of roads on a priority basis. Menon did not respond. As far as modern equipment was concerned, Menon cited foreign exchange shortages in arguing against imports (which would have had to come from the United States) to make up the deficiencies. He stood by his own priority of indigenous production, ignoring the long lead time that service chiefs estimated at about ten years. He repeated his underlying assumption that the Chinese would not attack.22 Tensions between the service chiefs and Menon heightened. Unlike Nehru, they





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questioned how “brilliant” Menon could be when he did not understand military strategy or tactics. Thimayya also developed another concern. This was Menon’s manipulation of the Selection Board recommendations for promotion to lieutenant general, a board which Thimayya had chaired. Lieutenant General B. N. Kaul, who had no combat experience and whose recommendation had been intended as a formality, behind two other candidates, was moved into a position to fill one of two vacancies available. Kaul, a distant relative of Nehru and considered to be close to him, was pulled into place for senior command, loyal to Menon. The press and the Opposition criticized Menon for interfering with army promotions, prompting General Cariappa to write Nehru about the dissatisfaction among some senior officers that politics was getting into the army.23 Counting on his good relations with Nehru, Thimayya still thought he could persuade him of the danger from China and the unpreparedness of the army to meet an attack. Taking advantage of Menon’s absence from New Delhi, he and the service chiefs decided that Thimayya should ask for an appointment with Nehru. At the meeting, Thimayya expressed his professional judgment based on knowledge of Chinese military capabilities: Actions to further enlarge [the Chinese] area of occupation of Ladakh, and their ingression into UP, Sikkim and NEFA are probable. They are capable of playing Chinese Checkers with us by virtue of their road communications. Under the circumstance, we need to locate troops on most likely routes of ingress all over the 3,500 km of border.24 Thimayya reiterated that the growing threat on the borders made it inescapable for India to raise additional forces, equip them with modern weapons, and make road building a priority. He also told Nehru that Menon refused to see the threat from China and instructed the service chiefs to look west toward Pakistan. When Thimayya inquired about two sets of strategic analyses he had sent for Nehru that set out the threat and the force requirements to meet it, the prime minister did not remember seeing them—​making it probable that Menon had not passed them on. What Thimayya failed to recognize was that his military assessment could have been persuasive only if Nehru had been willing to change his political judgment that China would not attack—​the bedrock premise that Nehru and Menon shared. When Thimayya requested Nehru call Menon and convince him of the grave threat on the border so that the service chiefs could review the situation with him, the prime minister turned the request around. He insisted that Thimayya meet Menon first.



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The meeting between Thimayya and Menon, on August 21, 1959, precipitated Thimayya’s decision to resign.25 According to Khanduri’s account of the meeting, Thimayya started with a summary of his talk with Nehru but found that the defense minister did not want to engage on the substance of that discussion. Rather, Menon was angry that Thimayya had met Nehru without first asking for Menon’s permission. Menon called it “downright disloyalty and impropriety.” When Thimayya got up to leave, Menon shouted after him, “You are disloyal to me and I have no place for disloyal generals around.” Counseled to be cautious by senior colleagues and the two other service chiefs, Thimayya hesitated. Only days later, however, he was confronted by Menon again when he told the Second Defense Production Conference that the army’s urgent operational needs were being “ignored at the cost of services’ efficiency for war.” Menon, who had spoken before him and cited impressive statistics to show progress in the manufacture of armaments, told Thimayya that he did not want the suggestions of the service chiefs on defense production. He also rejected the need to raise more troops, saying Thimayya was exaggerating the threat. Thimayya’s letter of resignation, on August 31, 1959, started by reiterating that he and the other two Chiefs of Staff found it impossible to carry out their responsibilities under the “present Defence Minister.”26 He wrote that he could not carry out his duties as chief of the army staff and had no alternative but to resign. Even then, Nehru did not deal with the implications of Thimayya’s resignation, either to accept it and acknowledge the different viewpoints about China it represented or to oust Menon, perhaps shifting him to another portfolio. Instead, anticipating an outcry in the press after the reactions to Kaul’s promotion and the possibility that all three service chiefs would resign, he asked Thimayya to withdraw his resignation on the same day. Meanwhile, Nehru told the other two service chiefs that Thimayya had withdrawn his resignation. This had the desired effect of persuading them to back away from their prior commitment to resign in solidarity with Thimayya. Nehru proved correct that his personal appeal to Thimayya would persuade him to withdraw his resignation. The prime minister combined his request with assurances of remaining personally accessible to the COAS and the other service chiefs, explicitly mentioning that Krishna Menon would be at the United Nations for two or three months, so there would be no problems. Yet the prime minister’s statement to parliament the next day, as rumors about Thimayya’s resignation swirled through New Delhi, had the effect of putting Nehru’s weight behind Krishna Menon. Heaping praise on the defense minister but measured in his appreciation of Thimayya’s performance, Nehru made no mention of the differences between the two of them on the vital issue of the need to build up and equip the armed forces against the possibility of an attack by China. Unaccountably, he attributed Thimayya’s decision to resign to “temperamental”





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differences with Menon and expressed his own view that it had been “unwise” given the dangerous situation on the border. He spent most of his time dealing with the complaint about political interference in promotions and reviewing in great detail the strict rules governing selection posts filled on the basis of merit and not seniority alone. The reaction in the press was that Menon had won a big victory in parliament and that Thimayya had been humiliated. After the confrontation, Menon was more correct in his interactions with senior officers, observing protocol by not calling them to meaningless meetings at odd hours or calling junior officers directly to follow his instruction. The generals, for their part, demoralized by Thimayya’s decision to withdraw his resignation, learned not to think of bringing their concerns about the army’s unpreparedness for war to Nehru. They accepted that Menon was the final authority. Subsequently, Menon strengthened himself with the assistance of Kaul, bypassing Thimayya to the extent that Kaul began to operate as an alternate center of power. Nehru nevertheless kept his word on being accessible to Thimayya while Menon was in New  York. He accepted Thimayya’s recommendation to put NEFA under army control. He approved the raising of three more divisions in principle and had the Defense Ministry establish the Border Roads Organization with Menon’s active support and Kaul’s enthusiastic leadership. Nehru was so impressed by Kaul, whom he described as “a live wire,” that he seemed to accept his assurances the road-​building work, estimated by state governments to take about seven years, would be completed under his leadership in only two years.27 The prime minister was also open to Thimayya’s strategy of “dissuasion” that was meant to slow down a Chinese attack. This involved preparing bases to defend vital communications centers, places and passes on the lines of likely enemy ingress, and, as their supply lines lengthened, cutting their lines of communication. Thimayya warned that his strategy might require India to accept some initial losses of territory on the border, but would hamper a major offensive in depth, allowing the army to prepare a larger tactical presence and disrupt the enemy’s lines of communications in the long term. As with all of Thimayya’s recommendations, this strategy required immediately raising and equipping three divisions, which was estimated to take two to three years to build up with adequate infrastructure and communications, and with more to be phased in later. His most prescient advice was “We should look offensive only when we are capable of an offensive.”28 This was crucial because B. N. Mullik, the IB chief, was exerting pressure on Army Headquarters to deploy small units on the Chinese border. While Menon was in New York, Nehru deferred to Thimayya, accepting his military advice against deploying small numbers in “penny packets” or platoons (thirty men) that could be easily attacked and cause demoralization. The improved working relationship between Nehru and Thimayya that developed when Menon was in New York occurred while Menon was also being bypassed



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by his own Defense Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs, suggesting that Nehru was also growing cautious about his advice. Menon was blindsided when he read the news of the clash at Kongka Pass, saying he had no information from either ministry “as might have been expected.” Probing Nehru, he asked, “Unless there are directions to the contrary, should not at least Defense Ministry and Army Headquarters keep me informed about these developments?”29 When Krishna Menon returned to New Delhi in late December 1959, Nehru asked him to implement Thimayya’s recommendations but also said he had left some decisions on future raisings and the import of equipment to him.30 These were for phased raising of three divisions by the end of 1959, three to four more by 1961, and an additional three to four divisions by 1962, as well as plans to equip and deploy the forces. The recommendations had been reviewed by committees in the Defense Ministry, and the outlines had been summarized by Thimayya in long letters. Nehru, still believing the Chinese would not attack, failed to press for needed funds to implement the buildup. Menon resumed his tactics for weakening Nehru’s confidence in Thimayya’s judgment, saying the COAS was pro-​American for wanting to buy equipment abroad and was opposing the Forward Policy that Mullik continued to advocate. As Thimayya completed his full term in February 1961, Menon circulated rumors that he was planning a coup. His suspicions of Thimayya were so extreme that they recalled his fears, during his 1952 breakdown, of officials conspiring to isolate him from Nehru’s mind. Thimayya’s retirement allowed Lieutenant General Kaul to replace him as COAS with Lieutenant General P. N. Thapar over Thimayya’s objection. Thapar was less of a strategist than Lieutenant General S. P. P. Thorat, Thimayya’s choice, who had served with him in Korea and whose plan to slow down a Chinese attack below the border revolved around holding a defensive line, the approach favored by Thimayya. Subsequently, Kaul advanced senior officers loyal to himself at Army Headquarters. The only real chance India might have had to set a new military posture against the Chinese vanished. Bases along a defensive line further into Indian territory which would stretch China’s supply lines and provide Indian troops places on which to fall back when under attack were never established. New raisings were less than one division, modern equipment was not imported, troops were not acclimatized, and not even winter clothing was procured.

Border Conflict with China: Mirror Opposite Views Since Nehru and Menon had circumvented Lieutenant General Thimayya’s requests for a troop buildup and imports of modern equipment in favor of





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allocating funds and foreign exchange to the five-​year development plan, India remained unprepared to deal with the implications of the two border incidents at Longju in NEFA on August 26, 1959, and at Kongka Pass in Kashmir on October 20, 1959. The two clashes, in the east and in the west, signaled China’s challenge to India along the entire northern border. Nehru, already feeling defensive against criticism for “following weak policy on border issues and for trying to appease China,” avoided further inflaming public opinion, one sign of which was his instruction to Krishna Menon not to vote against a UN resolution to take up “The Question of Tibet” but to abstain.31 The clash at Longju turned out to be the template for border conflicts along the frontier. The border dispute, at bottom, was a question of sovereignty for each country. It indirectly raised the question of which one could claim to be the dominant nation in Asia: if one deferred to the other, it could signal acceptance of its rival’s claim. Both India and China pressed their claims based on what each said was its customary line according to history and tradition. At Longju, each side referred to its own map in claiming the other had committed aggression by crossing the boundary line into its own territory. The protests launched by each country against the other and the rejection of such protests, each by the other, provided mirror opposite views of what had occurred. India’s Ministry of External Affairs, reflecting Nehru’s conviction that there could be no doubt Longju was on India’s side of the McMahon Line and that China had taken “forcible possession,” saw the only “fair” solution” to be the withdrawal of Chinese troops in exchange for India’s promise not to reoccupy the post. The Chinese, however, refused to consider that such a solution could be fair, referring to Chinese maps that showed Longju and other Indian posts in the vicinity north of the McMahon Line and in Chinese territory. This assumption produced the Chinese counternarrative that Indian troops had entered China’s territory and provoked Chinese forces to fire; Zhou Enlai asserted that India must withdraw its troops. The exact location of Longju, in fact, was problematical. While the Indian government insisted that its post at Longju was well within India’s territory south of the McMahon Line, this hamlet had been included within the boundary line after a small adjustment to the line required by the difficult terrain and might have been considered unobjectionable had India not acted unilaterally, placing its post on what Chinese, and Indian, maps showed as Chinese territory.32 When the border dispute surfaced, Nehru believed the difference between the two sides could be bridged and later offered to negotiate its exact location along with other specific points of dispute. The offer was a nonstarter since China had never recognized the legality of the McMahon Line and would not want to seem to accept it indirectly by making point-​to-​point adjustments around it. China’s position, that the line should be jointly surveyed and then delimited,



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was no more acceptable to India. This approach was received by Nehru as a challenge to India’s inherited boundaries. Similarly, China viewed India’s decision to establish posts in the disputed area as a threat to its own territorial control in Tibet, and the beginning of India’s aggression into China’s territory north of the McMahon Line.

Standoff The India-​China standoff was cemented shortly after the clash at Longju. On September 8, 1959, Zhou-​Enlai wrote to Nehru claiming, for the first time, that territory shown on China’s “old” maps represented the borders of China. Zhou’s claim extended far beyond any marginal irregularities along the McMahon Line. The Chinese claim, as Wignall had tried to alert Nehru, included large parts of NEFA (31,000 square miles), as well as 11,500 square miles in Ladakh.33 The same tenacity by each side to hold fast to its own claim line provoked another clash, some four months later, at Kongka Pass in territory that India was certain lay in Kashmir and China insisted was across the Indian border in Sinkiang. China’s official protest asserted that its frontier guards in Sinkiang warned, and then disarmed, Indian forces who unlawfully intruded into Chinese territory south of Kongka Pass on October 20, 1959. The Indians, they said, opened fire against Chinese frontier guards, compelling them to fire back in self-​defense. Nehru’s account of the clash, in a letter to Krishna Menon, then in New York as leader of India’s UN delegation, said an Indian police party was attacked by Chinese forces entrenched on a hilltop, killing fifteen Indian personnel and seriously wounding a number of others, before the rest returned to their nearby checkpost. All of this happened, Nehru wrote, on the eastern Ladakh border “well within our territory according to our maps.”34 The Chinese interrogation of Indian personnel detained after the clash at Kongka Pass focused on their effort to get an admission from Karam Singh, the second in command of the Indian police patrol party, that he had known the territory was in China and that the Indians had fired first. According to Karam Singh, he responded that India’s boundary line was based on “authentic documents and, therefore, our maps were correct.” He added that the Chinese refused to accept his argument, “saying our claims were based on demarcation by the British, who had usurped a lot of territory of Sinkiang and Tibet. They ridiculed our maps and said these could be drawn by anybody while sitting at home.” Nehru referred to Karam Singh’s account when he called China’s version of events a “complete travesty” of facts. This exchange revealed the chasm at all levels between India and China, from Nehru and Zhou Enlai down to army commanders at headquarters and soldiers





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in the field. India relied on maps and documents, including revenue records, land surveys, and accounts of travelers originating during the British raj, while China, lacking comparable documentation of Chinese or Tibetan administration during the same period, discredited India’s claims as the outcome of British imperialism in its efforts to weaken China. The inability to agree on historical facts made it impossible to find a common formula for avoiding future border conflicts. Zhou’s proposal, on November 5, 1959, that the armed forces of India and China should withdraw twenty kilometers from the lines they occupied at the time of the 1959 clashes, was rejected by Nehru. Often characterized as a conciliatory initiative to “swap” territory that left India in possession of NEFA and China in control of Aksai Chin, Nehru viewed it as a transparent grab for territory on the western border that China had never controlled in return for recognizing India’s long-​established possession of the Northeast Frontier on India’s side of the McMahon Line. He asserted that the government of India had exercised jurisdiction in Ladakh up to China’s claim line, but because the area was mountainous and uninhabited, and because no aggression had been expected, India did not establish checkposts over this area. According to the official view in MEA, moreover, the result of Zhou’s proposal would be that “India would have to abandon all its checkposts on the McMahon line border.” The foreign secretary wrote, These posts are mainly on high hilltops and have to be supplied by air. It may not be feasible to have similar posts in the rear within 20 kilometers. Abandoning our forward posts would mean that in NEFA and the frontiers of Sikkim, UP, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, a large majority of the passes which open from Tibet into India would be thrown open to intruders; and in case no settlement on the boundary is reached would be impossible for us to restore the status quo in these areas and extremely easy for the Chinese to come and occupy them.35 When Indian newspapers published the details of the reversals, and Nehru was forced to make a formal statement in parliament about them, he did not refer to his own ministry’s appraisal of a potentially serious setback on the frontiers. Rather, he minimized the importance of the Chinese challenge and drew no connection between the two incidents at Longju and Kongka Pass, which together represented an incipient Chinese threat along the entire northern border. Further, he portrayed the clashes as over uninhabited places where “not a blade of grass grows” and unimportant in themselves. This enraged members of the Opposition and stirred up his own Congress Party MLAs, already criticizing the government’s appeasement policy over Tibet. Their first target was Krishna



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Menon for neglecting India’s defenses. More stunning were the charges against Nehru, for the first time, of misleading the country and the taunt from the Opposition benches that “the country does not believe you.” Subsequently, Nehru was constrained by fear of public criticism that could put his entire policy framework at risk. There was obvious anger against nonalignment. Beyond that, conservatives inside the Congress Party asserted their opposition to speeding up implementation of agrarian reforms under the socialistic pattern of society. At the Congress Party’s annual meeting at Nagpur in January 1959, Nehru had pushed a reluctant party to pass a resolution in favor of land ceilings and the organization of agriculture into cooperatives within three years, ironically drawing on the model that his officials had examined in China.36 The idea of cooperative farms spurred fears of a major redistribution of property and eventual collectivization by “Sino-​socialist minded planners.” Amid mounting attacks in the press, news of China’s suppression of the Tibetan revolt in mid-​March and Chinese encroachments on the border put into question fundamental assumptions of India’s development model and of India’s foreign policy. Nehru became vulnerable to attack on basic principles of national policy. A beleaguered prime minister wrote to Mrs. Pandit, then high commissioner for India in the United Kingdom: Here in India there has been a continuous, and it would appear an organized campaign against the Government and, to some extent, rather especially against me. This took shape soon after the last Congress at Nagpur.  .  .  . It is true that the border incidents are serious and they have roused very strong feelings in India. But I think it is equally true that they have been especially exploited against our Government and against the Congress and again, more particularly, me. A direct attack is even made against our policy of non-​alignment. . . . There are two points  .  .  .  the India-​China border troubles with all their dangerous possibilities, and an organized, combined attack by our very rightest and reactionary communal forces to change our internal policy as well as our external policy.37

The Revolt in Tibet The challenges to Nehru’s domestic and international policies coincided with the revolt in Tibet in October 1959 and created the climate in which China became convinced India was supporting Tibetan rebels to undermine its sovereignty over Tibet, its strategic frontier. Nehru had already stirred China’s resentment





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with a formal protest on October 18, 1958, after China publicly announced the completion of the Sinkiang-​Tibet Highway, asserting that the road had been constructed in Indian territory in Kashmir without consultation. Then, in April 1959, Nehru expressed sympathy in the Lok Sabha for Tibet’s aspirations of sovereignty based on strong feelings of nationalism. Nehru’s words had weight because of his international prestige at the time when China was doing its utmost to influence public opinion in the “worldwide discussion” of Tibet. The anti-​Chinese revolt that broke out in Lhasa on March 10, 1959, precipitated the flight of the Dalai Lama to India, which was called the “abduction” of the Dalai Lama in China. Premier Zhou Enlai announced the dissolution of the Kashag, the center of Tibetan ministerial authority, after which political power was placed in the hands of the Chinese-​controlled Preparatory Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Dalai Lama, in what was portrayed as a spectacular escape, arrived at Kalimpong in India and sought political asylum, making headlines around the world. Nehru had been well aware of the Dalai Lama’s desire to remain in India from the time he came to New Delhi for the Buddha Jayanti (to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the birth of Buddha) in November 1956, and did not want to return to Tibet. On that occasion, Nehru had persuaded him, in February 1957, to go back to Lhasa, arguing there were still things he could do to prevent the situation from further deteriorating. In 1959, Nehru could no longer make this argument. Under international law, he exercised his government’s option of granting political asylum to the Dalai Lama and allowed some seven thousand of his followers to settle in Dharamshala. Nehru was responding to popular sympathy for Tibet and for the nineteen-​ year-​old Dalai Lama. As one senior official in the MEA put it, “In India, once a god is always a god.” The Dalai Lama instantaneously achieved an exalted religious status. Beyond that, Nehru’s moral sensibilities were aroused. He was possibly guilty that India had done nothing to protect Tibet’s autonomy, even though Nehru had personally promised the same relationship to the Tibetans with independent India as had existed under the raj. When Dharamshala attracted excited visitors ranging from monks to politicians, journalists, and diplomats, all of whom were eager to meet the Dalai Lama, democratic freedom of the press was cited, with the result that the Tibetan exiles were kept on the front pages. The publicity heightened suspicions in Beijing that India was colluding with the United States and the CIA to undermine China’s sovereignty over Tibet.38 Mao’s ongoing war with the Tibetan rebels overlapped in fall 1959 with the first serious border clashes between Chinese soldiers and Indian police patrols. These encounters added an international dimension to the conflict. On the one hand, they deepened the incipient split in the alliance between the USSR and China; on the other, they made clear that India was on her own in the border



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conflict. The USSR was then following its new foreign policy of peaceful coexistence in which India was the centerpiece, and couldn’t accept that China would confront Nehru, the champion of nonalignment. Rather than support China, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union declared its neutrality in the dispute, at once weakening the Sino-​Soviet alliance and depriving its friend, India, of potential superpower assistance. As the revolt in Tibet escalated, Mao ignored Soviet advice to calm the situation. On the contrary, he treated it as an opportunity to speed up the “democratic reforms” postponed in 1951 under his gradualist approach of first winning over the Tibetan elites, foremost among them the Dalai Lama, to a program of modernization. When, in February 1956, the Chinese began to implement some of the reforms aimed at the big landholders and monasteries, including the confiscation of guns, end of corvee or unpaid labor, and the redistribution of grains, measures the Chinese expected would win support from the poor peasants, the efforts met with several local uprisings supported by all sections of society fearful that their religious culture would be destroyed. Chinese sources cited by Chen Jian show Mao, who had always intended to use force if there was a revolt, prepared for a “great showdown” and to “resolve the problem through war” against the rebels.39 By the time the Longju incident occurred in August 1959, closely followed by the Kongka Pass conflict in October 1959, leaders in China and in India had lost confidence in the good intentions of each other. Nehru had believed that the Tibet-​China Seventeen Point Agreement, the outcome of discussions insisted upon by his own External Affairs Ministry to an apprehensive Tibetan delegation, would safeguard the autonomy of Tibet and its religious culture. Similarly, Zhou Enlai and China’s top leaders, convinced of Nehru’s unchallengeable preeminence in India’s foreign policy and reassured by his recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, concluded that India’s prime minister had deliberately reversed course to provide the rebels with an international platform against Panch Sheel from which to undermine China’s territorial integrity. They believed India had become a de facto member of the anti-​China rising tide. The official Chinese view of that period, published in 1994, went further. It condemned Nehru’s decision to grant asylum to the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan refugees as part of a two-​sided policy, under which India publicly professed support for the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence adopted by both countries in the 1954 “Sino-​Indian Trade Agreement over Tibetan Border,” and at the same time pursued the expansionist policies toward China it had inherited from the British raj. China insisted that India was strengthening its border forces and supporting the separatist activities of the upper strata in Tibet to fill the vacancy left by the British, and using the idea of a special relationship between India and Tibet, based on cultural and religious ties, to maintain it as a security





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buffer between China and India. The Chinese claimed to see proof of this overall strategy in Nehru’s writings before independence, when he had mused about creating an Asian federation of India, China, and smaller neighboring countries, including Southeast Asia as within India’s cultural sphere of influence. All of this, according to the Chinese, added up to Nehru’s “India Center Theory” and a step-​by-​step plan to establish the “Great Indian Empire,” which could not be achieved while India was militarily weak, but gradually, by first improving its international status under the banner of nonalignment.40 Nehru, whom Zhou had considered arrogant for his attitude as the elder brother in the relationship, smoothing the way for China’s entry on the world stage, now appeared as the leader of a potential rival center “wooed” by both the United States and the Soviet Union, implicitly challenging Mao’s ideology of China “at the center” on the eve of his Left Turn.41

No Political Room for Compromise After 1959, Nehru’s reaction to clashes on the border could not discount public opinion or, as the crisis wore on, even the possibility his government could fall. He had ruled out compromise over China’s border claims by dismissing their legal validity, yet even if Nehru had recognized the pragmatic need to negotiate a solution closer to China’s terms, he did not have the political maneuverability to do so. In China, roughly at the same time, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were similarly constrained by their own domestic and foreign policy challenges that also affected their willingness to compromise. The totalitarian system set in motion by Mao enabled the CCP to launch the Great Leap Forward, in 1958, to radically reorganize the rural sector into people’s communes and mobilize underemployed labor for large construction projects (particularly water conservation and “backyard” steel furnaces) with the goal of achieving Great Britain’s level of output in fifteen years. The consequences, subsumed by scholars under adjectives like “disastrous” and “catastrophic,” included a famine that ultimately killed an estimated thirty million peasants and their families between 1958 and 1961.42 Mao’s leadership was challenged within the party, forcing him to withdraw from the “first front” of day-​to-​day policy management. In addition, China’s leaders were dealing with what they saw as a rising “international anti-​China tide” involving the forces of imperialism, revisionism, and reaction.43 The United States stood in the way of China’s desire to annex Taiwan and was supporting armed resistance to China-​backed Vietminh in Vietnam, while increasing its influence in Laos. The USSR, at the same time, was withholding advanced military technology from China, as the Sino-​Soviet alliance



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deteriorated after Mao insisted that the 1956 uprisings in Poland and Hungary had changed the initial subordinate status of China. Against this background, the clashes with India on the border were perceived as an intention by India to coordinate its policy with the US-​led “anti-​China tide.” According to Niu Jun, China’s leaders wanted to prevent China-​India relations from getting worse and further harming China’s security. They decided to try to reach a negotiated solution through a meeting between Nehru and Zhou Enlai. Negotiations also seemed attractive to India’s Ministry of External Affairs. According to Foreign Secretary Subimal Dutt, Nehru had asked him to focus on the border dispute in 1958. Dutt believed he was elevating realism over wishful thinking when he told Nehru India’s claim line in Aksai Chin was not based on very solid grounds. At the same time, he wanted to avoid a confrontation on the border, where topography and the lack of infrastructure favored the PLA.

In Search of a Negotiated Solution  In early 1960, Nehru sent Sarvepalli Gopal, then head of the Historical Division in the MEA, to London to search through old records, in the India Office Library, for historical evidence that might prove India’s claim on the boundary with China. After examining old maps, McMahon’s papers, and papers presented at the 1914 Simla Conference, Gopal told Nehru that the evidence favored India. So convinced were both Gopal and Nehru that India had the better claim, not only in NEFA but also in Aksai Chin, that they concluded it was their moral responsibility to prevent China from occupying the disputed territory. Krishna Menon, who did not think the Chinese had aggressive intentions and believed it would be enough to establish new Indian posts on the border, began to be bypassed. This was the only time that Nehru distanced himself from Menon, instructing his ambassador in Beijing, G. Parthasarathy, to send his telegrams to the prime minister alone. Nehru wrote to him that Menon “was clouded on the matter of our relations with China merely because China is a communist country.”44 Menon was not invited to participate in the April 20, 1960, meeting between Nehru and Zhou Enlai in New Delhi to discuss the border problem. MEA wanted to bypass Menon because of his pro-​China sympathies, and Nehru went along aware that Menon was receptive to a compromise solution that was closer to Zhou’s swap proposal, recognizing India’s claim in NEFA while leaving Aksai Chin in the control of China. Both political leaders were vulnerable when they met at the April 1960 summit in New Delhi to discuss the border problem. Nehru faced mounting criticism in parliament; Zhou remained premier but had been humiliated by





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losing his title of foreign minister after supporting the Great Leap. More important, Nehru had already concluded that Zhou’s proposals to maintain the “status quo” masked the effort to secure China’s gains in Ladakh and reinforce its claims in NEFA. Zhou did not expect a solution at the Delhi talks but was anticipating progress toward a negotiated outcome. He himself did not make a proposal for compromise. Instead, he started with a presentation of China’s historic relationship with Sinkiang going back two thousand years and argued that Aksai Chin had been under Chinese administration from the time of the Qing dynasty, but with no evidence beyond a map claim that the Chinese had ever exerted actual control.45 Nehru repeated his own position that there was no Chinese authority or administration in the area before China built the strategic highway in Aksai Chin, putting the Chinese presence at no more than a year and a half. Each man believed the other was making a new claim. Zhou stuck to his position that Aksai Chin had always been shown as part of China on Chinese maps. He did not recognize the legality of an 1842 treaty between Tibet and Kashmir on the basis of which India justified its claim, dismissing the treaty by asserting no representative from the central government of China had been present. This represented the continued fiction used by China from the time of the raj in refusing to concede that it had lost control of Tibet by the late 1880s, and then using the fictitious claim, after its 1950 invasion, to demand any territory that could be represented as once having been controlled by Tibet or claimed by it. This included the territory south of the McMahon Line, which China called southern Tibet, and which Zhou said had been under Tibetan jurisdiction until the 1914 Simla Conference when McMahon and the Lonchen Shatra, representing Tibet, exchanged secret notes recognizing the McMahon Line. Once Zhou said China was only asking for the status quo and negotiations, an exasperated Nehru retorted that Chinese maps had changed throughout the 1950s, implying the boundary had been pushed into India’s territory as China advanced along the border. Nehru restated that India’s frontier was clearly defined on its own maps, adding that the border was delimited by the high watershed, making a natural boundary that did not require demarcation. The prime minister thereby turned aside Zhou’s argument that the entire boundary needed to be jointly determined and that the same procedure of joint survey and revision of maps be applied to the China-​India border as had been done by China and Burma. Nehru did not respond to being put in the same category as the small country of Burma, but argued that the Himalayan mountains were tied up with ancient culture and history, and had always been regarded as the frontiers of India. He insisted that China’s claim was a recent one, that at “no time in recorded history was this area (in the eastern sector) ever part of China or Tibet,” and that this was a “novel” claim not raised for generations.46



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Zhou did not answer Nehru’s question, “What is the status quo?” or change his conclusion that, by starting with different facts, it was not possible to find common ground. Saying China’s maps published in 1951, 1954, and 1959 “all differ,” Nehru asserted that “the status quo today is different from the status quo of one or two years ago.”47 He said it would be very unfair to ask India to accept a marked difference from the previous status quo, which would mean India accepted the change. After the failure of the 1960 talks, which coincided with the expanding revolt in Tibet, China wrongly concluded the uprising had been sparked by India in collusion with the US driven anti-​China rising tide. Consequently, there was no chance of settling the border conflict through negotiations except on China’s terms for mutual withdrawals. In retrospect, the withdrawals would have given China the strategic security it wanted in Tibet and possibly avoided the 1962 war, which India could not win. There is no indication, however, that Nehru would or could have accommodated Zhou, whose claims, he believed, arose from recent aggression. If he did so, beyond compromising his principles, he also risked political humiliation in parliament and the press from an emboldened opposition to both his domestic economic policies and his foreign policy. A number of factors favored Mao’s decision to attack in October 1962. Military strength was at the core of the successful Chinese revolution, which had received its worst setback during the disasters of the Great Leap Forward. Mao was also in the middle of his challenge to the Soviet Union after the 1959 revolts in Hungary and Poland, insisting on China’s changed status as an equal in the world communist movement. A display of strength could help Mao regain his paramount position at home and also bolster his claim to be the leader of the revolutionary forces abroad. China was too weak to directly confront the United States, its main adversary in Asia since the Korean War, but by hitting India hard it could expose its Asian rival’s weakness both to the nonaligned and to the United States under the Kennedy administration. The new American president believed India could win the “race” with China for economic development and demonstrate the superiority of democracy over communism.

The Forward Policy There could not have been a more disastrous political decision than the one approved on November 2, 1961, at a meeting chaired by Nehru with the participation of Krishna Menon; B. N. Mullik, the IB director; Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul; and, by then, chief of the general staff and Kaul’s hand-​picked COAS, Lieutenant General P. N. Thapar. Mullik, who had been pushing his proposal for a forward policy on Thimayya only to have it rejected, raised the matter of





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intelligence showing new incursions by the Chinese in summer 1961, which he interpreted as the beginning of China’s drive to push up to its claim line. He argued that, unless the army moved quickly, China would occupy the vacuum in a few months. No consideration was given to the possibility that the Forward Policy could provoke China into an attack or to Thimayya’s warning that the army should not look offensive until it was capable of going on the offensive. On the contrary, Mullik supported Krishna Menon by saying that wherever Indian troops were present, even if it was only a dozen men, the Chinese would stand back. As a result of this totally unrealistic assumption, no military reappraisal was made of what additional troops and equipment would be needed to made the Forward Policy a success. The government directive that emerged from the November 2 meeting had the support of Lieutenant General Kaul and no opposition from the new COAS, Lieutenant General Thapar. It was a complete reversal of Thimayya’s caution in insisting on a buildup before a forward advance. Rather, in Ladakh, troops were to “patrol as far forward as possible” and establish posts to “prevent the Chinese from advancing any further and also dominating from any posts which they may have already established in our territory.” They should also do this in the middle sector, along the Uttar Pradesh border, fill any “gaps” by patrolling or setting up posts, and be in “effective occupation of the whole frontier.” The third provision at first seemed to echo Thimayya’s “dissuasion” strategy in which logistics, along with troops and modern equipment, had to be in balance. It called for “major concentrations of forces in places conveniently situated behind the forward posts from where they could be maintained logistically and from where they can restore a border situation at short notice.”48 The notion of supporting bases on which troops could fall back had been appreciated by Nehru, who endorsed it in the Lok Sabha in December 1961. Yet, as Maxwell pointed out, the orders sent by Lieutenant General Thapar, on December 5, 1961, to the commanding officers in Ladakh and in NEFA omitted that portion of the government’s directive, making it likely that Kaul, who worked closely with Mullik, had deleted it.49 The Forward Policy was adopted for political reasons to demonstrate that the government was meeting the threat on its borders as the 1962 general elections neared. Menon’s analogy to a board game favored chess over checkers, but he imagined establishing Indian posts that could dominate Chinese positions in occupied areas of Ladakh without risking an attack, unwittingly signaling to the Chinese the eventual domination of the Aksai Chin Highway. The implementation of the policy, which began over the warnings of field commanders in Ladakh and NEFA in April to May 1962 that eviction was beyond the capabilities of the army, ignored Thimayya’s warning not to appear to go on the offensive unless the army was actually capable of doing so. By contrast, the government acted as



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if it would be sufficient to “show the flag.” “After the introduction of the Forward Policy, the chances of conflict certainly increased.”50 By July 1962, sixty posts had been established and Army Headquarters had given all post commanders the discretion to fire on the Chinese if they threatened their posts. A  few posts reached platoon strength, but many more were penny packets. Some had no guns or heavy mortars and all were hobbled by poor communications, dependent for supplies on uncertain airdrops. The Chinese were able to field a well-​equipped division, had supporting arms, good roads, and were mobile, able to move forces from one place to another and thus concentrate them where needed. The Chinese viewed the Forward Policy as the strategy adopted by Nehru after the 1960 Nehru-​Zhou talks failed to deliver India’s territorial claims through diplomatic means. They considered it a deliberate step to change the status quo on the border and occupy Chinese territory. The Indian plan was accurately described as sending patrols to create strongholds in gaps between Chinese military posts in order to change the military balance in Aksai Chin. Doing this, the Chinese reasoned, India expected to disrupt China’s supply lines and ultimately drive away Chinese troops. Nehru’s miscalculation, according to this interpretation, had been that China would not respond, as had happened after India occupied Chinese territory south of the McMahon Line. In continuation of the mirror opposite perceptions that underpinned the border clashes, the Chinese noted that India felt encouraged by the domestic turmoil in China after the Great Leap Forward. Conversely, China pointed to various internal conflicts in India, including “separatist tendencies” in the northeast, demands for linguistic states, food shortages, and declining government prestige as the 1962 Indian elections approached, to explain the incitement of nationalist sentiment around the border issue. The forward movement of Indian patrols, against this background, convinced the Chinese government that India had deliberately destroyed the status quo in the border areas. China, therefore, warned that if India continued its aggression, Chinese border guards would be forced, in self-​defense of its own territory, to react, with consequences fully borne by India. Nehru did not respond to warnings by Zhou Enlai even though the situation was inflamed by another unilateral adjustment India had made to the McMahon Line, along with Longju, at the beginning of 1959. At that time, India had decided to treat Thag La Ridge as the boundary in the northwestern end of the border, about three miles north of the line drawn by McMahon, because it was the highest ridge in the vicinity and McMahon had intended to draw the boundary on the crest of the mountain. India did this without anticipating any consequences even though both Indian and Chinese maps showed it was





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in Chinese territory and China had protested India’s infringement of its sovereignty when an army post was built at Khinzamane, on the slopes of the ridge.51 On June 4, 1962, a platoon patrol (of the Assam Rifles), disregarding the map-​drawn McMahon Line, established a post northwest of Khinzamane, beneath Thag La Ridge, called Dhola Post, on the bank of the small Namka Chu river. Dhola was in an extremely vulnerable position, in a valley six days march from the road-​head at Tawang and dependent for ingress on crude log bridges and for supplies on uncertain airdrops. It took the Chinese some three months to respond, but on September 8, 1962, about sixty men came down the Thag La Ridge—​across the McMahon Line—​to the valley below and built their own dominating position above Dhola Post. Information passed to Indian Army Headquarters inflated the number of Chinese by ten times, to six hundred, to ensure more support from headquarters, causing exaggerated alarm. The government reacted to the overblown threat by focusing on the fact that China had crossed the (adjusted) McMahon Line, by then treated as India’s unquestionable border. Having insisted that China would not attack, it can only be assumed—​ Krishna Menon kept no minutes of his meetings in the Defense Ministry—​that Menon believed Zhou’s warning had been put into effect, and further incursions across the line could be expected unless the Chinese were forced back across the Ridge. Even at the remove of more than half a century, it remains shocking that Nehru and Krishna Menon, along with Kaul, who was co-​opted to form a decision-​making troika, refused to believe that the Chinese would launch a full-​ scale attack. The crucial meeting on September 9, 1962, directing the army to “evict” the Chinese from Thag La Ridge, was presided over by Menon. Nehru was en route to London for a Commonwealth prime ministers’ meeting, but Menon, as he had long done when acting as Nehru’s “spokesman,” assumed he knew Nehru’s views well enough to count on his support (which Nehru gave the next day). There was no opposition from the military, as there had been while Thimayya was in command. Kaul happened to be on leave in Kashmir but was known to favor the Forward Policy; the new COAS, Lieutenant General P. N. Thapar, warned that such an operation in NEFA could provoke a Chinese attack on forward posts in Ladakh, but was prepared to follow instructions. Without Thimayya in place, Menon had a free run, and “he took the momentous decision to use force if necessary to evict the Chinese, on his own.”52 Nehru and Menon then asked Lieutenant General Kaul to take charge of the eviction operation, known as Leghorn. They flattered him by expressing full confidence in his leadership and reassured him by announcing the formation of 4 Corps, a new command with the specific mission of evicting the Chinese from the Thag La area.



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Although Kaul was the only officer to be named in the army’s later operations review for both deficiencies as a strategist and failures in operational planning, it is also clear he was handed an impossible task. Still, in his memoir he claimed to have understood all the obstacles in the way of his skeletal corps of six thousand men, with insufficient artillery, poor logistics, and uncertain supplies. Beyond his professional inadequacies, Kaul did not have the moral or political courage to refuse command when Lieutenant General Thapar gave him an opportunity to do so and also stay on as chief of general staff. Worse, he did not disabuse Nehru of the view that the Chinese would not react to India’s forward moves in the Dhola area, although his own experience strongly suggested they would do so. Kaul was the first senior officer above Brigadier Dalvi to visit Dhola to see the terrain in which 4 Corps would have to operate. His conclusions were that Dhola was situated in a “dangerous low-​lying trap,” where supplies delivered in airdrops were landing in inaccessible places; troops had only three days of rations and fifty rounds of ammunition each and lacked winter clothes. Despite saying that the better-​equipped Chinese were likely to “dislodge us from any position which we may initially capture,” he informed Army Headquarters that he “was taking every possible step to evict the Chinese from our territory (despite many difficulties) as ordered.”53 On October 10, about five hundred well-​armed Chinese attacked an Indian position of about fifty men at nearby Tseng-​jong and forced the brigade commander to withdraw the company after taking casualties. Kaul later wrote that he had “seen with [his] own eyes the superior resources of the Chinese in the battle . . . and the untenability of our position in Dhola area located in a hollow” and agreed with the divisional and brigade commanders that it was beyond the capacity of the army to evict the Chinese from the area.54 On the same evening, Kaul asked for an urgent meeting in New Delhi with Nehru to explain the “grave situation” and the need to “reconsider the whole of our position in this theatre.” At the meeting on October 11, Kaul nevertheless avoided saying the army did not have the capabilities for evicting the Chinese from the Dhola–​Thag La Ridge area. Instead, after explaining the army’s disadvantages in being outnumbered, the unsuitability of the tactical position, and the inadequate logistics, he offered Nehru three options. Only the third option represented the military judgment that the army should pull out of Dhola to a more defensible position. The first option, to continue to build up and launch Operation Leghorn, was rejected by Nehru because of the odds against its success. Option two, put in the middle as if it were a compromise position, was to cancel an attack but to hold Dhola and other current positions; not surprisingly, Nehru selected this option because it would avoid the public criticism of a withdrawal. Kaul had not told him this option was as impossible as evicting the Chinese from the larger area. Only two days later, on October 13, Nehru inexplicably cut off the option of withdrawing





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from Dhola when he answered questions from reporters about India’s response to the Chinese by saying he had ordered the army to drive out the Chinese from NEFA. The notion sometimes advanced that Nehru’s spontaneous statement triggered the Chinese attack on October 20 ignores the evidence of a Chinese buildup over the previous summer months. Similar to Chinese propaganda for shaping international opinion at the start of the Korean War in 1950—​saying South Korea had invaded the North—​the official Chinese history of the 1962 border war asserts India first launched a large-​scale attack against Chinese border forces to which the Chinese government was forced to respond with its self-​defense counterattack. Perhaps more reliable are the dates given for the government’s decision. On October 6, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman Mao instructed the headquarters of the general staff of the army to hit hard and defeat the Indians if they attacked on the eastern border in Tibet, and also ordered China’s troops in the west to cooperate with those in the east. On October 17, the Central Military Commission issued a “Command of Annihilation” of the invading Indian Army. When the Chinese attacked in the Dhola area on October 20, 1962, it took them only two hours to “rub out” the majority of the outnumbered 7 Brigade.55 The debacle at Dhola set the stage for the disastrous defeats in other sectors of NEFA, where the Indians were driven south of the McMahon Line. The attacks occurred three days after Lieutenant General Kaul fell ill with pulmonary edema brought on by exertion at high altitude, from which a number of troops, also not acclimatized, suffered. Menon arranged to evacuate Kaul to New Delhi for treatment on October 17, where he approved Kaul’s continuation in command of 4 Corps from his home. This ensured that the political agenda not to withdraw remained in place. The operations review found that “military planning and posture were thrown overboard. Lt Gen Kaul, unheedful of the military situation and unmindful of the essential requirements of the troops, rushed 7 Infantry Brigade into Dhola area. Once committed in the area, he refused to redeploy the troops, although he had the time, the authority, and the discretion to do so.”56 As Mao had instructed, Chinese forces moved into the western sector in Kashmir on the same day, October 20, 1962, overrunning the precarious Indian posts that had been established under the Forward Policy on the assumption the Chinese would not react. The coordinated attacks stunned the government and created panic that China could sweep down to New Delhi, severing the northeastern part of India from the plains. Nehru was so desperate that he did the one thing nonalignment was designed to avert: he replied positively to a letter from President Kennedy offering tangible support for India against the Chinese attack if India requested help. Kennedy, confronting the Cuban Missile Crisis at the same time, had already approved a



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statement by the US ambassador in New Delhi that the United States recognized the McMahon Line, along with an informal assurance that the Kennedy administration would not insist that India join a US-​led security alliance. The US embassy, however, tacitly supported the groundswell of political demands, both inside the Congress Party and the Opposition, that Krishna Menon be removed as defense minister. Nehru complied on October 31 when it became clear that the Congress Party was willing to accept the prime minister’s resignation if Menon was not let go. Even so, Nehru temporized, appointing Menon minister of defense production, but this was not politically sustainable. On November 8, Krishna Menon resigned and lost his last foothold in the government. A renewed and more devastating Chinese attack in mid-​November by well-​equipped PLA forces, outnumbering Indian troops by about two to one, gave China control of the entire area in Aksai Chin and most of NEFA down to China’s claim line in “southern Tibet.” The United States, with cooperation from the British, was already airlifting weapons and ammunition to India when China’s further gains seemed to make the loss of northeast India an imminent reality. On November 19, Prime Minister Nehru, fearing there was nothing to stop the Chinese, appealed to President Kennedy to “help India in our struggle for survival.” Calling the situation “really desperate,” he asked for twelve US squadrons and radar equipment, manned by American personnel, to protect Indian cities and installations from the Chinese while assisting the Indian Air Force “in air battles with the Chinese air force over Indian areas.”57 The request was astonishing in seeking to commit the Americans to an air war with China on behalf of India, but also revealed how much, in extremity, Nehru continued to overestimate the importance of India, a non-​ally, to the United States. American airlifts, in any case, could not have altered the course of the war on the ground in NEFA and in Ladakh, as clearly emerges from the detailed analyses of the Henderson Brooks Report, the contemporaneous account by Neville Maxwell based on it, and the recent exhaustive study of military operations by Verma.58 What stopped the Chinese turned out to be their own military and political decision, on November 22, to announce a unilateral ceasefire along the entire China-​India border and withdrawal of troops twenty kilometers to the line of actual control that had existed between China and India on November 7, 1959, and which China had offered three years earlier after the clashes at Longju and Kongka Pass. The Chinese retained their control over Aksai Chin, securing unfettered access to Tibet. They withdrew north in NEFA to the McMahon Line, but maintained their claim to the NEFA area, thereafter integrated into India as the new state of Arunachal Pradesh. Mao’s surprise announcement of a unilateral withdrawal by Chinese troops rested on interrelated national security interests. Foremost among them was the obvious military success China had scored by reaching its claim lines in both





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NEFA and Kashmir. In addition, by choosing to withdraw when China had the military advantage, Zhou Enlai pressed his own narrative that, unlike India, which would not negotiate, China had wanted to avoid war and bring about a peaceful solution. In reality, China had pushed its military advantage as far as possible. It confronted much longer lines of supply and communications with no clear military objective in coming down to the plains. The winter was closing in to shut down the passes. The adversary was no longer just India. The United States was already airlifting equipment and supplies and had made clear it would support India against China in any further aggression. The greater damage to India than the loss of Aksai Chin, which had no strategic value, or than the casualties, mainly in NEFA,59 was the lasting humiliation of the rout it suffered because of the failure of the “higher direction of the war.”60 The defeat demolished the credibility of Nehru’s aspiration to be the spokesman of Asia, and of India as a rival to China as leader of the newly independent nations. The nonaligned countries quickly distanced themselves from India’s leadership, with Nasser and Tito taking the lead in organizing a nonaligned conference in Cairo on October 7, 1964. Subsequently, the nonaligned solidified into the Non-​Aligned Movement based on numbers, in which India counted as only one member. Nonalignment lost its moral, idealistic dimension of mounting a force for peace.

Death of Nehru India’s defeat and Nehru’s decline were inextricably related. Nehru had believed in India’s destiny as a great power that would elevate the search for peace to a superior moral plane than US alliance systems, based on threats of using force, and in the nuclear age, risking incalculable human costs. Throughout, Nehru sought to lead by example. He attributed India’s influence in Asia and in newly independent Arab states to how India was solving its problems. He told parliament, If we have any weight in the councils of the world . . . it is due in the final analysis to some faith in the minds of other people in the world that India counts and India will count more and more in the future. It is because the policies we are pursuing in this country, economic or whatever they may be have induced that faith in them, that however big our problems, we are facing them with courage and solving them step by step. Therefore, India counts.61 India’s defeat by China and Nehru’s panicked letter to President Kennedy asking for US Air Force protection was not only a national humiliation, but



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a profound personal defeat. Nehru, for the first time, had to confront the illusions upon which Asianism and nonalignment had been based. High moral principles offered no defense, or even support, for India from nonaligned countries against its much more powerful neighbor. His claims to moral leadership in Asia were exposed as irrelevant to resolving the military conflict with China. His turn to the United States signaled his recognition that only the threat of greater force could be convincing. India, on its own, did not count. It was too late for Nehru to adjust his long-​standing policies, and he reiterated his commitment to nonalignment. Yet he understood the military threat on the border much better after the war than before it. His letter to Mountbatten, stating that it had been a “bad show” for India, giving details of fewer troops, inadequate training, no time spent on acclimatization, and lack of winter clothing, could have been written by Thimayya or Kaul. At the same time, he was impervious to Mountbatten’s advice that now that “our friend Krishna” was no longer defense minister to prevent it, he should establish a permanent chief of staff and appoint Thimayya to that new position. If Nehru was not prepared to publicly abandon his core ideology and stated principles, he was, however, altered. A few people who saw him frequently, before his stroke, found him withdrawn and confused, unable to think his way through. The Chinese attack was the proximate cause of his decline, attributed at the time more to depression than physical illness. “Nehru could not believe the Chinese would humiliate him in this way. He had acted on China’s behalf virtually alone, against the whole world, not excluding the Soviet Union.” The Chinese attack also “shattered the basic assumption of his view embodied in the idea of one world which would mark a new era transcending power politics. It was perhaps this realization that at the international level only national interest backed by power counted—​and that moral commitment amounted to nothing—​which was most shattering.”62 Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, believed that China’s betrayal had hastened the onset of a stroke and caused his death earlier than it would have occurred. When Nehru died at age seventy-​four, on May 27, 1964, thousands of people came out to mourn him in the streets of New Delhi. An estimated 1.5 million followed the procession along the six miles to the cremation site in Raj Ghat where, in 1947, Mahatma Gandhi had been cremated. The peasants who came from the countryside did not know the details of his foreign policy, but that he had tried to make their lives better. They understood India had lost its great leader. Nehru’s vision of India’s destiny as a great power did not dim for the generations that succeeded him. Nonalignment was not questioned as a formulation





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for India’s foreign policy while the Congress Party remained in power. As a result, the limitations of nonalignment, even during the Cold War, were obscured. It could have been successful only if avoiding conflict and averting war had been the highest value for all the major powers, as it was for the weakest player, India. But even at the cost of war the vital interest of each country was to prevent an outcome that diminished its standing as a great power, or aspiration and potential to be recognized as a great power. In 1962, China acted against India to cut down any claim that India was potentially equal to China in Asia. India itself would not accept China’s assertion of dominance and even from a position of weakness refused to compromise its interest and accepted the consequences of a war India’s leaders knew could not be won without US help. The first comprehensive review of India’s foreign policy in 2012 was called Non-​Alignment 2. Its stated purpose was to rework nonalignment for a changing world while keeping the “fundamental principle that has defined India’s international engagements since Independence.”63 Nonalignment 2.0 was drafted by a group of eight prominent men, scholars, military officers, and businessmen, including Shyam Saran, then foreign secretary, GOI. After the Bharatiya Janata Party succeeded Congress as the ruling party in 2014, no official reworking of India’s foreign policy doctrine was announced. Nehru’s legacy to India for the post–​Cold War world is distilled in the phrase “strategic autonomy,” that is, to ensure the core objectives of nonalignment are sustained. These are to give India maximal options to pursue its own goals and not those set by the United States. India’s opportunities in the twenty-​first century are viewed as expanding. According to this view, while the United States and China will remain superpowers, they will not be able to exercise the full-​ spectrum global dominance that the United States and the USSR did during the Cold War. There will be other centers of power that offer India opportunities for complex negotiation and “artful management” of coalitions. There are echoes of Nehru’s voice in the claim that India’s great advantage is not being seen as a threatening state, that its power has often been the “power of example,” and that the world recognizes it “needs India to succeed.”64 Yet while Nehru’s worldview was instrumental at the height of the Cold War, when there were two blocs ideologically at odds, the world has changed since then. In the twenty-​first century—​often referred to as the Asian Century—​ the conflict is no longer between competing ideologies and political systems but is a contest for power between the United States and China, starting in Asia. China wishes to use its growing economic dominance and military might as evidence of its superior, authoritarian model of success. It still views India as a serious competitor only when India is supported by the United States. Meanwhile, the United States has approached the rivalry in Asia with a policy



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for partnership with India that supports Nehru’s enduring goal of India becoming a pivotal global power. The outstanding question on which this study ends is this: Will India be able to set aside its postindependence suspicion of American motives to join the United States in establishing a new natural balance in Asia?



Epilogue

Strategic realignments after the 1962 India-​China war are still playing out in the evolving pan-​Asian competition for power. The first phase centered on China’s effort to bottle up India in the subcontinent as a regional power. Critical to this strategy has been China’s embrace of Pakistan in what both countries call an “all-​weather friendship,” forged out of their mutual goal to keep India off-​balance with the specter of a two-​front war. The next phase, now underway, is China’s challenge to the United States as the preeminent power in Asia from the time of the Korean War. India’s role in this competition has yet to be clearly defined, although a closer US-​India defense relationship is taking shape.

Keeping India Off Balance The seeds of China’s strategy to keep India off balance were planted some fifty-​ five years ago with the December 26, 1962, China-​Pakistan border agreement over the disputed Baltistan-​Gilgit area in Azad Kashmir, or as India calls it, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The agreement, favorable to Pakistan, transferred 750 square miles under Chinese control to Pakistan without any reciprocal territorial concession to China. The area, now referred to by China as the China-​ Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is an integral part of China’s most visionary and ambitious enterprise to build the twenty-​first-​century version of the ancient Silk Road trade routes that connected China and the Roman Empire across Eurasia. As Nehru had protested in 1962 when he called China’s transfer of land to Pakistan illegal, India insists the land in CPEC belongs to its state of Jammu and Kashmir. The emerging China-​Pakistan alignment became visible as early as 1965 when Ayub Khan determined to force a settlement on Kashmir before India could carry out an expected post-​1962 military buildup that would tip the balance in its favor. Starting with a similar strategy of infiltration that had been tried in 1947 to arouse the Muslim population to rebellion, Pakistan’s military leaders When Nehru Looked East. Francine R. Frankel Oxford University Press (2020) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190064341.001.0001



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were unprepared for India’s response, which came not in Kashmir but across the western border from the plains in Punjab to Lahore. The fighting ended in a virtual stalemate, but since Pakistan had been the aggressor and publicly claimed impressive victories, its inability to demonstrate clear gains was viewed as a defeat at home. China became Pakistan’s most vocal supporter, denouncing India’s attack against Lahore as “naked aggression” and threatening “grave consequences” against India for violating Chinese territory, linking the India-​Pakistan war with the India-​China conflict. After a UN-​brokered ceasefire on September 22, 1965, peace talks hosted by the Soviet Union in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) ignored India’s claims of territorial gains and affirmed the prewar status quo. Syed argues that because the United States and the Soviet Union could not be sure China’s threats were all bluff—​ Chinese troops could have still come down from Sikkim through the narrow strip of territory, known as Chicken’s Neck, to cut off the northeast from the rest of India—​they preferred a settlement that did not prove too hard on Pakistan. He writes: Both the United States and the Soviet Union would have preferred to come down strongly on India’s side. Had they been unencumbered by the Chinese factor they would have felt free not only to aid India but also to put a great deal more pressure on Pakistan than they were actually able to do. In that event, Pakistan would have lost face. And beyond that, she might have had to settle, in territorial terms, for something less than the status quo ante-​bellum.1 Pakistani public opinion was highly appreciative of China’s support, which was hailed as help from a “mighty power devoted to the maintenance of peace and justice in Asia.”2 The 1965 India-​Pakistan war, which saw China recognized as a factor in South Asia, also proved to be a watershed for American policy. The shift by President Kennedy to give higher importance to striking a strategic partnership with India than to the 1954 military assistance agreement with Pakistan proved to be very brief. The Johnson administration, quickly overtaken by the Vietnam War and alienated by the refusal of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to say any word of support for the US intervention in Vietnam, fell back on long-​standing US ties with Pakistan to secure access to the base facility north of Peshawar for U2 surveillance flights over the Soviet Union. No corresponding asset had been offered by India, nor was there any expectation India would ever provide a quid pro quo for American military assistance. Accordingly, President Johnson suspended all military aid to both Pakistan and India. Predictably, Pakistan’s government was outraged that the United States made no distinction in its favor as a US ally. The



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government of India, for all its mistrust of American motives, had not imagined that the United States could cut off its promised aid and treat India, a democracy recently attacked by Communist China and then the victim of Pakistan’s aggression—​using Patton tanks that Eisenhower had pledged would never be deployed against India—​in the same way as it did a military dictatorship. The United States lost its credibility in both Pakistan and India. Subsequently, ideology played virtually no role in US alignments within the region. The end goal of defeating the Soviet Union consumed all foreign policy space. The Nixon administration, recognizing China’s military superiority, resentful of India’s refusal to support US goals in Southeast Asia, and viewing India as a client state of the USSR, launched the initiative for an “opening” to China and sought out Pakistan as an intermediary. President Ayub Khan, forced to resign after the popular uprising in East Pakistan over increasing disparities between predominately Punjabi West Pakistan and mainly Bengali East Pakistan, proved unable to manage the rising ethnolinguistic demand for an independent nation of Bangladesh. Ayub’s successor, chief marshal law administrator General Yahya Khan, attempted to repress the movement with indiscriminate violence—​ killing an estimated three hundred thousand Bengalis. Even the reports of genocide did not deter Henry Kissinger, at Nixon’s behest, from taking Yahya’s help to arrange Nixon’s 1972 meeting with Mao in Beijing. Stripped of ideological verbiage, Mao also felt no need to rationalize his reconciliation with the United States, which positioned China to better balance against the Soviet Union. The United States also harbored feelings of distrust toward India. On his stopover in New Delhi en route to his secret meeting in Beijing, Kissinger had warned Mrs. Gandhi not to expect US military assistance if India became involved in another war with China. This convinced the wavering prime minister to accept the advice of her pro-​Soviet advisers to go ahead with the August 5, 1971 Indo-​Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation. Originally meant solely as a friendship treaty, Mrs. Gandhi agreed to strengthen the text from providing for mutual consultation in case of a threat to also “abstain[ing] from providing any assistance to any third party that engages in armed conflict with the other Party.” Mrs. Gandhi wanted the Soviet assurance in the event of another attack by Pakistan or China on the eve of the looming Bangladesh War, and her advisers insisted that the treaty would seal the Soviet Union’s reliable friendship with India. The language could be read from the Soviet perspective to preclude any assistance, as unlikely as that may have been, to the United States, in the event of a US threat to the Soviet Union, the only threat the USSR envisaged. In effect, this was the end of nonalignment, albeit never conceded by India. The United States’ suspicion that India was a Soviet client state stood confirmed. The Bangladesh War and the US tilt toward Pakistan redrew the political map of the subcontinent and cemented the antagonism between the United States and



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India until the end of the Cold War. Once Mrs. Gandhi determined that the ten million Bengali refugees streaming across India’s volatile eastern boundary would have to return, the third war between India and Pakistan became inevitable. The sequence of events triggered by Pakistan’s air attack on Calcutta on December 3, 1971, and India’s recognition of the Bangladesh government the next day, was followed by India’s deployment of troops in East Pakistan. On December 10, Nixon ordered Task Group 74, centered on the nuclear-​powered aircraft carrier Enterprise, with nuclear weapons on board, to proceed into the Straits of Malacca en route to the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. At about the same time, the Soviets deployed a smaller task force in the area so that forces of each superpower circled the other. On December 13, the USSR vetoed the US proposal in the Security Council for a standstill ceasefire, and on December 17, after a two-​week war, Pakistan’s forces in the east unconditionally surrendered to India. Bangladesh became an independent state with its first government, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, friendly to India. When Sheik Mujib and his family were murdered shortly thereafter, it was widely believed the CIA was behind the plot.

The Pakistan-​China All-​Weather Friendship China viewed India’s role in the division of Pakistan as an attempt at encirclement. Henry Kissinger, for his part, justified the notorious “tilt” policy toward Pakistan as a warning to India not to plan a further attack on Kashmir to achieve the final dismemberment of Pakistan. No evidence of such a plan has ever surfaced, and officials at that time have vehemently denied any cabinet discussion of such a move. India’s enduring anger at the United States and conviction that the United States could not be trusted has never fully dissipated. It is hardly surprising that Pakistan has since viewed India as an existential threat and sought military security not only from US state-​of-​the-​art defense equipment, including F-​16s and Harpoon sea missiles, but from an informal alliance with China. The sense of urgency was heightened by India’s demonstration of nuclear capability in 1974, following from Nehru’s approval, shortly before his death, for government research in atomic energy. China’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear and missile development has been truly extraordinary. In the early 1980s, a Beijing-​Pakistan proliferation nexus emerged to help Pakistan balance India. China provided Pakistan with a tested blueprint of a 20-​kiloton nuclear bomb and weapons grade uranium for two bombs, along with a trigger device and other materials. This was followed up in the 1990s by Chinese government transfers of M-​9 and M-​11 ballistic missiles, the prototype for Pakistan’s intermediate range Shaheen missiles, and by China’s help in acquiring North Korean Nodong missiles.



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China continued to provide nuclear assistance to Pakistan even after signing the 1968 Nuclear Non-​ Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and gaining membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2004, which prohibits nuclear commerce with nonsignatories of the NPT. Asserting China was acting under “grandfathered” agreements, permitted under the NSG, it provided heavy water reactors to Pakistan for generating weapons grade plutonium, and supplied pressurized water reactors to give Pakistan the technological capacity to fit small and powerful weapons to cruise missiles aimed at India. China achieved its goal by 2011, when Pakistan overtook India in its ability to deploy over one hundred nuclear weapons. It is now on course to become the fourth largest nuclear weapons state, ahead of France. Still, China does not want to stumble into a nuclear war on behalf of Pakistan. This has been clear since 1999, when Pakistani troops crossed the Line of Control in central Kashmir at Kargil in a third attempt to force a favorable settlement on Kashmir, and the dynamic of Pakistani offensive and Indian counteroffensive reemerged. China’s rejection of the request for military assistance by Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, followed by President Clinton’s demand for withdrawal of Pakistani troops, left the subcontinent in a nuclear stalemate. Pakistan tested its own nuclear weapons within months of the 1998 Indian tests ordered by the first non-​Congress prime minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Atul Bihari Bajpayee, and both countries have acquired the missile delivery systems to hit each other’s major population centers. In 2012, India tested its own long-​range AGNI-​V missile, bringing Beijing within range of a nuclear response to a Chinese attack. The China-​Pakistan all-​weather friendship has stood the test of time. The two countries have signed scores of bilateral accords, pacts, and memorandums of understanding for cooperation in space, defense, technology, infrastructure, and trade, in addition to their nuclear partnership. Pakistan’s geostrategic location, long ago sacrificed by India at partition, now underpins China’s search for dominance in the Indian Ocean as well as on land with the Belt and Road Initiative.

India and China-​Pakistan Strategic Rivalry The Chinese government has never given up its claims in NEFA, still referred to as southern Tibet, and more recently made clear it does not accept India’s sovereignty in Kashmir. In 2008, China refused to issue official stamped visas to Indian travelers from both Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly NEFA), instead stapling entry papers to Indian passports. India responded by drawing a direct parallel between China’s “core” concerns over Tibet and Taiwan, and India’s core concern over Jammu and Kashmir. In turn, China reverted to the



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language used in the 1950s to dismiss India’s security concerns, calling the boundary dispute a “historical legacy” that would take a long time to resolve. During my 2001 visit to Beijing, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs and other senior officials professed puzzlement about why India would not accept a swap recognizing China’s claim in Aksai Chin in return for China’s recognition of India’s territory in NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh—​Zhou Enlai’s original proposal. Despite eighteen rounds of India-​China talks on the border since the early 1990s, no progress has been made. The strategic rivalry between China and India now extends beyond their common land borders into the Indian Ocean. During the 2000s, China responded to requests from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar to construct state-​of-​the-​art deepwater ports in Gwadar, Hambantota, and Kyauk Phru respectively, along with oil and gas pipelines and railway links to China. The port developments, dubbed the “string of pearls,” is considered by India to be China’s effort at strategic encirclement to weaken India’s natural position as the main power in its namesake ocean. It is at Gwadar port, however, where Pakistan has proved to be an invaluable partner. India benefits from easy access to the major oil-​shipping routes from the Middle East and to the Pacific, close to both the navigational choke points of the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, and the Straits of Malacca at the entrance to the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. China’s coastal area, by contrast, offers direct access only to the seas flowing into the Pacific after passage through the Straits of Malacca. Ships bound from there for Hormuz can reach it only by crossing the entire Indian Ocean into the Arabian Sea. It is Pakistan that has provided China direct access to the Arabian Sea via Gwadar port, in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. In 2000, at Pakistan’s request, China agreed to fund, through grants and zero-​interest loans, a deepwater port at Gwadar city, which is virtually continuous with the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. This strategic location has the advantage of reducing China’s travel distance to the oil routes of the Persian Gulf by over six thousand miles, as well as bypassing the narrow Straits and the South China Sea where, in a time of crisis, China apprehends that its vital oil imports—​China is the biggest oil importer in the world—​could be disrupted either by the US Navy or India’s growing maritime fleet. Gwadar is also ideal for both China and Pakistan as the key development site in the China-​Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in that is at the core of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). After completing the port infrastructure and taking over the operation of the port through a state-​owned holding company, the government of China approved an expansion plan under CPEC to 400 million tons of cargo capacity annually, the construction of a major international airport, an expressway project, and a tax-​free special economic zone.



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The potential benefits to Pakistan are obvious in building up its manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, but still uncertain because of the political turmoil in Baluchistan and the dug-​in jihadi terrorists based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with spillover into China’s Muslim-​majority Xinjiang. If the terrorist threat can be managed, China anticipates that the attraction of the port and its infrastructure to neighboring countries in post-​Soviet Central Asia will enhance the prospects of the BRI, bringing China closer to its end goal of reestablishing its ancient role as the central power in Asia. If the BRI is stalled indefinitely, China could choose to expand its hard power along the oil routes and build a naval base at Gwadar.

Search for US-​India Strategic Partnership The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union rendered the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation anachronistic. The 1993 treaty of friendship between India and the Russian Federation, which succeeded the 1971 treaty provides for a “strategic partnership” between them, adapting the Panch Sheel principles of sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, noninterference, mutual respect, and mutual benefit, with no reference to mutual consultation in the event of a threat to either party. After 1991, India was left on its own to ensure its national security against a threat from Pakistan or China. The unraveling of its relationship with its “only reliable friend” during the Cold War put India in a precarious position and necessitated it become more receptive to acquiring weapons from the United States while also maintaining a close military supply relationship with Russia. India had to adapt to the transformed global geopolitical environment, which lay in stark contrast to the very foundation of Nehru’s foreign policy. The United States and India began to think about a closer partnership from the time of the Clinton administration. Both countries reacted similarly to China’s sustained double-​digit economic gains—​at over 9 percent a year—​and rapid military modernization: neither side was prepared to see the rise of China as the dominant power in Asia. When Indian prime minister Narasimha Rao visited Washington in May 1993, it was clear India wanted a new relationship with the United States, one of a partnership of equals that recognized its status as a great power on par with China. This was symbolized in Rao’s demand to restructure the Security Council so that India became a permanent member, a great power status it has yet to achieve. India refused to accept that the United States could treat it on parity with Pakistan. This was most evident in its clashes with the United States over nonproliferation and US policy for negotiating a cap on nuclear testing in South Asia. This would have left China, by then a member



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of the NPT, which India refused to sign, free to proliferate vertically and horizontally, leaving India permanently behind. The long battle over nonproliferation that erupted in the United States set back the pursuit of a US-​India strategic partnership until the end of the Clinton administration. Attempts to forge a closer economic relationship gained momentum, however, after India introduced economic reforms in 1991, abandoning Nehru’s socialistic pattern of society, and projecting a new image as the “single largest free market in the world.” India’s decision to welcome foreign investment created new interest in US Fortune 500 companies, which began to see India as a competitor to China for their capital. They were reassured by India’s established contract law, rights of individuals under due process of law, developed legal system, modernizing stock markets, and democratic institutions. The US Commerce Department, in 1994, identified India as a “Big Emerging Market” and, in January 1995, established the government-​to-​ government US-​India Commercial Alliance to promote contacts between the private sectors in both countries. Multinationals like IBM, General Electric, and Enron led the way to bringing US investment in India from minuscule levels to almost $7 billion during 1997–​2001. Even on this modest scale, the United States became the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India. Over time, however, India’s slow removal of ceilings on FDI by industry, and its current requirement that foreign investors source 20 percent of their inputs from within the country, has put a break on the initial enthusiasm for the Indian market. In 2016, FDI from the United States was still subdued, at $4 billion.3 During the mid-​ 1990s, in the second Clinton administration, debate crystallized between those who continued to believe that nonproliferation issues should drive policy toward India and Pakistan and those with knowledge of the subcontinent who urged a new approach delinking the two bilateral relationships and giving priority to a closer strategic relationship with India as a country having the potential to emerge as a major power. The old Cold War mentality of equating India and Pakistan started to wane in the State Department and among senior nonproliferation officials willing to acknowledge the complexity of India’s security concerns, encompassing both Pakistan and China. The 1997 review of US policies toward South Asia and India, sounding out officials across the government and outside experts, led to a series of high-​level visits, culminating in 2000 with the visit of President Clinton to India, the first by an American president in over twenty years. The policy review stimulated new thinking on nuclear issues. Subsequently, the Clinton administration recognized the reality that both India and Pakistan had become de facto nuclear states and the United States would not be able to reverse this ground reality. The US National Security Strategy for a New Century,



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released in May 1997, quietly dropped the well-​worn “cap, reduce over a period of time and eliminate” nuclear weapons capabilities in South Asia. The momentum swung toward breaking the linkage between India and Pakistan. The principle of parity was abandoned at the end of President Clinton’s second term. By then, it was clear that India’s sustained economic growth at about 6 percent annually over twenty years, its emergence as a world center of information technology and business process outsourcing, its large numbers of English-​speaking, top-​quality technical experts and engineers, and its indigenously developed nuclear, space, and defense capabilities all signaled the rise of a second potentially great power in Asia. Both countries perceived a convergence of security interests. These included combating jihadist terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue actors, ensuring stability and peace in Asia, protecting the sea lanes, enlarging bilateral scientific and technological cooperation, and pushing up India’s growth rate to narrow the gap with China in the competition for investment, trade, and political influence in the extended region Even so, efforts by the United States to achieve a better working relationship with India had to be postponed until the second term of the Bush administration. The attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001, by terrorists owing allegiance to al-​ Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, consumed American foreign policy. President Bush declared the “war on terrorism,” which included the doctrine of preemptive military action, and ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, then under control of the Taliban and the sanctuary for al-​Qaeda. The end of the Taliban regime in December 2001 kept the United States tied up in Afghanistan with the hope of establishing conditions, including constitutional arrangements, suitable for democracy. Even before the reconstruction effort could be completed, attention turned to Iraq, which was increasingly viewed as another threat in the war on terror. The (mistaken) belief that the government of Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons led the United States to organize another “coalition of the willing” and to invade Iraq in 2003. Although Bagdad quickly fell, the US occupation was prolonged once again by the need to restore stability under new governing arrangements. When the second Bush administration turned its attention back to Asia and considered how to balance against the rise of China, it ran into a recalcitrant India. Not only was it difficult to overcome years of mutual distrust, but India found US laws banning nuclear commerce and placing outright curbs on sales of dual-​use technologies with nonsignatories of the NPT especially galling. After India’s 1998 nuclear tests, US exports to India of nuclear fuel and reactors, as well as dual-​use technologies, were prohibited under the domestic 1954 Atomic Energy Act and the 1978 Nuclear Non-​Proliferation Act, which required nonsignatories of the NPT to



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adopt full-​scope safeguards on all nuclear reactors before the United States could export nuclear technology to them. The US technology denial regime targeted some two hundred institutions or “entities” and ruled out cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and fields unrelated to nuclear weapons, such as space and defense. Indian officials at the highest levels expressed resentment at continuing technology denials, citing India’s indigenous nuclear and missile programs and “impeccable” record on nonproliferation, in contrast to China, a latter-​day signatory of the NPT known to have suppled nuclear designs and missile components to Pakistan. Critics of US policy asserted that restrictions on technology trade were designed to keep India down and were responsible for the very low level of trust of the United States across major areas of the Indian government, including the Defense Ministry, the Department of Atomic Energy, and the Ministry of External Affairs. India’s leaders made it clear that establishing trust was absolutely essential to a long-​term relationship and that an Indo-​US nuclear deal was the best way to address the problem if trust. At the same time, the United States was confronting its own action-​forcing event. Its renewed dependence on Pakistan as a front-​line state in the war on terrorism made it impossible to avoid a positive decision on providing F-​16s to Pakistan, withheld after Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests, despite a contract to sell the planes. The impending announcement of this decision lent new urgency to reevaluating Washington’s whole approach to the region. President George W.  Bush supported Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who made a strategic argument for the important role of South and Central Asia in the twenty-​first century, considering the area, and in particular, India, as a subject in world politics. This approach was analogous to the US decision in the late 1940s and early 1950s to create conditions under which Germany and Japan emerged as anchors in their regions and developed strong relationships with the United States. The new conceptualization had important implications for how the United States wanted to position itself relative to India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The most important aspect of this new outlook was to break apart the India-​Pakistan linkage so that India became the key to stability in this region. The message accompanying the sale of F-​16s to Pakistan was that the decision was to strengthen Pakistan as a regional power engaged in the war against terrorism, but that the United States had made a decisive change in policy to assist India to become a global power in the twenty-​first century.

US-​India Nuclear Deal The Bush administration’s policy was a break from the Cold War era. There was no expectation of placing pressure on India to follow US policies. On the



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contrary, this was a long-​term initiative quite realistic about India’s unwillingness to think in terms of a subordinate role, along with the recognition that India was in the process of a transition that would continue for many years. The United States accepted India’s argument that a new atmosphere of trust was necessary to establish a strong long-​term relationship. The nuclear deal was intended to create the atmosphere of trust missing since the 1950s and needed to maximize cooperation over converging interests. The notion that this initiative was directly aimed at balancing China didn’t capture the geostrategic vision of encouraging natural balances in Asia that would strengthen stability. The United States, at the same time, was engaged in persuading China to become a responsible stakeholder by accepting a place for China as a great power in the world order. State Department officials believed US policy toward India and China could coexist, taking into account positive developments to bolster a strong area called South-​Central Asia with India in the leading position. India’s perspective was similar as it set out to play an important role in Afghanistan’s development. China, however, viewed the US move toward India as a potential strategy to undercut its ambition of becoming the dominant power in Asia. Such a radical change in policy, managed by a few advocates in the State Department with a few supporters in the Defense Department, involved a hard bureaucratic fight. Inside the State Department, the nonproliferation bureau was completely opposed, and the South Asia bureau, set to become the South-​Central Asia bureau despite its long-​standing interests in Pakistan, was not helpful. Many senior officials shared concerns that a strong arms control regime was threatened. As against this opposition, President Bush weighed in for the deal. He also liked the idea of helping to move India toward greater use of nuclear energy from heavy dependence on fossil fuels, in part because this could reduce New Delhi’s need to rely on the Gulf and Iran. The deal signed in New Delhi on March 2, 2006, during President Bush’s visit to India, reflected the maximum that the president was willing to defend, but also the minimum required by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to satisfy critics in India’s Atomic Energy Commission and among the opposition parties who charged that the Congress-​led coalition government could “sell out” India’s strategic nuclear program and draw India too closely into Washington’s defense policies. Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) managed to carry along the reluctant nuclear research establishment and the opposition because President Bush was willing to accept a deal that would fully protect India’s weapons program. This was accomplished through an agreement to place under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards fourteen of India’s twenty-​two nuclear power reactors, as determined by India to have no national security



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significance. The others were to be designated as closed military facilities while excluding from safeguards research and fast-​breeder reactors considered the mainstay for production of fissile materials for India’s weapons program. As one prominent Indian commentator put it, “The Indo-​US nuclear deal is the best India could have got, ever.”4 The nuclear deal was followed a short time later in June 2005, by the bilateral “New Framework for the US-​India Defense Relationship,” which outlined an ambitious ten-​year cooperative agenda to reinforce the strategic partnership.

Ambiguity of Strategic Partnership India’s mistrust of the United States, which goes back to 1950 and Nehru’s belief that the United States favored Pakistan in the conflict over Kashmir, hardened over the decades and was confirmed by many watershed events: the 1954 US-​Pakistan military assistance agreement; suspension of military assistance to India in 1965, although Pakistan had attacked first and India had not recovered from China’s attack across the border in 1962; President Nixon’s tilt toward Pakistan during the Bangladesh War in 1971; and suspension of trade in nuclear fuel and dual-​use technologies after India’s 1998 tests without affecting China’s policy of proliferating to Pakistan, or for that matter Pakistan’s proliferation to North Korea and elsewhere. Against this history, and similar experiences not mentioned here, mistrust was mitigated in the last decade, but is not yet fully dissolved. This mistrust is reflected in the search for a strategic partnership itself, as an alternative to an alliance, which allows each country to cooperate on common interests that it would pursue on its own. Indeed, both India and the United States have other strategic partnerships involving different degrees of cooperation. Strategic partnership is how the United States characterizes its relationship with Afghanistan, which is indistinguishable from an alliance providing protection for the Afghan government against a renewed attack by the Taliban. By contrast, the US strategic partnership with Egypt is held together by billions in military assistance even as common interests diverge. India maintains its strategic partnership with Russia, which still is a source of defense equipment. In 2007, a year after the nuclear deal was negotiated, India yielded to Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, who insisted on a China-​India statement using the word “strategic” to describe India-​China relations, and agreed to regular high-​level visits and bilateral defense exercises. The calculus in the United States has moved away from the assumption of the Bush administration that it would be possible to pursue a strategic partnership with India at the same time the United States built a cooperative relationship



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with China. Not only is China suspicious of closer ties between the United States and India, but after China’s aggressive moves over disputed islands in the South China Sea and adjacent waters, the United States, under the Obama administration, shifted its emphasis from the engagement to the balancing side of US-​China relations. As I  have written elsewhere,5 US-​China tensions mounted in 2010 when China announced its right to regulate foreign military activities in its two-​ hundred-​nautical-​mile maritime Exclusive Economic Zone and asserted its claim to most of the South China Sea as a “core national interest.” This was accompanied by a threat to visiting US officials that no interference would be “tolerated” in this vast area of 1.2 million square miles through which a third of global maritime commerce and more than half of northeast Asia’s oil supplies transit, and where US naval forces routinely travel between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. When the United States and South Korea conducted their annual military exercises in the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean Peninsula, China charged the United States with “tight encirclement.” The challenge by China to US supremacy in international waters expressed in its new strategy of “far sea defense” led to redeployment of US naval forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific as part of President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia.” Beijing’s rapid buildup of warships and submarines, and its development of anti-​ship ballistic missiles as an “anti-​access” force against US intervention in a conflict over Taiwan, reinforced the Pentagon’s conviction that China’s military modernization was aimed at displacing US influence in the Pacific and asserting China’s status as a major world power. The American chief of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, flew to Delhi in July 2010 for talks about ensuring stability in the “Indo-​Pacific” region. The State Department responded to these events by reiterating its long-​ standing doctrine of US national interest in freedom of the seas and navigation with open access to Asia’s maritime commons under international law. India’s policy, by contrast, seeks to avoid any actions that could be considered provocative by China and, to this extent, is similar to the approach during the Nehru years. Its Look East Policy dating from 1991 and the Narasimha Rao government allows India to cooperate with China within the framework of ASEAN institutions while at the same time elevating its status as a partner with Japan and the United States. ASEAN, whose members operate on the basis of consensus with respect to security issues, is designed to develop community interests, most notably through trade, and originally was conceived, with US support, as a bulwark against external, communist threats. While smaller countries in Southeast Asia now would like India to function as a counterweight to China and become a security provider, India has yet to take on such a role. Neither the United States nor India wants a confrontation with China. As the history of Indo-​US relations in this book suggests, each country wants to leverage



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its relationship with the other for different goals. India values closer relations with the United States for the advantages it receives in access to US technologies and foreign direct investment, which support its primary goal of pushing up growth rates to rival China’s while constructing the military strength of a great power in Asia. The United States is intent on maintaining its own position of primacy in the Asia-​Pacific, a goal that can only meet with ambivalence in India, whose formative foreign policy of Asianism was designed to keep the United States out of what was considered India’s region, especially in Southeast Asia. While India and the United States are pursuing congruent goals and want to cooperate, they also have doubts about how much they can rely on each other. India’s ingrained distrust of America’s reliability has led to doubts that the United States will stay the course in the strategic relationship to balance China. The concern is that if other issues make it more advantageous for the United States to recognize China’s interests in South or Southeast Asia, India will be left exposed. The United States, for its part, is wary that India is not willing to mesh its other foreign policy objectives with those of its more powerful partner, but is also not yet economically or militarily strong enough to hold the balance on its own. The progress towards a strategic partnership amid these uncertainties during the Obama administration, 2008–​2016, was notable for its rhetorical commitment. During the first US-​India Strategic Dialogue in 2009, the United States and India endorsed the vision of a strong bilateral security relationship as a defining partnership for the twenty-​first century. China was not mentioned. The emphasis was placed on expanding cooperation to counter terrorism and the two countries called for the elimination of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The other areas of easy convergence were identified as maritime security cooperation, cybersecurity cooperation, and UN peacekeeping. A central role was given to defense cooperation: the United States offered to sell India world-​class defense platforms and to partner with India in developing state-​of-​ the-​art technologies. In 2015, the United States surpassed Russia as the top provider of arms supplies to India. President Obama’s assurance to India that the United States would bolster India’s role in the complex of nonproliferation organizations whose members were formerly limited to signatories of the NPT was mainly enacted by 2016, when India entered the Missile Technology Control Regime and the forty-​two-​member Wassenaar Arrangement that regulates access to dual-​use technologies. Still, China’s opposition kept India out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and US support for India’s membership on the US Security Council could not prevail. India will be constrained for some time to come by its insistence on strategic autonomy on the one hand and its much smaller global presence on the other. The unofficial conceptualization of Non-​Alignment 2 in 2012 recognized China’s “enormous” strategic footprint in Asia and the desire of many countries



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for India to play a more active strategic and economic role. It considered the United States, as the single largest power, receptive to partnering with India as the biggest new power, but cautioned India could “become a casualty of any tactical upswing in Sino-​American ties.”6 The other danger from India’s perspective is that since China is suspicious of a US-​India partnership, too close a relationship could prematurely antagonize China. India’s caution is well founded. Despite a spurt of very high growth rates of more than 7 percent—​in recent years touching 9 percent—​in 2016 India’s GDP of US$22.2 trillion was about one-​fifth of China’s US$11 trillion. It still needs to make rapid progress in expanding industry relative to agriculture so that it can sustain the record levels of FDI at almost $33 billion in 2016. A low-​profile international role based on expanded opportunities for building up trade and investment linkages through ASEAN has been economically successful. ASEAN was India’s fourth largest trading partner, with amounts of US$70 billion in 2016–​2017. At the same time, India has been able to diversify its military cooperation beyond the United States by participating in joint naval exercises with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. ASEAN has given India a major opportunity to assert a leadership role in Southeast Asia. The limitation of ASEAN is that it cannot provide military security on India’s borders. China’s continuing challenge to India flared unexpectedly in July 2017 when Chinese troops accompanied by road-​building equipment moved into Doklan in Bhutanese territory, where the borders of China, India, and Bhutan intersect. This area was claimed by China along with Aksai Chin from the 1950s, and India responded to Bhutan’s request for assistance. China told India to withdraw its troops, India called for both sides to withdraw troops, and for now both China and India have decided to disengage in Doklan. Amid reports that China is building a massive military complex close to Doklan, India still faces the same hazard posed by China’s invasion in 1962. In the absence of a formal alliance with the United States, there is no way to know how the United States would respond if China again posed a threat to India’s security. It would be a mistake to assume, as Nehru often did, that India is more important to the United States than the United States is to India. Nevertheless, the notion of strategic partnership has resulted in major advances in US-​India relations. The dynamic of distrust since 1950 is giving way to a reciprocal relationship in which each country accepts the good intentions of the other and conducts diplomacy on an equal footing. This is most evident in the defense trade that would have been unimaginable during the Nehru-​Krishna Menon years. Over the last decade, from the time of the nuclear deal, US sales to India of military equipment, including advanced platforms previously available only to allies, reached US$15 billion. This was recognized in 2016 when India became the first “Major Defense Partner” of the United States.7 Other bonds



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between the United States and India are also growing thicker, in trade, investment, and the first serious discussions about codevelopment and coproduction of defense items in India. As the twenty-​first century unfolds, China’s challenge to both the United States and India is clear. Chinese president Xi Jinping told the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party on October 18, 2017, that the “China Dream” in a “new era” of “strategic opportunity” is to return China to its central place in Asia, and among the nations of the world. Xi, whose authority over the party and the military was buttressed by including “Xi Jinping Thought” as part of the party’s constitution, has drawn comparison with Mao Zedong for his comprehensive power. It is Xi who intends to lead by example in presenting a new economic and political model to the developing world. The United States, under President Trump’s administration from 2016, has not announced a new Asia strategy and can continue with its long-​standing alliances since 1951 centered on Japan. Recent references to the Indo-​Pacific rather than the Asia Pacific are consistent with the importance of India for strategic cooperation, which Japan also welcomes. Japan, India, and the United States have together engaged in the trilateral Exercise Malabar since 2007. In 2017, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India was revived despite earlier Chinese objections that it represented an effort to contain China. Mao’s vision of China at the center and Nehru’s certitude of India’s destiny as a great power now contend in history with America’s role since 1950 as the leader of the free world and the global hegemon. Still unclear is when and whether India will formulate a post-​Nehru security doctrine for the new Asian era.



NOTES

Preface 1. The most comprehensive study is Dennis Kux, India and the United States:  Estranged Democracies (Washington, DC: Washington Defense University Press, 1993); and the most detailed for the period 1947–​1965, Robert J. McMahon, The Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India and Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). 2. During my interview with Nehru in 1959 when I first came to India as a Fulbright student, he answered my naive question of how he could consider himself a follower of Gandhi when he was pursuing rapid industrialization under the five-​year plans in this way: He said that he had always followed “right means” and believed ends were the same as means and convertible. I interpreted this to refer to his dedication to democratic institutions of government at a time when nationalist leaders were tempted to turn their popularity into permanent rule. 3. Nehru’s biographer, S. Gopal, who had access to the Nehru Papers, was fully aware of Menon’s influence but concluded Menon was Nehru’s “catspaw,” adding facetiously that he left it for me to write about.

Chapter 1 1. US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (hereafter FRUS), vols. 3–​8, 10–​11, 13, 15–​16, 21 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1959–​90), 1941, vol. 3, The British Commonwealth, the Near East and Africa, 177. 2. Patrick French, Liberty or Death:  India’s Journey to Independence and Division (London: HarperCollins, 1997), 137. 3. FRUS, 1941, vol. 3, cited in “Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” Washington, November 7, 1941, 185. 4. FRUS, 1941, vol. 3, “Under Secretary of State Welles to Secretary of State Cordell Hull,” 187. 5. Sarvepalli Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography, vol. 1: 1889–​1947 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1975), 231. 6. Jawaharlal Nehru, “India’s Day of Reckoning,” Fortune, April 1942. 7. For a detailed account of these initiatives, see Kux, India and the United States, chap. 1; and French, Liberty or Death, 135–​149. 8. William Phillips to President Roosevelt, July 26, 1944, in Sir R. Campbell to Mr. Eden, The Transfer of Power, 1942–​7:  Constitutional Relations between Britain and India, ed. Nicolas Mansergh, 12 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1970–​83), 1121. 9. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 249. 10. See Leonard A. Gordon, “Mahatma Gandhi’s Dialogues with Americans,” Economic and Political Weekly 34, no. 4 ( January 26–​February 1, 2002), 337–​352. 11. P. N. Haksar, Premonitions (Bombay: Interpress, 1979), 9. 295



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12. Nehru, “India’s Day of Reckoning.” 13. M. S. Venkatarami, “The Evolution of Indian Images of American Political Motivations,” in Conflicting Images, ed. R. Sulochana and Nathan Glazer (Glen Dale, MD: Riverdale, 1990), 27. 14. Venkatarami, “Evolution of Indian Images,” 27. 15. Jawaharlal Nehru, Discovery of India (Calcutta: Signet Press, 1946), 405. 16. Gordon, “Mahatma Gandhi’s Dialogues,” 337–​352. 17. Harijan, April 27, 1942, cited in “Social Conditions, Attitudes and Propaganda in India with Suggestions for American Orientation toward the Indians,” Office of Strategic Services, Psychology Division, Divisional Report No. 49, May 14, 1942, 1. 18. FRUS, Diplomatic Papers, 1943, vol. 4, The Near East and Africa, “Mr. William Phillips, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt in India, to the Secretary of State,” New Delhi, April 11, 1943, 269. 19. Telegram to Department of State from Donovan, “Bombay via Army,” FRUS, December 8, 1945. 20. Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men:  Six Friends and the World They Made. Acheson, Bohlen, Harriman, Kennan, Lovett, McCloy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987). 21. Ibid.,  362. 22. FRUS, 1946, vol. 6, 707. 23. FRUS, 1946, vol. 6, 575–​576. 24. William G. Hyland, “Containment: 40 Years Later. Introduction,” Foreign Affairs, Spring 1987, https://​w ww.foreignaffairs.com/​articles/​r ussian-​federation/​1987-​03-​01/​containment-​ 40-​years-​later-​introduction. 25. Nehru, “India’s Day of Reckoning.” 26. Jawaharlal Nehru, “To Lord Wavell, 30th October, 1946,” in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Second Series (hereafter Selected Works), ed. Sarvepalli Gopal, vols. 1, 2, 4 (New Delhi:  Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, distributed by Oxford University Press, 1984, 1987), vol. 1, 462. 27. Jawaharlal Nehru, “Free India’s Role in World Affairs, September 7, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 405. 28. Jawaharlal Nehru, “To Vijayalakshmi Pandit, November 14, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 539. 29. Jawaharlal Nehru, “Note to Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, September 7, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 443. 30. Jawaharlal Nehru, “The United Nations. Note, September 5, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 438. 31. Jawaharlal Nehru, “ ‘An Honest Foreign Policy,’ September 16, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 451. 32. Ibid.,  439. 33. Jawaharlal Nehru, “India and the Membership of the Security Council, Note, October 30, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 464. 34. Nehru Papers, Second Installment, File 185, K.  P. S.  Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, ca. November 1, 1946. 35. Nehru Papers, Second Installment, File 185, Nehru to K. P. S. Menon, November 17, 1946. 36. Nehru Papers, Second Installment, File 219, Vijaylakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, December 8, 1946. 37. Nehru Papers, Second Installment, File 185, K.  P. S.  Menon to Pandit Nehru, December 27, 1946. 38. Ibid. 39. Nehru Papers, Second Installment, K. P. S. Menon to Pandit Nehru, December 9, 1946. 40. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 202. 41. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, “Selected Correspondence between Krishna Menon and Jawaharlal Nehru, 1942–​ 47,” October 17, 1946. 42. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, October 3, 1946. 43. Jawaharlal Nehru, “To V.  K. Krishna Menon, September 23, 1946,” in Selected Works, vol. 1, 488.





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44. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, November 23, 1946. 45. FRUS, 1947, vol. 3, The British Commonwealth, Europe, “The Secretary of State to the Embassy in India,” Washington, January 22, 1947, 139. 46. Kux, India and the United States, 52.

Chapter 2 1. President Roosevelt to Mr. Hopkins for Prime Minister Churchill, April 12, 1942, Doc. 611, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 1, 759. 2. Sir R. Campbell to Sir A. Cadogan, August 5, 1942, Doc. 424, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 2, 576. 3. The Marquess of Linlithgow to Mr. Amery, April 2, 1943, Doc. 636, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 3, 873. 4. Sir R. Campbell to Sir A. Cadogan, August 5, 1942, Doc. 424, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 2, 576. 5. For an authoritative account of Jinnah’s difficulties in reconciling his claim to be national spokesman for all Muslims with demands by local politicians in Muslim majority provinces to be autonomous within their own sphere, see Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). 6. Basic documentation from official British records is drawn from Mansergh, Transfer of Power. 7. French, Liberty or Death. 8. Also see ibid., 231. 9. Statement by the Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Amery, MP, Secretary of State for India, April 7, 1942, Doc. 542, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 1, 668–​671. 10. Lord Linlithgow to Amery, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, Doc. 30, Annex, vol. 1, 66. 11. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 233. 12. Colin Cooke, The Life of Richard Stafford Cripps (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1957), 256. 13. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 276–​287. 14. Resolution of the Congress Working Committee, April 11, 1942, Doc. 605, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 1, 745–​746. 15. Statement by Sir Stafford Cripps, Ministry of Information Press Conference, April 22, 1942, Doc. 665, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 1, 813. 16. “Viability of Pakistan,” India Office, February 13, 1946, Doc. 427, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 6, 951–​964. 17. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru,  16–​29. 18. Cited in Selected Works, vol. 1, 1, 556, 2. 19. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 344. 20. French, Liberty or Death, 155, calling Mountbatten “a bit-​player in the story of India’s independence.” 21. “India Defense Arrangements,” report by the Chiefs of Staff, Ministry of Defense, March 18, 1947, Doc. 544, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 9, 977. 22. “Record of Meeting Held at the India Office, on 11 March 1947 to discuss India’s Future Relations with the Commonwealth,” March 1947, Doc. 522, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 9, 917. 23. “Record of Interview between Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan,” April 10, 1947, Doc. 178, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 10, 332–​333. 24. Mountbatten’s discussion with Lord Ismay about using the Pakistan threat as a lever to get India to join the Commonwealth, May 11, 1947, Doc. 409, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 10, 776. 25. Rear-​Admiral Mountbatten of Burma to Lord Ismay (via India Office), May 11, 1947, Doc. 409, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 10, 774. 26. French, India and the United States, 301. 27. Mr. Churchill to Mr. Attlee, May 21, 1947, Doc. 513, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 10, 946. 28. The Earl of Listowel to Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, August 1, 1947, Doc. 307, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 460.



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29. Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma to the Earl of Listowel, August 4, 1947, Doc. 340, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 529. 30. Lord Ismay on splitting the army, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, Doc. 178, vol. 10, 774. 31. “Minutes of Viceroy’s Twenty Ninth Staff Meeting,” June 12, 1947, Item 5, Doc. 366, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 703. 32. “The Viceroy’s Personal Report No. 17,” August 16, 1947, Doc. 489, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 765. 33. “Minutes of Viceroy’s Sixty Ninth Staff Meeting,” August 1947, Doc. 389, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 611. 34. French, India and the United States, chap. 20. 35. “Cabinet, India and Burma Committee,” May 28, 1947, Doc. 553, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 10, 1019–​1029. 36. “Draft Memorandum from the Chiefs of Staff to the Minister of Defence,” July 7, 1947, Doc. 554, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 11, 958. 37. Jerry H. Brookshire, Clement Attlee (New York: Manchester University Press, 1995), chap. 6. 38. Ambassador Jack Balfour to Foreign Office, February 4, 1947, FO 371 61071, File No. 267, PRO, Kew. 39. “Record of Informal Political and Strategic Talks in Washington on the Middle East Held from 16 October 1947 to 4 November 1947,” Foreign Office 371, 61114, File Number 3997, PRO, Kew, 51. 40. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, 268. 41. Cited in Janet Morgan, Edwina Mountbatten:  A Life of Her Own (London:  HarperCollins, 1991), 432. 42. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Lord Mountbatten to Jawaharlal Nehru, December 31, 1962. 43. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Lord Mountbatten to Jawaharlal Nehru, January 4, 1952. 44. Pandit Nehru to Mr. Attlee, July 11, 1947, Doc. 74, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, vol. 12, 111 (emphasis added). 45. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Letters (hereafter First Installment), Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, May 3, 1948. 46. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Her Excellency Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, June 8, 1949. 47. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, April 14, 1949. 48. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, April 14, 1949. 49. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Sir Stafford Cripps to Jawaharlal Nehru, April 28, 1949. 50. “India’s Foreign Policy and her relation to the Commonwealth, Memo from Commonwealth Relations Office written by P.  J. Noel-​Baker,” FO 372 76091/​1028, undated, May 1949, PRO, Kew.

Chapter 3 1. Interview, H. Y. Sharada Prasad, New Delhi, August 27, 1983. 2. Telegram, dated October 19, 1947, from Foreign Minister, Karachi, to the Prime Minister, Kashmir and Jammu State, Srinagar, printed in India (Dominion), “White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir” (Delhi: Government of India, 1948), 10. 3. “White Paper on Jammu & Kashmir,” 8–​12. 4. The degree to which the British connected the “loss” of Pakistan with the collapse of their entire position as a great power in the area from Turkey to Pakistan is revealed in official documents for 1948 released by HMG in 2008 and available in the National Archives, Kew. See Rakesh Ankit, “1948: The Crucial Year in the History of Jammu and Kashmir,” Economic and Political Weekly 45, no. 11 (March 13–​19, 2010), 49–​58. 5. FRUS, 1947, vol. 3, Conversation of Ambassador Henry Grady, Ambassador Paul Ailing (Pakistan), Ambassador Jerome Huddle (Burma), Raymond Hare, Ray Thurston, Washington, December 26, 1947, 175. 6. FRUS, 1947, vol. 3, Acting Secretary of State Lovett to Ambassador Grady, December 2, 1947.





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7. “Record of Interview between Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and Pandit Kak,” June 22, 1947, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, No. 294, vol. 11. 8. Pandit Nehru to Rear-​Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, July 16, 1947, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, No. 249, vol. 12. 9. “Viceroy’s Personal Report No. 15, August 1, 1947, in Mansergh, Transfer of Power, No. 302, vol. 12. 10. To Vallabhbhai Patel, September 27, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 263–​264. 11. To M. C. Mahajan, New Delhi, October 21, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 272–​273. 12. Cable to C. R. Attlee, Selected Works, vol. 4, 274–​275. 13. The text of the instrument of accession, October 26, 1947, signed by Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, Mountbatten’s acceptance of the instrument of accession, and his separate reply to Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, October 27, 1947, are included as appendixes 4, 5, and 6, in V.K. Krishna Menon’s Marathon Speech on Kashmir at the Security Council, ed. Mulk Raj Anand (Allahabad: Wheeler Publishing, 1992), 190–​193. 14. To Hiralal Atal, Selected Works, vol. 4, 284. 15. “To Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah,” October 27, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 281. 16. To Dalip Singh, Selected Works, vol. 4, 306. 17. “To the Maharaja of Kashmir,” November 13, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 325. 18. “To Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah,” November 21, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 337. 19. To the Maharaja of Kashmir, December 1, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 351. 20. “Record of a Meeting Convened by Lord Mountbatten, Lahore,” December 8, 1947 Selected Works, vol. 4, 361–​368. 21. Telegram from Sir A. Cadogan, New York to Foreign Office, January 1, 1948, FO 371 69705. 22. Cable to C. R. Attlee, December 30, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 4, 418. 23. FRUS, 1947, vol. 3, Chargé in the United Kingdom to the Secretary of State, December 29, 1947. 24. From Sir Grafftey-​Smith, High Commissioner, Karachi to the Rt. Hon. Philip Noel-​Baker, MP, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, December 1947, FO 371 69705, 1947, PRO, Kew, 12th. 25. From Pakistan High Commissioner to India High Commissioner, January 3, 1948, FO 371 69705, 1948, PRO, Kew. 26. India, High Commissioner to Commonwealth Relations Office, December 31, 1947, FO 371 69705. 27. From Foreign Office to New York, to United Kingdom Delegation to United Nations, January 3, 1948, FO 371 69705, 1948, PRO, Kew. 28. Note by G. G. Fitzmaurice, February 27, 1948, FO 371 69710, PRO, Kew 29. From Indian Delegation to the United Nations to Foreign Office, January 1, 1948, FO 371 69705, PRO, Kew. 30. Note by T. S. Tull, Foreign Office, January 5, 1948, FO 371 69705, PRO, Kew; emphasis added. 31. To U.K. Delegation from the Foreign Office, January 10, 1948, FO 371 69707, PRO, Kew. 32. David J. Whittaker, Fighter for Peace:  Philip Noel-​ Baker, 1889–​ 1982 (York, England:  William Sessions, 1989), 192–​193; Philip Noel-​Baker, the son of Canadian Quakers and a pacifist decorated for bravery during World War I service with a Friends’ ambulance unit in Europe, had dedicated his life to the cause of world disarmament and was a Labour Party stalwart from 1929. His high-​profile assignments at the League of Nations, and the 1932–​1933 disarmament conference, as well as his reputation as writer of several distinguished books, made him an international figure. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959. 33. From Foreign Office to New  York (to United Kingdom Delegation to United Nations), January 3, 1948, FO 371 69705; From New York to Foreign Office (From United Kingdom Delegation to United Nations), January 9, 1948, FO 371 69705, PRO, Kew. 34. Cited by Anita Inder Singh, The Limits of British Influence: South Asia and the Anglo-​American Relationship, 1947–​56 (London: Pinter, 1993), notes to chap. 1, 62; File I/​6, Gordon Walker Papers, April 4, 1948, Churchill College, Cambridge, 248–​249. 35. High Commissioner in Washington to Foreign Office, January 5, 1948, FO 371 69705, 1948, PRO, Kew.



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36. From U.K. Delegation to U.N. and from Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to Foreign Office, Telegram No. 135 of 19th January, F1041, January 20, 1949, Telegram from Sir A. Cadogan, PRO, Kew 37. From UK Delegation to UN (Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations) to High Commissioner, New Delhi, January 31, 1948, FO 371 69707, PRO, Kew. 38. U.K. Delegate to UN, Secretary of State, C.R.O.  to High Commissioner, New Delhi and C.R.O., February 3, 1948, FO 371 69708, 1948, PRO, Kew. 39. Cited in Telegram from U.K. High Commissioner in India to C.R.O., February 7, 1948, FO 371 69709, 1948, PRO, Kew. 40. FO 371 69709, 1948, PRO, Kew. 41. From Foreign Office to New York, from Prime Minister for Secretary of State Commonwealth Relations, January 28, 1948, PRO, Kew. 42. Telegram from Cadogan to Foreign Office, February 13, 1948, FO 371 69709, 1948, PRO, Kew. 43. Foreign Office to U.K. Representative to U.N., February 26, 1948, PRO, Kew. 44. From U.K. High Commissioner in India, personal to Mr. Attlee from Lord Mountbatten, February 24, 1948, PRO, Kew. 45. FRUS, 1948, vol. 5, pt. 1, The Near East, South Asia and Africa, Ambassador Grady to Secretary of State, March 20, 1948. 46. Prime Minister to Noel-​Baker, April 2, 1948, FO 371 69714, 1948, PRO, Kew. 47. Message for Sir A.  Carter, C.R.O.  from Sir Patrick, giving text of letter from Mr. N. Gopalaswami, Indian Delegation to the Secretary of State Commonwealth Relations, April 6, 1948, FO 371 69714, PRO, Kew. 48. From New York to Foreign Office, Personal for Prime Minister from Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, April 6, 1948, FO 371 69715, 1948, PRO, Kew. 49. “Kashmir,” Dening to Secretary of State, April 8, 1948, FO 371 69714, 1948, PRO, Kew. 50. From Foreign Office to New York (to United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations), April 13, 1948, article on Kashmir deadlock, by Leadering, Times, April 13, 1948, FO 371 69715, 1948, PRO, Kew. 51. Letter from Deputy High Commissioner for U.K. (Peshawar) to Sir Laurence Grafftey-​Smith, High Commissioner for U.K. in Pakistan, May 17, 1948, FO 371 69718, 1948, PRO, Kew. 52. V. K. Krishna Menon’s Marathon Speech on Kashmir presents India’s understanding at length in chap. 2. The resolution of the United Nations Security Council of August 13, 1948, is included as appendix 15. 53. Ibid., appendix 16, “Summary of Assurances Given to India by United States Commission during Course of Discussions and Correspondence,” 208. 54. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, J. Nehru to Foreign Secretary, December 15, 1948. 55. Note by Mr. R.  Best, 23/​2/​50 by the South-​East Asia Department, FO 371 84244, 1950, PRO, Kew. 56. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Bajpai to B. N. Rau, May 27, 1949. 57. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru for Krishna Menon, January 10, 1949; emphasis added. 58. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “From Vijayalaksmi Pandit for Bajpai,” June 30, 1949. 59. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note by J. Nehru, August 10, 1949. 60. Nehru Papers, First Installment, J. Nehru to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, August 24, 1949. 61. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note from G.  S. Bajpai to Honorable Prime Minister, September 2, 1949. 62. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to the Honorable Harry S.  Truman, September 8, 1949. 63. Yearbook of the United Nations, 1948–​49 (New  York:  Columbia University Press in co-​ operation with the United Nations), 282. 64. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note prepared by G. S. Bajpai (n.d.), December 1948. 65. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Kashmir and the Security Council” (n.d.), December 1949. 66. FRUS, 1951, vol. 6, pt. 2, “Draft Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council on South Asia,” January 22, 1951, 1651.





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67. Nehru Papers, First Installment, B.  N. Rau to the Honorable Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, February 1, 1950. 68. Yearbook of the United Nations, 1953, 178–​179. 69. For a full account see Sandeep Bamzai, Bonfire of Kashmiriyat: Deconstructing the Accession (New Delhi: Rupa, 2006), chap. 13. 70. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Lord Mountbatten, May 3, 1951. 71. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Lord Mountbatten, July 30, 1951. 72. Menon, Marathon Speech on Kashmir, 98. 73. Cited in ibid., 92.

Chapter 4 1. According to one English scholar the cultural flows amounted to the “Indianization” of these societies. H. G. Quaritch Wales, The Indianization of China and Southeast Asia (London:  Bernard Quaritch, 1967). Nehru’s imagination was captured by twentieth-​ century scholarship, which rediscovered “waves of (cultural) colonization” from India through the many countries of Southeast Asia. He refers to his excitement when he first read about the flowering of Indian art and culture in Java and Cambodia. Nehru, The Discovery of India, citing H. G. Quaritch Wales, Towards Angkor in the Footsteps of the Indian Invaders (London: Harrap, 1937), 195–​203. 2. US Department of State, “India’s Concepts of Its Future Role in Southeast Asia,” Division of Research for Near East and Asia, Office of Intelligence Research (Washington, DC: OIR Report No. 4477, March 8, 1949), 2. 3. “Chinese Attitude to the Asian Conference,” Selected Works, vol. 2, 502. 4. “A United Asia for World Peace,” Speech delivered at the Plenary Session of the Asian Relations Conference, New Delhi, March 23, 1947, Selected Works, vol. 2, 506. 5. US Department of State, “India’s Concepts,” 194. 6. FRUS, 1949, vol. 7, pt. 1, The Far East and Australasia, “Interest of the United States in Nationalist Opposition to the Restoration of Netherlands Rule in the East Indies and Consideration by the United Nations Security Council of the Indonesian Case; Recognition of Indonesia,” January 3, 1949, 119. 7. FRUS, 1949, vol. 7, pt. 1, “The Acting Secretary of State to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin),” November 23, 1949, 572. 8. FRUS, 1948, vol. 5, pt. 1, “The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State, Paris,” January 7, 1948, 516. 9. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru, “Note on India and Indonesia,” June 28, 1949. 10. Nehru Papers, First Installment, F.N.90, New Delhi, February 3, 1949. 11. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Jawaharlal Nehru to Thakin Nu, Prime Minister of Burma, April 14, 1949. 12. The most influential Indian work developing this theme is K. M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance: A Survey of the Vasco Da Gama Epoch of Asian History, 1498–​1945 (New York: John Day Company, 1954), 487. 13. Government of India Press Information Bureau, House of the People, “Text of Prime Minister’s Speech, Foreign Affairs Debate,” New Delhi, December 23, 1953. 14. President Truman’s invitation to Nehru, initially conveyed in March 1948 by Henry Grady, the first American ambassador to India, was postponed for a year by the prime minister’s irritation over pressure to resolve the Kashmir dispute, but was renewed by Grady’s successor, Loy Henderson, in April 1949. 15. FRUS, 1948, vol. 5, pt. 1, “The Ambassador in India (Grady) to the Secretary of State, New Delhi,” March 18, 1948, 497–​498. 16. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, August 18, 1949. 17. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, June 8, 1949. 18. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, August 24, 1949. 19. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to M. O. Matthai, August 14, 1949.



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20. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal, Krishna Menon to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, August 7, 1952. Menon refers to a conversation with Nehru in the latter part of 1949, when Nehru put this question to him. 21. FRUS, 1948, vol. 5, pt. 1, “The Ambassador in India (Grady) to the Secretary of State, New Delhi,” March 20, 1948, 498. 22. FRUS, 1948, vol. 5, pt. 1, “Memorandum of Conversation by the Acting Secretary of State (Lovett),” April 2, 1948, 506–​508. 23. “Welcome to Nehru,” Washington Post, editorial, October 11, 1949; James Reston, “Importance of Nehru’s Visit Seen in Capital’s Attitude,” New York Times, October 11, 1949; “Nehru’s in Washington,” Christian Science Monitor, editorial, October 12, 1949. 24. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech in the US House of Representatives and the Senate (Washington, DC: Embassy of India, October 13, 1949). 25. “Asia Defense Pact Put Off by Nehru,” New York Times, October 15, 1949. 26. Nehru was accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, his official hostess in New Delhi; his secretary, M. O. Matthai; Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, general secretary, Ministry of External Affairs; and C. D. Desmukh, economic adviser to the prime minister. Mrs. Pandit accompanied the group in her capacity as India’s ambassador to the United States. Known as an ardent advocate of India’s freedom from Great Britain and of independence for all countries under colonial rule, she had first come to the United States as an observer at the San Francisco United Nations conference, after which she had been warmly received during an extensive lecture tour. Endowed with eloquence and charm, she was able to speak her mind on behalf of India without provoking hostility. She also possessed a natural openness to the United States, as her two elder daughters studied at Wellesley College, followed by her youngest daughter, also educated in the United States. For more detail on Mrs. Pandit, see Current Biography 1946 (New York: H.W. Wilson, 1946), 451–​453. 27. Nehru Papers, Third Installment, Sub F No-​61, Prime Minister’s Visit to the United States. 28. Letters to Chief Ministers, New Delhi, Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, ed. Sarvepalli Gopal (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1981), vol. 14, pt. 1, 314–​320. 29. Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (New York: Norton, 1969), 334–​336. Famously, Acheson wrote Nehru was “so important to India and India’s survival so important to all of us that if he did not exist—​as Voltaire said of God—​he would have to be invented. Nevertheless, he was one of the most difficult men with whom I have ever had to deal.” A shorter conversation on October 13, 1949, between Nehru, President Truman and Acheson attended by Sir Girija Bajpai, covered the same basic points, including India’s desire for one million tons of wheat, settlement of the Kashmir dispute, and the situation in China. The difference involved the timing of diplomatic recognition. 30. FRUS, 1949, vol. 6, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, “Memorandum of Conversation by Mr. Joseph S.  Sparks, Advisor to the United States Delegation at the United Nations, New York,” October 19, 1949, 1752–​1756. 31. Robert L. Beisner, Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), chaps. 9–​10. 32. David McCullough, Truman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 303–​308. 33. Nehru Papers, First Installment, No. 2996-​P.M., Jawaharlal Nehru, New Delhi, to Mrs. Dorothy Norman, New York City, June 25, 1951. 34. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Vijalakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, February 5, 1951. 35. FRUS, 1951, vol. 7, pt. 1, Korea and China, “Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State, New Delhi,” January 27, 1951, 140–​142. 36. FRUS, 1949, vol. 7, pt. 2, The Far East and Australasia, “A Report to the President by the National Security Council on the Position of the United States with Respect to Asia,” December 30, 1949, 1215. 37. FRUS, 1949, vol. 6, “U.S. Security Interest, Appendix ‘C’, Memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington,” March 24, 1949, 30–​31. 38. “Liaquat Ali Tells Devotion to Democracy,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 5, 1950. 39. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, May 8, 1950.





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40. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, May 22, 1950. 41. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal and Confidential, No. 729, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Her Excellency Shrimati Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Ambassador for India in the United States, Washington DC, May 29, 1950. 42. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, on board INS Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru to Shri V. K. Krishna Menon, June 4, 1950. 43. Robert L. Beisner, Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 275. 44. For an excellent discussion of these clashing nationalist narratives, see John W. Garver, Protracted Conflict:  Sino-​Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century (Seattle:  University of Washington Press, 2001), chap. 1. 45. The pro-​India Nepali Congress was pitted against the entrenched Rana ruling family, which had usurped power from King Thribhuvan Sir Bhikram Shah. Nehru refused to offer any help to the insurgents claiming to act in the name of the king, but their leader, B. P. Koirala, sought sanctuary in the Indian embassy in Katmandu. Nehru also offered India’s good offices to bring about a peaceful settlement. Once the king was restored, a constitution was framed with the advice of Indian experts and the Koirala-​led government was installed. 46. K. M. Panikkar, An Autobiography, trans. K. Krishnamurthy (Madras:  Oxford University Press, 1977), 194. 47. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, “Note on six months of Communist China” by Sardar K. M. Pannikar, Ambassador of India to China, November 1949. 48. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr.  John Matthai, Finance Minister, September 20, 1949. 49. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, F.N. 46, Copy of letter to the Premiers forwarded with compliments to the Prime Minister, New Delhi, November 14, 1949. 50. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Jawaharlal Nehru, Copy to F. S., December 3, 1951. 51. H. E. Richardson, A Short History of Tibet (New York: E.F. Dutton, 1962), 57. 52. Alistair Lamb, British India and Tibet (New  York:  Routledge & Kegan Paul and Toronto University Press, 1986), 257–​258. 53. For the text of the “Convention between Great Britain and Tibet, Signed at Lhasa, September 7, 1904,” see American Journal of International Law 1, no. 1, Supplement: Official Documents ( January 1907), 80–​83. 54. For text of “Convention Signed on August 31, 1907, between Great Britain and Russia, Containing Arrangements on the Subject of Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet,” see American Journal of International Law 1, no.  4, Supplement:  Official Documents (October, 1907), 403–​405. 55. Sir John Jordan’s Memorandum to the Wai-​chiao-​pu, dated Peking, August 17, 1912, in Alastair Lamb, The McMahon Line: A Study in the Relations between India, China and Tibet, 1904 to 1914, vol. 2: Hardinge, McMahon and the Simla Conference (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966), 604–​605. 56. The rejection was based on territorial concerns arising out of attempts to establish an Inner Tibet in which China’s rights were predominant, but required the Chinese to surrender Chamdo (Amdo), long under their control, and to accept an Outer Tibet, an autonomous buffer state between China and India. 57. For an extended description and discussion of the legal validity of the McMahon Line, see K. Krishna Rao, “The Sino-​Indian Boundary Question and International Law,” International and Comparative Law Quarterly 11, no. 2 (April 1962), 401–​404. 58. The McMahon Line Notes, March 1914; Convention between Great Britain, China and Tibet, initialed at Simla, April 27, 1914; and the Anglo-​Tibetan Trade Regulations, 1914 are published as appendix 16, 618–​619, Appendix 17, 620–​625, and Appendix 18, 626–​630, in Lamb, The McMahon Line, vol. 2. 59. For a detailed account of the apprehended challenges to the McMahon Line that precipitated the decision to bring out a revised edition of the 1929 Aitchison Treaties, see Karunakar



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Gupta, “The McMahon Line 1911–​45:  The British Legacy,” China Quarterly 47 ( July–​ September 1971), 521–​545. 60. The Chinese delegates prevailed after the fact in preventing Tibet from being listed as an independent country and threatened to withdraw from the conference unless the world map was “corrected” to show Tibet in the same color as China. 61. Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 173–​179; Yun-​yuan Yang, “Controversies over Tibet: China versus India, 1947–​49,” China Quarterly 111 (September 1987), 407–​420. 62. Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 177. 63. Qiang Zhai, “Tibet and Chinese-​British-​American Relations in the Early 1950’s,” Journal of Cold War Studies 8, no. 3 (Summer 2006), 34–​53. 64. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 11756, Political, Sikkim, Lhasa to Foreign, New Delhi, November 10, 1949. 65. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Political, Sikkim, Lhasa to Foreign, New Delhi, November 14, 1949. 66. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, F.N. 46, copy of letter to the Premiers forwarded with compliments to the Prime Minister, New Delhi, November 14, 1949. 67. Dawa Norbu, “Tibet in Sino-​Indian Relations: The Centrality of Marginality,” Asian Survey 37, no. 11 (November 1997), 1082. 68. Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 188. 69. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, Summary of India’s Position on Tibet, Sd/​-​G.S. Bajpai, March 23, 1951. 70. FRUS, 1950, vol. 6, East Asia and the Pacific, “The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State,” January 20, 1950, 285–​286. 71. FRUS, 1950, vol. 6, “Henderson to Acheson,” March 8, 1950, 317–​318. 72. Michael Yahuda, China’s Role in World Affairs (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 50. 73. Zhai, “Tibet and Chinese-​British-​American Relations,” 35–​36. 74. If Nehru needed any further evidence on this subject, it was provided by London as late as November 28, 1949. The secretary of state for Commonwealth relations wrote that Tibet maintained its autonomy for more than thirty-​five years and that the UK government was prepared to recognize Chinese suzerainty over Tibet only on the understanding that Tibet’s autonomy was recognized by China. He asserted that this was made clear to the republican government of China in an informal memorandum from Mr. Eden to Dr. T. V. Soong, then minister of foreign affairs, in August 1943. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, London, to Foreign, New Delhi, November 28, 1949. 75. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance, 158–​163. In this book, Panikkar says clearly that British policy on Tibet was based on the needs of Indian security. Panikkar’s Autobiography, written after the Sino-​Indian border war, seeks to burnish his reputation by arguing he had immediately recognized the extension of Chinese power to Tibet as a danger to India, several times conveyed India’s opposition to Chinese military presence there, and without providing evidence asserts that “every country in the world,” including the Americans, “had no doubt at any time that Tibet was subject to Chinese authority.” See page 236. 76. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 9903, Top Secret, Foreign, New Delhi, to Political Sikkim, Lhasa, November 11, 1949. 77. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Nehru to Vjaya Lakshmi Pandit, August 30, 1950. 78. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Dean Acheson, July 29, 1950. 79. Odd Arne Westad, ed., Brothers in Arms: The Rise and Fall of the Sino-​Soviet Alliance, 1945–​ 1963 (Washington, DC:  Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford, CA:  Stanford University Press, 1998), 10–​11. 80. Telegram from Stalin to Zhou Enlai, Date: May 7, 1950, Source: APRF, Fond 45, Opis 1, Delo 331, List 79 and AVPRF, Fond o59a, Opis 5a, Delo 3, Papka 11, List 115, Collection: The Korean War, Cold War History Project Archives, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 81. Michael M. Sheng, “Mao, Tibet and the Korean War,” Journal of Cold War Studies 8, no. 3 (Summer 2006), 15–​33. 82. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Foreign New Delhi to Indembassy, Peking, July 16, 1950.





Notes

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83. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Panikkar to Foreign, New Delhi, July 16, 1950. 84. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 5109, DTD, Foreign, New Delhi to IndEmbassy, Peking, August 5, 1950. 85. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 6912, Political, Sikkim, Gangtok to Foreign, New Delhi, Repeated to Mission Lhasa, August 17, 1950; emphasis added. 86. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Prime Minister’s Secretariat” to S.  G.  and F.  S., signed Jawaharlal Nehru, August 18, 1950. 87. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Report of KPS Menon to PM, SG, JS(E) on conversation with Shakapka, September 10, 1950. 88. Cited in Zhai, “Tibet and Chinese-​British-​American Relations,” 46. 89. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, Ministry of External Affairs, Sd/​K.P.S. Menon, October 17, 1950. 90. Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 183. 91. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Foreign, New Delhi, to Indembassy, Peking, October 12, 1950, CGB No. 6741 DTO; emphasis added. 92. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 6839, Foreign, New Delhi to Inbdembassy, Peking, October 17, 1950; emphasis added. 93. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8855/​8858, Panikkar to Foreign, New Delhi, October 18, 1950. 94. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Foreign, New Delhi to Indembassy, Peking, October 22, 1950. 95. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, No. 1702-​PM, New Delhi, to Sardar from K.  M. Panikkar, Ambassador for India in China, Peking, October 25, 1950. 96. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note: K. P. S. Menon, October 16, 1950. 97. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 4041, Foreign, New Delhi to Indembassy, Peking, DTO, October 27, 1950. 98. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, D.O. No.821-​DPM/​50 New Delhi, November 7, 1950. 99. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, No. 1959-​PM, Jawaharlal Nehru to the Honorable Shri C. Rajagopalachari, New Delhi, November 1, 1950. 100. Cited in Zhai, “Tibet and Chinese-​British-​American Relations.” See FRUS, 1950, vol. 6, “Henderson to Acheson,” 1950, 550–​551. 101. Cited in Zhai, “Tibet and Chinese-​British-​American Relations,” 49. 102. Sheng, “Mao, Tibet and the Korean War,” 27. 103. See Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 275–​278, for the text of “Agreement for Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” (17-​Point Agreement of May 23, 1951). 104. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Foreign, New Delhi, to Indembassy, Peking, for Panikkar from Prime Minister, June 16, 1952. 105. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Telegram for Panikkar from Prime Minister, June 18, 1952. 106. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Raj Bhavan, Poona, 7, G. S. Bajpai to Panikkar, August 7, 1952. 107. “Objective Indian Diplomat Is Named Envoy to Peiping,” New York Times, May 21, 1952. 108. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Report” from Ambassador Raghavan, Indembassy, Peking, to Foreign, New Delhi, January 16, 1953. 109. Nehru Papers, First Installment, L. S. Jangangi, Indian Trade Agent, Gartok, to the Political Officer in Sikkim, Gartok, forwarded to Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, August 7, 1953. 110. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, to Indembassy, Peking, Raghavan from Prime Minister, August 30, 1953. 111. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Text of message from Chou En-​Lai to Nehru forwarded by Raghavan, Indembassy, Peking, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO October 16, DTR October 16. 112. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 10489, Immediate and Secret, Consulate, Lhasa to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO November 27, 1953. 113. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, J. Nehru, to S. G., F. S., J. S. Shri, T. N. Kaul, October 25, 1953; emphasis added.



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114. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Cairo, Secret, K. N. Panikkar to Shri R. K. Nehru, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Delhi, October 31, 1953. 115. Nehru Papers, First Installment, It is not clear who were the author or authors of this long paper. Since it was sent from the Indian embassy in Peking, Raghavan must have been involved and, possibly, T.  N. Kaul, then joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi, who was sent to Peking for the talks. There are references in the text to consultations with the minister of defense, and also the Historical Division, which may have provided background on the Simla Convention of 1914 and other treaties and conventions, as well as some points of dispute on the northern border. From Indembassy Peking, Top Secret, “Main Points Which May Arise during Discussions at the Peking Conference,” November 30, 1953. 116. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Foreign, New Delhi, to Indembassy, Peking, DTD January 25, 1954. 117. The agreement can be accessed at http://​www.tibetjustice.org/​materilas/​china/​china4. html. 118. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Indembassy, Peking to Foreign, New Delhi, December 31, 1953. 119. Archive of Nehru’s Speeches, Agreement on Tibet, Speech in Lok Sabha, May 15, 1954. 120. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Camp Mashobra, Jawaharlal Nehru to Shri G. L. Mehta, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, June 29, 1954. 121. Richardson, Short History of Tibet, 197. 122. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, to S.  G., F.  S., Copies to Defence Ministry, Commerce and Industry Ministry, July 1, 1954. 123. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, to SG, FS, JS, signed by Jawaharlal Nehru, June 18, 1954.

Chapter 5 1. Chen Jian, China’s Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-​American Confrontation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 106–​113. 2. Ibid., 108. 3. The members of the commission consisted of Australia, Canada, China, El Salvador, France, India, the Philippines, Syria, and Ukraine, which refused to take part. 4. K. P. S. Menon, Many Worlds Revisited: An Autobiography (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1981), 250–​260. 5. Kim retained this position for almost fifty years, and was then succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-​il in 1997, and his grandson Kim Jong-​un in 2011. 6. Cited in Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation, 357. 7. Excerpt from the May 5, 1950, edition of U.S. News and World Report, cited as FRUS, 1950, vol. 7, Korea, “Memorandum by Rusk to the Under Secretary of State (Webb), May 2, 1950: Statements by Senator Connally Regarding US Policy in Korea,” May 2, 1950, 64. 8. FRUS, 1950, vol. 7, “Memorandum of Conversation by the Accent Charge in Korea, May 9, 1950: President Rhee’s Comment on Senator Connally’s Remarks on Korea,” May 9, 1950, 77. 9. FRUS, 1950, vol. 7, “Memorandum by the Central Intelligence Agency, June 19, 1950: Estimate of Current Capabilities,” June 19, 1950, 109. 10. Howard S. Levie, “How It All Started—​and How It Ended: A Legal Study of the Korean War,” Akron Law Review 35 (2002), 211. 11. McCullough, Truman, 777. 12. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 405. 13. Shihchieh Chihshih, A Chronicle of Principal Events Relating to the Korean Question, 1945–​ 1954 (Peking: World Culture, 1954), 28. 14. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 410. 15. Chen, China’s Road, notes 21–​22. 16. Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 89. 17. The vote divided six to three, with three abstentions.





Notes

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18. Beisner, Dean Acheson, 274. 19. Nehru Papers, First Installment, No. 5309, Telegram, from Indembassy, Peking, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO June 28 1700, DTR June 29 0345. 20. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Letter to Excellency, from Loy Henderson, American Embassy, New Delhi, India, June 28, 1950. 21. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, New Delhi, from Jawaharlal Nehru, to B. N. Rau, July 1, 1950. 22. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 5616, Top Secret, Indembassy, Washington to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO July 06, DTR July 07. 23. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret and Personal, from Embassy of India, Moscow June 30, 1950, S. Radhakrishnan, to Hon Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. 24. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal Letter from Krishna Menon to the Hon. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, July 2, 1950. 25. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, G.  S. Bajpai to H.  P. M., “Memorandum on India’s Foreign Policy,” July 3, 1950. 26. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 5812, Top Secret, from Indembassy, Moscow to Foreign, New Delhi, Ambassador to Prime Minister, DTO July 13, DTR, July 14, 1950. 27. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, from Indembassy, Moscow to Foreign, New Delhi, Ambassador to Prime Minister, DTO July 15, DTR July 16, 1950. 28. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Letter to Excellency, from Loy W. Henderson, New Delhi, Message to Prime Minister from Secretary of State Dean Acheson, July 26, 1950. 29. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Summary by Secretary General G. S. Bajpai of his discussion with American Ambassador Loy Henderson, July 27, 1950. 30. K. N. Panikkar, In Two Chinas:  Memoirs of a Diplomat (London:  G. Allen & Unwin, 1955),  81–​82. 31. This note by K. M. Panikkar was circulated to cabinet ministers for information on October 13, 1950. 32. It is not clear if Panikkar was referring to Angus Ward and his colleagues at the Consulate General in the northeast province of Shenyang, who were singled out for house arrest and placed under military guard. The CCP escalated the charges against the Americans to espionage, arrested Ward and four consulate employees on October 24, 1949, and subjected them to “trial” by a People’s Court in Shenyang, where they were convicted, placed on probation, and expelled from China. 33. See Chen, Mao’s China, for a full discussion of the recognition controversy. 34. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Vijalakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, August 24, 1950. 35. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Jawaharlal Nehru to Vijayalakshmi Pandit, August 30, 1950. 36. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 80-​70/​8077, Panikkar to Bajpai, September 22, 1950. 37. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8171, Panikkar to Nehru, September 26, 1950. 38. See Chen, Mao’s China, 85–​118. 39. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Embassy of India in China, K.  M. Panikkar to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, Letter and Note on “War Psychosis in China,” p. 2, November 1, 1950. 40. The Soviets were intent on defending the Korean-​Chinese border and preventing US bombers from destroying bridges across the Yalu, as well as a major hydroelectric plant, but did not want to expose their air force to interdiction over Korea. 41. Weathersby, The Korean War,  64–​70. 42. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8379, Top Secret, from Indembassy, Peking to Foreign New Delhi, DTO Oct030415, DTR Oct 031255 for Prime Minister, October 3, 1950. 43. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to G. S. Bajpai, October 16, 1950. 44. Fifty-​two votes were in favor and five opposed. 45. Beisner, Dean Acheson, 426. 46. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 476–​485.



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47. FRUS, 1951, vol. 6, Asia and the Pacific, “The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State, New Delhi, February 20, 1951:  Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in India (Henderson),” February 20, 1951, 2120–​2127. 48. Friends of the United States in the Indian cabinet confided to Henderson that they believed Attlee and Pearson were exploiting Nehru and using flattery to convince him he was the only statesmen who could lead the fight. 49. Beisner, Dean Acheson, 424. 50. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Secret, Indembassy, Peking, Repeated to Foreign, New Delhi, Prime Minister to Panikkar, January 10, 1951. 51. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 513. 52. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, to Indiadel, New  York. Repeated to Foreign, New Delhi, Prime Minister for Rau, para. 3, January 10, 1951. 53. It was not until May 1951 that the United States succeeded in convincing the General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for a strategic embargo against China and North Korea. 54. This article appeared in Time magazine on January 29, 1951. 55. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret via Diplomatic Air Mail, Nehru to Panikkar, No. 2112-​ PM, New Delhi, February 7, 1951. 56. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat ( J. Nehru), June 12, 1951, to S. G., Secy, C.R. 57. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Memorandum by B. N. Chakravarty, for PM, summarizing talk with Nehru on 17.7.51 about revised UK-​US draft of peace treaty and discussing report by Mr. Chettur that abstention by India would be misunderstood in Japan. Sd/​-​B.N. Chakravarty, July 18, 1951. 58. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 5613, Top Secret, from Indembassy Moscow to Foreign, New Delhi DTO July 21 Nil, DTR July 22 0450; No. 84, Top Secret Prime Minister from Radhakrishnan, July 21, 1952. 59. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret and Personal New Delhi Nehru to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, August 6, 1951; emphases added. 60. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Memo on Draft Japanese Peace Treaty,” circulated to Ministers of Home, Education, Transport, copied to PM by Dr.  B.  V. Keshkar, Deputy Minister for External Affairs, August 2, 1951. 61. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note by M. O. Mathai, August 29, 1951. 62. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Statement of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in Parliament in explanation of his resignation from the Cabinet,” New Delhi, October 10, 1951. 63. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, “Conversation between Ambassador and Mr. John Foster Dulles at his residence in New York on Thursday, October 4, 1951.” 64. Weathersby, The Korean War,  61–​92. 65. Whatever the merits of the pacific commander’s military assessment, the United States could not carry the support of its allies, or of the United Nations, for a war on Chinese territory. In a memo by Truman to himself written contemporaneously, he expressed his personal views, similar to those of MacArthur, but yielded to political compulsions in deciding not to carry them out. Nevertheless, Ridgeway, who could be relied upon to respect the civilian chain of military command, received official clearance, shortly after MacArthur’s removal, to bomb China if faced by a severe air assault and the atomic bombs denied to his predecessor. 66. Beisner, Dean Acheson, 351. 67. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 531. 68. Beisner, Dean Acheson, 415. 69. FRUS, 1951, vol. 7, pt. 1, “Telegram from the Commander in Chief in the Far-​East (Ridgway) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” October 28, 1951, 1072. 70. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 723. 71. Chen, Mao’s China, 107–​112. 72. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 15, pt. 1, Korea, “The Secretary of State to the Department of State,” November 8, 1952, 585.





Notes

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73. For the text of the draft resolution given to the State Department by Krishna Menon, see FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 11, pt. 2, Africa and South Asia, “The Secretary of State to the Department of State,” August 21, 1953, 623–​625. 74. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8771/​8776/​8779, Top Secret, Prime Minister from Raghavan, DTO November 24, DTR November 25, 1952. 75. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 6564, Top Secret, from Foreign, New Delhi, to Indembassy, Moscow, December 2, 1952. 76. US ambassador to India Chester Bowles believed that “Ind has gone extraordinarily long distance our direction and indeed for first time is well on way to associating herself with us in opposition Sov Union and Chi on issue of crucial importance.” See FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 11, pt. 2, “The Ambassador in India (Bowles) to the Department of State New Delhi,” March 7, 1952, 688. 77. The membership of the commission and the two-​thirds rule made it virtually impossible for the United States to prevail: United States, Britain, France, USSR, PRC, India, Burma, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Korean Democratic People’s Republic, and South Korea. 78. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8856, Top Secret, from Indiadel, New  York, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO Nov 27, DTR Nov 28. 79. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 8947, Top Secret and Personal, Prime Minister from Raghavan. DTO December 01, DTR December 01. 80. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Report from Ambassador Raghavan,” received January 16, 1953. 81. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 9168, Top Secret, from Indembassy, Peking, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO, to R. K. Nehru from Raghavan, December 7, 1952. 82. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Prime Minister from (KPS) Menon. From Indembassy, Moscow, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO Dec 17, DTR Dec 17. 83. Acheson gives US casualty figures—​“the only accurate ones”—​as 21,300 killed during the first year and 12,300 killed during the next two years; 53,100 and 50,200 wounded during these periods, and missing or captured as 4,400 and 700. Acheson, Present at the Creation, 652. Beisner’s figures are somewhat higher, although he does not cite the source in estimating that 37,000 Americans were killed and 15,000 allied troops died in the war. Other figures are less precise and based on best estimates, but reveal the horrendous human costs of the war. Chen Jian believes China lost “hundreds of thousands” of soldiers on the battlefield. Chen Jian, The Korean War, 114; Beisner puts Chinese fatalities at 152,000 and casualties at 400,000, “perhaps many more.” North Korea is believed to have suffered about three million casualties, and South Korea over 800,000. 84. The exchange was actually completed in thirty-​three days. 85. This was signed at Panmunjom, Korea, on July 27, 1953, and can be cited as “Annex, Terms of Reference for Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, Agreement between the Commander-​in-​Chief, United Nations Command, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army and the Commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers Concerning a Military Armistice in Korea,” International Organization 7 (1953), 929–​934. 86. K. S. Thimayya, Experiment in Neutrality: Korea Diary (New Delhi: Vision Books, 1981), 59. 87. Ibid.,  103. 88. FRUS, 1951, vol. 7, pt. 1, “Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Secretary of Defense (Lovett): Policy on Repatriation of Chinese and North Korean Prisoners,” November 15, 1951, 1168. 89. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 9078, from Chairman, NNRC, to Foreign, New Delhi, DTO Oct 09, DTR 10. Thimayya sent the full text of correspondence between him and General Clark, which spells out the differences between the two sides. Clark’s letter is dated October 5, 1953. 90. Thimayya, Experiment in Neutrality, 188–​190. 91. “Interim Report of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission,” December 23, 1953, 41. 92. “Interim Report of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, Statement by the Swiss Member, Annexure ‘G.1’; Statement by the Swedish Member, Annexure ‘G.1.,’ ” December 23, 1953.



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93. “International Organizations: Summary of Activities, I. United Nations General Assembly,” International Organization 8 (1954), 346–​349. 94. United Nations General Assembly, The Korean Question:  Report of the United Nations Command on the Operation of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (New York: United Nations General Assembly, Official Records, 1954), 6. 95. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 15, pt. 1, “President Eisenhower to the President of the Republic of Korea (Rhee),” January 2, 1954, 1685. 96. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 3881, from Foreign, New Delhi, to Indembassy, Moscow, August 5, 1953. 97. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 15, pt. 1, “Memorandum of Conversation, by the United States Representative to the UN (Lodge),” August 14, 1953, 1493. 98. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 15, pt. 1, “Editorial Note,” 1503. 99. For a detailed analysis of the connection between the Indo-​China agenda at the Geneva Conference and concerns about European security, shared by Eden and Dulles, see Kevin Ruane, “Anthony Eden, British Diplomacy and the Origins of the Geneva Conference of 1954,” Historical Journal 37 (1994), 153–​172. 100. Zhang Wentian, The Geneva Conference of 1954: New Evidence from the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, trans. Chen Zhihong (Washington, DC: CWIHP, 2008), 13.

Chapter 6 1. “Record of Conversation at the Foreign Office on 3 April with Mr. McGhee Concerning Ways and Means of Interesting India and Pakistan in Defense of Middle East,” April 4, 1951, FO 92875, PRO, Kew. 2. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Legation of India in Baghdad, January 5, 1953, No. Iraq/​ Dip/​34 Subject: Middle East Defence Pact,” From Khub Chand to R. K. Nehru, Indian Civil Service, Foreign Secretary, New Delhi, January 5, 1953. 3. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Record of Talk with Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser, Major Amin Ibrahim and Dr. Hamid Sultan,” K. M. Panikkar to Jawaharlal Nehru, March 18, 1953. 4. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Report of a Conversation with Dr. Mahmud Fauzi,” K. M. Panikkar to Jawaharlal Nehru, March 18, 1953. 5. Commonwealth Relations Office, “Proposed Meeting of Muslim Prime Ministers in Karachi,” July 16, 1952, FO 371 101198 (SA.31/​32/​1), PRO, Kew. 6. John Foster Dulles, “A Positive Foreign Policy,” Address at the World Affairs Forum of the Foreign Policy Association, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15, 1952, Dulles Papers, Princeton University. 7. John Foster Dulles, “Address at Princeton,” Address at the Princeton National Alumni Luncheon, Princeton, New Jersey, February 22, 1952, Dulles Papers, Princeton University. There are many more speeches from this period that convey similar propositions. 8. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Letter from K. M. Panikkar to. R. K. Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru, May 19, 1953. 9. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Nehru’s record of conversations with John Foster Dulles, New Delhi, May 2, 1953. 10. John Foster Dulles, “Conclusions on Trip,” written by Dulles before reaching the United States, undated, Dulles Papers, Princeton University. 11. Commonwealth Relations Office, “Minute on United States Military Aid to Pakistan,” From R. W. D. Fowler to J. E. Cable, presented to the Secretary of State, and described as “purely factual” for the record, January 4, 1954, FO, PRO, Kew. 12. McMahon, Cold War on the Periphery, 166–​172, for a detailed account of the diplomatic and political maneuvers leading up to the public announcement on February 25, 1954, of the decision. 13. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, to S. G, F. S., C. S., J. Nehru, November 27, 1953. 14. R. W. D. Fowler, “Minute on United States Military Aid to Pakistan,” cited in McMahon, Cold War on the Periphery, 169. 15. Ibid.





Notes

311

16. A meeting took place with Vice President Nixon and approximately twenty-​two of the top State Department officials, two CIA officials, and two Defense officials on January 8, 1954, PRO, Kew. 17. “Message from British Secretary of State from Berlin to Foreign Office,” January 24, 1954, FO number not available, PRO, Kew. 18. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 11, pt. 2, “Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs to the Acting Secretary of State, March 1, 1954,” 1119. 19. Commonwealth Relations Office, Secret, from U.K. High Commissioner in India to Commonwealth Relations Office, No. 247, March 10, 1954, FO 371 112319, Y1192/​ 145, Kew. 20. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to K. M. Panikkar, November 1, 1953. 21. “Military Aid to Pakistan, Mr. Fulbright,” Congressional Record—​Senate, March 2, 1954, 2351. 22. John D. Jernegan, “The Middle East and South Asia—​the Problem of Security.” Official position stated by John D. Jernegan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs, Grinnell College, Iowa, March 1954. 23. Gilbert Laithwaite, U.K. High Commissioner to Pakistan, “Note for Record,” July 9, 1954, FO 371 112321, PRO, Kew. 24. Mohammed Ayub Khan, “The Pakistan-​American Alliance,” Foreign Affairs, January 1964. 25. The text of the treaty and Annexe II were sent by the acting high commissioner J. D. Murray, UK High Commission, Karachi to the Rt. Hon. Viscount Swinton, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, London, May 21, 1954, Despatch No. 66, FO 371 112321, PRO, Kew. 26. CENTO was formally disbanded in 1979, after the Iranian revolution removed the shah of Iran, leading to Iran’s withdrawal. Pakistan, disillusioned with the United States, officially adopted a policy of nonalignment. For a short summary of the Baghdad Pact (1955) and CENTO see US Department of State, http://​history.state.gov/​milestones/​1953-​1960/​ CENTO. 27. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note on conversation between the Prime Minister of India and Mr. A.I. Mikoyan, First Deputy Premier of the U.S.S.R., Prime Minister’s House, New Delhi, India, March 26, 1956. 28. For a detailed account of the tensions between the United States and Pakistan from the very beginning of their military relations, see McMahon, Cold War on the Periphery, chap. 6. 29. McMahon, Cold War on the Periphery, 190, 201, 212. 30. For more information on the Pakistan-​United States Alliance, see http://​www.mongabay. com/​history/​pakistan/​pakistan-​the_​united_​states_​alliance.html. 31. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Ministry of External Affairs, “Subject: U.S.-​Pakistan Military Pact,” undated, c. December 18, 1953. 32. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, DO No 7/​COAS S.  N. Shrinigesh to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, March 8, 1956. 33. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Chiefs of Staff Memorandum, No. 1(56), “Composition and Size of Armed Forces,” March 26, 1956. 34. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Ministry of Defence, to P.M. from M. K. Vellodi, March 2, 1956; Prime Minister’s Secretariat, No. 458-​PMH/​56, J. Nehru to Defense Secretary, March 2, 1956. 35. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Ministry of Defence, M. K. Vellodi, January 18, 1956 (written by hand Secy/​, PA/​TS/​56). 36. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Lord Mountbatten of Burma (Sd/​-​Dickie) to Jawaharlal Nehru, March 20, 1956. 37. Nehru Papers, First Installment, K. N. Katju, Minister of Defence, to Jawaharlal Nehru, March 15, 1956. 38. The aircraft carrier Hercules of the Majestic class was at the time partially completed and required full modernization and refitting to be available in 1960. A squadron of jet fighters could operate from the modernized carrier, which was also being sold to the Canadian and Australian navies.



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s

39. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Letter from Mr. Mohammed Ali, Pakistan Prime Minister, Karachi, to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, India, New Delhi, August 27, 1953. 40. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Letter from Mr. Mohammed Ali, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Karachi, to Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, India, New Delhi, October 31, 1953. 41. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru, Statement to the Lok Sabha, March 1, 1954. 42. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, Prime Minister’s Secretariat ( Jawaharlal Nehru), March 4, 1954. 43. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Message to Mr. Anthony Eden from Jawaharlal Nehru, Sent to Geneva through the U.K. High Commissioner in India, May 4, 1954. 44. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Colombo Conference-​General Observations (Handwritten), “Note by V.K. Krishna Menon,” New Delhi, May 6, 1954. 45. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Template of letter sent to Colombo Powers, who asked for information on what Krishna Menon was doing in Geneva, Jawaharlal Nehru, June 3, 1954.

Chapter 7 1. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Note by V.  K. Krishna Menon for Prime Minister, “An Appreciation of the situation in Indo-​China to date is set out below for your consideration,” New Delhi, April 12, 1954. 2. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 13, pt. 1, Indochina, “The Chargé in France (Achilles) to the Department of State,” February 24, 1954, 1072. 3. Bernard Fall, “Battle of Dien Bien Phu.” Originally published by Vietnam magazine and online on June 12, 2006. Fall’s text can be accessed at http://​www.historynet.com/​battle-​of-​dien-​ bien-​phu.htm. 4. FRUS, 1952–​1954, vol. 13, pt. 1, “Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Ridgway) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” April 6, 1954, 1269. 5. Cold War International History Project, Bulletin, “Inside China’s Cold War,” Doc. No. 17, Telegram, Zhou En-​Lai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Third Restricted Session, May 20, 1954, PRCFMA 206-​00045-​13; P1. Obtained by the Cold War International History Project and translated by Chen Zhihong, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Issue 16, Fall 2007–​Winter 2008, 24. 6. Nehru Papers, First Installment, from Congendia, Geneva to Foreign, New Delhi, Krishna Menon to Nehru, May 23, 1954. 7. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, No. 992, from Hicomind, London to Foreign, New Delhi, Prime Minister from Krishna Menon, May 30, 1954. 8. Nehru Papers, First Installment, handwritten note from Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to N. R. Pillai, September 7, 1954. 9. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret No. 104-​A/​54, From Gaganvihari L. Mehta to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, July 7, 1954. Ambassador Mehta here is reporting to the prime minister on his discussions with the British ambassador about results of the Churchill-​Eden visit to Washington, DC. 10. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Message for Mr. Eden” sent through the U.K. High Commissioner, signed J. Nehru, August 1, 1954. 11. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, CCB No. 7888/​7890/​7889, Personal, from Hicomind, London to Foreign, New Delhi, Prime Minister from Krishna Menon, September 5, 1954. 12. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, “A Few Observations on SEATO,” signed K. M. Panikkar, September 16, 1954. 13. FRUS, 1955–​1957, vol. 21, East Asian Security; Cambodia, Laos, “United States Minutes of the ANZUS Council Meeting,” September 24, 1955, 136–​140. 14. FRUS, 1955–​1957, vol. 21, “United States Minutes of the ANZUS Council Meeting,” September 24, 1955, 141–​143.





Notes

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15. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, No. 192, Prime Minister from Krishna Menon, Your Telegram No. 22318, dated June 21, 1954. 16. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Record of conversations between His Excellency Premier Chou En-​lai and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on June 25, 1954 from 3:30  p.m. to 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. 17. Chen Jian, “China and the Bandung Conference: Changing Perceptions and Representations,” in Bandung Revisited, The Legacy of the 1955 Asian-​African Conference for International Order, ed. Seng Tan and Amitav Acharya (Singapore:  National University of Singapore Press, 2008), 135. 18. Hindustan Times, October 16, 1954. 19. Record of Mr. William Atwood’s interview with the prime minister, August 31, 1954, Look magazine. 20. Those present were Vice Chairman Chu The; Lui Shaio-​chi, chairman of the Congress Standing Committee; Vice-​Chairman Madame Sun Chingling; and Vice Premier Chen Yuan. 21. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Minutes of Prime Minister’s Talks with Chairman Mao on the Evening of Saturday,” October 23, 1954. 22. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal, Nehru to Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Raj Bhavan, Calcutta, November 2, 1954. 23. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Report from Ambassador Raghavan to Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, “Prime Minister’s Visit to China,” November 26, 1954. 24. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Nehru copied to SC Subimal Dutt,” December 18, 1954. 25. PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, No. 207-​00004-​06, Doc. No. 3, “The Existing Issues of the Asian-​African Conference and Suggestions,” January 1–​March 31, 1955. Obtained by Amitav Acharya and translated for Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, by Yang Shanhou. 26. PRC Foreign Ministry Archive No.207-​00004-​10, Doc. No. 10, “Views and Suggestions of the Experts on the Asian-​African Conference,” April 5, 1955. Obtained by Amitav Acharya and translated for the Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, by Yang Shanhou. 27. PRC Ministry Archive No. 207-​00018-​011, Doc. No. 13, May 27, 1955. Obtained by Amitav Acharya and translated for the Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, by Yang Shanhou, 38. 28. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Krishna Menon, “Note on China,” April 13, 1955. 29. Rawles Knox, “Chou Smiles His Way Through,” Observer Service, Bandung, Hindustan Times, April 25, 1955. 30. Nehru Papers, First Installment, C. S. Jha, “Memo on Bandung,” May 7, 1955. 31. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Ministers Secretariat, Internal Memo by J.  Nehru, copied to SG, GS, CS, May 7, 1955. 32. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, No. 714-​PMH/​56, Jawaharlal Nehru to Marshal Tito, April 3, 1956. 33. K. Balaraman, “The Bandung Conference, Outcome of Talks,” The Hindu (Madras), April 27, 1955. 34. The assistance was meant to replace the annual $60 million previously given by France. 35. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Mr. Krishna Menon’s Interview with Premier Chou En-​lai,” May 18, 1955, from 1400 to 1700 hrs. 36. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret 119-​A/​55, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, “Note regarding discussion with President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles,” signed G. L. Mehta, June 14, 1955. 37. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, Krishna Menon to Jawaharlal Nehru, July 2, 1955. 38. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, No. 124-​A/​55, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, “Notes Regarding Conversation with Secretary of State Dulles,” signed G.  L. Mehta, Ambassador, July 1, 1955 at 4 p.m. at the State Department. Present were Mr. Krishna Menon, Mr. G. L. Mehta (ambassador), and Mr. George Allen (assistant secretary of state).



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39. This was stated by James P.  Richards, North Carolina, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Representatives. 40. China released eleven US airman in August, crediting Hammarskjöld. 41. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Top Secret, No. 124-​A/​55, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, July 1, 1955. 42. The Secret Speech can be accessed at http://​www.fordham.edu/​halsall/​mod/​ 1956khrushchev-​secret1.html. 43. New York Times, International Edition, June 3, 1955. 44. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Krishna Menon, November 25, 1955. 45. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Draft, Secret, “Note on the Visit of the Soviet leaders in India in November–​December, 1955,” New Delhi, December 18, 1955. 46. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, signed J.  Nehru, January 23, 1956, to S. G. and F. S.; and Note dated January 20, 1956, by Deputy Director, IB on the activities of the Tass News Agency with special reference to the increase and the sale of its literature and the benefits accruing from it to the Communist Party of India. 47. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 321. 48. FRUS, 1955–​ 1957, vol. 10, Foreign Aid and Economic Defense Policy, “Memorandum from the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay) to Members of the Council:  Review of Military Assistance and Supporting Programs,” November 29, 1955, 41, 47. 49. Shyam J. Kamath, “Financing the Leviathan State,” in Policy Analysis, No. 170 (Washington, DC: CATO Policy Analysis, May 6, 1992), 2. The full text can be accessed at www.cato.org/​ pubs/​pas/​pa-​170.html. 50. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, Message from Sir Anthony Eden to Mr. Nehru, October 9, 1956. 51. Extensive US documentation on the Suez Crisis can be found in FRUS, 1955–​1957, vol. 16, Suez Crisis, July 26–​December 31, 1956. 52. Information on the Suez War of 1956 can be accessed at http://​www.jewishvirtuallibrary. org/​jsource/​History/​Suez_​War.html. 53. Jewish Virtual Library, A Division of the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, “The Suez War of 1956.” The full text can be accessed at http://​www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/​jsource/​ History/​Suez_​War.html. 54. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Message to Mr. Dulles, Jawaharlal Nehru, October 31, 1956. 55. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Immediate, No. 117, from Indembassy, Belgrade to Foreign, New Delhi, Hussain from Dayal, October 26, 1956. 56. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 12131, Secret, Telegram from Indembassy, Moscow to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 381, Dutt from Menon, October 26, 1956. 57. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 12217, Telegram from Indelegation, Vienna to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 15, from Rahman in Budapest, October 28, 1956. 58. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 12217, Immediate, from Inembassy, Belgrade, to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 118, Hussain from Dayal, October 29, 1956. 59. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, No. 289/​ 62/​ 56, “International Situation and Miscellaneous,” from Meeting of the Cabinet, October 30, 1956 at 4 p.m. 60. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Telegram from Indembassy, Moscow to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 393, Dutt from Menon, October 31, 1956. 61. Cited in Escott Reid, Hungary and Suez 1956: A View from New Delhi (New York: Mosaic Press, 1985), 18. 62. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, No. Amb. 9/​56, Embassy of India, Belgrade, “Subject: Revolt in Hungary,” Rajeshwar Dayal to Shri Azim Husain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, November 7, 1956. 63. Wellington Long, “U.N. Vote Shows Who Stands on Side of Justice,” Scripps-​Howard Staff Writer, November 11, 1956. 64. Reid, Hungary and Suez, 55. 65. Nehru Papers, First Installment, “Letter Dated November 5, 1956 from President Eisenhower to the Prime Minister of India.”





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66. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, Telegram, from Foreign, New Delhi to Indiadel, New York, No. Primin-​21873, Arthur Lall from Prime Minister, November 4, 1956. 67. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 12953, Top Secret, from Indembassy, Washington, to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 683, Prime Minister from Gaganvihari Mehta, November 8, 1956. 68. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Text of Note handed by the Soviet Ambassador to the Prime Minister, November 8, 1956. 69. Reid, Hungary and Suez, 78. 70. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, No.221-​A/​56, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, Gaganvihari Mehta to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s House, November 10, 1956. 71. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 13183, from Indiadel, New York to Foreign, New Delhi, November 12, 1956. 72. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 13207, Secret, from Indiadel, New York, to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 491, December 12, 1956. 73. Nehru Papers, First Installment, CCB No. 13125/​24, from Indiadel, New York to Foreign, New Delhi. No. 398, November 11, 1956. 74. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Personal, No. 398, From Indiadel, New York to Foreign, New Delhi, Prime Minister from Krishna Menon, November 11, 1956. 75. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Secret, CCB No. 13315, from Indembassy, Washington, to Foreign, New Delhi, No. 696, Prime Minister from Ambassador, November 13, 1956. 76. FRUS, 1955–​1957, vol. 8, South Asia, “Memorandum of Discussion at the 308th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, January 3, 1957,” January 3, 1957, 18. 77. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Waging Peace, 1956–​1961:  The White House Years (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965), 106–​114, 486–​488, 494–​504.

Chapter 8 1. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to V.  T. Krishnamachari, November 26, 1959. 2. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Prime Minister’s Secretariat, October 14, 1959. 3. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Prime Minister’s Secretariat, November 14, 1959. 4. Ibid. 5. This time horizon for industrial development, like his estimate for any conflict between India and China, proved to be wildly optimistic. In 2015, China’s economy was a little more than two times the size of India’s. China’s GDP, on a purchasing power parity basis, was valued at $19.8 trillion and India’s at $8.0 trillion. See http://​databank.worldbank.org/​ for reference. 6. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to C.  D. Desmukh, Finance Minister, January 26, 1952. 7. S. Gopal in his biography of Nehru commented on the contradictory elements in his personality that were expressed through intimate friendships nourishing separate aspects of his character and kept compartmentalized. 8. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to B. G. Kher, July 14, 1952. 9. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to V. K. Krishna Menon, August 25, 1951. 10. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Jawaharlal Nehru, October 26, 1953. 11. This is the assessment of Thimayya’s biographer. Chandra B.  Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” Center for Armed Historical Research, United Service Institution of India (New Delhi: Knowledge World), 200. 12. Sidney Wignall, Spy on the Roof of the World:  A True Story of Espionage & Survival in the Himalayas (Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 1996), foreword. 13. Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” 206. 14. Wignall identified him as General Chang Kuo-​hua, who had led the PLA into Tibet in 1950. 15. Wignall, Spy on the Roof, 127. 16. Ibid.,  9.



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17. Ibid.,  224. 18. Ibid.,  247. 19. Cited in Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” 236. 20. Ibid.,  210. 21. Ibid.,  211. 22. This was so unrealistic that India was still dependent on imports for advanced technology defense equipment well into the 2000s. 23. Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” 247–​248. 24. Ibid.,  251. 25. Khanduri’s account of the meeting, which started with Thimayya’s summary of his talk with Nehru, points out that the defense minister did not want to engage on the substance of that discussion, but on why Thimayya had met Nehru without first asking for Menon’s permission. Menon called it “downright disloyalty and impropriety.” When Thimayya faced Menon down and got up to leave, Menon shouted after him, “You are disloyal to me and I have no place for disloyal generals around.” Ibid, 253. 26. The text of the letter is in ibid., 256–​257. 27. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister to Sri Govind Ballabh Pant, Minister of Home Affairs, New Delhi, July 8, 1960. 28. Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” 275. 29. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Prime Minister from Krishna Menon, Personal, October 23, 1959. 30. Khanduri, “Thimayya, an Amazing Life,” 275. 31. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Krishna Menon, October 14, 1959. 32. Neville Maxwell, India’s China’s War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970), 108. 33. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Krishna Menon from Prime Minister, c. October 22, 1959. 34. Statement of Shri Karam Singh, attached to the note presented by the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, to the Embassy of China in India on November 4, 1959, White Paper No. III, Notes, Memoranda, and Letters Exchanged between the Governments of India and China, November 1959–​March 1960, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. 35. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Foreign Secretary to Indembassy, Cairo (for Ambassador), on or about November 26, 1959. 36. These land reform proposals were at the heart of Nehru’s institutional approach to rapid industrialization under the five-​year plans. See Francine R. Frankel, India’s Political Economy, 1947–​2004:  The Gradual Revolution, 2nd ed. (New  York:  Oxford University Press, 2005), chap. 5. 37. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Jawaharlal Nehru to Shrimati Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, November 3, 1959. 38. Niu Jun, “1962: The Eve of the Left Turn in China’s Foreign Policy,” Working Paper No. 48, Cold War International History Project (Washington, DC:  Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, October 2005), 26. 39. The full text of the directive is in Maxwell, India’s China War, 221–​222. Maxwell, the India correspondent for The Times, London, during the war, wrote his account by referencing his copy of the top-​secret Henderson Brooks Bhagat Report on operational failures leading up to and during the 1962 India-​China war. When the government refused to declassify the report, Maxwell finally decided to release the text on March 17, 2014, posting it on the internet. 40. Ibid., 234. For various contemporaneous accounts of the Forward Policy, see, in addition to Maxwell, B. M. Kaul, The Untold Story (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1967), 279–​281; and B. N. Mullik, My Years with Nehru: The Chinese Betrayal (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1971), chap. 19. 41. Henderson Brooks Report, an operations review of Army reverses in the Kameng area of NEFA, was authorized by chief of the army staff, December 14, 1962, 10. The Henderson Brooks Report has never been released by the government of India, but in 2014, Neville Maxwell, after using his copy for the account in India’s China War, posted the bulk of it on the internet.





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42. Roderick MacFarquhar, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, vol. 3:  The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961–​1966 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 4. 43. Jun, “1962: The Eve of the Left Turn,” 9. 44. Xinjang was shown as part of China from the Qing dynasty, but was not integrated into China until liberation by the PLA in 1949. It became an autonomous region with the goal of assimilating the Muslim Uiqhur population through modernization and sinification. “Controlling Xianjiang, Autonomy on China’s New Frontier,” Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal 3, no. 1 (Winter 2002), 125–​126. 45. Evidence that the CIA was training Tibetan rebels from the end of 1956 is provided in John Kenneth Knaus, Orphans of the Cold War:  America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival (New York: Public Affairs, 1999), 139–​140. See also a recent study drawing on CIA documents, Bruce Riedel, JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-​Indian War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2015), 21–​86. 46. Chen Jian, “The Tibetan Rebellion of 1959 and China’s Changing Relations with India and the Soviet Union,” Journal of Cold War Studies 8, no. 3 (Summer 2006), 69. 47. These ideas are spelled out in History of Sino-​India Border Defense Counterattack War, written collaboratively by the Academy of Military Science, Chengdu Military Region, Lanzhou Military Region, Xinjian Military Region, and Tibet Military Region. The aim of the book is to look into the origin and development of the 1962 China-​India war. There is no official English translation of this work. I am indebted to my research assistant Lillian Sun, for rendering relevant parts of the text into English during spring 2017. 48. See Steven A. Hoffman, India and the China Crisis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 149, for a map of the Thagla Ridge–​Dhola Post area. 49. Maxwell, India’s China War, 303. 50. Kaul, The Untold Story, 376–​377. 51. Ibid., 382–​383. 52. This is the expression used in the army’s operations review. It says, “In a matter of two hours, the major portion of the Brigade was rubbed out.” Henderson Brooks Report, 161. 53. Ibid.,  103. 54. Cited in Riedel, JFK’s Forgotten Crisis, 137–​138. 55. Shiv Kunal Verma, 1962: The War That Wasn’t (New Delhi: Aleph Book Company, 2016). 56. The government of India’s final casualty figures are 1,383 dead and 1,696 missing, cited in Riedel, JFK’s Forgotten Crisis, 141. 57. Prime Minister Nehru to President John F. Kennedy, hand delivered by India’s Ambassador to the United States, B.K. Nehru, November 19, 1962. The original letter is in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, Mass. 58. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Debate on Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Nehru’s Reply in Parliament, November 24, 1960. 59. The government of India’s final casualty figures are 1,383 dead and 1,696 missing, cited in Riedel, JFK’s Forgotten Crisis, 141. 60. Both the Henderson Brooks report and Verma use this phase in explaining the overriding cause of India’s defeat. 61. Nehru Papers, First Installment, Debate on Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Nehru’s Reply in Parliament, November 24, 1960. 62. Interview, N. K. Seshan, Secretary, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, New Delhi, April 23, 1991. 63. Indira Gandhi became prime minister in 1966, after Nehru’s immediate successor, Lal Bahadur Sastri, died of a sudden heart attack in 1965. 64. For example, Great Britain endorsed Menon’s “formulas” at the Geneva Convention when its interests in the future of Vietnam were peripheral. By contrast, when Great Britain believed Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal would destroy its claim to still being a great power, it went to war, unsuccessfully, in combination with France and Israel. Similarly, the United States, worried that a communist victory in Vietnam would lead to the “loss” of Southeast Asia, refused to agree to the Geneva Agreements providing for elections in Vietnam after it became likely the communists would win. The United States treated South Vietnam as a separate state until the Johnson administration sent American troops to fight an unjustifiable, and unwinnable, Vietnam War.



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Epilogue 1. Anwar H. Syed, China and Pakistan: Diplomacy of an Entente Cordiale (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1974), 122. 2. Ibid.,  123. 3. Manu Balachandran, “The Modi Effect: US FDI in India has jumped 500 percent in the Last Two Years,” Quartz, August 30, 2016, cited in Gateway House, November 15, 2017. 4. Manoj Joshi, “Deal. Not Ordeal,” Hindustan Times, March 10, 2006. 5. Francine R. Frankel, “The Breakout of China-​India Strategic Rivalry in Asia and the Indian Ocean,” Journal of International Affairs 64, no. 2 (Spring–​Summer 2011), 12–​14. 6. Non-​alignment 2, 32. 7. Pakistan’s designation since 2004 as a major non-​NATO ally with preferential access to US military aid and supplies is now threatened by its failure to keep promises of denying safe haven to Islamic terrorists.



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