Tediously Needling Kissinger

At the gala dinner at the India Today Conclave yesterday evening, poor Henry Kissinger was badgered and needled about, what else, Pakistan by the MC/host MJ Akbar. It was more the latter’s insecurities as an Indian Muslim trying to prove his patriotism than Dr K’s slightly bemused responses, that was in evidence. Kissinger did not reveal or say anything new even though Akbar kept asking him about his  “deal” with Indira Gandhi in 1971, and K kept repeating his stock stuff. The fact that Kissinger said that dismantling West Pakistan was seen as not being in the US interest at the time, is no great revelation. It’s featured in his writings, even though Akbar made much of it saying this was being said for the first time.  Kissinger said Pakistan was the only channel to China  THIS IS PATENTLY UNTRUE. THE US NEVER NEEDED THE PAKISTAN CHANNEL TO CHINA. FROM THE 1960s THERE WAS THE COMMUNICATION CHANNEL THROUGH WARSAW, POLAND.  Yes, Pakistan proved a convenience — it was easier to scoot off secretly to Beijing  from Islamabad, than from Warsaw in 1971.

But at the Conclave, Kissinger’s interaction with, and especially Akbar’s amateurish provocations, were tedious in the extreme, even grating on the ear and nerve.

It is simply amazing how much time we spend with Pakistan on our minds.

What the audience should have been attentive to was Kissinger’s repeated assertions that the US-China relations will be the paramount consideration for Washington. The implication was that the US would rather cut a deal with Beijing than “partner” any country in “containing” China — a fact I have been stressing in my writings, and at every fora.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Strategic Relations with the US & West. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tediously Needling Kissinger

  1. Jagdish says:

    I have read most of Kissinger’s works and the Poland channel did exist but the most reliable and convenient one was Pakistan. Does not look like MJ has read his latest On China. We should have exploited his insight into PRC over the past 40 years – from a US perspective and see what it means for India. Maybe you should do a 1-1 with him.

    My general feeling is China considers India to be a claw of a crab. The crab being the US. China is justified in doing so, with the way we go about our defense affairs.

    I have always maintained that it was not important for Mao to understand Indian intent, he was well aware of our capabilities in 1962. The fact that our leadership bungled even these meagre capabilities is just icing on the cake for China. Absolutely no reason, why China should not think on the same lines today. The only difference is in 1962, they wanted to secure a road. Today the stakes need to be higher for China to act but it has no need. It sits on top of our buffer with China, with Tibet in China’s hands.

    The game will be played out in great power politics in sectors of energy, minerals, access to markets, ports et al. India is loosing sorely or coming in a poor second.

  2. I’d argue that the Warsaw Channel was far more reliable because it was a direct communications link to Beijing through the Chinese embassy. After all, to re-establish relations, but mostly plan a secret trip — not plan a huge big logistics effort such as a war — Warsaw was absolutely adequate. Besides, going through Pakistan actually compromised the secrecy of the Kissinger trip in July 1971.

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