In 1961, Jawaharlal Nehru visited US as the Indian Prime Minister, and had official meetings with John Kennedy, then President of US. All the world believed that US-India bilateral relation was ready to celebrate the honeymoon.
After prolonged negotiations that lasted for 12 years, India and US recently announced that they are close to an agreement of sharing military logistics with each other. Most media see that as US’s latest attempt to form a closer ally with India, so as to contain the military influence of China under the circumstance of China’s ever growing comprehensive national strengths. In retrospect to the bittersweet US-India bilateral relationship in the last decade, the two countries were actually targeting China the last time they were so close to each other with military cooperation.
第一次合作试探戛然而止 The abrupt end of the first attempt
Although US and India refers to each other as “the strongest democracy” and “the largest democracy”, but their bilateral relationship has proceeded amid twists and turns since India gained independence more than 6 decades ago. In some critical points, US-India relationship was even trapped in stagnation. Robert Blake, Robert O. Blake, Jr., a famous pro-India politician who used to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission in New Delhi, India, and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, once described the relationship between Washington and New Delhi as such: “The two cities can barely reach agreement with any issue.”
Since India declared independence in 1947, she has been sticking to the neutral foreign policy of non-alignment, which obviously upset US. US soon included Pakistan as her close ally in South Asia, which irritated India without doubt. However, with the expansion of Soviet Union’s influence in the subcontinent of South Asia in late 1950s, US started to apprehend that she might lose India one day. In 1957, the Eisenhower Administration passed the NSC-5703 document, presenting the clear statement that “a powerful India can be a successful paradigm to replace communism with the entire Asia as the background.”
After John Kennedy took office as US President in 1960, the government entertained with the growing desire of joining hands with India, so as to win the Cold War in South Asia. At that moment, China-India relationship was down to the historical low after the riots in Tibet, and the military conflicts along the national border. Prime Minister Nehru even confessed to the US officials who were visiting India that he was very upset with China’s “aggressive attitude”, and reiterated that “the threat to the world comes from Beijing, rather than Moscow”. Linton Johnson, then Vice President of US, was so encouraged after he visited India in May of 1961 that he suggested to the government that US provide assistance to India with the process of military modernization. By doing that, India could extract the armies from the disputed areas of Kashmir and pose substantial threat to China, instead of being trapped in a stalemate with Pakistan.
It seemed to be the best of times for US-India relationship. The Kennedy Administration even decided to provide 1 billion US dollars for India as assistance of her economic and military efforts, so that India could become US’s most reliable partner to contain China’s growth. Nevertheless, shortly after Prime Minister Nehru finished his US trip in December of 1961, India surprised the world by reclaiming Goa – which was under Portuguese colonial rule – with prompt military actions. As a member state of NATO, Portugal claimed that Goa was under the “protection” of NATO, and US (actually the “Big Brother” of NATO) had always been opposed to India’s military measures with this sensitive issue.
This time, US was greatly irritated by the “disobedient” moves of India, without doubt, and US-India relationship was down to a historical low. Adlai Stevenson, then US Ambassador to UN, criticized India in public. He proclaimed that although UN should not tolerate India’s military actions with this issue, or the military actions taken in other regional conflicts would be easily justified. US even initiated some proposals against India in UN Security Council, but later failed to pass with the veto of Soviet Union.
美国军援也无济于事 The military assistance of US did no good
Shortly after the crisis, US-India relationship was turning for better again. China was troubled with serious economic crisis in 1960s, and the smarty-pants of US believed that the Chinese government was soon to be doomed. According to the historical documents decoded by US and India, the colossal misjudgment urged the Nehru Administration to take risk with military actions to settle the border disputes of China and India.
With the common ideal of containing China, US and India immediately resumed their warm, close bilateral relationship. In March of 1962, Chester Bowles, then Assistant Secret of State of US, visited India and had extensive discussions with Lieutenant General Brij Mohan Kaul, a ferment supporter of “Forward Policy”. Kaul asked Bowles, would US provide necessary military assistance to India in case of a “public invasion” of China? Bowles responded by saying that he was incline to that personally. After the decision of the Indian government to take military actions, India had more than once urged US to provide the accessories of military transport aircrafts and transportation and communication facilities as soon as possible, and was responded by the US army in a positive way. After the military confrontations of China and India along the border, John Kenneth Galbraith, then US Ambassador to India, confessed in a letter to President Kennedy: “Our estimations have some influences on India.”
On October 20th, 1962, the Chinese army started to counterattack, and the Indian army suffered several consecutive defeats. CIA used to believe that “the combat effectiveness of the India army finds no rivalries in the free part of Asia”, but the results of batters totally contradicted US’s prior assumptions. Since November 3rd, US had assisted the Indian army with additional arms, ammunitions and telecommunication facilities with air freighters in over 10 sorties, together with large amount of valuable military intelligence of India. In order to ease the pressure of India, President Kennedy even wrote to Pakistani President by hand, warning him against any military actions towards India at that critical moment.
In spite of the strenuous efforts made by US, the Indian army failed to turn things around. The limited military assistance was like a drop in the bucket in light of the total devastation of India’s military actions. Prime Minister Nehru, obviously in shock, almost lost the capacity of maintaining the direction as the paramount leader. On November 19th, he wrote two consecutive letters to President Kennedy (without even consulting his cabinet members), urging US to dispatch 12 squadrons of supersonic fighter jets, radars and communication facilities to India. However, the Indian pilots were not familiar with US-made fighter jets, and Nehru even demanded that US pilots fly the fighter jets and guard the cities in India! Besides, Nehru made excessive requests that US dispatch 2 squadrons of B-47 bombers to attack the military bases and airports in China. Well, it’s like forcing US to declare war against China on the subcontinent of India.
Although US had already moved USS Enterprise out for the Bay of Bengal, Dean Rusk, then US Secretary of State, believed that the direct participation of US in the war was impossible before the Indian government clarified its non-alignment foreign policies. In order to get a thorough understanding of Prime Minister Nehru’s blueprint, President Kennedy decided to dispatch Pamela Harriman, then Assistant Secretary of State, to visit New Delhi first. When Harriman arrived in India on November 22nd, China had already declared unilateral ceasefire, and promised to withdraw the troops back to the Line of Actual Control designated in 1959. China’s move undoubtedly broke US’s dream of extending the period of the war infinitely.
后续情报合作还延续数年 The cooperation of intelligent ran for a few more years subsequently
With the troops along the border of China and India remaining in peace, US gradually lost her interest in providing India with military assistance, and also lowered the assessment of India’s strategic significance. During the crisis of war, India used to demand that US provide 1 billion US dollars as military assistance, and US did respond actively at first but soon went without any follow-ups. India was craving for US’s protection with air forces, but was given a small number of radars at last. Despite that, US and India did carry on joint intelligence and surveillance operations for a few years subsequently.
The confidential documents (which were later decoded) of CIA reveal that US required to use the military bases of India to fuel up the U-2 surveillance aircrafts of CIA, at a critical moment that India was still in horror with the escalated military conflicts between China and India along the border. After that, they went deep into the territory of China and performed special tasks, providing India with the crucial intelligent of China’s “invasion”, and all US’s moves were given consent by Prime Minister Nehru. In June of 1963, US and India agreed that U-2 surveillance aircrafts used the deserted air force base in Charbatia, in Orissa, India. Charbatia air force base also performed several reconnaissance missions targeting China after it was officially put into use in early 1964. Years later, the base was shut down in July of 1967 with the turbulences of India’s domestic politics, calling a stop to the cooperation of US and India.
In the next few years, the intelligence agencies of US and India also jointly performed reconnaissance missions to collect information of China’s nuclear power. In 1965, US and India dispatched a joint group made up with mountaineers towards the destination of Nanda Devi, part of the Garhwal Himalayas, located in the state of Uttarakhand in the north of India. They were actually performing the task of installing a nuclear detection instrument there, in hope of monitoring the nuclear weapon tests within the territory of China. However, their efforts proved unsuccessful because of “weather factors”.