Self-Determination - Self-determination in south asia and chile



On 9 August 1971, some three weeks after President Nixon had announced his visit to Peking in an effort to normalize relations, the Soviets signed a twenty-year treaty of friendship (and quasialliance) with India. The Indians feared another crushing onslaught from the bordering Chinese (as in 1962), while the Soviets were evidently eager to clasp hands with India against an increasingly menacing China. Although India and Pakistan had been enemies since the partition of British India in 1947, the United States had been supplying arms to Pakistan, an American ally. This unpromising Asiatic pot came to a furious boil in March 1971, when populous East Pakistan, separated by more than a thousand miles from West Pakistan, formally rebelled against alleged mistreatment by its West Pakistan overlords. The secessionists officially proclaimed the independent state of Bangladesh. The West Pakistan army, with alleged genocidal intent, undertook to crush the uprising with full-scale butchery, rape, and pillage. An estimated nine million destitute refugees began to pour across borders into already overpopulated and underfed India. In November 1971, responding to protests from India, Washington cancelled further shipments of arms to Pakistan. Then, early in December, India, after declaring war on Pakistan, proceeded to invade and free Bangladesh in a mercifully short clash of fifteen days. The United States, supporting the losing side, emerged from the episode looking rather foolish. Evidently seeking to counter a reported Soviet naval presence in the Indian Ocean and to display sympathy for its Pakistani ally, Washington hastily dispatched a powerful naval task force to the Indian Ocean. The transparent explanation given at the time was the necessity of evacuating a handful of U.S. citizens, most of whom had already left Bangladesh. This futile exhibition of old-fashioned "show the flag" gunboat diplomacy, with its "tilt toward Pakistan," probably gratified China, which was pro-Pakistan, but pleased neither the Soviets, the Indians, nor even the Pakistanis. Relations with India became frigid, especially after Washington cut developmental loans, charging that India was the "main aggressor" in the conflict. Nearly a year later, in November 1972, Pakistan withdrew from the SEATO alliance and in other ways indicated alienation from the United States. Thus, Bangladesh was born: a satellite of India, famine-ridden and impoverished.

In the meantime, leftist trends in Chile, once an outstanding democracy, had become especially worrisome to Washington. A left-wing coalition, which accused American copper mining and other interests of "milking" the country, won the 1970 election and elevated to the presidency Salvador Allende Gossens, a home-grown Marxist. As the first avowed Marxist to win a free election in the hemisphere, Allende posed an unusual problem for the United States. The dilemma intensified when he nationalized nearly $1 billion of American investment, opened diplomatic relations with the government of Fidel Castro, and signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union. The United States retaliated by refusing to help Chile with trade or developmental programs. American banks and the Export-Import Bank cut credit. President Nixon secretly ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to follow a "get rougher" policy that encouraged anti-Allende demonstrations by middle-class Chileans. Kissinger whole-heartedly approved, in part because he was afraid that a successful radical left coalition might have contagious effects not only in Latin America but also in France and Italy. It was his own version of the domino theory.

Allende's inability to stop a rapid economic deterioration brought attacks from both conservatives and ultraleftists. In September 1973 a coup by army officers resulted in Allende's death and a right-wing military dictatorship. The United States quickly reopened its aid program; some property taken from American corporations was returned or paid for; and when the American ambassador protested the army's repression, which included torturing and imprisoning thousands of political opponents, Kissinger angrily told the ambassador "to cut out the political science lectures." By 1975 there was no longer any doubt that the United States had played a role in overthrowing the Allende government in Chile and replacing it with the ferociously right-wing General Augusto Pinochet.



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