Post World War Two, President Truman and Eisenhower had policies on decolonization, with India being one of the biggest priorities. Due to the communists pushing out the nationalists to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, India was seen as a potential alternative and counterweight. Nevertheless, the situation would change as the Cold War became heated and bloody.
Geopolitical Shift in the Cold War
Initially supporting India against Chinese aggression under the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, relations between both nations took a sharp turn concerning Nixon’s rapprochement with China. During the Sino-Soviet split, China and the USSR were in conflict to propel themselves as the one true “revolutionaries.” At times, it resorted to armed conflict, and needing a second front against the Soviets, America gambled on the Chinese.
Secret meetings took place between Henry Kissinger and Mao’s envoys in China to discuss formal relations to contain the USSR in 1970. One of these concessions included America backing Yahya Khan’s military dictatorship of Pakistan, which has been a vassal of China since its independence. Pakistan is also another existential threat to India, and at the time, Kissinger was openly hateful to the latter.
In 1971, Yahya Khan’s Pakistan waged a genocidal war against Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. The Soviet Union condemned the massacres and ethnic cleansing in which up to 3 million civilians were killed by Pakistan’s army and irregulars. In contrast, due to the new pact with China, the United States quietly looked the patient way.
India, who could no longer sit idol to genocide, intervened militarily, in which Kissinger attempted to deter India by sending an armed nuclear submarine to the Bay of Bengal. The bluff failed, and India forced upwards of 90,000 Pakistani troops to surrender, guaranteeing Bangladeshi independence. Relations between Washington and New Delhi would be strained for decades after the war.
America’s Relations with Pakistan as a Litmus Test
In the wake of the September 11th Attacks, the United States partnered with Pakistani intelligence (ISI) and its military to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda. This was a major problem as the Pakistani state supports the Taliban. Islamabad classifies the Afghan Taliban as the “good” Taliban, whereas the Pakistani branch is the “bad” one as the latter fights against the Pakistani state more so than against India.
The cooperation with Pakistan was a disaster, to say the least. Relations with India were strained when China’s economy quickly rose while Pakistan silently backed the extremists that killed US Forces in Afghanistan. The war ended in a disastrous withdrawal, with Pakistan helping the Taliban retake power, and India grew incredibly concerned about American funding and arming of a rogue nuclear state with missiles pointed at it.
India, which has promoted strict neutrality while its economy and population booms, have been on China’s radar since the Communist Party took over Beijing. The 1962 War that China instigated saw the People’s Liberation Army take swaths of strategic heights still held by them to this day.
There have been several dozen clashes throughout the year along the Himalayas, with the most recent one being in favor of New Delhi thanks to critical intelligence by Washington that tipped off the Indian Armed Forces.
India, which heavily relies on Russian military expenditures, has been heavily affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On March 23rd, India confirmed the Russian Military could not fulfill their contract obligations on weapons exports due to the loss of armor and sanctions taking effect on Moscow.
Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union were India’s historical counterweight and second front on Chinese imperial ambitions. With Russia now having a weaker economy and military than India, Moscow has become nothing more than a vassal state of the People’s Republic, which only survives for as long as Xi Jinping allows it to.
America Should Reproach India
China has quickly become the greatest threat economically and militarily to India. Reciprocating the threat towards Taiwan, a major American ally DC looks to defend, Chinese aggression cannot be countered alone. With US forces around the globe stretched thin, India should be reproached as a valuable ally.
Despite its lukewarm stance over the War in Ukraine, India is a growing technological and defense hub. New Delhi relies heavily on the American economy, and millions of Indians have become successful through visas and citizenship in the United States.
B1 bombers took part in the military exercises between both nations for the first time. China has continued its inane rhetoric towards India while simultaneously coaxing Russia into vassalage. While American forces are stretched thin, India likewise has lost its key ally to their inane imperial dreams in Ukraine.
China now remains the biggest obstacle in the Asian Pacific for America and the mountainous regions that border India. While not acknowledging it openly, both nations benefit from a partnership. Relations between Washington and New Delhi should be blamed as two of the world’s top ten economies and military superpowers will be on center stage for the foreseeable future.
To learn more about the history of warfare in India, click here.
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