When Birds of a Feather Do Not Flock Together: The Failure of Democratic India and Democratic America to Ally During the Cold War
The global geopolitical history of the late 20th century was defined by the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, which through alliances, involved many countries across the world. Large swaths of the world became proxies for the struggle between superpowers with Asia, Latin America, and Africa being largely studied examples of Cold War geopolitical and military ambition. As academia has sought to understand the conflict, scholarship has neglected the near east and South Asia. Among the various flashpoints in South Asia, the conflict between India and its neighbors has always been especially dangerous, especially in terms of its foundational and existential conflict with Pakistan. This conflict is largely understood as purely regional and sectarian, and the presence of the US and USSR is either absent or diminished in studies of the various Indo-Pak wars. By all known metrics, India’s conflicts with Communist China, Islamic Pakistan, and Maoist Rebels alongside its status as an industrializing liberal-democracy should have made it the perfect host for US partnership, yet it was overlooked by the United States who chose to become a patron of Pakistan. Why did the US’ Executive leadership turn away from India and towards Pakistan? This question also highlights the profound differences in preferences and strategy between the leadership and the ground-level diplomats? Does diplomatic dissent to the President or secretary of State’s decisions represent new waters? How are diplomats breaking new ground by disagreeing with entire wings of US foreign policy? How do the perceptions and attitudes of US leaders undermine the strategic and diplomatic interests that may have resulted in a robust US-Indian relationship? To what extent do these same problems plague Indian leadership? The project deals specifically with the failed relationship between India and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s—in terms of creating an alliance— despite strategic commonalities and military and diplomatic ties to answer these questions. Exploring a failed relationship adds the foresight of all the mistakes that could have been prevented if the relationship worked out, and this is especially important since the relationship that did work was that of the US and Pakistan which has played an inordinate role in the modern middle eastern quagmire and War on Terror. It focuses specifically on the US’s partiality towards Pakistan and the role American leaders’ personal preferences and prejudices played in determining alliance policy. How did racism, sexism, and general prejudice from leaders like Nixon impact the forging of Alliances, subverting even large scale metrics like diplomatic recommendations and geopolitical strategy? There are two major incidents that are key to exploring the relationship: the 1962 Sino-Indian War and the 1971 Indo-Pak War/Bangladeshi Liberation War. These events highlight scenarios in which US-Indian cooperation should have been a given, but were instead examples of the ever-widening rift between the US and India. By exploring the unique diplomatic, military, and external circumstances that not only prevented US-Indian cooperation in these scenarios, but encouraged US-Pakistani relations in the latter, one can begin to understand the intricacies and hypocrisies of the ideological and moral framework of Cold War Alliance Politics in South Asia, where ease and personal preference overruled ideological consistency and strategic sense for US leaders.