The cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was the cause of many conflicts around the globe during the cold war’s peak years. The 1971 Bangladesh liberation war was one among these conflicts undoubtedly.
In this article, we are going to discuss the influence of the Soviet Union and the western block in the Bangladesh liberation war.
Note: The views expressed in this article are completely my own perspective supported by factual information.
The Blood Telegram
the United States and its western allies openly supported Pakistan during the entire conflict. But this enormous support from the western block was just against the fundamental principles of these countries i.e democracy. The United States and its western allies represented themselves as the flag-bearers of democracy. The hypocrisy of the United States was exposed when it ignored the telegram sent by diplomat Archer blood, popularly known as the blood telegram.
Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backward to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,… But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nation’s position as a moral leader of the free world.Archer Blood in his Blood telegram
Countering Communism In Southern Asia
Pakistan’s strengthening relations with the People’s Republic of China, the second most powerful communist nation at that time, was a matter of great concern for the U.S. Driven by the desire to keep Pakistan, its old ally, out of communist influence, the Americans found themselves helping those who openly murdered democracy and those whose hands were painted by the blood of innocent people.
The Americans were so preoccupied with countering communism during the cold war, they just did not bother the fundamental principles on which their country stood. It is rather shameful for a nation that claims itself a superpower now and projects itself as a guardian of democracy around the world. The bitter truth is that the Americans never guarded democracy anywhere rather created unwanted problems everywhere. Saving democracy was just an excuse covering the hidden motives behind the actions that it took in the name of saving democracy. ( Invasion of Iraq remains the best example)
The open American support by Richard Nixon’s government to Pakistan is not at all justified till this day. Moreover, the American diplomats persuaded many countries including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, and China to support Pakistan with military aid and political support.
Role Of Soviet Union
During the Cold war, the Soviet-India relations became very strong, especially under Nikita Khruschev and Indira Gandhi. Fearing isolation of India by the western block at peak of the cold war, Indira Gandhi established strong diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Also in the Soviet Union, this was the era of de-Stalinisation under Nikita Khruschev.
The Indo-Soviet ties were one of the key reasons behind the anti-India stance of the western powers. This was the key reason why most of the western powers despite being aware of the Bangladeshi genocide, neglected it as an “Internal Matter of Pakistan”.
Possibility Of A Two-Front War
At the time of this conflict, Pakistan had entered a deep military alliance with Pakistan. The Chinese government had assured the Pakistanis after its humiliating defeat in the 1965 war that in case of any future conflict, China would help Pakistan with all possible measures. (But everyone knows how unreliable the Chinese are, just like their made in China junk)
Thus there was a possibility that China could have opened another front by invading the eastern fronts of India just like 1962. However, the 1967 Nathu la clashes intimated the Chinese army as they had witnessed what the Indian Army could do in its highest state of preparedness. China just could not afford that risk. However, the Sino-Soviet split and the conflicts with the Soviet Union over Vladivostok was another key reason. The open Soviet support to India prevented the Chinese from any misadventure
Power Projection Of Nuclear Power Naval Vessels
The Nixon government realized that Pakistani defeat was inevitable, it sent its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise along with its carrier battlegroup called Taskforce 74 to the Bay of Bengal, in response to the Indian Invasion of East Pakistan which arrived on 11th December. The battlegroup was ready to strike Indian forces on Pakistani soil to aid Pakistani forces. a centaur class British carrier was also part of taskforce 74.
However, the presence of the Soviet Nuclear powered attack Submarine along with other vessels armed with nuclear weapons, who had just arrived before the task force 74, deterred any American misadventure and prevented Indo-American clashes which could have been catastrophic.
Thus Bangladesh Liberation war was not just a war of independence of Bengalis from Pakistanis, but rather a battleground between the communists and the capitalists, between the eastern and the western block.