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A "time when principles make best politics"? : the United States' response to the genocide in East Pakistan

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A "time when principles make best politics"? : the United States' response to the genocide in East Pakistan

Pilkington, Richard D (2006) A "time when principles make best politics"? : the United States' response to the genocide in East Pakistan. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

On 25 March 1971, fearing the secession of East Pakistan, the military dictator, President Yahya Khan unleashed his country's West-Pakistani-dominated armed forces in a brutal campaign of massacre and repression in the East. During nine months of operations, the army butchered at least one million people. Though very much aware of the nature of the atrocities in East Pakistan, and despite vociferous public criticism at home, the US Government not only refused to intervene militarily and economically, but also failed to publicly condemn the actions of the Islamabad authorities. President Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, dominated the formulation of US foreign policy at the time of the crisis. In his memoirs, Kissinger argued that US inaction throughout the emergency was justified on the grounds that Yahya was acting as the main channel for secret communications in a major strategic initiative aimed at securing rapprochement between the US and China. In the absence of much important primary-source material, secondary works have perpetuated this view. In contrast, using evidence from recently declassified documents, this thesis argues that the initial US reaction was divided into two phases. Only after 27 April 1971, when it sprang fully into life, did the secret China initiative come to dominate Nixon and Kissinger's policy. Up until this watershed event, however, a complex mixture of more mundane motives drove the US response. This revisionist posture, therefore, directly contradicts Kissinger's contention

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Pilkington, Richard D
Pagination:vi, 135 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History
Date:2006
Thesis Supervisor(s):Chalk, Frank
ID Code:9062
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:43
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:43
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