The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J. Bass

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  • January 2015
    Book Review

    In 2013 two significant books were published dealing with the creation of Bangladesh, one by Srinath Raghavan (1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh, Permanent Black, Ranikhet) and the other under review here. In terms of their databases and analyses, they are both outstanding. This, in spite of Bass’s reminder that the most sensitive wartime records remain classified and at times even White House tapes are edited to maintain secrecy (p. 289).

    The Blood Telegram is a scathing indictment of America’s Pakistan policy during the fateful days of the Bangladesh crisis. The author has portrayed both Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger as villains who conducted their foreign policy without any ethical qualms, unconcerned about human rights violations in East Pakistan. They were so excited by the prospects of their China mission that for them everything else was secondary. The loss of human lives was mere collateral damage that could not be avoided if Pakistan, a prized partner in America’s China project, was to preserve its integrity.