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Bush's Legacy: Making Richard Nixon Look Like a Candidate for Mount Rushmore in Comparison

07.14.2005 09:51 | DISPATCHES

When the State Department's Office of the Historian declassified its most recent Foreign Relations records on June 28, the press had a field day. The tone of Nixon and Kissinger's conversations ranged from backroom to basement to gutter. In fact, thirty-four years later, Kissinger felt compelled to apologize on Indian TV.

In March 1971, East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) sought independence, but it was suppressed by Pakistan's military. Millions of its inhabitants fled to India's West Bengal state. When India then supported an independent Bangladesh, its ties with the US became strained because President Nixon had allied the US with Pakistan's military dictator, General Yahya Khan.

In August 1971 India signed a treaty with the Soviet Union that included mutual military assistance in case of war. An angered Nixon then sought, unsuccessfully, to align China against them.

The release of these documents, as detailed is this editorial in India's News Insight created a political dilemma.

"[Current India prime minister] Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit to America could not have come at a more embarrassing time. . . Nixon and Kissinger were plainly abusive of Indira Gandhi and insulting to India. . . Singh cannot go ahead with the US visit as though nothing has happened. . . .unless [he] decides to go ahead shamelessly."

Are the documents really that bad? To make it easier for you to decide, I've gone through them all and abstracted the juicy parts -- Gandhi's not the only one to feel their wrath.

Many of the transcripts are interrupted by "[unclear]," which, near as I can tell, is a euphemism for ?*!?#?!*?. Also, occasional editorial comments "[like this]" proved irresistible. Finally, while the words haven't been changed, I confess to editing with broad strokes.

Document 135
Nixon: The Indians need -- what they need really is a --
Kissinger: They're such bastards.
Nixon: A mass famine. [Yikes!] But they aren't going to get that. We're going to feed them -- a new kind of wheat. [Which will make them sterile?] But if they're not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war [unclear].
Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there.

Nixon: . . . the Indians are no goddamn good. Now Keating, like every Ambassador who goes over there. . . gets sucked in. He now thinks the --
Kissinger: Those sons-of-bitches, who never have lifted a finger for us. . . in their usual idiotic way are playing for little stakes.

Nixon: Like all of our other Indian ambassadors, he?s been brainwashed. [Ambassador Keating is shown in.]
Nixon: Would you like iced tea?
Keating: No, no.
Nixon: Booze?
Kissinger: No, it's about --
Keating: Five million. And add that it's in a crowded part of India.
Nixon: Sorry, it was 300,000 we were feeding.
Keating: That's right. That's correct. About five million, and of that about three of them --
Nixon: Why don't they shoot them?
Nixon: Let me say this, I don't want to give you the wrong impression about India. There are 400 million Indians.
Keating: 550.
Nixon: 550? [unclear]
Keating: There are.
Nixon: I don't know why the hell anybody would reproduce in that damn country but they do.
Nixon: . . . Five million? Is it that bad really or are they exaggerating?
Kissinger: Of course, I don't know how many of them they generate.

Kissinger: And last year there were 521 communal riots in India, acknowledged.
Nixon: Miserable damn place.
Nixon: We warned the Indians very strongly that if they start anything -- and believe me it would be a hell of a pleasure as far as I am concerned -- if we just cut off every damn bit of aid we give them. . .
Nixon: Sick bastards.

Nixon: This is just the point when she is a bitch.
Kissinger: Well, the Indians are bastards anyway.
Nixon: We really slobbered over the old witch.
Kissinger: How you slobbered over her in things that did not matter, but in the things that did matter.
[Note Kissinger playing along with Nixon's odd -- not to mention disturbing in its intimacy -- usage of the word "slobber."]

Nixon: You should have heard. . . the way we worked her around. I dropped stilettos all over her.
[What the heck does "dropping stilettos" mean?]
Kissinger: -- then she'd be crying, going back crying to India. So I think even though she is a bitch, I'd be a shade cooler today, but --

Nixon: What I. . . really worry about, is whether or not I was too easy on the goddamn woman. . .
Nixon: Yeah. And another weakness we've got is Keating there as Ambassador.
Kissinger: Oh, he's a bastard.
Nixon: [unclear]. . . soft, son-of-a-bitch.
Kissinger: But she was playing us.
Nixon: She was playing us. And you know the cold way she was the next day. . . And this woman suckered us. But let me tell you, she's going to pay.
Kissinger: . . . The Democrats will make issue --
Nixon: They'll probably say we're losing India forever. All right, who's going to care about losing India forever?

Nixon: The main thing is we must not lose or be blamed for this goddamned thing. . .
Kissinger: No, no.
Nixon: Church. Teddy Kennedy.
Kissinger: No, I went to Joe Alsop's house the other night and Teddy Kennedy was there. Of course, he's such a jerk.

Nixon: . . the Kennedys were obsessed with the idea of the Indian mystery and all of the God-like qualities and so forth of the Indians. He said those of us who work with the Indians up here know that they are the [unclear -- most?] devious, trickiest sons-of-bitches there are.

Nixon: And then say she has no friends that she can --
Kissinger: She has no friends [unclear].

Nixon: I don't give a damn about the Indians.

Nixon: Bhutto?
Kissinger: Yeah.
Nixon: That son-of-bitch? . . . He's a bad man. Bhutto's a terrible bastard.

Nixon: I don't want the Indians to be happy. . . . I want a public relations program developed to piss on the Indians. I mean, that atrocity of the [unclear], for example. . Get a white paper out. White paper. White paper. Understand that? . . . I want the Indians blamed for this, you know what I mean? We can't let these goddamn, sanctimonious Indians get away with this. They've pissed on us on Vietnam for 5 years, Henry.
Kissinger: Yeah.
Nixon: And what do we do? Here they are raping and murdering, and they talk about West Pakistan, these Indians are pretty vicious in there, aren't they?
Kissinger: Absolutely.
Nixon: Aren't they killing a lot of these people?
Kissinger: Well, we don't know the facts yet. But I'm sure [unclear] that they're not as stupid as the West Pakistanis -- they don't let the press in. The idiot Paks have the press all over their place. . . The Paks just don't have the subtlety of the Indians.
Nixon: Well, they don't lie.

You get the idea. What saddens the most is that any outrage one feels about how Nixon and Kissinger view Gandhi and the Indians, not to mention the Pakistanis, is leavened by the knowledge that our current administration has even less respect for other nations and their leaders.

In fact the extent to which Nixon is involved almost obsessively in world affairs is exhilarating in light of the three succeeding Republican presidents, who made a science out of delegating. (Ever hear Laura Flanders's account of how she once met President Reagan, who explained, with neither self-consciousness nor embarrassment, that he learned about the nuclear arms race, apparently while president, from a Reader's Digest article?)


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