To Create a New World? American Presidents and the United Nations

By John Allphin Moore Jr.; Jerry Pubantz | Go to book overview

raids in the North. 60 U Thant's successor, Kurt Waldheim, had, in his first year in office, issued a public statement urging the cessation of U.S. bombing raids. 61 In both instances, the Nixon administration either reacted with sharp disapproval or ignored the entreaties. As U Thant ruefully conceded, "The United Nations as an organization has been powerless to intervene" in Vietnam. 62


India and Pakistan, 1971

One of the few episodes in which the Nixon administration showed some interest in UN involvement was a dangerous clash between India and Pakistan in late 1971. Even here, though, the president vacillated between encouraging UN action and avoiding the world body for fear that it might complicate superpower politics.

In 1947 a partition of the Asian subcontinent had created India and Pakistan out of the imperial domain formerly controlled by Great Britain. The division, and the ensuing flood of refugees from one of the new countries to another, resulted in bloody clashes between Muslims and Hindus. Additionally, Muslim Pakistan was separated into an eastern and western region, each bordering the larger India.

By the early 1970s strains between Pakistan and India had become commingled with even larger geopolitical tensions. In October 1962, open hostilities had broken out between China and India over contested boundaries in the Himalayas, and bitterness persisted for the following decade. Further complicating the picture were armed border clashes in 1969 between China and the Soviet Union along the Amur river. Thus, with the Nixon administration's overtures to the Chinese, along with its apparently charitable attitude toward Pakistan, India began to worry about a U.S.-China-Pakistan alignment and sought closer relations with the Soviet Union as a counterbalance. The Soviets, with their own worries about a China-U.S. rapprochement, responded positively, and on August 9, 1971, the two countries signed the Soviet-India Friendship Treaty.

____________________
60
Press statements, May 5, 1970, and November 23, 1970, "Public Papers of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations; U Thant, 1968-1971, VII" ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), 353, 379. Hereafter cited as PPSG.
61
Waldheim, Eye of the Storm, 117.
62
PPSG, U Thant, 41.

-196-

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