The Kashmir Connection
Dean Acheson's responsibilities as undersecretary of state after World War II involved basic matters of policy formulation. When Secy. of State James Byrnes was away from Washington, as he often was in 1945 and 1946, Acheson's role in policy decisions was often primary, even definitive. Unlike Byrnes and Byrnes's successor, George C. Marshall, under whom he also served, Acheson intervened in the policy-making process at the outset rather than the conclusion. As a result, the policies with which he concerned himself reflected his own way of thinking. 1. This pattern does much to explain the handling in Acheson's State Department of matters relating to the independence of India, once the jewel in the crown of the British Empire.
In early November 1946, as Anglo-Indian discussions of Indian independence grew increasingly volatile, Acheson discussed the subject with Sir Girja Bajpai, the Washington representative of the Indian NationalCongress Party and later Indian foreign minister. India was not yet independent, and Bajpai thus had no officialstanding in Washington, but he wanted Acheson, and through him the State Department and the administration, to know firsthand that the Indians were committed to independence and would like to have American goodwill and assistance in achieving it. Bajpai told Acheson that the impending independence of India provided the United States with a unique and historic opportunity for establishing an era of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two peoples and their governments. “Conditions in India made it possible for an American ambassador, if he so desired, and if he were well qualified, to exercise a peculiarly important influence at this time, ” Bajpai told Acheson. Whatever ties continued between in-____________________