Saturday, October 5, 2013

'The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide': A Must Read for the Bangladeshis and Their Foreign Friends

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

To know the real history behind the genocide and immense suffering of the East Pakistanis (Bangladeshis) in 1971 at the hands of the West Pakistani ruling elite and behind-the-scene support to and manipulations of West Pakistani Generals by US President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser and later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the above-mentioned book is a must read. 

University of Princeton Professor Gary J. Bass’ book, The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, was published by Alfred A. Knopf publishers in late September. The author demonstrates with facts how the Cold War faceoff between the US and the Soviet Union played out with the Bangladesh war of independence in 1971. The US government morally and materially supported the West Pakistani ruling class, headed by General Yahya Khan, and the Soviet Union doing the same with the Indian government, headed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who gave refuge to more than 10 million Bangladeshi refugees in India and provided guerrilla training and arms to Bangladeshi freedom fighters, called the Mukti Bahini.  

Dexter Filkins, a staff writer for The New Yorker and former correspondent in South Asia for The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, in his The New York Times review of this book, writes: “The Blood Telegram…has revived the terrible and little-known story of the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, and of the sordid and disgraceful White House diplomacy that attended it. This is a dark and amazing tale, an essential reminder of the devastation wrought by the hardhearted policy and outright bigotry that typified much of the diplomacy of the cold war. It is not a tale without heroes, though; a number of American diplomats – especially a man named Archer Blood – risked and even sacrificed their careers by refusing to knuckle under to the White House and telling the truth about what was happening on the ground.” 

Archer Blood was the Consul General, the most senior diplomat, in the American Consulate in Dhaka in 1971. He regularly sent reports of the actual situation of West Pakistani military killings, arrests, torture and burnings in Bangladesh to his superiors in the US State Department. When nothing happened, he and 20 other Americans, risking their jobs and positions, later sent a dissenting telegram condemning the US government apathy and policy towards East Pakistan. This telegram is now called the “Blood Telegram.” His superiors even tried to silence them. 

The titles of the chapters of this book are:

--South Asia, 1971
--The Tilt
--Cyclone Pakistan
--Mrs. Gandhi
--“Mate and Horrified Witnesses”
--The Blood Telegram
--The Inferno Next Door
--“Don’t Squeeze Yahya”
--India Alone
--The China Channel
--The East is Red
--The Mukti Bahini
--“The Hell with the Damn Congress”
--Soviet Friends
--“We really slobbered over the Old Witch”
--The Guns of November
--The Fourteen Day War
--“I Consider This Our Rhineland”
--Epilogue: Aftermaths

For more information and comment on the Blood Telegram book, you may access to: 

The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide needs to be translated into Bangla (Bengali) and be published in Bangladesh as soon as possible for its maximum circulation. The translation rights should be sought from its author and publisher immediately.

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