As India and China conflict, JFK’s ‘forgotten disaster’ is again

As India and China clash, JFK’s ‘forgotten crisis’ is back

By Bruce Riedel

The lethal conflict this week between India and China within the Himalayas is the worst disaster of their border quarrel since 1967. It could escalate to the worst for the reason that 1962 Sino-Indian Battle, which just about introduced the US to struggle with China. The COVID-19 pandemic makes the present state of affairs worse, it’s arduous to be cool-headed within the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe on each side of the disputed border. Pakistan can also be a really participant, watching the sport play out simply because it did in 1962 and hoping its rival India shall be humiliated.

Not less than 20 Indian troopers died within the clashes within the Ladakh area adjoining Kashmir on June 15. The Chinese language haven’t offered any casualty figures. The preventing was primitive: No firearms apparently had been used, simply sticks and stones. Two states armed with nuclear weapons had a fist combat, with deadly penalties and an unpredictable consequence.

Two states armed with nuclear weapons had a fist combat, with deadly penalties and an unpredictable consequence.

The distant area the place the conflict is happening is strategically necessary to each nations as a result of it’s near the place India, China, and Pakistan meet. In 1962, India was badly defeated by the Chinese language, shedding the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh in a matter of days. In contrast to in different border zones the place the Chinese language whipped the Indians, China didn’t withdraw from its beneficial properties. China took virtually 15,000 sq. miles of what had been India in Aksai Chin, and has saved it ever since. It maintains claims to much more of Ladakh — therefore the continued dispute.

For many years, each side have constructed up their transportation infrastructure to get troops and provides to the Himalayan entrance line. A newly upgraded street, constructed by the Indians, seems to be on the middle of the most recent rigidity.

Each India and China have extremely nationalistic governments in workplace. Each are very delicate to any perceived slight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi now seems just like the loser, not a picture he’s comfy with. However he additionally is aware of that the Indian navy will not be able to tackle China. Simply as in 1962, India in the present day is militarily weaker than China.

In October and November 1962, Mao Zedong despatched Chinese language troops into the disputed territory alongside the border in Ladakh and into what was then known as the North East Frontier Company (NEFA) of India. The Indians had been routed. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had no alternative however to ask for assist from Washington and London. President John F. Kennedy instantly ordered an airlift of weapons and provides to India. The Royal Air Drive joined within the airlift to hurry tools to India. A large world operation was underway to assist India.

It was not sufficient. A second Chinese language offensive in November crushed the Indians within the NEFA and gave the impression to be driving to the Bay of Bengal. Nehru requested Kennedy for 350 United States Air Drive jets and 10,000 crewmen to deploy to India to hitch the struggle and bomb China. The request was conveyed in an pressing letter which has solely been declassified inside the previous couple of years. Earlier than JFK answered the extraordinary request, Mao introduced a unilateral ceasefire and pulled again his invaders within the north east, however they didn’t pull again in Ladakh.

Kennedy additionally needed to cope with Pakistan, which was desirous to seize extra of Indian-controlled Kashmir for itself. Kennedy made clear to the Pakistani management that he would regard any Pakistani involvement as an act of struggle. Karachi backed down. In fact, Kennedy dealt with the disaster in South Asia on the similar time he was coping with the Cuban missile disaster and the very actual risk of a nuclear struggle with the Soviet Union. Multi-tasking at its greatest.

Immediately, Pakistan’s relationship with China is way extra in depth than in 1962. The 2 have exchanged nuclear secrets and techniques. China has invested tens of billions of {dollars} in constructing infrastructure to hyperlink western China to the Arabian Sea by means of Pakistani territory, particularly on the port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

The Pakistani military is watching the most recent aptitude up in Ladakh intently. The Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) hosted a really uncommon assembly of the Pakistani excessive command at its headquarters in Rawalpindi after the information of the frontier conflict got here out. Pakistan has clashed with Modi’s India a number of instances, together with in lethal dogfights within the air.

The pandemic has hit all three nations arduous. The virus is barely making decisionmaking more durable for all accountable leaders world wide. Up to now, not one of the three leaderships has dealt with the pandemic very properly.

There are lots of variations within the steadiness of energy between 1962 and in the present day, each regionally and by way of world energy balances. However the occasions of 1962 are very a lot on the minds of the leaders in China, India, and Pakistan. The previous haunts the current, however historical past doesn’t repeat. 2020 will not be 1962. Neither Beijing, New Delhi, nor Islamabad had nuclear weapons in 1962. The dangers of escalating the confrontation are immensely extra harmful in the present day. All of the gamers know that they should keep away from the worst. It’s too unhealthy that the US has a president who’s actually no JFK.