Newly declassified White House tapes disclose former US president Richard Nixon talking disparagingly about Indians and reveal the bigotry he and his nationwide safety adviser Henry Kissinger held that influenced US coverage towards India and South Asia beneath his presidency.
“As Americans grapple with problems of racism and power, a newly declassified trove of White House tapes provides startling evidence of the bigotry voiced by President Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser,” Gary Bass, professor at Princeton, wrote in an opinion piece ‘The Terrible Cost of Presidential Racism’ in The New York Times.
“The full content of these tapes reveal how U.S. policy toward South Asia under Mr. Nixon was influenced by his hatred of, and sexual repulsion toward, Indians,” Bass, creator of ‘The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide”, writes.
Richard Nixon, a Republican, was the thirty seventh President of the United States, serving from 1969 till 1974.
Bass says that the declassified White House tapes reveal a “stunning” dialog between Nixon, Kissinger and the then White House chief of workers H.R. Haldeman within the Oval Office in June 1971 by which Nixon asserts in a “venomous tone” that Indian ladies are “undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world.”
Nixon additionally calls Indians “most sexless”, “nothing” and “pathetic”, in line with the tapes.
“On Nov. 4, 1971, during a private break from a contentious White House summit with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India – a rare woman leader at the time – the President harangued Mr. Kissinger about his sexual disgust at Indians,” Bass writes.
Referring to Indians, Nixon says to Kissinger “To me, they turn me off. How the hell do they turn other people on, Henry? Tell me.” Bass writes that whereas Kissinger’s response is inaudible within the tapes, “it did not discourage the president from his theme.”
In November 1971, in the course of a dialogue about India-Pakistan tensions with Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers, after Rogers talked about reprimanding Gandhi, the President blurted, “I don’t know how they reproduce!”
Bass writes within the NYT piece that whereas Kissinger has portrayed himself as being above the racism of the Nixon White House, the tapes present “him joining in the bigotry, though the tapes cannot determine whether he truly shared the president”s prejudices or was just pandering to him.”
For occasion, on June 3, 1971, Kissinger was “indignant” on the Indians because the nation sheltered tens of millions of Bengali refugees who had fled the Pakistan Army. Kissinger blamed the Indians for inflicting the refugee stream after which condemned Indians as a complete, as he mentioned, “They are a scavenging people.”
At one pint, Kissinger had mentioned Indians are “superb flatterers” and “are masters at flattery. They are masters at subtle flattery. That’s how they survived 600 years. They suck up – their great skill is to suck up to people in key positions.”
Nixon had even been livid together with his ambassador to India Kenneth Keating, who two days earlier had confronted Nixon and Kissinger within the Oval Office, calling Pakistan’s crackdown “almost entirely a matter of genocide.” Bass says that Nixon and Kissinger had “staunchly supported” the navy regime in Pakistan because it killed a whole lot of 1000’s of Bengalis, with 10 million refugees fleeing into neighbouring India.
Voicing prejudices about Pakistanis, Kissinger had in August 1971 advised Nixon that “the Pakistanis are fine people, but they are primitive in their mental structure.”
He added, “They just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.” “These emotional displays of prejudice help to explain a foreign policy debacle,” Bass says, including that Nixon and Kissinger”s insurance policies towards South Asia in 1971 “were not just a moral disaster but a strategic fiasco on their own Cold War terms.
While Nixon and Kissinger “had some causes to favour Pakistan, an American ally which was secretly serving to to result in their historic opening to China, their biases and feelings contributed to their extreme assist for Pakistan’s murderous dictatorship all through its atrocities,” Bass said. “For many years, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger have portrayed themselves as good practitioners of realpolitik, operating a international coverage that dispassionately served the pursuits of the United States.
“But these declassified White House tapes confirm a starkly different picture: racism and misogyny at the highest levels, covered up for decades under ludicrous claims of national security. A fair historical assessment of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger must include the full truth, unbleeped,” Bass says. In December 2012, Bass had filed a authorized request for a compulsory declassification assessment with the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
The Nixon archivists launched a number of unbleeped tapes in May 2018, July 2019 and this May “after considerable wrangling”.
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