tv Book Discussion on JF Ks Forgotten Crisis CSPAN December 6, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
my name is sarah and i am i'm the events director of kramer books and on behalf of both the staff i'm pleased to welcome you and bruce for his book jfk forgotten crisis. in the buck, he book, he shares a gripping story of the conflict that really has escaped history is attention but is really still resonates today that of the union war. he draws on the documents and details of the decisions made by jfk to send the tie the tide of an all-out war and explain how the forgotten crisis is influencing the world more than half a century later. we are glad he's here to share
his book. please welcome bruce. [applause] >> thank you very much for that introduction and all of you for coming out tonight. i want to begin by taking you back half a century. on the morning of october 16, 1962, george bundy, john f. kennedy national security adviser arrived at his office in the west wing of the white house. on his desk as there was every morning there was a final prepared by the white house situation room of the most important top-secret documents he had to see before he saw the president that day. two documents were notably important on the 16th of october. one was a memo from the state department from the bureau of intelligence and research and in that document the state department warned that the situation between china and
india on the border into himalaya mountains was deteriorating rapidly and there was a very good chance that a war was going to break out between china and india. it also warned the president president that if that happened, india would be the loser and the united states might be called upon by the prime minister to provide assistance and support to stem the chinese invasion. it also warned him if he did provide that would alienate our allies in south asia, and south asia, pakistan and could lead to a crisis in the u.s. pakistani relations. the other documents that morning was a report from the central intelligence agency and it's summarized the results of an overflight of the island of cuba. the cia discovered just the day before the soviet union was in
the process of putting intermediate ballistic missiles in cuba which has have the capacity to hit almost every american city east of the mississippi river. it was a global game changer by the soviets. in in rich respect, one of these crisis is well known. we've seen movies about the cuban missile crisis and books about the cuban missile crisis. there's a whole industry of studies about the crisis and there should be. the cuban missile crisis was the closest we came into armageddon in the cold war. john f. kennedy was dealing with an issue which if he dealt with it wrong would have meant we wouldn't be here today. the apocalypse is would have occurred. we now know 50 years later that it was even more dangerous than people thought it was bad. in 1962 they estimated the rate to 6,000 sutures on the island.
in fact there were 50,000 soviet soldiers on the island. the cia thought that they had only brought intermediate range ballistic missiles to the fact the russians have also brought with them tactical nuclear weapons and sarandon guantánamo naval base with frog missiles will the forces on the island had the authority to deliver from moscow but when the first american bomb dropped on cuba they could follow tactical weapons into the guantánamo naval base. but just as that was so important, it shouldn't completely overlook the other crisis, the indian war. china and india are the world's biggest countries by virtue of the population and back in the 1960s, there was a cutting edge of a competition between
democracy and communism. in many ways they were aware of the cold war was going to be fought and kennedy had actually campaigned in 1959 and 1960. one of those he campaigned on his the united states wanted india to win the competition. the state department memo was president they got it absolutely right. the war began and the chinese began undermining the front line positions. within a week or two, india was in a very serious position and looked like it was going to be defeated. they did a very reluctantly in the united states ask for assistance and by the end of october, 1962 the united states and the air force were flying in massive airlift of weapons and equipment in india. six of the 707's for landing
every day at the airport, and from there the american c-130s were going to the himalayas and kashmir. then the chinese stopped and paused. then they started again with an even larger offensive. at the end of november, this offensive threatened to overrun all of eastern india. if you think of india, there is the little part that little part that sticks out beyond bangladesh of course in 1962 was east pakistan. all of that part looked like it was going to fall on chinese hands and it was unclear whether the chinese would stop there. there were some that caught the chinese would march all the way to account qatar and take india's second-largest city. on november 19, 1962, the crisis came to its head. they sent two letters.
the first arrived just before the national security council meeting. the second arrived during the meeting. but the american ambassador, john kenneth galbraith and i will come back to him in a minute already previewed the second letter. the second letter was a cry for immediate assistance. they said we are on the verge of going under. the whole world is going to see a communist gigantic march into a democracy and destroyed. i am not sure i-india will survive this catastrophe. then he came to the punch line. he said he immediately needed 12 squadrons of american combat fighter aircraft with american pilots and those to be stashed immediately to happen in the war. in this letter they were asking the president of the united
states for 350 combat aircraft to defend india airspace while they begin bombing that was obviously going to be a slippery slope once we went into india, we were going to be at war with communist china. the president that's president that night the site he needed time. he couldn't make make that decision overnight. and he did two things come the first tee dispatched navy carrier group to the bay to demonstrate american support. secondly, he said on an urgent mission they actually left that night from andrews air force base to fly direct to assess the needs at the time. he's not remembered today that he's an icon of diplomacy.
they sent to london during the blitz that would deliver the onslaught is the man fdr sent to moscow in 1941 to see whether the soviet union was going to be able to survive the not the invasion. this was the biggest big gun that you could possibly find anywhere. he did something else as well that he had been doing ever since the beginning of the crisis. he sent another message to pakistan saying don't even think about it because from the beginning of the crisis, the pakistani military dictator had been sending signals that he was very unhappy america was supporting india and he wanted to be compensated as he liked to say from pakistan neutrality that didn't give me kashmir. kennedy refused to give into this and he said repeated messages to the pakistanis that if you enter the war we will
regard you as part of the enemy and not part of the alliance that we have with you. at the 20th of november was sheer panic in new delhi. all indian aircraft, private and public were commissioned by the indian air force. they begin moving troops to pakistan through and even though it appeared the second front could open up. and then that's that night for no explanation, china unilaterally stopped. we don't know why china did that
they are not available today. you can get a lot of records about what the american government thought, but the chinese archives remain sealed. they credited john f. kennedy of convincing the chinese to stop. he told john kenneth galbraith that it was america's resolve and kennedy's determination not to let the chinese win. manifested in the deployment of the aircraft that battle group to the persuasion to stop and not with the crisis continue to go even further. this leads us to what is if the chinese had been stopped at night would the united united states has have found itself at war with communist china. remember in 1962 there have only been nine years before when we had been at war with communist china and korea and fought with the chinese for the better part of three years and here you are
essentially asking us to go to war with china again. we will never know and so what if, but in my judgment kennedy almost certainly would have said yes and i make a judgment for a few reasons. first he he didn't be that indian democracy was crucial to the united states in the global balance of power. second, the because his ambassador, one of the people that were closest to him would almost certainly recommend it and third because just a year later in the fall of 1963, the united states air force, the royal air force and small squadrons from the royal australian air force and royal canadian air force deployed into india for the military training exercise which was exactly what they have asked for a year before. so they actually practiced going into this war.
the conflict between china and india ended in a cease-fire unilaterally on the 21st of november, 1962 at the conflict isn't over. they never settled the dispute. it remains the longest unsettled border dispute in the world today. neither party agrees to wear the border should be. there've been hundreds of meetings the chinese and indians and they haven't succeeded one idea that moving forward. there are trading partners with each other today. the likelihood of another is probably pretty low. i wouldn't say the same thing for another. that i think is a very serious reality. so that's dispute continues to this day, and in addition has led to two other things. access between china and
pakistan barely had any interaction between 1962. but if you look back in the 50 years perspective committees 1962 for the alliance between china and pakistan begins. and today the alliance is very strong. they call it the all weather alliance. that is kind of a snob that the united states. they are all weather. they say it's taller than the himalayas and deeper than the indian ocean and just this year china and pakistan signed agreements that will lead to $46 billion of chinese investment in pakistani infrastructure, and of course it has another dimension, the secret nuclear collusion. pakistan and china have been secret partners. they have the fastest growing
nuclear weapons program in the world's. it's the most dangerous arms race in the world today between china and pakistan on the one hand and india on the other. just two years ago, india proudly announced that they fired an intermediate range ballistic missile that allowed it for the first time to target beijing with nuclear weapons. so the crisis that was adverted in 1962 remains a problem even to this day. john f. kennedy's forgotten crisis, the story of that crisis mostly from the american point of view also has some other stories i would be happy to talk about indicating they like the role played by the first lady, who is very important in this issue and the role played by the cia trying to response or.
but let me finish with one final word about the sources. this relies upon letters that have only been declassified in the last couple of years. the indian government to deny that the letters even existed. at the moment of greatest need have to ask the united states to bail it out. this is the first book that takes advantage of looking in depth and thank you for your attention. i would be delighted to take questions if i can come up with answers. [applause]
>> john f. kennedy never went to india and pakistan. he had gone to india in the early 1950s and mrs. kennedy actually recounts what happened. it's a great anecdote. she said that when the venice senator john f. kennedy got to new delhi and they requested a meeting with the feminist or, the u.s. embassy told them that the prime minister's tension often failed pretty quickly and that into that of the prime minister's attention was feeling you start to look up at the ceiling and start playing with his pencil. within two minutes of the meeting, they were staring at the ceiling and play with pencils for some of the very auspicious start for the relationship. it got better. but mrs. kennedy data traveled to south asia during the
thousand days of the kennedy administration. she went in the spring of 1962 so just a few months before the crisis. it was the first time that a first lady had traveled by herself outside of the united states in the age of television. eleanor roosevelt traveled during the second world war but there was no television and truman and eisenhower never traveled by themselves overseas. that is a bubble but it's a misnomer. her sister went with her into the secret service detachment of about 25 people needed a boeing 747 to get them there as well. her trip was a spectacular success. she was hailed as the queen of america in india and pakistan and she excited the crowd not just india and pakistan but because of television they excited the people back in the
united states of america. in pakistan they also gave her a gift. he heard that she was a horsewoman and loved horses and loved riding and loved jumping with them and so he gave her a 10-year-old chief and laid immediate instructions to the white house to be given vip treatment on the airplane and there would be nothing about the silly rules of checking the veterinary background to the of the force was to be shipped immediately. they arrived beyond john f. kennedy during the funeral of pennsylvania avenue it over to arlington park. it's kind of a unique reminder
they play in the kennedy administration. the other thing she did of course is she was a hostess. she hosted both for state visits to the united states. the state visit for the field marshal who was unique. only once in american history has mount vernon, george washington's home in use for a state visit. jackie wanted to use mount vernon. she had just come back from a trip with her husband into the palace and austria. but we don't have any palaces. but she wanted to do something equally grand. so, in june when mount vernon was the sight site of a very special summit. a few months later, they came in november and a and they have now
of course if you have mount vernon for the pakistani, what do you do to altitude that? so they went to jackie's home in newport rhode island to the cottage but if you've ever driven around newport, you would realize that it's more different than all of us. but it turned out to be a complete failure. at this point, they were getting on in age of a very tired and exhausted from the flight and answered most of kennedy's request and the short answers there was no engagement and then it got worse. after the stop of newport, they came down to the white house to have an official dinner in the white house as well and as somebody if somebody on the white house staff failed to properly open the flue in the fireplace in the room into the meeting began with smoke spreading throughout the white house edits wasn't very
auspicious starting up to the relationship. but in this regard, mrs. kennedy was a crucial partner in the american engagement with both india and pakistan in the early 1960s. >> on the cia involvement and on the support for their guerrilla fight against the chinese. >> let me back up just a little bit. in the 1950s, pakistan was called america's most allied ally. we have more treaties of alliance with pakistan than we did any other country in the world. pakistan was a member of the central treaty organization. we were firmly in bed with the pakistan's. they like to pakistan because it
was clearly with us in the cold war whereas india is a much more neutral posture. the cia as a result developed a very close relationship with its pakistani counterparts in the 1950s. one of these relationships was the famous u2 aircraft that was based in pakistan where they took off to fly over the soviet union area that's where the famous mission and that's where the shot down again in 1959. there was a second secret operation to support the tibetan resistance. in 1950, china moved troops into tibet. the story of whether it is china or not a part of china we go to the library and there are bookshelves full of books or
giving both sides but i'm not going to go into that today from the standpoint it was pretty clear cut their country was invaded by the chinese and their way of life is attacked by china in many ways and the spiritual leader of the dalai lama was forced into exile. few people know when the dalai lama went into exile it was the cia team of trained tibetans have helped him get out of debt and -- tibet and crossover where he remains to this day. they were also providing military support to the rebels fighting against the communist army the people's liberation army. and that support was provided from an air base in pakistan of what is today bangladesh at the time was east pakistan. if you think about the geography, where can you get that easily from where they are placed very close by.
they trained some of the operatives in the united states. some of them were trained at the cia training facility in virginia but most of them were trained in colorado. and the logic of that was colorado was as close to tibet as far as geography and climate as you can find anywhere in the united states. i don't know if that is true or not but we were trained at a u.s. army facility that had been used to keep captured german soldiers in world war ii. they were trained and flown to east pakistan and then parachuted into tibet. in many ways it was a crazy obligation. there was no possible way that tibetans with all of the american support in the world were going to actually defeat
the chinese people's liberation. john kenneth galbraith thought the whole idea was crazy and even called it unsanitary. not sure why exactly he picked up because one of his arguments. the operation continued after the eisenhower administration into the kennedy administration. the documents i eluded to about the relationship don't speak to that very much. officially the indians were out of the loop. i'm increasingly convinced they must have been aware of at least part of what was going on. after all they were immediately next-door. but they were not involved in the obligation at this point. but we do have fortunately very good accounts of the occupation written by the cia would invite the cia officers who were involved in it and who got the memoirs published and cleared by the cia review process which
provided a very in-depth report on what was going on. and just to go back to mount vernon for one more minute, the business between kennedy and that night was top-secret. the month before the mount vernon summit had turned off use of the air force base of east pakistan. he wanted to send kennedy a message if you want to search with the indians and give an economic assistance, it is going to cost you something. he didn't want to do this in public or have a public falling out so the easiest way to send a message was to cut off a covert program. the americans with no other rest of the world wouldn't necessarily. it wouldn't be a big issue. kennedy at dinner that night in addition to a lot of the senators and cabinet members also invite the director of central intelligence. and when everyone else was having their mint juleps and
orange juice. they took them for a walk in the gardens around mount vernon and asked would you let us continue the operation to fight communist chinese would you resume use of the base. and either because of the charm of the night with the charm of the president or maybe because he always intended to, he agreed to and resumed the operation. now fast forward. when they arrive in india he has three items on his agenda. one is a political agenda how to work between india and pakistan. second is a military agenda to which which more military assistance to get to the indians, what kind of assistance on the what kind of a joint training operation should we pursue in the covert agenda
because now that china and india have gone to war, the cia and white house judge that they were ready to replace the pakistanis and they were right. the indians now began to support the tibetan resistance and the cia flights now started coming out of india to draw equipment to the chinese. the other thing that began as the flights heretofore they had only come out of pakistan in 1963 and 1964, the u2 flights had come up secretly from air bases in india and it was one of those air flights data discovered that the chinese were in the final stages of preparing to test the first nuclear weapon and gave the united states the crucial intelligence that china was on the verge of becoming a nuclear weapons state.