Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blast from the past

Occasionally, the past reflects the state of the impending future (now, the present). With the gift of 20/20 hindsight we are able to judge that at certain critical junctures a bad decision was made. A statement may have been, or not have been, uttered, a phone was not picked up, or thoughts not conveyed. While this sort of analysis rarely impacts current problems, it does shed important light on how we arrived at this situation.

Recently declassified reports from the U.S. Office of the Historian related a number of anecdotal encounters between the senior U.S. and Indian leaders following the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (called Bangabandhu, Friend of Bengal), the father of Bangladesh on 15 August 1975. The transcripts involve none other than the recently deceased Henry Kissinger.

A few remarks are noteworthy and shed some light on why we are currently dealing with the situation we are now in (meaning Islamist militancy in Bangladesh), Kissinger reportedly said at one point 'the real worry would be if countries with resources like Saudi Arabia get radical leaders. Then there would be trouble.'

It helps to understand the context of this statement first its temporal place, 1975. The big enemy for the U.S. is the Soviet Union hence the U.S. was probably comfortable in the fact that the military coupsters were 'pro-US, anti-Soviet' though 'less pro-Indian.' Bangla Nation's view on this matter are clear. The only way for Bangladesh, and to a lesser extent India, to progress is together.

The earlier Kissinger remark could be taken as yet another piece of evidence in the framework of realpolitik, for the sake of completeness, it was only for a lack of crude (though Bangladesh apparently has good reserves of natural gas) that Bangladesh missed making the cut.

Though the days of realpolitik have not quite passed, there is at least a general understanding among U.S. leadership that static resources are no longer such a prominent factor in driving policy.

On a side note, the information came from the Daily Star. Sad, that Bangla Nation learns of news about the U.S. from a Bangladeshi newspaper.

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