Kissinger, Iraq and India’s Muslims – a new domino theory?

May 27, 2008

Henry Kissinger at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 21 Jan 2008/Wolfgang RattayIs Henry Kissinger trying to update the domino theory to fit what he fears in 2008? He had a “Lunch with the FT” interview in Saturday’s Financial Times and surprised his interviewer, historian Stephen Graubard, by linking the war in Iraq and Muslims in India. As Graubard wrote:

He believes the military “surge” is working and says the next question is when to start to move away from an exclusively military option. “This is not a war of states,” Kissinger says. “If we withdraw from Iraq, the radical elements in all the neighbouring Arab countries will be greatly encouraged.” We will, he fears, be unable to maintain ourselves in Afghanistan, or to retain our present position in Pakistan.

He fears a rapid withdrawal could radicalise the vast Islamic community in India. I am fascinated by this statement – I have never heard anyone else say it so robustly – and suggest that he argued in a similar vein about the dangers of a departure from Vietnam. “Not at all,” he says, adding that the collapse in Vietnam was partly compensated for by the almost simultaneous and fortuitous disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Hmmm … that’s not what we’ve been noticing. In fact, our chief correspondent in New Delhi, Alistair Scrutton, just wrote a post on a “Movement Against Terrorism” among Muslim clerics there urging imams to preach against terrorism at Friday prayers across India. Earlier this year, an influential Islamic seminary declared terrorism un-Islamic. That’s not to say there’s no possibility of anything happening, but it seems the situation is more complex than Kissinger seems to think.

It’s not clear whether Kissinger lunched with the FT before or after the Jaipur bomb that killed 60 people. But he is a historian who prides himself on taking a longer-term view. Do you think he’s right to see dominoes falling in India if the United States pulls out of Iraq?

24 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Mr. Kissinger’s comments are interesting. I would also somewhat disagree with his statements that Muslims in India would radicalize. Though I am a neophyte on this subject when compared to the august Mr. Kissinger, Muslim Indians have had a long and relative coexistance with their neighbors.

Maybe if and when the US withdraws from Iraq from a position of weakness, I can see the middle east Islamists gain in stature. With the slim possibility of India’s Muslims radicalizing themselves. I can certainly see Pakistan’s population Islamisize more, but not India’s.

India has had a much more successful transformation into a democracy than any Muslim dominated nation. Though Hindu’s are the majority, I believe the Muslims in India outnumber any Muslim dominated country.

Woo… coming from secular India, I am surprised that Iraq and Indian muslims are being linked at all. It is a fact that muslims in India are progressively secular, albeit a small right wing minority that persists in all nations of the world.

Withdrawal of US from Iraq would definately have a dominoe effect in Asia. This effect would however not be as prominent in India as in the countries that neighbour Iraq. Primary reason being that most of the countries in the Middle East share a grudge against the US primarily due to the Palestinian issue. India though supported the Arab cause in the 80s and 90s has turned more of an Israeli and US ally of late. The democratically installed Indian government would dare not take such a dramatic step if it felt that such a decision would alienate 20% of its population!

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

I could really care less if people 1/2 a world away feel an emotion, “encouraged”, because the US decides to end primer Bushs’ illegal & disastrous mid-east military misadventure. Let them jump for joy 1/2 across the world, it won’t affect my day.

These “international relations” our pathetic politicians desperately cling to mean almost nothing to the average every day US citizen, and guess what? if we (the US) lose some friends on the other side of the planet, its well deserved; our .gov killed a million people based on obvious lies puked out by a pack of neo-maniacal clowns.

Posted by M | Report as abusive

I am also inclined to disagree with Mr. Kissinger on this subject. Muslims in India – from the time of the Moghul emperors – have enjoyed a relatively harmonious coexistence with Hindus and Christians. This is not to say that relations between religions have always been perfect; however, I think the US presence in Iraq is more of an incensing factor than a withdrawal would be. Muslims in India Since 1947 (ebooks version) is one of the many books describing the relative secularism of Muslims in India.

Posted by MehreenB | Report as abusive

And then there is the issue of an absence unique to India. Unlike much of the region, after Pakistan and Kashmir, the demographic contiguity of Muslim populations break up.

Posted by HN | Report as abusive

Henry Kissinger is often described as a ‘great statesmen’ by the Western press. He is neither. The man should have been indicted for crimes against humanity long ago. During the Iran-Iraq war, when asked to offer his remedy on the conflict, he shamelessly replied “I hope they kill each other”.

His position on the present hell-disaster in Iraq is proof that his views have not changed. He believes the ‘surge’ is working and radical elements in the Arab world would be encouraged if the US was to withdraw. Those ‘elements’ he fears so much have been greatly bolstered the minute the US illegal invaded a sovereign Arab country. Adding India to the equation shows he’s desperate. He also admits in a Washington Post op-ed that hostility towards Iran is really about oil, not its nuclear program. The aim of any future attack on the country would be to secure it’s vast oil supplies. Hardly surprising. It was the same agenda behind Bush’s decision to launch his crusade.

The link below is to the ‘international campaign against impunity’ (icai), a site dedicated to examining Kissinger’s role in gross human rights violations worldwide:

http://www.icai-online.org/45365,Index.h tml

James Ridgeway, the prominent investigative journalist, believes an indictment of Kissenger would include the following:

VIETNAM: Kissinger scuttled peace talks in 1968, paving the way for Richard Nixon’s victory in the presidential race. Half the battle deaths in Vietnam took place between 1968 and 1972, not to mention the millions of civilians throughout Indochina who were killed.

CAMBODIA: Kissinger persuaded Nixon to widen the war with massive bombing of Cambodia and Laos. No one had suggested we go to war with either of these countries. By conservative estimates, the U.S. killed 600,000 civilians in Cambodia and another 350,000 in Laos.

BANGLADESH: Using weapons supplied by the U.S., General Yahya Khan overthrew the democratically elected government and murdered at least half a million civilians in 1971. In the White House, the National Security Council wanted to condemn these actions. Kissinger refused. Amid the killing, Kissinger thanked Khan for his “delicacy and tact.”

CHILE: Kissinger helped to plan the 1973 U.S.-backed overthrow of the democratically elected Salvador Allende and the assassination of General René Schneider. Right-wing general Augusto Pinochet then took over. Moderates fled for their lives. Hit men, financed by the CIA, tracked down Allende supporters and killed them. These attacks included the car bombing of Allende’s foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and an aide, Ronni Moffitt, at Sheridan Circle in downtown Washington.

EAST TIMOR: In 1975 President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger met with Indonesia’s corrupt strongman Suharto. Kissinger told reporters the U.S. wouldn’t recognize the tiny country of East Timor, which had recently won independence from the Dutch. Within hours Suharto launched an invasion, killing, by some estimates, 200,000 civilians.
(source: James Ridgeway)

Placing Kissinger on trial would finally bring justice to the millions of lives he helped extinguish.

Posted by Nu'man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

Just what we need. McCain and Kissinger and domino theory. They are both determined to win in Viet Nam! It is time they both get some rest.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

This will be as short as I can keep it (under the circumstances).

Why is Mr. Kissinger even being interviewed? He’s just like all of these (really) aging politicians who come up with off-the-wall stuff to get personal attention. How soon we forget what a lousy job they actually did when in office.

This kind of interviewing and publishing reminds me of Fox TV here in the United States, where nerdy characters like Sean Hannity kiss up to “herr doktor”…and any other of a dwindling number of republican icons of yesteryear that they can dig up.

Perhaps Mr. Kissinger ought to volunteer for uniformed service. We could give him his own Bummer (Hummer aka humvee), and he could surge around Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (or wherever) to his heart’s content…while the remainder of Our Best & Finest smile and wave goodbye.

This man’s opinion isn’t worth spit when compared to the tens of thousands of America’s Best & Finest who lost their lives or limbs, sight, hearing and mental & physical health while he and Mr. Nixon frolicked in the Oval Office and recorded themselves.

Jack

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

muslims in india could be radicalised. it is already happening. but it will be slightly challenging if BJP comes to power. while I have no respect for kissinger, he is just thinking a withdrawal from iraq will create something like a bigger taliban. but he is discounting the fact that iraqis will know how to govern themselves.

surge is successful because of sadr’s cease fire.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Perhaps the biggest problems Americans face dealing with terrorism is that they are new to it and that terrorism is not rampant on their soil. Henry Kissinger’s remark on a rise in radicalisation of Islam in India due to America’s pull out of Iraq reflects the ineptitude of Americans in understanding and dealing with Terrorism. Americans in Iraq or not, India has always been under attack and Henry & his fellow statesmen have always ignored the role of Pakistan in this attack on India. It is the current turmoil in Pakistan’ politics that will have bigger impact on terrorism in India. I feel this remark is an attempt to add another false perspective and with it add one more ally to its forces who ”apparently” are fighting a war against terrorism in Iraq. I feel Henry’s statements reflect desperation of Americans who know there was no actual reason to get into Iraq and are now desperate to find more reasons to continue to stay there. As far as encouragement to neighbouring Arab states is concerned, the Americans must remember that their involvement in anything that is Arab will cause fury because the Americans have many answers to give to the relatives of those Arabs and Muslims that have so far been killed by American’s direct or indirect (and now many-a-times assumed) involvement in the region or on the issue of terrorism in the region.

Posted by Mehul Khatri | Report as abusive

this is streched piece of imagination. very few indian muslims have radical inclination. for more than one thousand years muslims are living with hindus, buddhisrs, jains and sikhs. no dought sometimes there is friction between these communities. but muslims in india have accepted the secular democracy. only pakistan backed militant groups are causing trouble.

Posted by diwakar | Report as abusive

Would someone please get henry kissinger out the media spotlight and checked into the Hebrew Home for the Aged (its just north of Manhattan with a pleasant view of the Hudson…he wouldnt even have to fly) …. Lets face it the guy is way out of date and has zero connectivity with the emotions and aspirations of anyone outside manhattan and washington DC, a key weakness in all of his policy decisions, whether it was understanding that the Vietnam war was a war of independence from any foreign power, to his complete missread of Indian muslims…please god, aliens, Social services, Prince Charles….anyone, please help!

Posted by gb | Report as abusive

It really beats me how americans today talk about the war in iraq as evil when at the time of 911 there was an overwhelming number of americans wanting to go to war.

Please note that Ossama is still at large. The reality is that if the US pulls out of Iraq at this stage, it will be just one more show of their cowardice and lack of actual commitment to any cause.

Their policy towards China demonstrates clearly that Americans care as much about Human rights and Freedom as the USSR under Stalin did.

Let me remind you all that the only country that has actually used a nuclear weapon on another country is the USA.

As for Muslims in India, I am an indian and i can tell you that each and every one of the times the police here have siezed bombs or weapons, it has been from Muslims.

They are a serious threat to our national security. A lot of them feel no loyalty towards India and all of them feel some bond for Pakistan.

I can tell you that when 911 happened, every single muslim here was happy and talked about the “slap in the face of America”.

Much as I dislike the US’s arrogance in making decisions that affect people half a world away, I honestly feel that the US needs to carry this war through.

If they leave now, they once again give Muslims the space and time to plan more devastation in the US itself, India will take care of itself. We always have.

Kissinger is wrong when he says India’s Muslims will be radicalized. India’s muslims are already pretty radical. Every one of them feels a loyalty to Pakistan that they confess. In a discussion, when pakistan is being discussed, the only person who will stay out of the conversation will be a muslim, EVERYTIME.

A rapid withdrawal will affect the US and Isreal most of all and not India at all.

Posted by pb | Report as abusive

He should concentrate on Indonesia…. that is going to be the next challenge…. we have already seen some previews…

Posted by pope | Report as abusive

I respect Mr. Kissinger, but he must be getting too old. The last place you can expect an all-out Islamic radicalism is in India. Yes, India has a growing problem, but over 90% of Indian Muslims believe in the democratic process and are against readicalism.

Posted by Johny | Report as abusive

Hey son, keep your mouth shut. This is your dad speaking! If only I had just slept that day than doing your mom, thousands of people would have been living peacefully around the world… Thousands of american lives would not have been wasted in Nam. Phew, if only I had just slept that day!

Posted by kissinger's dad | Report as abusive

Indian muslims will be radicalised. But not because of any American withdrawal from Iraq. There is alread a ‘miniscule section exists that has merged its fantasies with the Osama bin Laden phenomenon’ as one Indian muslim writer recently put it.

I am surprised that the number of such Indian muslims is not higher considering the fact that the vast majority of non muslims treat them with so much suspicion, distrust and what have you.

The radicalization will take place due to Hindu Indians like Narendra Modi, Arun Shourie and the Prime Minister in-waiting, L.K.Advani, who believe in ghettoizing the muslims in India through muscle power rather than ‘assimilating them in economic growth and extending them educational opportunity’ as the above mentioned writer puts it.

By their sheer numbers the Indian muslims have the future of the country by the short hairs.

Posted by Rufusd | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. Kissinger, you are very much out of touch with India and the thinking of the huge Muslim minority here. The vast majority of Muslims in India are peaceful, and living with Hindus, Christians and Sikhs in harmony and also have good business relations with these communities. In Calcutta, Muslims work for a Jewish bakery owner, without any problems.

Like many other Indians, most Indian Muslims are against the U.S. involvement in Iraq and some in the community may talk big against the U.S. and about a holy Islamic war against the west but it is all rhetoric. It is a matter of pride that out of India’s 140 million Muslims, none have been proven to be a member of al Qaeda. Most Muslims in India are concerned about providing two square meals for their families — like other Indians– and that would not change if the U.S. ends its unhelpful role in Iraq. Such scare-mongering by you seems aimed at creating communal problems in India by creating a scare among non-Muslim communities in India among their Muslim brethren. Your ludicrous theory of the domino effect on Indian Muslims must be condemned. It is an insult to India and India’s basically peaceful Muslim community. Why are you still trying to create trouble in South Asia (like you did in the 1971 India-Pakistan war). Spare us alone from your twisted theories.

Posted by Syed Mansoor | Report as abusive

people in america dont know the real picture, they know only the things told or shown to them by the media and people like him scare them away from muslims around the world, the realty is different than just terrorism, bombs etc. Killing millions in the name of freedom is the last thing any country would do. Can the american gov. leave the oil wells to the people of iraq so they could get a living out of it.

Posted by saab | Report as abusive

Mr. Kissinger’s innate understanding of international affairs needs to be appreciated. He is very much in the same league as Arthur C. Clarke was for Science Fiction.

His deep wisdom may arise from astute observations of how waves of radicalization in the middle east since the 70s can be correlated to communal violence on the Indian subcontinent during the same period (with a lag of a couple of years). In fact the rise of reactionary hindu nationalist parties towards the late 80s may not be a coincidence at all.

Posted by HSA | Report as abusive

I am very surprised by this stupidest suggestion for multiple reasons – 1. They are not related (history is in every guide to this) 2. Indian democracy and integrity cant be challenged like this.

Posted by An Indian | Report as abusive

One has only to look at the track record of this brutally violent man to understand that whatever he supports is not in humanity’s best interest. September 11th 2001 is a perfect example. The towers came down on a Jewish holiday and that is too rediculous an oversight on the part of the people who are accused of the terrorist attack to be believed. On the eve prior at 10 pm I had a very clear premonition of what was coming and I stated his name outloud as the one responsible for what I anticipated. Given this there is nothing that this man can say or do to convince me that he is not the most dangerous and evil man in the world. The crimes he has committed and continues to commit make Hitler look like an amateur. The only way that people like Kissinger get away with their crimes is by counting on the masses denial of just how far those in power go every day out of pure unadulterated bloody GREED. For the average citizen this is just too troubling to face. It is easier for them to believe lies than the ugly truth. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convince us that he does not exist”.

Posted by Janine Earl | Report as abusive

Is the US short of experts? Why the media gives importance to pathetic and out-dated politicians. I have never seen him say something that proved to be true.

Posted by km | Report as abusive

Mehul Khatri and pb were spot on. The recent spate of serial blasts all over India, coordinated and carried out by highly educated and rich Muslims, is something not at all UNexpected. Everyone knew of this possibility.

It is just sad that the US has supported terrorism in all its forms via PAKISTAN that created the Taliban in the first place. India has since time immemorial been frustrated by the US’s stupidity in feeding a doggone country like Pakistan with more and more money to help it carry out all sorts of lousy activities.

The WORST part of it all was that instead of crushing Taliban and Pakistan, the US SHIFTED from Afghanistan, where it should really be, to IRAQ!!!!! Boy of all people in the world, I bet we Indians were the most PERPLEXED lot. Everyone including me felt that the US was beating the leg for having been bitten by the snake!

Stupid stupid stupid.. India doesn’t have ANYTHING AGAINST Pakistan. We were large hearted to give away our most fertile land to the Pakis. We let them send back all Hindus from present day Pakistan to India. We also let all Muslims in India STAY BACK and PROSPER (though they just don’t DO that, they just ghetto-ize themselves flying Pakistani flags in their ghettos, in India!).

Personally all Hindus who have been so kind to so many different religions and races and have made India the melting pot of all civilizations, for all these millennia, are ABSOLUTELY TIRED and FRUSTRATED. When we see an senior software engineer working with Yahoo, earning 2 million rupees per annum (a decently high salary in India), plan and carry out SERIAL BOMB BLASTS, killing innocent people, WE ARE FED UP AND ANGRY AS HELL.

Alas, the Americans will never understand. It unfortunately took Sept 11 to make them feel the pain we Indians have been undergoing thanks to Pakistan, ever since 1947.

Anyway, things are changing now atlast, between the US and India. But I hope it isn’t too late..

Somehow people think low of India, they think it is a poor country with nothing of value. Why do they do that? Because they haven’t read their history.

India, till 2 centuries ago, for the past 5000 years, has been the USA of the world, inspite of repeated Muslim invasions and Mughal anarchy and brutal oppression of Hindus for almost 700 years. 2 centuries of British looting did a lot of damage to us. But, we will be back, and we’re coming back.

We led the whole world for 5K years. People should not forget who they should look up to. Its a fact. We’re proud of our non-violent and spiritual heritage that gives us our innate strength and tolerance and love towards everyone. It looks like weakness to others, but it is very hard to stay good while being attacked so badly.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive