73. Telegram 5955 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State 1 2

Following repeat New Delhi 5955 action SecState info Bangkok Jakarta Nairobi CINCPAC 04 May 74

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CINCPAC for POLAD

Subject:

  • U.S. Policy Toward the Indian Ocean

Ref:

  • New Delhi 5616; State 031796; Jakarta 5439; Nairobi 3635; Bangkok 7092

1. We are most heartened by the responses of Ambassadors Kintner, Newson and Marshall to our proposal on Diego Garcia. Whatever the American objective may be on that atoll—Washington will grant we have been entertained to a range of possibilities—our mission out here can try to help obtain that objective. In particular, we can work on leaders who privately are sympathetic to our actions but feel it would be politically costly to say so publicly. Diplomacy has something to do with changing such calculations of benefit and cost.

2. I have worked for two Presidents, one destroyed, one savagely assailed, for persisting in Vietnam policy which they knew to be widely supported by the governments of Asia, which governments however mainly stated their support in private and mainly were aloof or hostile in public. I dare to think that both Presidents underestimated the influence of these public postures on American opinion. Senator Humphrey’s recent comment about the support of the Government of India for our Vietnam policies is a case in point. No great stir occurred here or in the United States because even the informed public could never believe India would do any such thing.

3. Let me be clear that I thought our Vietnam policies were mad, that they would dangerously weaken our willingness to oppose totalitarian communism in the world. They have. They have weakened, for example, our ability to do something fairly modest and probably sensible, which is build up Diego Garcia a bit.

4. Note that American opinion on this subject is moving in the Vietnam direction. I have read carefully the house debate on the appropriation. (And I would ask suspicious souls at home to note that the one congressman who could say he had actually been in Delhi and had found no serious opposition to Diego Garcia here was Peter Freylinghuysen, whom I escorted about. His speech was forceful and I expect convincing. I would ask the Pentagon to take note. I would ask the Pentagon generally, however, to note the written statement of Lee Hamilton. (He was away in Indiana, concerned with the then recent tornado.) It was a reasoned, moderate, and ominous statement. He had not been convinced. Nor had he thought the House had considered the matter. The Armed Services Committee report on Diego Garcia was boilerplate from Admiral Zumwalt’s testimony. I repeat, I hope this is read. Hamilton is Chairman of the Subcommittee on South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He is by far the most knowledgeable and informed member of the House regarding this area: possibly of either house. He is not a flashy man: he is, rather, the kind of man who has influence in the United States Congress. I would be very worried if I were the military and faced the fact of how little he was impressed with administration arguments.

4. If I were the military I would worry even more about what would seem to be an automatic assumption that we can do nothing to influence political opinion in Asia, that all we can do is muscle our way about with what muslce we have left. Is that what remains of American morale after Vietnam. Then it really was a disaster.

5. Well let it be known that the morale at this Embassy is high and getting higher. We are not about to let Diego Garcia be a total loss to American diplomacy unless Washington by default orders us to surrender. Obviously this is not something the Secretary can find time for. But is there no one else on the payroll in Washington?

Moynihan

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Rush
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret. It was repeated to Jakarta, Nairobi, Bangkok, and CINCPAC.
  2. Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan discussed congressional opposition to Diego Garcia and possible strategies for presenting the expansion to the Indian Government.