Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Dulles Moment

Harold A Gould in "Failure of a Mission: America's South Asian Debacle", prepared for the Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph Festschrift volume (findable on the web)

The depths of cultural ignorance was vividly apparent in a conversation which Walter Lippman claimed to have had with Dulles at a Washington dinner party shortly after the 1954 Geneva Accords. “Look Walter,” Dulles said, blinking behind his thick glasses, “I’ve got some real fighting men into the south of Asia. The only Asians who can really fight are the Pakistanis. That’s why we need them in the alliance. We could never get along without the Gurkhas.” When Lippman reminded him that the Gurkhas are Indian, not Pakistani, Dulles replied, “Well, they may not be Pakistanis, but they’re Moslems.” Lippmann once more corrected Dulles, saying, “No, I’m afraid they’re not Moslems either, they’re Hindus.” Dulles merely replied, “No matter,” and proceeded to lecture Lippman for half an hour on how SEATO would plug the dike against communism in Asia.(17)

(17) This conversation was originally reported by Richard J. Barnet, The Alliance: America, Europe, Japan, Makers of the Postwar World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983, p. 34.