Despite its brevity, the 14-day war between India and Pakistan marks a major diplomatic watershed, and despite the localization of the combat it will strongly influence the future of southern Asia and relations between the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. Pakistan may have forced the war upon India, with the preemptive air strike on December 3, for the limited purpose of preventing an Indian attack on East Pakistan; India may have launched the war, on December 4, for creating conditions in which the refugees would go back to their homes in East Bengal. But their actions will have much larger consequences. This war was the product of several factors transcending the hostility between India and Pakistan; it will bring in its train much larger events than the emergence of a new nation of 75 million people or the repatriation of 10 million refugees.
The fluid relations between the world’s three biggest powers could be more violently upset by what happens between ...
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