Six months after the 1962 Chinese aggression on India, the then US administration headed by President John F Kennedy even contemplated using nuclear weapons to prevent the Communist state from defeating India.
Kennedy, at a meeting with his top military aides on May 9, 1963, had expressed clear determination not to let Beijing defeat New Delhi, with his defence secretary even talking about using nuclear weapons against China if it launched another attack against India.
These disclosures have come in a just released book ’Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F Kennedy’ co-authored by Ted Widmer and Caroline Kennedy.
“I gather we’re coming to the defence of Israel and Saudi Arabia. What I think we ought to think about is, (unclear) it’s desirable (?) for us, to give India a guarantee which actually we would carry out. I don’t think there’s any doubt that this country is determined that we couldn’t permit the Chinese to defeat the Indians,” Kennedy said.
“If we would, we might as well get out of South Korea and South Vietnam. So I think that’s what we’ll decide at the time. Now, therefore, I don’t mind making, seeing us make some commitments. Now, if it is politically important,” he said.
Kennedy was quoted by the book as making these remarks in the White House meeting with his Defence Secretary Robert McNamara and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Davenport “Max” Taylor.
The book is a selection of audio recordings of Kennedy’s conversations and meetings at the White House. These recordings have been selected from the hidden recording systems in the Oval Office and in the Cabinet Room installed by Kennedy in July 1962, in an effort to preserve an accurate record of Presidential decision-making in a highly charged atmosphere of conflicting viewpoints, strategies and tactics.