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The Other War

The Other War Nireekshak NO sooner had the guns fallen silent in the Indian subcontinent than the other war erupted with renewed force. Some astrologers, so favoured by the editors of our Sunday editions, must have burped with delight at the turn of events. With Saturn coursing retrograde through Taurus (or was it Aquarius?) and Mars casting its most warlike glance at Saturn from its position 20 degrees sextile to Pluto (or was it Jupiter?) they had already predicted the liberation of Bangla Desh, However, the Heavens were full of other portents; they had warned, indicating continued strife in the general area under the influence of Indira Gandhi's Ruling Sign which, whatever it was, was in the ascendant. Of course, since astrologers are not usually consulted by editorial writers before arriving at their own assessments of international developments, none of these prophesies and prognostications figured in the editorial comments on the resumption of American bombing of North Vietnam, THE CONNECTION On the contrary, Free Press Journal actually said that "the latest show of American might in Vietnam" may have some connection with Pakistan's defeat in Bangla Desh. "It can only be the result of a calculated decision, designed presumably to give comfort to America's surviving allies that they have nothing to fear from recent developments, and particularly General Yahya Khan's fate", it said. "An American Administration that intended seriously and speedily to extricate itself from embroilment in Vietnam would hardly have ordered the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal to stoke the fires of another war which America's principal ally in South Asia had unleashed there... The message of the bombing seems to be that, contrary to appearances, what Washington is looking forward to is not withdrawal from South- East Asia but only limited adjustments dictated by domestic economic and political circumstances!" Few others saw any real connection between the American diplomatic debacle in South Asia and the resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam. However everyone, bar one, condemned the bombing as another outrage. The newspaper which reacted quite blandly, as though what had happened was not much unlike a seasonal fluctuation in fish prices in the local market, was Hindu. "The purpose of the new American air offensive", it declared, even as a press release from the Pentagon might have, "is to neutralise the antiaircraft batteries and missile-launching sites that have evidently been recently built up in North Vietnam by the Russians." The North Vietnamese had been "making a renewed effort against the south .. . [and the Americans had been] "steadily bombing the Ho Chi Minh supply route and had also tried to support the Cambodian troops". Where the comment differed in approach from a Pentagon press release was in the paper's statement that "both Hanoi and Washington accuse each other of having violated the 1968 truce. There is not much point", it added, "in seeking to fix the blame when each side is determined to get ahead of the other"! TESTING OUT CHINA However, as Hindustan Times estimated the situation, it was a question of "Moscow aid [ing] Hanoi as Peking woos US''. There will be "revulsion and horror", it said, "at reports that Indo-China has become a 'weapons lab for the Pentagon and that terrible new- type bombs with vast destructive capabilities are being unloaded there .,. The US bombing seems also to have had the straightforward though significant political objective of testing out which of North Vietnam's two supporters

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