Alexander Benatar


South Asia as a Cold War Arena — The two German States and India in the Bangladesh Liberation War 1971


Ph.D. project

The ear­ly 1970s saw two oppos­ing trends in Europe and South Asia: while Ger­man-Ger­man détente was able to over­come the lim­i­ta­tions of the Cold War, the Indi­an sub­con­ti­nent bore wit­ness to anoth­er divi­sion of a coun­try, when war between India and Pak­istan lead to the cre­ation of Bangladesh. The respec­tive alliances of these four coun­tries were very dif­fer­ent with­in in the Cold War con­text: where­as the two Ger­man states’ quite cleary alligned with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., respec­tive­ly, the two South Asian states delib­er­ate­ly remained non-aligned. How­ev­er, with the con­clu­sion of the Indo-Sovi­et Friend­ship Treaty in August 1971, India open­ly moved clos­er to Moscow, while Pak­istan had already become an impor­tant strate­gic ally of Wash­ing­ton on the Indi­an sub­con­ti­nent ear­li­er.

My research project exam­ines the rela­tion­ship of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic and the GDR with India and Pak­istan dur­ing the 1971 Bangladesh Lib­er­a­tion War. It ana­lyzes action and reac­tion of the two Ger­man states in this South Asian con­flict as an exam­ple for the actu­al agency of seem­ing­ly weak devel­op­ing coun­tries vis-à-vis high­ly devel­oped coun­tries. The project applies the con­cept of the “tyran­ny of the weak” to the unique Ger­man-Ger­man rela­tion­ship at the begin­ning of the 1970s. It also illus­trates the pur­suit of nation­al inter­ests in the pow­er vac­u­um of the Cold War with the two super­pow­ers being par­a­lyzed in a nuclear stale­mate.