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A Superpower TransformedThe Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s$
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Daniel J. Sargent

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195395471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395471.001.0001

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Geopolitics and Humanitarianism

Geopolitics and Humanitarianism

(p.68) 3 Geopolitics and Humanitarianism
A Superpower Transformed

Daniel J. Sargent

Oxford University Press

Preoccupied with Cold War geopolitics, the Nixon administration struggled to comprehend-and manage-Third World crises that produced spectacles of human suffering and generated demands for humanitarian action. This chapter juxtaposes two episodes-the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967-70 and the South Asian Crisis of 1971-to demonstrate how Cold War considerations shaped Nixon’s Third World policies. In Nigeria, where Cold War considerations were largely absent, Nixon indulged humanitarian calls for relief aid. In South Asia, where Nixon perceived that the Cold War stakes were high, he aligned US policy with Pakistan, even as Pakistan perpetrated serious human rights violations against the Bengali nationalist movement. Contrasted, these episodes illustrate the rise of humanitarian demands upon foreign policy in the early 1970s.

Keywords:   Richard Nixon, US foreign policy, Nigeria, Biafra, Pakistan, South Asia, humanitarianism, transnational politics

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