Veteran Australian journalist Neville Maxwell has said he chose to make public the classified 1962 Sino-Indian war report to “rid Indian opinion of the delusion” that the war had been the result of “an unprovoked Chinese aggression” and to expose mistakes made by Jawaharlal Nehru that “forced the war on China.”
In his first comments following his decision to make public last month the still classified Henderson Brooks war report, the release of which was first reported by The Hindu and subsequently triggered wide debate on the legacy of the war, Mr. Maxwell told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that by doing so he had “deprive[d] the Government of India the excuse they’ve used to keep it secret, the false claim that it was to preserve national security”.
He said: “I hope to achieve what I have been trying to do for nearly 50 years! To rid Indian opinion of the induced delusion that in 1962 India was the victim of an unprovoked surprise Chinese aggression, to make people in India see that the truth was that it was mistakes by the Indian government, specifically Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, that forced the war on China.”
Mr. Maxwell said in the interview he had been trying “for years” to make the report public, including by making it available to several newspapers in India in 2012. The newspapers chose not to publish. His website has, however, been inaccessible in India after The Hindu reported that the war report had been made public. He said the website “collapsed under its own weight” and “not because of government censorship” as some Indian media reports suggested.
Mr. Maxwell repeated his long-held view that “all that talk about China’s ‘unprovoked aggression’ is utterly false, the truth is that India was the aggressor in 1962” — views he expressed in his 1970 book India’s China War.
Mr. Maxwell’s conclusions that China was all the while focussed on peaceful settlement and that India was to blame entirely for the war have, however, been questioned by other scholars, including John W. Garver.
Even in China, many scholars today see many factors, beyond Nehru’s mistaken “forward policy,” at play in China’s decision to launch an attack, from domestic turbulence in the wake of the 1958 Great Leap Forward famine to unrest in Tibet.