Saturday, February 26, 2011

Archer Blood

Archer Kent Blood (1923–2004) was an American diplomat in Bangladesh. He served as the last American Consul General to Dhaka, East Pakistan. He is famous for sending the strongly-worded Blood telegram protesting against the atrocities committed in the Bangladesh Liberation War.


Archer Blood was born in Chicago. He graduated from high school in Lynchburg, Virginia and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia in 1943. He also received a master's degree in international relations from George Washington University in 1963. He served in the US Navy in the North Pacific in World War II. He joined the Foreign Service in 1947. Blood arrived in Dhaka, East Pakistan as the US Consul General in 1970. Blood also served in Greece, Algeria, Germany, Afghanistan and ended his career as charge d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, retiring in 1982.
Archer Blood died of arterial sclerosis September 3, 2004 in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he had been living since 1993. "When Archer K. Blood died last month, in retirement in Colorado, there was family, a few old friends and an entire nation to mourn his passing, but the nation that grieved for him was not his own. It was Bangladesh."[1] His death made headlines in Bangladesh, but was lucky to make it to the back pages of the obituary sections in American newspapers. Bangladesh sent a delegation to the funeral in Forth Collins and Mrs. Blood received numerous communiques from Bangladeshis on the occasion of Mr. Blood's death. His contribution in granting moral contours of American Diplomacy in 1971 was acknowledged by Washington Post in the eulogy to Archer Blood in its columns[2].
In May 2005, late Archer Blood was given an Outstanding Services Award posthumously by The Bangladeshi-American Foundation, Inc. (BAFI) at the First Bangladeshi-American Convention "[3]. Mr. Blood received this Award for his role in 1970 and 1971 for the cause of humanity and his brave stance against the US official policy while the Pakistan army was engaged in a genocidal mission in what is now Bangladesh. His son, Peter Blood, accepted the award on behalf of the family. This was followed on December 13, 2005, by the dedication of the American Center Library, U.S. Embassy Dhaka, in the name of Archer K. Blood. Present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Chargé d'Affaires Judith Chammas, Mrs. Margaret Blood and her children, Shireen Updegraff and Peter Blood.

The Blood telegram

Blood telegram.png
The Blood telegram (April 6, 1971) was seen as one of the most strongly worded Dissent Channel [4] messages ever written by Foreign Service Officers to the State Department[5]. It was signed by 29 Americans. The telegram stated:
Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,(...) But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected.

(U.S. Consulate (Dacca) Cable, Dissent from U.S. Policy Toward East Pakistan, April 6, 1971, Confidential, 5 pp. Includes Signatures from the Department of State. Source: RG 59, SN 70-73 Pol and Def. From: Pol Pak-U.S. To: Pol 17-1 Pak-U.S. Box 2535;[6])
In an earlier telegram (March 27, 1971), Blood wrote about American observations at Dhaka under the subject heading "Selective genocide":
1. Here in Decca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak[istani] Military. Evidence continues to mount that the MLA authorities have list of AWAMI League supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out in their homes and shooting them down
2. Among those marked for extinction in addition to the A.L. hierarchy are student leaders and university faculty. In this second category we have reports that Fazlur Rahman head of the philosophy department and a Hindu, M. Abedin, head of the department of history, have been killed. Razzak of the political science department is rumored dead. Also on the list are the bulk of MNA's elect and number of MPA's.
3. Moreover, with the support of the Pak[istani] Military. non-Bengali Muslims are systematically attacking poor people's quarters and murdering Bengalis and Hindus.
(U.S. Consulate (Dacca) Cable, Selective genocide, March 27, 1971)
Although Blood was scheduled for another 18 month tour in Dhaka, President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled him from that position since his opposition went against their hopes of using the support of West Pakistan for diplomatic openings to China and to counter the power of the Soviet Union.

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