December 12, 2021

In Remembrance of A Great Man: Archer Blood

An excerpt from, "Archer Blood: The conscientious civil servant" by Raghu Raman, Mint, October 15, 2013:

On 3 September 2004, an octogenarian American diplomat died nondescriptly with hardly a mention in US newspapers. However, his death made headlines in a country halfway across the world. Archer Blood, an American Foreign Service officer, was posted in Dacca (now Dhaka) during the tumultuous years when East Pakistan was in the throes of becoming an independent nation.

An excerpt from, "Archer Blood - An American's sacrifice for Bangladesh" by Shahnoor Wahid, The Daily Star, December 20, 2016:

About Archer Blood, author Gary Bass writes in the preface: "Archer Blood was a gentlemanly diplomat raised in Virginia, a WWII navy veteran in the upswing of a promising Foreign Service career after several tours overseas. He was earnest and precise, known to some of his more unruly subordinates at the US Consulate as a good, conventional man..." Appalled by the brutality and wanton killing of the unarmed Bengalis on March 25, 1971, and the following days , Blood and his colleagues at the Consulate decided to relay as much of this as possible to keep Washington updated. He wanted the US government to put pressure on the Pakistani government to stop the killings and send back the military to the barracks and go for political settlement. They continued to give details of the horrific slaughter of civilians in towns and villages. They mentioned the killings at Dhaka University, of students, teachers and general staff. One of Blood's cables used the term "Selective Genocide" and yet there was no response from his government. In Blood's words, his cables were met with "deafening silence." 

The Blood Telegram (Source: Wikipedia):

The Blood Telegram (April 6, 1971), sent via the State Department's Dissent Channel, was seen as the most strongly worded expression of dissent in the history of the U.S. Foreign Service. It was signed by 20 members of the diplomatic staff. 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 in order to salvage our nation's position as a moral leader of the free world.

An excerpt from, "In Memoriam - Archer Kent Blood (1923-2004)" by Andrew I. Killgore, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2004:

And there went Blood’s chances of becoming an ambassador, for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger took the rebuke from Blood personally. The consul general was recalled to Washington, where he was assigned to the State Department’s personnel office. Blood later served as acting ambassador to Afghanistan and twice as acting ambassador to India, but never got his own embassy. According to The Washington Post Blood said, “I paid for my dissent. But I had no choice. The line between right and wrong was just too clear-cut.”

For more, read Archer Blood's 2002 book, "The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of an American Diplomat."

Video Title: Archer K. Blood, Interviewee: Barbara Blood. Source: Friends of Bangladesh 71. Date Published: December 31, 2015.