770.00/8–654: Telegram

The Consul at Leopoldville (McGregor) to the Department of State


12. Following thoughts offered view upcoming Byroade address:1

US dilemma is to find policy re Africa that is at same time realistic and to encourage natural aspirations peoples this backward area for eventual self-government. Primarily we must have order in Africa. If self-government in North Africa will restore order there we should favor it and speedily. But if to encourage rapid progress towards self-government in Central Africa at this time will bring disorder we should recognize this and play down theme. In Congo there is order because there is hope and prosperity which all levels population increasingly share. There is tranquility because Belgian motives are not suspect to indigenous peoples.

For us to imply that Belgian policy is founded on old order of colonialism would do an injustice and if done publicly would only sow suspicion among Africans. We would thereby play into hands Soviet propagandists. If at any time we feel Belgians are too slow to grant franchise we might say so privately but publicly we should credit them with this goal. Belgians averting issue of nationalism by holding reins of political authority closely while concentrating energetically on raising level of education and welfare of masses on theory that public welfare is basis good government and when Africans get franchise they will insist on no less. Belgians have no intention to colonize Congo; their trade policy is based on open door under Berlin, St. Germain treaties making mother country merely most favored nation. We can expect nothing better from Central Africa under present conditions than that we continue have steady [access?] its strategic [Page 124] materials and that as rapid progress as possible be made toward increasing measure self-government for Africans. These are also Belgian objectives.

We would raise our stock with Belgians and enlightened Africans alike if we recognize the great and good work being done here. Respectfully suggest careful analysis Consulate General despatch 57, August 22 and pages 35, 36, 41, 47 of Governor General’s annual address June 6 for present Belgian thinking re eventual self-government here. No one doubts sincerity these motives. Byroade’s speech October 63 did much dispel uncertainty American position re African policies metro-powers. Suggest all further references to colonialism be limited describe Soviet enslavement processes. To use word colonialism in referring present day Africa is to furnish propaganda material our adversary. Can we not proclaim colonialism dead in Western world and prove it by citing positive evidences rather than pointedly refer its remaining vestiges. This will make our policy dynamic, forward looking and encourage metro-powers whose assistance is cornerstone our national security.

  1. Telegram 527, Aug. 10, 1954 from Paris, not printed, commented: “Embassy understands Byroade making important speech August 13 on colonialism with particular reference to Africa.” The message went on to request an advance text or indication of its general line. (770.00/8–1054) Neither the telegram printed here nor the message from Paris was answered, and there is no indication in Department of State files or in official Department announcements regarding any Byroade speech in August 1954, or later, on Africa or any other topic. See, however, telegram Usito 96, Sept. 14, 1954, infra.
  2. Not printed. This 10-page despatch transmitted a summary and quotations from the annual address of the Governor General of the Belgian Congo, delivered on June 7, 1954. The despatch indicated that the 47-page text of the address had been sent to the Department earlier. (755A.11/8–254)
  3. The reference here is presumably to Byroade’s address of Oct. 31, 1953; see p. 54.