10. Editorial Note

At Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s staff meeting at 9:15 a.m. on January 25, the Congo was the first item of discussion. The memorandum of the meeting by Executive Secretariat Director Stoessel reads in part as follows:

“The Secretary asked Governor Williams and IO to give urgent thought to what new departures we can make in the Congo situation. He thought rather drastic new directions might be necessary. For example, could we consider having a group of UN countries—from Africa as well as the West—go to the General Assembly and obtain approval for accepting on behalf of the UN military and economic responsibilities in the Congo. Solutions outside the UN should also be considered.

“Unless we can get stability in the Congo, we will need to take restorative action which could be very costly. The Secretary said that the stakes are so large that we need to take the ceiling off of our thinking as to solutions. The Secretary agreed that Ambassador Harriman should be consulted in this project and he also approved Mr. Cumming’s suggestion that an INR representative also participate.” (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147)

The Congo was also discussed briefly at a meeting that morning between President Kennedy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memorandum of the meeting by Goodpaster, who was also present, reads in part as follows:

“The President next turned to the situation in the Congo. He said that one thing that discourages him is that the UAR and Ghana are not Communist, but are working against us. General Lemnitzer said a large part of the problem is in the lack of a clear and effective mandate from the UN. The troops of Ghana and the UAR are undercutting UN objectives for lack of such a directive. Admiral Burke observed that the UN is a weak instrument. Hammarskjöld does not have the power he needs and cannot get it. He thought in the future in instances like this, some one country must take leadership.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Clifton Series, Conferences with the President)