40. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

1832. I am extremely concerned over explosive atmosphere developing here between UN and Congolese. A spark could touch it off at any minute.

As Department is aware there has for some time been serious antipathy between Dayal and GOC. The talk and resolution at SC about forcibly disarming ANC quickly produced charged atmosphere. ANC began digging trenches and generally fortifying military camps for defense. UNOC reacted by becoming more jumpy and declared alert. This followed by incident at resort lake Sunday, beating up of Canadians and disarming 22 Tunisians (Embtels 1802 and 1806)2

Today Adoula called “UN Congo policy bankrupt” as Congolese take a “we will die for our country” attitude. UN appears to be tensely expecting an incident that will permit them to wade in by force. As I have said several times before, I believe UN troops here would win any actual battle between them and ANC. I am convinced however that that would greatly complicate problem rather than solve it. I believe troops not involved and not actually disarmed would break up into units which would seek retaliate by attacks on isolated UN personnel in particular and probably on European population indiscriminately. This would expose people, particularly outside areas where people might be concentrated for protection, and in interior country. It could set off conditions much worse than those experienced last July and August. In fact situation similar to that following arrival Belgian paratroopers in [Page 88] Leopoldville but this time UN troops involved rather than expected eliminate problem on arrival.

I feel immediate and heroic effort must be made reduce tension before some untoward incident can touch it off.

With this situation in mind I saw Bomboko in his hospital room 1 p.m. while other Embassy officers are contacting other GOC officials urging calm and discipline to prevent bloodshed and the very thing they fear.3

Bomboko is fully aware of dangers in situation and has done and will continue to do his best to put lid on ANC and avoid incidents. Embassy officer is seeing para commander this afternoon at Bomboko’s request to urge their confinement to barracks or dispatch to surrounding country on maneuvers to prevent possible conflict. I asked Bomboko whether mixed patrols might help solve problem to which he replied impossible in army or gendarmerie but perhaps could be successful with police. He cited breakdown within hours of similar effort on part Belgian para troops last July.

I told Bomboko had asked General MacEoin to discuss problem this evening at which time I propose ask him to do what is possible to reduce tensions. In my opinion MacEoin is level headed and anxious avoid open conflict as much as we are.

On other hand, as in case Tunisian broadcast at Lac de Ma valley Dayal capable giving direct orders to military units without going through MacEoin.

Finally I am satisfied that SYG and his staff in NY have been conditioned by Dayal’s reporting to point where any incident can be deemed “final straw” and that they will genuinely believe the time has come for “display of force”. What I feel they do not understand is that such display may well spell disaster for UN effort in Congo.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/3–261. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Brussels, Paris, USUN, London, and Tunis.
  2. Both dated February 27. (Ibid., 770G.00/2–2761)
  3. Telegram 1949 to Léopoldville, March 3, commended Timberlake’s approach to Bomboko and instructed him to approach Adoula and Dayal if he had not already done so and “impress on both the grave view US would take of UNANC relationship getting out of hand.” (Ibid., 770G.00/3–261) Timberlake reported in telegram 1850, March 4, that he had made a demarche to Dayal. (Ibid., 770G.00/3–461)
  4. In a March 3 telephone conversation, Rusk asked Stevenson to show this telegram to Hammarskjöld, stating that he thought it was “terribly disturbing in terms of the likelihood of a blow-up between Congolese and UN troops.” He thought it was the best thing they could show Hammarskjöld about Dayal. He suggested that Stevenson tell Hammarskjöld that Rusk had called and was “very much disturbed” and had asked Stevenson to show Hammarskjöld the telegram. (Notes by Phyllis Bernau of telephone conversation, March 3, 8:51 a.m.; Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192) Dayal quotes a telegram from Hammarskjöld that apparently concerns this message in Mission for Hammarskjöld, pp. 224–225.