256. Memorandum From William H. Brubeck of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Congo

There is now an OAU Commission on the Congo which is beginning to operate in Nairobi, Kenya, September 18. Meanwhile, Tshombe has gone home to resume his war and he and rebels are both making intransigent noises.

Tshombe now has enough military power for leverage in political negotiation, OAU Commission very likely wants to and can help produce a negotiated settlement, and the Belgians are obviously taking this line. Neither we nor Belgians can really control situation. However, if we work together, we can provide an essential part of help needed to solve.

The decision making process in State is badly bogged down with Palmer caught between Williams (who wants to deal with all Congo policy for long term now, including economic aid) and Harriman (who is still on a cold war wicket as is General Adams). Palmer is getting [Page 372] desperate, and the 7th floor is leaving him to cope with Williams and Harriman.2

We need a fairly precise policy determination as to whether we are prepared to join with Belgians in pressing a political solution, including real pressure on Tshombe and Kasavubu; or alternatively to back a strengthened military solution by Tshombe. This is needed for two reasons: to lay down a clear line for all the cooks in this stew; and to put some energy into the policy fast enough to keep up with the maneuvers of Tshombe and the OAU.


That we request a short memorandum for the President from State by Monday, addressed narrowly to the question of how we now proceed, in light of OAU meeting, to attempt to get a settlement in Congo that will permit our reduction of military role, preserve legitimacy of Kasavubu Government, and preserve American position in Congo.

Bill Brubeck3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. V. Secret.
  2. On August 28, Secretary Rusk formally established the Congo Working Group (CWG) headed by Ambassador Palmer with representatives from the Department of Defense, CIA, AID, and USIA. A Congo Task Force began meeting informally at the Department of State shortly after the fall of Stanleyville.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.