337. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Lang) to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Vance)1

Here is a copy of the message that was dispatched as a result of your meeting at the White House.2 In brief, it tells Mac Godley to announce [Page 487] to Gbenye that we are prepared to discuss with him the safety of US nationals in the Stanleyville area. Other African posts are told to get word to Kanza, the rebels’ representative in East Africa, that Fredericks is en route prepared for sustained discussions.

The message reflects one recommendation of a briefing paper that went to Mr. Rusk for the meeting (which we got after you had left). The purpose of the proposed discussions, according to the briefing paper, is to keep contact with the rebels alive, and the rebels presumably in a false state of expectation, during the next few days when they will be growing increasingly desperate as Van der Walle approaches Stanleyville.

I don’t quarrel with this approach, although I see in it certain dangers when the rebels realize that they’ve been tricked. I have serious reservations, however, about another recommendation of the paper. This would call for discussions with key OAU personnel (Kenyatta, Diallo Telli) proposing a political package under which we and the Belgians would jointly undertake to compel Kasavubu and Tshombe to take certain actions, such as offering amnesty to the rebels, which might induce them to lay down their arms. The OAU would hopefully join with us in trying to sell this package to the rebels.

I do not yet know whether this approach will be included in Wayne Fredericks’ instructions but I see serious dangers in it. First, we are suggesting to influential OAU representatives that we can control Tshombe and Kasavubu. (You will recall that we denied this vigorously when the OAU pressed us to ground the T–28s and B–26s.) More importantly, if we make this approach and then go forward with Dragon Rouge, we would be accused by the OAU of having acted in bad faith. (Diallo Telli, who is no friend of the US, would wring this for all it’s worth.) The alternative, which is equally as bad, would be to find ourselves committed to a “negotiated” solution.

I understand that State is now preparing Wayne Fredericks’ instructions. I will keep you advised of any significant developments.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 7425, Congo 381 (12 Aug. 64). Top Secret. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “Mr. Vance has seen.” A copy was sent to McNaughton.
  2. Telegram 1303 to Leopoldville, November 19, is attached but not printed. A copy is in National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO.