388. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)1

If the Congo rebellion flares up again, as is all too likely, we’ll almost certainly be under great Congressional and public pressure to cut off any US aid to nations supporting the rebels. Since this will be aggression as defined by the Gruening Amendment, plenty of anti-Nasser congressmen will raise a howl. And if we suspend aid to Nasser and Ben Bella what grounds will we have for not suspending aid to the other countries as well?

Ergo, if a confrontation like this is likely to develop anyway, why don’t we use this stick as a threat in an effort to forestall having to apply it in fact? What I have in mind is quietly getting the word around to the UAR, Algerians, Malians, Sudanese, and East Africans along following lines: If there is another Congo flare-up, openly supported by these countries, the US Congress will almost certainly insist on cutting off aid. The US doesn’t want to do this, but the Administration fears that it would have no choice, since charges of aggression would certainly be brought in the UNSC as well as the OAU, and the radicals would be accused of violation of the recent SC Resolution. The GDRC is already touting this line. The USG would deplore such an eventuality, so is [Page 562] most anxious that the parties concerned move toward some kind of political solution (in line with the SC and OAU Resolutions) which will obviate the risk of an open break between the US and the rebel supporters.

I am not suggesting that our Embassies should use this as an official line. Rather, this thought could be dropped in casual conversations (thinking out loud about the future), [less than 1 line not declassified] and unofficial channels, e.g. an Edgar Kaiser letter to Nkrumah. It seems to me that we must exhaust every recourse to forestall resumption of a rebel offensive. The above idea may not seem terribly persuasive, but it wouldn’t cost us much. If the rebellion flares up we’ll probably have to cut off aid anyway, so why not let this word get around?

Bob K.
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Subject Files, Komer, Robert. Secret.