513. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1
304. 1. I am acutely aware of difficult moral, human and public relations position in which US Govt has been placed over Congolese C–130 request because of repulsive brutality ANC in Lubumbashi and excesses elsewhere. Incidentally, experience would indicate first day or two ANC reoccupies a town are most critically dangerous. Present situation is of course exacerbated by fact that ANC is retaking towns (they may simply have been evacuated) which were occupied by white mercenaries, so situation would be critical even without Congolese Govt’s action in arousing anti-white sentiment which, as reported, was less extreme over last night’s television and radio; though this morning’s radio not good.
2. As of this moment there are no new elements in situation. Kisangani partly in hands of ANC but this does not include airport where apparently large group of Europeans have been gathered under mercenary control. There is likewise nothing new from Lubumbashi. Fate of rebellion itself is hazy in extreme. However, there little doubt that some mercenary–Katangese bands remain in operation despite reports at least one planeload of mercenaries and others has landed in Rhodesia.
3. I am now attempting to reach Mobutu to convey contents paras 2 and 3 Dept’s 32522 but have not been successful yet. I will of course not clarify to him all purposes for which C–130s may be pre-positioned but simply indicate as Dept instructs that they are being placed in readiness. Report about readiness of C–130s will not satisfy Mobutu long and he will be pressing to know when they might be available for his missions. I will discuss in as non-inflammatory way as possible, question of their availability in context his need take urgent measures all aspects of racial situation. At same time, it must be realized that not making available C–130s risks causing deterioration of Congolese will to take determinant measures to improve position of European population. On other hand, I am sincerely convinced arrival of C–130s will be kind of demonstration of Western support which would help quickly settle down situation.[Page 752]
4. Finally, there are no new elements in evacuation situation since last night and considerations about effective presence C–130s here on American morale remain pertinent. Obviously, it is of course essential that Congolese not know evacuation is a factor in our despatching planes to Congo and indeed evacuation from areas controlled by ANC is a highly delicate factor in itself.3
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Received at 10:30 a.m. Also sent to CINCSTRIKE, and repeated to Lubumbashi, Brussels, Kigali, Kampala, Bujumbura, Nairobi, and DOD. Passed to the White House, CIA, USIA, NSA, COMAC, and CINCLANT.↩
- Dated July 7. (Ibid.)↩
- A copy of this telegram was transmitted to the President by Walt Rostow attached to a note that reads: “This cable from McBride gives the flavor of the Congo scene today and of his thinking about the C–130’s.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 33)↩