514. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

3301. Eyes only for Ambassador from Secretary. You have been informed that as a precautionary matter we have displaced three C–130s forward to Ascension. I want to give you some feel of the problem back here which must be taken into account in considering any final decisions about the forward movement of these planes to the Congo. In my talks with Senate leaders great emphasis has been placed once again on the question “who else is doing something about it.” We have just been through a Middle Eastern crisis in which there was passionate objection in our Congress to unilateral action by the United States. This feeling runs very deep and is related to a chagrin that not enough help is coming from others in Viet-Nam.

All this means that we should weigh very seriously indeed a forward movement of these planes in the absence of tangible assistance from somewhere else. This would be particularly important if the C–130s are to become involved in ferrying ANC troops with the risks of military incidents as distinct from being there for possible evacuation purposes.

I am not at the moment prejudging the decision here because we will want to take into fullest account your own most sober assessment [Page 753] of the situation. But I am dubious about committing aircraft for what might prove to be temporary psychological reasons when we shall run into some quite severe psychological reactions here. If the object is psychological, would one C–130 be as effective as three? Any details with respect to operational use, duration of presence in Congo, and possibility of publicly known assistance from other friendly sources would be very helpful.

Much appreciate the job you are doing.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. Drafted and approved by Rusk.
  2. In telegram 331 from Kinshasa, July 8, which crossed this telegram, McBride reported that he had told Mobutu that the three C–130s had been placed in readiness, and warned him again that the deterioration of the racial situation was the cause of deep concern at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. McBride urged early and positive U.S. action on Mobutu’s request and emphasized that the need was greater than ever because of press reports of Mobutu’s appeal for U.S. assistance. He also noted the vital importance of convincing the Congolese population that their fears of a Western plot against the Congo were unfounded and that the United States was ready to help suppress the white mercenary revolt. (Ibid., DEF 19 US–THE CONGO)