566. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:


  • Your Meeting with Ambassador Robert McBride (Congo) (12 noon today)

This meeting can be as long or as short as your schedule permits.2 McBride is home on consultation. He will want to report to you on the success of our C–130 operation,3 and tell you where we now stand on the mercenary problem. It will also be useful for McBride to be able to tell President Mobutu that he talked to you.

The 100-plus white mercenaries are still sitting in an internment camp in neighboring Rwanda. All along, Mobutu has insisted on two conditions for letting the whites go back to Europe: (1) guarantees from parent countries (Belgium and France) that they would not return to the Congo; and (2) some compensation for damages. The problem is being discussed this weekend at an East African Chiefs of State meeting in Uganda. Mobutu is at this meeting to press his case.

You may wish to sound out McBride along the following lines:

1. What are the prospects for future stability in the Congo.

2. If things look uncertain, what can and should we do to avoid another C–130 crisis? The C–130 experience on the Hill indicates how tough it will be in the future to bail Mobutu out of some emergency.

W.W. Rostow 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 54. No classification marking.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found.
  3. The last C–130 left the Congo on December 10. During its 5 months in the Congo, the JTF flew 179 missions (412 sorties carrying 7,657 persons and 1,632 tons of cargo).
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.