237. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of West African Affairs (Trimble) to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams)1


  • Proposed Action Program for Ghana

A. Assumptions

The course of action outlined below is based on the following assumptions:

By his present actions, Nkrumah is daily rendering our position in Ghana more difficult. He sees us as an ideal scapegoat to cover his domestic shortcomings and a handy whipping boy to promote his extreme brand of Pan-Africanism. In contrast to his leftist advisors, it is doubtful, however, that he wishes us to leave. He probably desires to retain the Volta aid and also some connection with the West to give him a posture of neutrality. But his present conduct can only lead to circumstances under which our position could well become untenable.
The U.S. should make a determined effort to remain in Ghana. Voluntary withdrawal of our representation would be interpreted both there and elsewhere in Africa as a defeat for the U.S. and a victory for the Communists. It also would encourage the Communists and leftist elements in other parts of Africa to adopt the same tactics they have been following in Ghana. The Soviet bloc desires us to leave Ghana and is actively engaged in promoting this end.
Nkrumah is convinced that the U.S. is the principal obstacle to his program for African unity. He is also convinced that through the CIA we are seeking to engineer his downfall. He is living in a state of fear induced by the several assassination attempts and an overriding sense of insecurity, and consequently is increasingly irrational and irresponsible.
Nkrumah’s popularity has markedly declined in the past 18 months, especially among civil servants, police, businessmen, university students and the professions. Though he still enjoys a considerable following among the rural masses, the more politically-minded urban population has lost confidence in him.
Time is not on our side. The Parliament, judiciary and police have been emasculated; a purge of the universities is now under way and [Page 414] one of the civil service imminent. Although moderate elements still exert a slight influence on Nkrumah, he increasingly depends for advice and counsel on the small group of leftists in his immediate entourage. Nkrumah is consciously and deliberately creating a police state based on national Marxist principles.
Although Nkrumah’s leftward progress cannot be checked or reversed, it could be slowed down by a well conceived and executed action program. Measures which we might take against Nkrumah would have to be carefully selected in order not to weaken pro-Western elements in Ghana or adversely affect our prestige and influence elsewhere on the continent.
U.S. pressure, if appropriately applied, could induce a chain reaction eventually leading to Nkrumah’s downfall. Chances of success would be greatly enhanced if the British could be induced to act in concert with us.
Failure to act can only result in a further deterioration of the situation to the point where we may feel compelled to leave Ghana, thereby facilitating the chance of Soviet success.

B. Summary of Proposed Actions


Postponement of Ambassador Mahoney’s Return to Accra

Ambassador Ribeiro should be called to the Department and informed by Governor Williams that in view of the Ghanaian Government’s expression of regret at the demonstrations before the American Embassy and the Foreign Minister’s assurance that they would not re-occur, it had been decided that Ambassador Mahoney would return to Accra on February 14. Because of the subsequent expulsion of American professors at the University of Ghana and vicious attacks on an officer of our Embassy, we now intend to postpone the Ambassador’s return. The same statement should also be made to Botsio by our Charge at Accra.


Award of Medal of Freedom to Adger E. Player

Congressmen Oliver P. Bolton and Zablocki have proposed that the Medal of Freedom be awarded to Mr. Player for his action in preventing desecration of the American flag. The White House has asked for the Department’s views on the proposal. Our response should indicate that a decoration is fully justified, and suggest that it be either the Medal of Freedom or the Legion of Merit. Mr. Player’s valorous conduct has been widely reported in the American press, and the award would constitute tangible evidence of the country’s gratitude and admiration. It would also underscore our contempt for the controlled Ghanaian press in seeking to besmirch Mr. Player’s character.


Representations to Nkrumah by Ambassador Mahoney

The Ambassador should see Nkrumah as soon as possible after his return to Accra and make clear to him our concern at the course of developments [Page 415] in Ghana and their seriously adverse implications for U.S.-Ghanaian relations. He should indicate that as Ghana has failed to carry out the understandings set forth in the 1961 exchange of correspondence between President Kennedy and Nkrumah, we may be forced to reexamine our commitments to Ghana. He should also express our shock that no action has been taken against the leaders of the demonstrations. The impact of the Ambassador’s remarks would obviously be enhanced if he were in a position to state that he had seen the President just before leaving Washington and had discussed the Ghanaian situation with him. It is felt that the Ambassador should not bring a letter from the President to Nkrumah since it might (a) serve further to inflate Nkrumah’s ego; (b) encourage him to initiate an exchange of correspondence with the President and (c) be quoted out of context by Nkrumah to serve his own purposes.


Visit by Edgar Kaiser

Mr. Edgar Kaiser should be encouraged to seek an interview with Nkrumah in the near future at which he would stress the unfavorable reaction in the U.S. to recent events in Ghana and indicate that they are causing serious misgivings among the Directors of Kaiser Industries on the desirability of proceeding with the VALCO project.


IBRD Review of Its Support of Volta

The recommendation should be made to the IBRD, preferably through the Secretary of the Treasury, that it send a team to Ghana to study the desirability of continuing its support of the Volta project in the light of Ghana’s adverse financial situation.


Slow-down in Payments on the Volta Dam Project

AID and the Eximbank should delay action on pending and future requests for draw downs of loan funds by the Volta Dam. (This course of action is possible only until around July 1, 1964 when the lake starts to form and further delays in construction might cause serious flooding and loss of life.) Because of the IBRD’s direct involvement in the project, it should be informed in advance of any such action.


Termination of NIH Facility

The Bureau of the Budget is anxious to close down the NIH research facility at Accra as part of its program to reduce the balance of payments deficit. Although useful, the facility has been unable to fully realize its potential as a source of data on tropical diseases because of the uncooperative attitude of the leftist Director of the Ghanaian Institute of Health. Although of marginal value, early announcement of our intention to terminate the facility would be interpreted in Ghana as an indication of our displeasure at recent developments there but should not alienate pro-Western groups. If feasible, the operation possibly on a reduced scale, in deference to Budget’s B/P concerns, should be shifted to Sierra Leone [Page 416] thus making the point entirely clear to Nkrumah and at the same time achieving a favorable impact with moderate African leaders.


Psychological Warfare

Intensive efforts should be made through psychological warfare and other means to diminish support for Nkrumah within Ghana and nurture the conviction among the Ghanaian people that their country’s welfare and independence necessitate his removal. Themes which might be exploited include:

The strong non-Ghanaian element among Nkrumah’s closest advisors and their Communist backgrounds;
Suppression of civil liberties as exemplified by the Preventive Detention Act, purge of the judiciary, etc.;
Perversion of the trade union movement without regard to the interests of the working people;
Announced intention to destroy civil service leadership;
Parliament is no longer responsive to public opinion;
Threat to academic freedom as evidenced by expulsion of eight professors, invasion of the campus by the mob, campaign to place political commissars in institutions of higher learning, removal of the respected headmaster of Achimoto, etc.;
Decline in Ghana’s international prestige and increasing alienation of sister African nations;
Introduction of Soviet security agents among the President’s household;
Serious deterioration in Ghana’s financial position resulting from Nkrumah’s irresponsible policies;
Creation of a police state;
Likelihood that Nkrumah’s policies will result in Soviet bloc domination of Ghana, thereby substituting one form of colonialism for another; and
Increasingly precarious position of the ordinary Ghanaian citizen.


Nkrumah an African Problem

We must bring home to other African leaders that Nkrumah is a problem which they must face up to in their own national interest.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 GHANA–US. Secret. Drafted by Trimble, Mahoney, and Deputy Director of the Office of West African Affairs Leon G. Dorros.