106. Memorandum From William Odom of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • SCC Working Group Meeting on Zaire—May 22, 1978.

The following major points were developed in a meeting this afternoon on Zaire:2

1. CIA gave the judgment that the Katangans can repeat incursions into Shaba in the future, and the FAZ probably cannot prevent them.

2. State reviewed the French efforts as indicating movement toward a French-African peace-keeping force, but this is merely an inference. The rundown on the Belgians intentions was taken largely from the recent Belgian cable asking for a swift reply on the U.S. attitude toward an international peace-keeping force in Shaba.3 The most useful force, it was observed, would be one along the border which can detect Katangese incursions early.

3. The Zaire economy can be expected to spiral downward with the exodus of Europeans which will continue from all parts of Zaire unless the security situation can be changed. In a word, the outlook for the economy is disastrous.

4. Tony Lake suggested we review the long term policy implications, but for the shorter run we must work up a package of economic and military support for Zaire, demanding reforms so that Mobutu cannot waste the time gained as he has the past year since the first Katangese incursion.

5. A number of ramifications of U.S., NATO, French, Belgian, and African involvement in Zaire were discussed against the previous statements of the situation and proposals for U.S. action.

6. David Aaron summed up the meeting with the following points:

[Page 290]

a. We can render political support for an international peace-keeping effort but at present we cannot make a commitment of material support.

b. We face no request for aid now with the possible exception of Babia’s mention of a joint French/Zaire query. That must be clarified as to whether it is in fact a formal Zairian request.

c. We need to produce a policy paper reviewing the longer term implications for the U.S. and its allies in Zaire.

d. We should draw the French and the Belgians out on their longer term intentions.

7. Two outputs to be accomplished are:

a. A cable to Belgium answering the questions on peace-keeping to the effect we offer political support to an international peace-keeping effort.

b. State’s policy paper on the longer term.

8. The meeting also discussed briefly State’s desire not to deliver a bill for the costs of the U.S. forces to the French and Belgians at present. David Aaron asked, on another matter, that DIA/[less than 1 line not declassified] get someone on the ground in Kolwezi and other relevant places so that we may have a regular American report on what is going on.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 10, SCC Meeting #80 Held 5/26/78, 5/78. Secret. Sent for information.
  2. No minutes of this meeting have been found.
  3. In telegram 9852 from Brussels, May 22, the Embassy reported that Simonet had asked “if the United States would support or participate in the formation of an international force to provide security for Shaba.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780215–0740)