CHAPTER THREE: SECEDING FROM CHAOS
"I am seceding from chaos!"
With these words, Moise Tshombe declared that his province of Katanga wanted no further part of the Communist-dominated central government. He requested Belgium to return her troops to the province, to subdue the mutinous Congolese army, and to restore civil order. This they did with little difficulty. Tshombe appointed a Belgian major to reorganize the army and reestablish military discipline. With experienced European officers predominantly in charge, a whole new army was recruited. Of the original 2,800 mutinous soldiers, only 300 were allowed to remain.1
Within a few days, life had returned to normal throughout most of Katanga. Businesses resumed operation and civilians once again walked the streets with no fear of wanton violence. As one eyewitness observer described it: "Elisabethville, a bastion of anti-Communism in a sea of Congo leftist terror, was calm and functioning smoothly in late August."2 As early as July 21, 1960, Patrick O'Donovan reported in the New York Herald Tribune: "There is good order in Elisabethville. The streets are patrolled by black and white soldiers together. . . . There is almost no local opposition to Tshombe's plans."
One of the very first acts of the newly independent nation was to discharge all of the Red professors at Elisabethville University who had been attempting to indoctrinate and recruit students on behalf of international Communism. Posters began to appear on the streets: "Katanga, Africa's shield against Communism." And Godefroi Munongo, the interior minister, reflected the views of the government when he stated: "I want my country, Katanga, to be a bastion of anti-Communism in Africa. I detest Communism and will not alter my opposition to it. Katanga will stay independent, no matter what. We shall not give in."3
To the leaders of Katanga, independence did not mean that they were unwilling to cooperate with other provinces, to enter into a specifically limited political union with them, or even to share the rather substantial tax revenues obtained from the extensive mining operations within their territory. As mentioned earlier, Tshombe wanted a federal union and local autonomy somewhat similar to that in America.
Commenting on his vision for the future, Tshombe explained:
This attitude was even written into the newly established constitution. Article I read: "The State of Katanga adheres to the principle of the association with the other regions of the former Belgian Congo, provided they themselves are politically organized with respect to law and order."5 As we have already seen, however, the central government had other plans--and so did the United Nations.
As to what those intentions were, one cannot readily find them in the high-sounding phrases and self-righteous platitudes of official United Nations proclamations. They are there, but one has to be experienced in the highly complex art of reading bureaucratese. While most human beings communicate with each other to convey ideas, politicians are prone to use language as a means of concealing ideas. An example of this planned deception is the blatant contradiction between the United Nations public pronouncements regarding Katanga and its actual performance.
On July 14, 1960 (the same day that the Security Council passed the first resolution condemning Belgium and authorizing the use of United Nations troops in the Congo), and again on July 20, Dag Hammarskjold stated the UN's position:
In July, Ralph Bunche (as special United Nations representative for Hammarskjold) told Tshombe that the United Nations force "has received strict instructions not to intervene in the internal politics of the country."7 On August 9 the Security Council passed another resolution which "reaffirms that the UN Congo force will not be a party to, or in any way intervene in, or be used to influence the outcome of, any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise."8 In speaking specifically about Katanga's secession, Dag Hammarskjold said:
Nothing could have been plainer than that. Yet immediately United Nations troops began to move into position for entry into Katanga. Tshombe was leery of the whole operation and protested to Hammarskjold that since everything was calm and peaceful in his province, there was no need for United Nations "peacekeeping" forces.
On August 12 Hammarskjold personally conveyed his assurances to Tshombe that the United Nations would "not he used on behalf of the central government to force the provisional government of Mr. Tshombe to a specific line of action."10 With these solemn pledges and under Hammarskjold’s insistence, Tshombe had no alternative short of armed resistance but to allow UN troops access to Katanga.
They came by the thousands.
As mentioned earlier, Katanga was at peace. There were other places throughout the Congo that were in far greater need of UN forces than Katanga. Kasai province was in the throes of civil war and the countryside was literally red with blood, but the UN sent troops to Katanga. Stanleyville was a nightmare of lawlessness and violence, but the UN sent troops to Katanga. Away from the metropolitan areas the practice of cannibalism was being revived and missionaries were being slaughtered by the score, but the UN sent troops to Katanga. By September 1961 between twelve thousand and fourteen thousand troops, by far the greater portion of the entire United Nations force, had been concentrated inside peaceful Katanga.11 Why were they there? Only a fool could believe that their purpose was anything other than to end Katanga's secession and to bring it back under the central government.
Tshombe was no fool. In spite of the grim implications of the arrival of UN military might, he somehow managed to keep his composure and even his sense of humor. The first United Nations troops to arrive at Elisabethville's airport on August 12 were supposedly Dag Hammarskjold’s personal bodyguard. When they landed Tshombe greeted them and the accompanying dignitaries by handing them each tourist brochures entitled -'Elisabethville Welcomes You."12 Then, before anyone could object, the honor guard led by Belgian officers presented the Katangese colors while a band played the newly written Katangese national anthem. What a picture that must have been--United Nations soldiers, officers and dignitaries standing rigidly at attention before a fluttering flag symbolizing the very sovereignty which they bad been sent to destroy.
At this point in the drama it becomes necessary to introduce a third character--Conor Cruise O'Brien. Mr. O'Brien was formerly an Irish delegate to the General Assembly of the UN before being requested by Dag Hammarskjold to join his executive staff in the Secretariat as special advisor on African affairs. From here he was assigned to the Congo where he personally directed the United Nations political operation in Katanga. When it was discovered that he had imported his Irish girl friend to Katanga, and when she found herself unexpectedly in the news as part of an international incident, O'Brien was recalled to New York and allowed to resign. There were other good reasons for getting rid of O'Brien, too. For one thing, he was too outspoken and it soon became obvious that he had to be removed. He was not the first underling in the UN to he thrown to the wolves in order to save the reputation of a higher official.
Fortunately, however, O'Brien decided to write a book about the Katanga affair. It is a treasure of little glimpses into the innermost workings of the mind of an "international servant." He was and is a fierce advocate of the United Nations. He clings to all of the intellectual fallacies about the United Nations which will be the subject of a later chapter. Even though he had personally participated in and helped to execute one of the most perfidious schemes ever directed against freedom-loving human beings, he apparently did not realize what he had done, or so he says.
The important point, however, is that O'Brien speaks with authority. He was there. Obviously, a great deal of what he has to say must be taken with a large grain of salt. But what he reveals about both himself and the organization to which he is so strongly committed is, if anything, overly charitable. If O'Brien's words are incriminating in spite of his pro-United Nations bias, then they are certainly worthy of our serious consideration.
For example, consider O'Brien's description of a meeting of the "Congo club," which is the nickname for his group of top United Nations planners and advisors on the Congo. Among others, Dag Hammarskjold and Ralph Bunche (representing the U.S.) were present.
Ignoring for the moment the enlightening definition of UN neutrality, one should really go back and reread this incredible statement several times to fully comprehend the extent of the calm premeditation behind the policy of deliberate deception initiated by these high officials. For months they had been issuing public statements and personal assurances that the United Nations not only had no intentions of interfering in the internal matter of Katanga's secession, but that it had no legal right to do so under the terms of its own Charter. Yet, at the very outset O'Brien, Hammarskjold, Bunche and a host of other top United Nations planners sat around a conference table and quietly worked out plans for removing "the props of Mr. Tshombe's regime."
Elsewhere in his book O'Brien provided more illumination on the United Nations' total lack of integrity and respect for honesty in its pretended aims when he wrote that Mr. M. Khiary (head of UN civil operations in the Congo)
While the United Nations was pouring troops into Katanga, things were going from bad to horrible elsewhere in the Congo. On August 4, when Lumumba returned in a Russian plane from his grand tour of Belgium, the United States and England, he found unexpected opposition awaiting. Many of his former associates had decided they no longer wanted to be identified with either him or his politics. On August 10 Lumumba was seized and stoned by an angry mob in Leopoldville and barely escaped with his life. On August 25 more anti-Lumumba demonstrations and riots broke out all over the city.15
Meanwhile, a small group of former British army officers from Rhodesia had entered Kasai province and formed a volunteer corps of leaders to train Baluba tribesmen for battle against Lumumba's men. They explained that they were sick of the West doing nothing to effectively fight the Congo's Reds.16
On September 5 Kasavubu, president of the central government and a rather weak-kneed politician (but not a Communist), dismissed Prime Minister Lumumba. Lumumba refused to acknowledge the action and promptly dismissed Kasavubu. At this point the lower house and the senate both convened illegally without a quorum. The house invalidated both dismissals. The senate declared its confidence in Lumumba. Complete confusion and anarchy reigned supreme.
Finally, on September 14 a young army colonel by the name of Joseph Mobutu, using what military power be could muster, picked up the pieces and seized control of the government. Kasavubu threw his support behind him and they appointed a committee of college graduates to run things temporarily. A semblance of order once again returned. The "student council," as they were nicknamed, acting under the leadership of Mobutu and Kasavubu, did a far more effective job of restoring order than the official government under Lumumba had done.
Here was obviously a bad turn of events for the Communists. They had not planned on this. Mobutu promptly ordered all the Russian and Czechoslovakian "diplomats" and "technicians" to pack their bags and leave the country. Seeing power slip from him, Lumumba sought United Nations protection and quietly moved into the Guinean embassy.
It is both interesting and significant that Lumumba chose this particular embassy for asylum. Mobutu had appealed to the United Nations to withdraw the Guinean and Ghanian contingents from its peace-keeping forces in the Congo because he had found letters in Lumumba's briefcase which clearly linked these troops with the Communists.17
It appeared to be common knowledge throughout the Congo that many of the United Nations soldiers were openly pro-Communist. They were apparently selected for that reason. As Philippa Schuyler reported:
Just as a quick aside, it is interesting to note that Kwame Nkrumah, the prime minister of Ghana, has written that he long ago decided the philosophy of Marx and Lenin was capable of solving his country's problems. He has consistently supported the Soviet Union and Cuba in the United Nations. In 1960 Red China announced that it would extend $25,000,000 in aid to Ghana over a three-year period. And in 1962 the Kremlin awarded Nkrumah the Lenin Peace Prize. In speaking of the award, his own newspaper described him as the Lenin of Africa.19 One of the letters found in Lumumba's briefcase had been written by Nkrumah personally and said: "Whenever in doubt, consult me, brother. We have been in the game for some time and now we know how to handle the imperialists and colonialists. The only colonialist or imperialist that I trust is a dead one."20
Mobutu had good reason to be concerned over the presence of troops from Guinea and Ghana and he was certainly justified, in view of their activities, in requesting the UN to withdraw them. His appeal was duly considered. The next day, the United Nations specifically assigned soldiers from Guinea and Ghana to provide twenty-four-hour protection for Lumumba. The same protection was extended, wherever possible, to Lumumba's followers as well. Conor O'Brien cautiously explained it this way: "During this time, Hammarskjold and Dayal, his representative in Leopoldville . . . resisted . . . Mobutu's demand that Lumumba, who had sought UN protection on September 15th, should be handed over."21
On September 18 Lumumba left the Guinean embassy in a United Nations car and was taken to his well-guarded residence. He shouted from a balcony to the mob below, "I am not a prisoner! I am still master! He accused Mobutu of being a fascist and promised that he would soon bring back the Communist embassies. That same day, a Lumumbist attempted to assassinate Mobutu who miraculously was not hurt. When Vital Pakasa, the man who organized the attempted assassination, was found and arrested he explained that the Soviets had offered him ten thousand dollars for Mobutu's death.22
A few weeks later, still under strong United Nations protection, Lumumba was escorted to a gala two-hundred-guest dinner party given by the general from Guinea.23
By this time, most of Lumumba's close supporters were fleeing to neighboring Stanleyville where another Communist dictator by the name of Antoine Gizenga ruled the roost. Finally, Lumumba decided to make a break for it to rejoin his comrades in Stanleyville. He slipped away from his UN guard and was promptly intercepted and arrested by Colonel Mobutu's forces and deported to Katanga. A few days later, he escaped from his captors. According to the story he was seized by villagers and beaten to death.
There is also the story that Lumumba was already dead before they put him on the plane and shipped him to Katanga. (Quite possible.) There is the assertion that Lumumba's old enemy Albert Kalonji in Kasai province had agreed to dispose of Lumumba but changed his mind at the last minute. When the plane arrived, it found the runway covered with oil drums to prevent a landing. Running low on fuel, the plane proceeded to Katanga where no one expected it. (Not too plausible.) There is the UN "theory" that Tshombe personally plunged the death knife into Lumumba as he was dragged off the plane. (Unlikely, to say the least.) Regardless of which story appeals most to the imagination, certain facts should be kept in mind. The most important one is that practically everyone in the whole Congo hated Lumumba. When Colonel Mobutu and Kasavubu finally had him in their hands, they faced the rather sticky decision of what to do with him. They knew that the UN was doing everything possible to return Lumumba to power. They also knew Lumumba well enough to realize that if this should ever happen they would both be arrested and executed. Obviously, the safest course of action for them was to kill Lumumba or to have someone else do it. Another fact to keep in mind is that when the UN sent a special team of investigators to the Congo to look into the circumstances surrounding Lumumba's death, it was denied entry, not by Katanga, but by the central government.24
Be that as it may, Lumumba's death triggered off worldwide reaction. The loss to the Communists of one of their stooges was more than offset by the propaganda gain for Communist objectives. The event was skillfully used to destroy what little pro-Katanga sentiment there was in America and elsewhere. Newspaper editors eulogized Lumumba and pointed the finger at Tshombe. A howling mob stormed the Belgian embassy in Moscow. In Singapore, the American embassy was picketed. Wild street demonstrations broke out in London, New Delhi and Belgrade. In Cairo the Belgian embassy was ransacked and gutted. Belgians had to flee their homes in Egypt. There was even a phony funeral in New York while Black Muslims picketed the United Nations building.
The murder of Lumumba was a savage act. It was followed by an equally savage one. In Stanleyville nine anti-Lumumbists who had been held and mistreated for months were also murdered. The United Nations conducted no investigations. There were no outcries of indignation or protest from UN spokesmen. There were no spontaneous demonstrations around the world. There were no bleeding heart editorials in our daily newspapers.
Here is a silent tribute to the powerful hold that Communist-inspired propaganda has over the minds and attitudes of those in the non-Communist world. It is astounding that so many millions of people could be sincerely shocked and saddened over the death of a man like Patrice Lumumba while at the same time feeling little concern over the brutal murders of hundreds of anti-Communist leaders in the Congo, Eastern Europe and Red China. Here was a man who was literally unknown to the world until he led his people into chaos. And then, in spite of his clear record as an ex-convict, a dope addict, a murderer and a Communist, he was catapulted into the hearts of millions who were skillfully conditioned to think of him as a great martyred leader.
1. Hempstone, pp. 107-110.
2. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), p. 17.
3. Ibid., P. 172.
4. As quoted by Schuyler, p. 163.
5. As quoted by Congressman Donald C. Bruce, Congressional Record (September 12, 1962).
6. Hempstone, p. 111. Also, O'Brien, p. 88.
7. Hempstone, p. 242.
8. UN document S/4426.
9. As quoted by Hempstone, p. 242.
10. Senator Thomas Dodd, Congressional Record (August 3, 1962).
11. Senator Thomas Dodd, Congressional Record (September 8 and 16, 1961). Also, Department of State Bulletin (December 12, 1960), p. 908.
12. Hempstone, pp. 113-114.
13. O'Brien, p. 58.
14. Ibid., p. 189.
15. Allen P. Merriam, Congo: Background of Conflict (Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University Press, 1961), p. 240.
16. Schuyler, p. 234.
17. Senator Thomas Dodd, Congressional Record (August 3, 1962). Also, Schuyler, pp. 233-234.
18. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), p. 260.
19. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee as quoted in the Tidings (Los Angeles, August 16, 1963), p. 2.
20. Bare Red Plot by Lumumba," Chicago Tribune (November, 2, 1960).
21. O'Brien, p. 96.
22. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), pp. 233-235.
23. Ibid., p. 235.
24. Hempstone, pp. 126, 130.