CHAPTER SIX: AH, PEACE
The defeat of the United Nations in Katanga was met with anguished cries from the world Communist press. Tass, the Soviet news agency, said that the cease-fire agreement with "colonialist puppet Tshombe" evoked only a feeling of "indignation." The Tass writer, V. Kharokov, complained that what had been a promising UN operation to end Katanga's secession had turned out to be "a total flop."1
The Communists, however, were unduly concerned, for the UN was not giving up yet. It was using the cease-fire merely as a means of building up its strength for a renewed attack. Immediately, additional troops began to arrive on the scene: The first four of fourteen UN jets landed at Leopoldville. The buildup was both extensive and rapid. Finally, on November 24, 1961, the Security Council swung into action once again. It passed another resolution strongly condemning Katanga for its continued use of mercenaries and then authorized the further use of force to bring it under the control of the central government. The velvet glove was now completely off. This amounted to a declaration of war against Katanga. Tshombe was quick to realize this and, addressing a crowd of eight thousand cheering Africans two days later, he said that the United Nations would soon "undertake war on our territory. . . . Tomorrow or the day after, there will be a trial of strength. Let us prepare for it. Let Katanga fighters arise at the given moment in every street, every lane, every road and every village. I will give you the signal at the opportune time."2
Minister of the Interior Munongo later echoed Tshombe's sentiment when he proclaimed: "We are all here, resolved to fight and die if necessary. The UN may take our cities. There will remain our villages and the bush. All the tribal chiefs are alerted. We are savages; we are Negroes. So be it! We shall fight like savages with our arrows."3
While the UN military buildup was taking place, troops of the central government began to move into position to invade the regions of northern Katanga. Since this would be civil war, and since the UN said it was in the Congo to prevent civil war, one might expect the peace-keepers to do something about it. They did. They provided large quantities of supplies and helped transport the central government troops into Katanga. The UN referred to this as a "police action." The chief UN representative in the Congo, Sture Linner, further explained that any move on the part of Tshombe to secure his defensive military position along Katanga's borders would be considered an act of civil war and that the UN would take action to prevent it.4
The central government was getting impatient to nail Tshombe's hide to the wall. Justin Bomboko, the Congolese foreign minister who had previously brought charges of high treason against Tshombe, later revealed the prevailing mood of his government when he said: "Tshombe only understands the language of force and pressure. . . . We can negotiate for 100 years with Tshombe, but it will be in vain. There is no hope of solving this problem by peaceful means. We lose our time, and this is the reason why we went to the UN and Washington."5
What kind of troops were these that the UN brought into Katanga and sustained with supplies and jet air cover? They were mostly the same mutinous bunch that had been on the rampage for many months. Their numbers included several thousand of those whom Tshombe had kicked out of his army and who had since reenlisted in Leopoldville. The rest were from Gizenga's former Communist stronghold of Stanleyville.
A few weeks earlier, Gizenga's soldiers seized and brutally beat thirteen Italian airmen serving the United Nations at Kindu. After the beating the men were shot and cut up into tiny pieces. According to witnesses parts of the bodies were thrown into the Congo River. Others were sold in the market place. A human hand was presented to a United Nations doctor by a giggling Congolese soldier. Colonel Alphonse Pakassa, commander of these soldiers, when questioned on the subject of the massacre simply shrugged his shoulders and replied, "You know how soldiers are."6
The world was shocked at the news. But, as usual, memories were short. These were the very same soldiers that just six weeks later were transported by the United Nations into northern Katanga.7 After their arrival, they proceeded to slaughter a group of twenty-two Roman Catholic missionaries. This time, however, since the victims were not wearing UN uniforms, there was practically no publicity.8
Turning southward, these soldiers put whole villages to the torch, slaughtered women and children, and sent over ten thousand families fleeing in panic. Anyone, black or white, who was found to be armed with even a penknife was killed on the spot. Risking her life to visit the terror zone, newswoman Philippa Schuyler reported:
In the wake of this imported terror, the entire region began to revert to its primitive origin. With no local authority to keep peace and order, the natives--afraid and confused--revived ancient and suppressed rituals. Cannibalism was reintroduced. Smoldering tribal feuds broke out into full-scale tribal wars. Even the beloved missionaries who were once reasonably safe in the area were terrorized and murdered as a result of the mass hysteria that bad been unleashed.10
The Katangese forces that previously had been responsible for law and order were now fighting for their very lives. A ten-man Katangese patrol led by a local administrative officer, Gregoire Kulu, was ambushed by about one hundred wild savages who cut off Kulu's legs, jammed sticks into the stumps and forced him to run on them before burning him alive.11 As a result of atrocities of this kind and the onslaught of the central government troops, Tshombe's gendarmes in the area urgently sent for reinforcements and additional ammunition. Their plea was denied by the United Nations, however, on the basis that this would enhance civil war and thus would be in violation of the cease-fire agreement.
But once again, Katanga overcame the impossible odds and finally pushed the invaders back. Order was restored to the territory. By November the invaders were in full retreat--looting and pillaging as they went.
By now the UN had completed its own military buildup for a renewed assault on Elisabethville. Seeing that the central government could not subdue Tshombe, the United Nations issued a few more promises not to intervene in the internal affairs of Katanga and began to draw up plans for its next attack. It came on December 5, just three weeks before Christmas. United Nations troops assaulted a Katangese roadblock, and when the smoke cleared thirty-eight Katangans lay lifeless in the street. The war was on!
From this point the story becomes tragically monotonous. Once again the United Nations unleashed a reign of terror, death and destruction on peaceful Elisabethville. Once again the primary targets were hospitals, churches, homes, ambulances and shops. Once again the victims were civilians--men, women and children. And, once again, the Secretary-General insisted that the United Nations was merely fighting back as the innocent victim of Katanga's aggression. The only changes were that Conor O'Brien had been recalled and U Thant was now issuing the contradictory statements instead of Dag Hammarskjold. Thant stated on December 12 that the goal of the United Nations military operations in Katanga was merely to "regain and assure our freedom of movement to restore law and order, and to insure that, for the future, UN forces and officials in Katanga are not subject to attacks." Yet, just five days later, when Tshombe was calling for a cease-fire, Thant declared, "For us to stop short of our objectives at the present stage would be a serious setback for the UN."12
While the United Nations was pursuing its objectives, the forty-six civilian doctors of Elisabethville sent an electrifying telegram to President Kennedy, Pope John, and some fourteen other leading dignitaries around the world:
At the height of the sacking of Elisabethville, Tshombe personally appealed to the United States to use its influence to put an end to the destruction of the city. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson replied that "the U.S. is very pleased with the plans of the Secretary-General to bring Katanga under control."14 Secretary of State Dean Rusk explained to the unsuspecting public that the U.S. was backing the UN action "to save the Congo from the Communists."15 And on December 13, twenty-seven U.S. Globemasters flew additional UN troops, artillery and armored cars right into Elisabethville.16 The next day Mr. Jules Cousin, administrative director for one of Katanga's largest mining companies, sent a bitter message to President Kennedy describing the United Nations' blind "killing and wounding--even in the hospitals." He stated that since the United States had continued to finance and support this carnage he was returning with disgust the Medal of Freedom awarded to him by the United States in 1946.17
That same day, December 14, a full-page advertisement was run in the New York Times protesting the bombing of Katanga, which had "committed no aggression except wanting to be free of a Communist-controlled central government." The State Department replied by accusing the sponsors of the ad of taking bribes from the Katanga Information Service in New York.18 Adlai Stevenson said further: "The object of the United States in supporting the United Nations during this long and trying period has been to advance American policy in Africa. . . . It seems to me that our policy and UN policy have coincided exactly in the Congo. I wish many Americans would think of that when they complain about what has been done there."19
And so it went. The great and powerful United Nations--the "last best hope for peace," the "moral conscience of the world"--pitted against tiny Katanga, a country that would not give up. Again and again, Katanga held firm. Finally another cease-fire was called.
Almost a year went by while the United Nations went through the motions of conciliation and pondered its next move. Matters were complicated by the Congo war lasting longer and costing far more than expected. It put the United Nations into debt. A further financial complication arose when Soviet Russia refused to pay its share of the cost. This, of course, made it appear as if the Communists were really quite unhappy over the UN Congo policy. They knew full well, however, that their friends in Washington would put up enough "dirty capitalist" money to cover the whole operation. They were right, as was proved by subsequent events.
The American taxpayer was simply told that the Congo operation was anti-Communist while he was being relieved of several hundred million more dollars.20
On October 12, 1962, the American Committee for Aid to Katanga Freedom Fighters revealed a highly confidential memorandum which had been circulated among top United Nations officials. The memorandum put forth a very precise and intricate timetable for renewed military aggression against Katanga. It also predicted that the United States would go along with these plans in spite of rising public opposition at the grass roots. It declared:
United Nations officials and State Department spokesmen immediately charged that the memorandum was fictitious. Events since then, however, have proved that it was one hundred percent accurate, even to the timetable.
Suddenly, the UN released a press report describing a letter said to have been signed by eight important tribal chiefs in Katanga. The letter branded Tshombe as a traitor, asked for his immediate arrest, demanded that troops be sent to crush Tshombe's resistance, and highly praised the United Nations. While most newsmen took the report at face value, Michael Padev of the daily Arizona Republic thought that the whole matter seemed too slick and decided to check further. As a result, it was revealed that the whole story was completely fabricated by the United Nations. After giving assurances that the letter was authentic and promising to provide the press with photostatic copies, UN press officers later backed down and admitted that they did not have the letter but that it had been seen. Finally, when word reached Katanga all but one of the chiefs who supposedly signed the letter telegraphed angry denials saying, "Everything the UN published was a campaign of lies." One chief, Kasengo Nyembo, stated that he had been recently approached by the UN to make an anti-Tshombe statement but had refused. The United Nations quietly dropped the issue.21
Finally, on December 29, 1962, the United Nations delivered its second annual Christmas present to Katanga. As Time magazine described it:
With a fresh supply of American money and military support Robert Gardner, the new UN chief officer in the Congo, confidently declared: "We are not going to make the mistake this time of stopping short. . . . This is going to be as decisive as we can make it."23
One month later, after having captured control of Elisabethville, Kamina and Kipushi, the United Nations finally seized Kolwezi--a city of seventy thousand and Tshombe's last stronghold. An hour before UN troops entered the center of the city, Tshombe made a dramatic farewell speech to his soldiers. About two thousand of them gathered in the market square. Standing in a drizzling rain, Tshombe told his men: "You have fought bravely against the enemy three times in the past two and one-half years. The odds have become overwhelming against you."24
A few minutes later Katanga's independence was ground into the mud by United Nations boots. The last flame of freedom in the Congo flickered and died.
1. "Moscow Scores Capitulation," New York Times (September 21, 1961). Entered in the Congressional Record by Senator Thomas Dodd (September 22, 1961).
2. Hempstone, p. 182.
3. Ibid., p. 188.
4. Ibid., p. 149.
5. Katanga Information Service news bulletin (New York, March 22, 1963).
6. Hempstone, pp. 178-179.
7. Senator Thomas Dodd, Congressional Record (January 25, 1962).
8. Hempstone, pp. 184-185.
9. Philippa Schuyler, Who Killed the Congo? (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1962), pp. 295-296.
10. Conor O'Brien admitted that since in many regions of Katanga the missionaries cannot live in safety unless Katangese gendarmes are present, and since the UN was expelling these law enforcement contingents, the missionaries were, in reality, being driven out by the UN. See O'Brien, p. 162.
11. Hempstone, pp. 117-119.
12. Ibid., P. 206.
13. 46 Angry Men, pp. 91-92.
14. Congressman Donald C. Bruce, Congressional Record (September 12, 1962).
15. "Rusk Says Congo Unity Is Goal," Chicago Tribune (December 9, 1961). Also, Schuyler, p. 294.
16. Hempstone, pp. 189, 194.
17. "Mining Aid in Katanga Hands Back U.S. Medal," New York Times (December 14, 1961).
18. Schuyler, p. 293.
19. "Stevenson Answers Critics on Congo," Los Angeles Times (February 10, 1963).
20. This was in addition to the 100 million dollars worth of United Nations bonds that the United States purchased. The average voter did not realize that President Kennedy quietly used over 200 million dollars of his own personal "slush fund" (officially referred to as the President's "foreign aid contingency fund") to help the UN get out of the red ink resulting from its military operation in the Congo. The UN, in turn, applied some of this money against the back dues and special assessments of several countries that were in arrears with payments. Needless to say, most of the countries that received the benefit of this donation of American tax dollars were those that consistently vote against the United States. These included Cuba, Yugoslavia, Poland, Albania, and Bulgaria--all of which are openly Communist--as well as Brazil, Burma, Ghana, Indonesia and many others that are, for all practical purposes, just as much Soviet satellites as the rest. Naturally the State Department emphatically denied that this had happened. Through the miracles of bookkeeping, they explained that the money was used only to pay the costs of the Congo operation. But this is what enabled the UN, in turn, to cancel off the assessments of the above countries--so it all adds up to the same thing. According to Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, the member nation that is more than two years in arrears in its payments loses its vote. President Kennedy's generosity with American tax dollars out of his slush fund and other foreign aid grants actually saved these countries that consistently vote against us from losing their votes! See congressional debate on budget request, Congressional Record (September 12, 1962). Also, Purchase of UN Bonds, hearings before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (February 6-9, 1962), pp. 1-180. Also, report of the House Committee on Foreign Relations regarding the purchase of UN bonds, House report #2176 (August 10, 1962), pp. 14-22. Also, Congressman Otto Passman, Congressional Record (September 20, 1962), p. 20156; and (October 6, 1962), pp. 22712, 22715.
21. "Charges UN Hit Tshombe with Big Lie," Chicago Tribune (January 20, 1963).
22. Time (January 4, 1963), p. 12.
23. New York Times, west. ed. (December 31, 1962), p. 1.
24. New York Times, west.
ed. (January 22, 1963), p. 1.