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King Solomon's Mines Revisited
by William Minter. Basic Books, 1986.
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The Limits of Cold War Liberalism: Colonial Southern Africa in the Sixties

I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—mdash;my own government. . . Five years ago [the late John F. Kennedy] said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, this is the role our nation has taken. —MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., "A Time to Break Silence"

Note: This text comes from optical character recognition of the printed book, and may contain typographical errors. Corrections are welcome, and should be sent to africafocus@igc.org..

THAT APRIL 1967, in Riverside Church, New York, Martin Luther King was at last speaking out forcefully on Vietnam, though he knew the barrage of condemnation that was to come. "Dr. King has done a grave injury to those who are his natural allies," editorialized the Washington Post. The NAACP called the speech a "serious tactical mistake." Presidential adviser John P. Roche, former head of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, told President Johnson in a confidential memo that the speech "indicates that King—mdash;in desperate search of a constituency—mdash;has thrown in with the commies."'

There is considerable evidence that King's political evolution as reflected in the Riverside address—mdash;linking domestic racial oppression, the capitalist class system, and U.S. policies in the Third World—mdash;led to an escalathn of the FBI campaign against him and intensified the climate of hate that resulted in his death.

Ironically, after his assassination only a year later, the civil rights leader was elevated to a national hero, while the disillusionment and radicalization of his last years were played down. Thilo Koch's photoessay Fighters for a New World, for example, linked the dead Kennedy brothers and King as kindred martyrs and ignored King's opposition to the Vietnam war. The


popular I Have a Dream, published by Time-Life Books, similarly glossed over the divergences between King and the liberal establishment.

The intensity of the reaction to King's dissent, and the quick disappearance from public view of 'his radical critique, illustrate the haze of deceptive imagery surrounding the Western role in the Third World in the sixties. Kennedy reawakened hope around the world in the American dreams of greater equality and opportunity. The contrast he projected with Republican insensitivity or with the older European colonial powers was indelible —mdash;witness the portraits of Kennedy, often next to one of King or some Third World hero, that one could find in many poor households around the world.

But that contrast was deceptive, as King himself discovered. Confronted with lack of progress on civil rights, with the escalating war in Vietnam, and with his own personal experience of harassment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the civil rights leader was forced to recognize the allegiance to the status quo that lurked behind liberal rhetoric. Many others made the same journey of discovery, at a different pace or in response to different issues.

A careful examination of southern Africa policy in the sixties shows that, in substance, even the Kennedy liberals only sporadically and marginally moved away from the entrenched Western support of colonialism and white-minority rule. The policies of the Western powers, though often strikingly varied to the casual glance, were all rooted in a consensus that ruled out African efforts for liberation. United States policy seemed to offer new support for African self-determination, but in case after case, the promise evaporated.

The United States assumed an increasingly important role in the southern African region in this period, on occasion eclipsing the older colonial powers. But while they sometimes preached "Africa for the Africans," U.S. policymakers were themselves among those who, in Kennedy's own words, "made peaceful revolutions impossible." Symbolic sympathy for African freedom was useful for domestic U.S. politics. But in practice Kennedy's policies still subordinated African aspirations to cold-war priorities, adding an activist fervor to intervention without a decisive break with European colonial interests.

From 1960, the "year of independence" in much of Africa, to 1974, when Portugal's colonial empire finally collapsed, the European colonial powers in southern Africa adopted different strategies to maintain their influence. Belgium hastily abandoned formal political control, hoping that the Congolese would continue to accept the guiding hand of their ex-masters. When that didn't work, the United States intervened massively to establish a pro-Western regime, a move with profound regional implica-

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 139

tions. The Portuguese meanwhile stubbornly defended their right to control their "overseas territories," receiving occasional criticism but no substantive challenge from their NATO allies.

After the shock of violence in Kenya, the British moved slowly to establish friendly African regimes, except in Southern Rhodesia, where white settlers still had the decisive political voice. But the influence Britain retained by its flexible policies was also used to discourage stronger action against the remaining white-minority regimes. The British legacy was a complex heritage, with opportunities but also large obstacles to full liberation of the region.

In each case, U.S. policymakers, newly awakened to the importance of Africa, modified but never abandoned their assumption that only regimes friendly and acceptable to the former masters would be safe from communist subversion. If the Europeans couldn't manage that task alone, the United States was willing to leap into the breach. Preoccupation with anticommunist "stability" meant that African priorities for liberation took a distant second place at best.

Uncle Sam in the Congo

On February 15, 1961, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson addressed the United Nations Security Council as it debated a Soviet resolution condemning UN complicity in the death of Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, announced to the world only a few days earlier. A scream from a woman in the visitor's gallery shattered his first words. Voices shouted, "Murderers," "Lumumba," "You Ku Klux Klan motherfuckers." Maya Angelou, one of some seventy black American demonstrators, relates that her group had planned to stand silently protesting Lumumba's murder. But the call for protest, bringing several hundred people south from Harlem to midtown Manhattan, had released bitter anger, anger that linked white hypocrisy and indifference to black deaths, whether in Africa or America. Demonstrators on 42nd Street later that evening chanted "Congo yes, Yankee no" before being dispersed by mounted police.'

That same day, according to the New York Times, President Kennedy pledged U.S. support to a new military junta in El Salvador and said he was considering a ban on $80 million of agricultural exports from Cuba. James Reston reported on the highest authority that "the Kennedy administration is not going to allow the communization of the Congo even if it has to intervene militarily to stop it." And U.S. officials said demonstrators


around the world "sought wrongly to identify the United States and the United Nations with a killing with which they had nothing to do."'

The officials quoted may have been cynical in their denial. Or perhaps, due to bias or ignorance, they were unable to recognize what was obvious to the demonstrators. In the U.S. political context, the protesters' views could easily be dismissed as extremist, influenced by communist or black-nationalist ideology. Nevertheless, it is indisputable in retrospect that the accusations were correct. The United States government, operating through agencies as diverse as the United Nations and the Central Intelligence Agency, was indeed the leading factor behind Lumumba's removal from office and his assassination.

The dramatically internationalized "Congo crisis" took priority on the agendas of three U.S. presidents—mdash;Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. Indeed, the papers on this one country, in the national security files of the Kennedy-Johnson years, outweigh in sheer physical bulk those on all the rest of Africa combined. And the Mobutu regime, which the United States then put in power, became a key component in defining U.S. regional policy. The outcome in the Congo also set back the anticolonial war against Portugal and reinforced a multitude of ethnocentric and cold-war images for Western publics.

It was to the accompaniment of conflict in the Congo that Portugal and Britain played out their own versions of the last stages of colonial rule. And for the United States, this abrupt baptism in crisis management revealed and strengthened assumptions that were to hold sway elsewhere, where the United States was less actively involved.


The context for the U.S. involvement that began in Eisenhower's last year in office was Belgium's sudden abandonment of political responsibility for the Congo. Only four years previously, a thirty-year plan for independence had been regarded as irresponsibly radical. But events had moved rapidly after the Congo security forces suppressed demonstrations in Leopoldville in January 1959, killing at least forty-two Congolese. Belgian public opinion was shocked, The influential socialist bloc in parliament declared itself firmly opposed to drafting men into the army to suppress a possible colonial revolt. The Catholic church, a powerful voice in colonial affairs, was deciding that it was better to identify with rising nationalism than to defend a dying system. The other pillars of the colonial establishment, the large companies and the colonial bureaucracy, went along with a shift of policy, assuming that a formally independent government would accept their guidance.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 141

That expectation was unrealistic. Only seven days after independence the Force Publique, an African-manned army entirely officered by whites, mutinied over wages and promotions. In response to the mutiny, in the initial stages of which a number of whites were physically molested and humiliated, the Belgians panicked and thousands fled the country. Belgian troops, moving in with the ostensibly limited goal of protecting Belgian lives, quickly assumed the character of a (re)occupying army.

On July 11 Belgian forces bombarded the port of Matadi, killing upwards of twenty Congolese, though the Belgians they were allegedly protecting had already left. The same day, the mineral-rich province of Katanga declared its independence under Moise Tshombe. Katanga was to maintain its secession for the next two and a half years, with Belgian military and administrative aid, depriving the Congo government of its principal source of revenue. From mid-July 1960, largely in response to the Belgian actions in Matadi and Katanga, political chaos spread throughout the Congo. Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who had emerged as the Congo's most popular leader in Belgian-run preindependence elections, in effect never got a chance to govern.

Lumumba was a charismatic populist leader with extraordinary skills of persuasion. He was responsive to popular demands for rapid changes in the colonial order. But he was unlikely to have taken precipitous action against Western business interests recognized to be vital to the economy. Although he resented efforts to force his country to restrict its contacts to the West, he was not opposed to cooperation with Belgium or with the United States.

Nevertheless, he was soon ruled out as an acceptable leader for the Congo by Belgian and U.S. policymakers. Belgian officials had only reluctantly accepted him as prime minister, and in the crisis they never seriously considered cooperating with him in restoring order. For most Belgians, the proof of unreliability was Lumumba's speech at the independence ceremonies, when he roused the audience of Congolese legislators by recalling the sufferings and the racial discrimination under colonial rule. To anyone sympathetic with African nationalism, the text of the speech is strong but hardly extreme. For many Belgians, however, the tone and the content of the speech were unforgivable insults.

The intense response to the speech only makes sense when one sees that deference was expected. Here was a black man who dared to speak frankly and with dignity. Among conservative Belgian opinionmakers, and among Eisenhower-administration officials who shared their assumptions, a consensus quickly crystallized that Lumumba was unreliable, anti-Belgian and antiwhite, perhaps a Communist, and probably even crazy. In the ensuing


months, such premises lay behind almost every Western act in the changing Congo drama.

Congo's leaders requested UN aid in restoring order and central government control, to which Belgian military intervention was seen as the principal threat. A Security Council resolution called for Belgian withdrawal and directed the UN Secretary-General to provide military assistance for establishment of order, in consultation with the Congolese government. The United Nations, however, was in 1960 under predominantly Western influence, and the United Nations forces sent in mid-July turned out to be more responsive to Western guidance than to the Congo government that had invited them.

Order, it seemed, was most often defined in terms of protecting white lives and property. Moreover, the UN's official mandate was accompanied by the tacit goal of blocking any Soviet influence. For U.S. officials, "Keeping the cold war out of Africa" meant excluding the Soviet Union while allowing free rein to Western influence. UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold also inclined to this view, though he was occasionally forced to respond to pressures from such prominent Third World countries as India. The UN establishment viewed the Belgian forces actually present in the Congo as less of a threat than the potential supply of Soviet military aid to the Congo government. The theme recurs—mdash;Western intervention is not really intervention, since the area is already a Western sphere of influence. Soviet involvement, even if quantitatively much less or only an unrealized threat, is automatically labeled dangerous outside intervention.

Lumumba's actions quickly activated the anti-Soviet reflex in Washington. In mid-July, he hinted the Congo might need Soviet aid if the UN forces failed to get the Belgians out. But the UN force, arriving on U.S. military transport, balked at implementing the mandate to oust the Belgians. Hammarskjold even arranged a compromise with the Katangan leader Tshombe for a token UN presence without ending the secession.

In late July Lumumba visited Washington, asked the United States to get the Belgians to withdraw their troops, and requested bilateral U.S. aid. But his meetings with officials were fruitless, and his references to possible Soviet help if the United States disappointed him confirmed their suspicions. Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon, for example, whose family banking firm had handled bonds for the Belgian Congo, and who was to become Kennedy's Secretary of the Treasury, concluded that Lumumba was an "irrational ... personality . . . who would never look you in the eye."" Failing to make a good impression on the Washington power

* Ironically, in Congo tradition as in many other African cultures, averting one's eyes was a sign of respect to an elder.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 145

structure, the Congo's first elected leader was well on his way to being condemned to death.

When the Soviet Union decided to respond to Lumumba's requests for aid with ten aircraft and some weaponry, there was little hesitation in Washington's response. On July 19 William Burden, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium (as well as a director of American Metal Climax, a firm with major interests in the Rhodesian copperbelt) had already formulated the jelling consensus: "Lumumba government threatens our vital interests in Congo and Africa generally. . . . A principal object of our political and diplomatic action must therefore be to destroy Lumumba government as now constituted."'

Africa and Soviet specialists at the Department of State agreed in a July 21 briefing paper that "the irresponsible Congolese request for Soviet troops . . . is indicative of the lack of maturity and ability on the part of the Congolese and probably implies as well some degree of Communist influence on Prime Minister Lumumba."6 CIA Director Allen Dulles told a National Security Council meeting the next day that Lumumba was "a Castro or worse."'

With the precedents of successful CIA operations against radical nationalists such as Arbenz in Guatemala -and Mossadeq in Iran, the decision at the NSC special group meeting of August 25 was almost standard operating procedure. With urgings for "very straightforward action" from the president, the group agreed that "planning for the Congo would not necessarily rule out consideration of any particular kind of activity which might contribute to getting rid of Lumumba."8 In September a split with President Kasavubu and a coup by army commander Mobutu resulted in Lumumba's ouster.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings in 1975, which first made public the high- level U.S. involvement in the Lumumba plot, focused on exotic assassination schemes dreamed up by CIA headquarters, such as poisoning the prime minister's toothpaste and recruiting a professional underworld killer. The committee's report concluded that these activities were authorized at the highest levels. Since they failed, it absolved the CIA of responsibility for Lumumba's death. Yet the crucial actions leading to his death were taken by U.S.-sponsored Congolese leaders, who first removed him from office in September, then arrested him in December and in January handed him over for execution to the Tshombe regime in Katanga. Those on the scene, often skeptical about ideas from Washington, were well aware that concealment of U.S. involvement would be far easier if the actual deed were carried out by Congolese. Whether or not higher-ups knew the details, the outcome was clearly a result of U.S. government intentions.


It is probably not coincidental that Lumumba was killed only days before Kennedy's inauguration, out of fear the new administration might introduce a less hard-line policy. In contrast to the Republicans, the incoming administration included many voices in favor of reaching out to African nationalists, in the belief that only a genuine moderate nationalism could form an effective barrier to more radical forces. Chester Bowles, incoming Under Secretary of State, had argued this position for years. And former Michigan Governor Mennen Williams, to take office as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, was regarded as an advocate for civil rights at home and overseas.

In late November 1960, the president-elect was briefed on the Congo by Averell Harriman, a distinguished elder statesman of the foreign-policy establishment. Kennedy raised the question, "Should we save Lumumba?" But by the time the new administration considered the question two months later, Lumumba was already dead. Even an extraordinary effort by the president-elect might not have checked the momentum leading to Lumumba's murder. But the effort was not made.

In early 1961, a restudy of Congo policy led to a proposal for a more decisive UN stance toward Katanga and openness to a broader-based Congo coalition, incorporating some of Lumumba's supporters. But the consensus still prevailed that Lumumba himself (who was apparently known to be dead only by those on the scene in the Congo) must be excluded. In reply to a letter from President Nkrumah of Ghana, President Kennedy said that Lumumba should only be released much later, after there were sufficient safeguards against his assuming a position of responsibility. Lone Senatorial critic Wayne Morse commented on February 6 that "overwhelming world opinion is against us."9 But Africa Secretary Williams was more in tune with Morse's colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee when he told them that Lumumba was too dangerous to be allowed in a coalition government.


The policy after Lumumba's death was revealed provides a good paradigm of the place of liberal Africanist views within the established U.S. political context. The liberals shared the assumption that the United States should ensure the exclusion of "radical" options from the Congo. With no significant domestic political pressures to their left, it was inconceivable that they would urge an investigation of U.S. culpability in the murder or abandonment of the effort to shape the Congo, by bribery or by force, into a pro-Western mold. Constantly on the defensive in the face of established, more conservative views, they were at most over the ensuing years

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 147

to advocate some attention to African sensibilities. This proved incredibly difficult to implement, given the forces already in place—mdash;in Katanga, with its Belgian and British supporters; in the CIA station in Leopoldville; in Congress; and in the administration itself. Even with Lumumba disposed of, action against secessionist Katanga was halting, inconsistent, and often paralyzed by sympathy for Tshombe within the administration, as well as by external pressures.

In the Eisenhower period, Western policy was already complicated by two contradictory objectives—mdash;preserving the mineral heartland of Katanga, for which Tshombe was seen as the best instrument, at least in the short run; and ensuring Western dominance in the Congolese central government, thereby shutting out radical nationalism and Soviet influence. Belgium relied most heavily on the first option, the United States on the second, but neither wanted to completely foreclose the other strategy. Belgium thus never formally recognized Katanga's independence, while the United States blocked pressures within the United Nations for more vigorous action against Katanga, even after a pro-Western regime was installed in Leopoldville. The result was that Katanga served as a constant provocation, stimulating radical nationalist currents in the Congo and complaints in the UN from African and Asian states.

When Kennedy took office, yet another policy option entered the arena. The Africanists in the administration wanted to establish a more credible political alternative in Leopoldville and to settle the Katanga secession as soon as possible. Otherwise, they argued, U.S. influence in Africa would decline and, even without Lumumba, Soviet-tied Lumumbism would gain strength in the Congo. The first fruit of the Africanists' efforts was the Adoula regime.

Following Mobutu's coup in September 1960, Lumumba's lieutenant, Antoine Gizenga, had retreated to Stanleyville, in the northeast, where in November he set up his own regime. The United States initiated a plan to reconvene parliament, temporarily incorporating Gizenga and his supporters but taking every precaution to ensure the victory of a new American protege as prime minister.

The candidate, forty-year-old labor leader Cyrille Adoula, had little popular or regional support in the Congo, but he impressed U.S. officials as a credible moderate. When parliament convened in July 1961, the United States was actively involved in the day-to-day politicking. The Lumumbists showed unexpected strength at first, requiring lavish bribes from the CIA to ensure an Adoula victory.* United States officials were

• If Gizenga had been elected, the fallback U.S. position was for Mobutu to mount another coup.


elated with the result, which Under Secretary of State George Ball hailed later that year as "an act of faith in the democratic process."'

If Adoula had been able to establish an effective central government, he might have been able to garner some popular support to match the image Washington sought to build for him. His capacity to reincorporate Katanga, however, was almost entirely dependent on the policies of his American patrons, who supplied the principal financial and military support for both the Leopoldville government and the UN mission in the Congo.

In general terms, .the Kennedy administration opposed Katanga's secession, backing Adoula and the Congolese national army under Mobutu. Washington only approved decisive UN action, however, in December 1962, when the CIA warned that the Congo government might finally turn to Soviet aid to crush Tshombe, and that the Congo might then become a base for "dissident and revolutionary elements from the Rhodesias, South Africa and other neighboring territories.' For the previous two years the United States instead sought a formula that would end the secession without upsetting the Belgian-Tshombe power base in Katanga.

Tshombe had wide support among Washington's European allies, in the U.S. political arena, and even at the top levels of the Democratic administration. The Belgians made token efforts to comply with UN resolutions, withdrawing some of their military officers from Katanga. But others stayed on, supplemented by mercenaries recruited from France, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Belgium. These white soldiers formed the core of Katanga's military strength. Their recruitment, and the military supplies that flowed freely through Northern Rhodesia and Portuguese Angola, would have been impossible without the tacit complicity of the Western powers.

In September 1961, UN forces met humiliating defeat in "Round 1" of armed confrontation with Katanga. The UN had no aircraft, while a Katangan Fouga jet fighter dominated the air, attacking UN ground columns. The Western powers, including the United States, demanded the UN halt its advance, rather than putting in more forces. Ironically, the United States had consistently refused to supply the UN with military aircraft, but Katanga had obtained the Fouga jet with the aid of the CIA. The Katanga leader was being supported as a reserve asset, one former CIA official admitted.12

Throughout 1962 inconclusive negotiations went on with Katanga. Belgium's Foreign Minister, Paul-Henri Spaak, a Socialist who had also been Secretary-General of NATO, had taken office in April 1961. He was somewhat more sympathetic than the previous Belgian government to Katanga's reintegration. But he also wanted to avoid endangering or offending Union Miniire, the giant mining company that provided Katanga's tax

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 149

revenues, and he was constantly under pressure by passionate backers of the breakaway province. The British government under Conservative Harold Macmillan viewed Katanga as a protection against the spread of radical nationalism to the Rhodesias.

Katanga could also count on the propaganda efforts of its agent in the United States, Michel Struelens, who reported some $240,000 in expenditures as a foreign agent from 1960 to 1962. Struelens had good contacts in the press and in the Congress among both Republican and Democratic legislators. Senator Thomas Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee (not the present senator but his father), urged support of Tshombe as "the most solid bulwark against Communism.' Dodd's views were shared by Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (Republican), by Senators Barry Goldwater (Republican), James Eastland (Democrat), and others. The American Committee for Aid to Katanga Freedom Fighters organized letter-writing campaigns, condemning UN and U.S. actions against Katanga.

This right-wing activity had a disproportionate impact because it was not matched by any comparable force advocating a policy to the left of the administration. Even the Africanists in the government faced ridicule from their colleagues for their sensitivity to African opinion. After meeting with Tshombe in Geneva in November 1961, Averell Harriman argued for compromise in Katanga. Of other key figures such as Secretary of Treasury Douglas Dillon, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, few if any could be suspected of sympathy for Third World nationalism. In November 1961, Chester Bowles, the highest-ranking official who did have such leanings, was removed as Under Secretary of State, to be replaced by George Ball, who was committed to giving priority to Europe.

With such a lineup, it is surprising that the Africanist view did eventually win out on Katanga. The reason was not that key officials were converted by African condemnation of Tshombe for his links with white settlers and colonialism. Such criticism was easily dismissed. A proTshombe book written in 1962 by Smith Hempstone (later editor of the Washington Times) was favorably regarded by the President himself and widely read within the administration. The shift of views came instead from fear that the Congo as a whole would "fall" unless Katanga were reintegrated. In November 1962 Adoula barely won a confidence vote in parliament, even with the aid of the CIA's bribes. In such a crisis the argument could be convincingly made that it was, after all, the whole Congo and not just Katanga that was vital to U.S. interests.

As the central government's primary financial backer, with more than $85 million in bilateral aid by 1962 in addition to over $100 million for the


UN operations and unknown millions more for CIA payments to Congolese politicians, the United States was committed to its client's success. The political investment in Adoula and the clandestine investment in Mobutu tied Washington to Leopoldville. And while some U.S. business interests had links to Katanga, others were more interested in future opportunities in the Congo and elsewhere in independent Africa. Entrepreneur Maurice Tempelsman, for example, had made friends with Mobutu and Adoula, seeking to win control of Congo's diamonds. Tempelsman, active in New York Democratic politics, was a client of Adlai Stevenson's law firm and a personal friend of both Kennedy and Stevenson. After retiring from the CIA, Congo CIA station chief Lawrence Devlin was to become representative in the Congo of Tempelsman's company, and a key figure in the continuing U.S.-Mobutu connection.

Such special interests, although significant, were probably less decisive for policymakers than the general arguments. To go with Katanga alone could weaken and perhaps destroy Western influence in Leopoldville. A pro-Western government in Leopoldville, if Katanga were reintegrated without totally eliminating the political currents Tshombe represented, could isolate and defeat the forces of radical nationalism in the whole of the Congo as well as in Katanga. Or so it seemed.


Even after the end of Katanga's secession, in January 1963, the Leopoldville regime was a fragile creation. With U.S. encouragement, Adoula step by step excluded leftists from his coalition. Outside Katanga, the UN force aided the army in operations against Adoula's opponents. Corruption prevailed, as the army, politicians, and civil servants appropriated for themselves what fruits there were from independence. The ordinary people of the Congo, particularly in the rural areas, were bitterly disappointed. The CIA noted "widespread dissatisfaction of the people with their governments—mdash;national, provincial and local."14 By 1964, discontent erupted into open rebellion in much of the country.

The rebellion was fragmented. For the most part its leaders lacked a clear political ideology or plans for how to govern differently from the officials they threw out. Passionate and often brutal upsurges by those who had not benefited from independence, the uprisings in Kwilu and then in the whole eastern part of the Congo threatened the collapse of Leopoldville's rule. The response was a classic counterinsurgency campaign stretching over three years, while the facade of moderate nationalism that Adoula had symbolized quickly went into eclipse.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 151

In contrast to the hesitation on Katanga, reliance on military force rather than negotiation to keep order against leftist insurgency was virtually unquestioned. In May 1963 the commitment to the military was symbolically confirmed and Adoula's own authority undermined when army chief Mobutu paid a visit to Washington, meeting with President Kennedy both before and after two weeks of visits to military installations. While Adoula was visiting Washington in October, a military-promoted government reorganization deprived him of all but formal power. President John Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. In the Congo, as in Vietnam, U.S. military involvement escalated under his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. But the direction had been set under Kennedy, and the policy was carried out by predominantly liberal Kennedy appointees.

During the course of 1964 the United States was preoccupied with the growing insurgency, which by midyear had spread to nearly half the country. United States Ambassador Gullion, who had emphasized the political aspects of counterinsurgency in Indochina in the 1950s and in the Congo from 1961 to 1963, was replaced in early 1964 by McMurtrie Godley. The new envoy was a career officer who had been acting ambassador in 1961, when Adoula was installed. (Later he would achieve notoriety for his activist role as ambassador to Laos, where he coordinated the CIA's clandestine army and even oversaw bombing-target selection from 1969 to 1973.) In July, at the initiative of key figures in the Congo government, none other than Moise Tshombe was brought in as prime minister. The United States decided to go along with Tshombe in spite of concern about his image as the white man's African.

The United States had a small military training mission in Leopoldville in early 1964. By June, there were about ninety Belgian, seventy American, and ten Israeli military advisers in the Congo. "As trainers, these men can have little short-term effect," the CIA noted, "but as tactical advisers they are already useful."' The CIA provided pilots for the Congo air force from its cadre of anti-Castro Cubans left over from the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, and organized maintenance of the planes through WIGMO, a cover company in Liechtenstein.

Washington preferred that Belgium assume responsibility for the counterinsurgency, including operational command of the Congo army. After Stanleyville fell to the rebels in August, Secretary of State Dean Rusk appealed to Belgian Foreign Minister Spaak, "You and all our European friends must move immediately and vigorously to prevent total collapse."16 But while the Belgians were willing to send a general to command the operations, they balked at more massive involvement. Spaak told the U.S. Ambassador that top Belgian industrialists with interests in the Congo


"were totally and unalterably opposed to any direct Belgian military intervention."' They thought they could do business with the rebel leaders. The U.S. government, however, rejected the possibility of any such accommodation.

United States efforts to involve pro-Western African troops also foundered. Instead, Tshombe turned to his old friends, recruiting white mercenaries from Rhodesia and South Africa. The United States went along, repeatedly protesting that the numbers should be kept down and that the mercenaries' involvement receive as little publicity as possible.

The conflict in the Congo from 1964 to 1967 was one of the most bloody in postcolonial Africa. Thousands of Congolese were killed as rebels took out their resentments on local officials or settled old scores based on personal or ethnic antagonism. Indiscriminate violence escalated as the Congo air force bombed villages in rebel-held areas and the white mercenary columns advanced, slaughtering wholesale those presumed to be rebel supporters. In one town alone, Kindu, the mercenaries killed some three thousand people, according to one of their number. Mobutu's army, which followed in the wake of the mercenaries, was considered to be even more brutal.

The escalation made possible by stepped-up Western aid was followed by increased aid from Communist countries to the rebels. That assistance, however, was slow, indirect, and orders of magnitude less than the Western involvement.

In October 1964, threatened by air bombardments and the approaching mercenaries, the rebel leaders threatened to execute more than one thousand whites, including some fifty Americans, held hostage in the Stanleyville area. From this point, the Congo became regular front-page news. Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta, as head of an Organization of African Unity reconciliation committee, pushed negotiations in Nairobi. The United States assumed increasingly close operational control of the air war, fearing to precipitate the death of the hostages if attacks hit too close. At the same time, however, plans were made for a paratroop attack on Stanleyville, with Belgium providing the troops and the United States the transport. The November 24 airdrop, coordinated with mercenary forces on land, was decisive in reestablishing government military superiority. It also resulted in the death of more than fifty of the hostages, many killed as the paratroops were landing.

The day before the attack, headlines in the New York Times noted that the drop was imminent. On the same page David Halberstam, who had left the Congo in 1962 to report on the more glamorous hot war in

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 153

Vietnam, reported that General Maxwell Taylor was "Expected to Ask Expansion of Vietnam War."

The divergent reactions to the Stanleyville attack revealed a wide gap between dominant Western views and those of Africans. In the West, the focus of media coverage and of the popular books written afterwards was on the plight of the white hostages, to which the visions of blacks killing each other or the savagery of the mercenaries were mere backdrop. In Africa, though the rebel leadership won little respect among either moderates or radicals on the continent, the Congo scenario was seen as another case of blatant white intervention. Outside white powers and mercenaries had the firepower and manipulated the fate of an African country, while Africans in the thousands died unmourned by Western public opinion.

A year after the Stanleyville airdrop, Mobutu, long behind the scenes of political power as army commander, took open control in his second coup. Since then, with the aid of a changing constellation of military advisers and schemes for restoring the bankrupt but potentially rich economy, he has fended off challenges, kept the backing of his patrons in Washington, and accumulated a private fortune estimated at over $4 billion.

In the late sixties, Mobutu seemed to many observers to have solved some of the Congo's most pressing problems. There was order and a centralized administration. The economy, after an International Monetary Fund-sponsored devaluation in 1967, seemed on the way up. Yet the benefits of the new system were even more highly concentrated than in the previous period of disorder, as upper levels of the state elite consolidated their business interests. Not only the rural peasants and the workers in mines and industry, but also the lower level of state employees, such as clerks or teachers, found it increasingly difficult just to survive.

As copper prices plunged in the early 1970s, the Congo (renamed Zaire by Mobutu) entered into what seemed a perpetual state of crisis. Average citizens saw little hope of improvement under Mobutu. But, remembering the trauma of the early sixties, they feared to seek an alternative. Meanwhile, the elite continued to grow rich, and Zaire's international creditors arranged a succession of stopgap solutions.

Western intervention in this early period helped determine the character of Zaire's leadership and the intractability of its crisis. The conflict in the Congo distracted from and served as a negative example for the campaigns against white-minority rule elsewhere in the region. It also ensured that the Congo was unavailable as a supportive rear base for the anticolonial war in Angola. There too, the West saw radical African nationalism as a threat.


Hanging on with a Vengeance: The New Portuguese Empire

At the end of June 1960, as the Congo was celebrating independence, Angola and Mozambique appeared still in another era. Portugal's authority seemed to be unchallenged. In Lisbon, unlike Brussels, the assumption held that their part of colonial Africa would stay indefinitely under European rule.

The signs of revolt were already there, but they were effectively concealed by the Portuguese police state. On June 6 Angolan nationalist leader Agostinho Neto was arrested for a third time. A demonstration the following week in Catete, in Neto's home region, was fired on by Portuguese troops, killing thirty and injuring over two hundred. The incident did not appear in the Portuguese press. On June 16, across the continent in the remote Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique, more than six hundred villagers were killed at Mueda after several thousand had shown up for a meeting with the district administrator to express their grievances. News of the event failed to reach the pages of the Portuguese or international press.

Such massacres were decisive for the consciousness of the emerging nationalist movements against Portuguese rule, vivid evidence that unarmed protest would not win their freedom. The Portuguese actions also prefigured that government's later response when revolt hit the front pages and inspired debate in the United Nations Security Council. The basic premise that Portugal should keep control, at whatever cost in repression, was not abandoned until 1974, when military officers tired of the colonial war finally overthrew the fascist regime.

That war began explosively in Angola in February and March 1961. On February 4 African militants of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) attacked political prisons in Luanda, Angola's capital, in a vain effort to free prisoners who they feared would be killed. Seven Portuguese policemen reportedly fell in the battle, while the attackers suffered some forty casualties. In the ensuing days police and white vigilantes organized reprisals in African slum areas, killing hundreds.

As the United Nations Security Council was meeting in March to discuss Angola, a further bloody revolt swept over the coffee-growing country to the north of the capital. The insurgents, in largely spontaneous actions partially coordinated by Holden Roberto's Union of the Peoples of Angola (UPA), killed perhaps as many as 250 Portuguese settlers in the first days, and found themselves in control of an area reaching from the Congo border almost two hundred miles south, less than fifty miles from Luanda.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 155

Angola's nationalists, convinced that peaceful protest would not move Portugal's rulers, had reason to believe the shock of violent resistance might prompt a shift by Portugal or stimulate pressure from its NATO allies. After all, had not Belgium adopted the idea of independence after the Leopoldville violence of 1959? Was not even France, which had proclaimed Algeria inseparable from the mother country, negotiating with the Algerian nationalists after General de Gaulle's acceptance of "self-determination?" Portugal was weaker than either Belgium or France. How could it hold out against the tide of history? The reaction from Portugal, however, bore little resemblance to Belgium's sudden about- face, nor was any Portuguese de Gaulle to make his appearance. (Opposition leader General Humberto Delgado, who some thought might eventually play such a role, was assassinated by Portugal's secret police in 1965.)

The new Kennedy administration voted in favor of the March 15 Security Council resolution calling for an inquiry into Angola. This served to enrage Portugal's regime, but did not prevent the use of U.S.-supplied NATO weaponry in putting down the revolt. The Portuguese took some time to mobilize their counterinsurgency campaign, but by the fall had reoccupied much of the area. African casualties were by then estimated at twenty thousand. Portuguese planes strafed villages and dropped napalm while Portuguese troops used machine guns against rebels often equipped with little more than antiquated hunting firearms or machetes. Some 150,000 Angolans fled as refugees to the Congo. While UPA guerrillas in the north and MPLA forces in the Dembos region continued to fight, the Portuguese had by year's end clearly regained the military initiative. Africans suspected of nationalist sympathies or leadership abilities, including Protestant pastors or teachers in the affected areas, were targeted for arrest or in many cases for execution.

In August the Portuguese Overseas Minister, Adriano Moreira, announced a program of reforms. The measures included abolishing the separate legal status for natives and extending Portuguese citizenship to all Africans, a program of expanded education for the more-than-95-percent illiterate African population, and encouraging a stepped-up influx of Portuguese settlers to Angola and Mozambique.

The reform package was a sign of more significant changes to come, as the war effort, together with the arrival of new settlers and more foreign capital, sparked structural shifts and unprecedented growth in the colonial economies. But the framework for change was the determination to hang on and strengthen Portuguese control, not at all to prepare African societies for independence. Reform could be used to argue in the West against criticism of Portuguese colonialism as antiquated and static. It was also


aimed at building a more tightly integrated and controlled state, including both Portugal and its African colonies.

As it became clear that Salazar's regime had no intention of considering independence, Angola's nationalists struggled to cope with the prospects of extended exile and of continuing a guerrilla war against heavy odds. The nascent movements in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique joined the Angolans in diplomatic appeals to the United Nations and to Portugal's allies. But they also sought training for guerrillas in Algeria, Cuba, and other countries, and tried to build clandestine networks inside their countries in preparation for guerrilla war. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), under the leadership of Amilcar Cabral, began military actions in 1963. The Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) launched its first attacks on September 25, 1964.

They went to war, expecting a protracted conflict, because there was no glimmer of an indication that Portugal would negotiate even the idea of independence as a remote goal. Nor, after Angola's experience in 1961, could they reasonably hope that the Western allies would pressure Portugal to change.

Portugal's "no" to independence had its roots in the particular character of Portuguese colonialism and Portuguese society. The Portuguese economy, even after increasing industrialization in the 1950s, was still embedded in a double dependency. With respect to Britain, the United States, and European countries, Portugal played the classical semicolonial role of exporter of primary products, such as wine, cork, and fish. Manufactured goods came in large measure from Britain, the traditional supplier, or from the United States, France, Germany, and Belgium. In spite of Salazar's nationalistic policies of supporting Portuguese business, foreign capital still retained key positions in the economy—mdash;the British in Port wine, the French in oil refining, Belgium in one of the major banks, and the United States in tire production, to give only a few examples.

This dependence gave particular importance to the spheres where the Portuguese state could give advantage to its own businessmen, and increased their dependence in turn on the protected arena of the colonial empire. Portugal's deficit in trade with foreign countries was offset by the surplus with the "overseas provinces." Africa supplied foreign currency for the Portuguese escudo zone from its exports of goods and services to world markets—mdash;Angola's coffee and diamonds, Mozambique's cashew nuts and earnings of its ports and migrant workers. In Africa, Portugal's exporters found a protected market for their wine, fish, and textiles. And the te-xtile industry drew cheap supplies of cotton from forced cultivation in the colonies.

A minority of Portuguese companies were involved in colonial invest-

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 157

ments—a 1957 survey showed only ten out of a total of 261 joint-stock companies with colonial interests. Those ten companies, however, less than 4 percent of the total number, held some 22 percent of the capital assets. In 1956, profit rates were calculated at 9.9 percent in Portugal, but at 20 percent in the colonies. The largest Portuguese financial groups were all a part of the colonial endeavor, though some more heavily than others.

The fact that the country's leading capitalists had significant vested interests in colonialism was, of course, not unique to Portugal. What was distinctive was the extent of the colonial interests and, even more important, that Portugal's capitalists had little confidence in maintaining their competitive position without the edge of political control.

Britain and France, major industrial countries with diversified markets and well- implanted economic infrastructures in their colonies, could realistically expect to hold onto trade and investment opportunities after independence. Even small Belgium could gamble that financial and industrial conglomerate Societe Generale, with tentacles in every cranny of Congo's economy, would be able to hold its own. On a European scale, Belgium had been one of the first countries to opt for economic integration and the resulting exposure to greater foreign economic penetration. Belgian capital sought its future in cooperation rather than in maintaining a protected separate Belgian economic sphere, either at home or in the Congo.

The Salazar regime, in contrast, was convinced that only the Portuguese state could ensure Portugal's capitalists a major share in the economy at home or in Africa. In spite of restrictions on new foreign investment from the 1930s, the key sectors of Portuguese Africa's economy were still subordinate to foreign capital. In the plantation sector in Mozambique, such firms as Britain's Sena Sugar Company and the Swiss-based Boror were prominent. The ports and migrant-labor export depended on South Africa and Rhodesia. Angola's Benguela Railway and the diamond mines were part of the network of financial groups dominated by British and South African capital. Only in Guinea-Bissau, in some specific crops such as Angola's coffee, or in nascent industrial sectors such as beer or cement was Portuguese capital clearly in the lead.

This picture changed in many respects over the next fifteen years. But in the early 1960s, the strategy of abandoning political control while hoping to retain economic influence was not a viable one for Portugal's rulers. Portugal without the colonies, the Salazarists argued, would become simply a small, peripheral European nation, subject to bullying, neglect, or perhaps even absorption by larger powers.

The contrast between Portugal and the other colonial powers was not only economic, of course. The myth of colonial greatness was built into Salazar's fascist ideology, and there was no political space open for those


who might dissent. Belgium's leaders, in comparison, had long focused on Europe, not Africa. Before World War II, noted Foreign Minister Spaak, one hardly heard mention of the Congo at Cabinet meetings. While the colony was important to the royal family and to a minority of Belgians, it was not a symbolic issue of national significance. Salazar, though ironically he himself never visited Africa, insistently referred to Portugal's ancient greatness of colonial voyages and discovery. To be patriotic, the fascist primers and political slogans assumed, necessarily implied support for Portugal's civilizing mission overseas.

In Portugal under Salazar, clandestine opposition groups such as the Communist Party and a succession of antifascist coalitions were the only political forces to raise the issue of self-determination. Even talk of limited autonomy, advocated by Marcelo Caetano, a former colonial minister who would succeed Salazar in 1968, had to be muted. Advocacy of independence was automatically equated with treason. No parliamentary opposition that might oppose the draft of troops for Africa, as Belgian Socialists had done, was permitted in Portugal.

Still, one can argue, if Portugal's economic weakness and political rigidity blocked an alternate course in Africa, those same factors could have rendered the regime vulnerable to pressures from its more powerful and professedly democratic allies in NATO. Salazar himself was unlikely to adjust his views, but serious economic pressures together with a strict arms embargo could have exacerbated internal tensions. One of the abortive coups within the army might have succeeded, and brought to power, for example, General Humberto Delgado, who had won considerable support in the 1958 presidential election.

Such an argument is speculative, of course. In fact, Portugal's allies did not allow their disagreements with Portugal over colonial policy to spill over into action that might seriously hamper the counterinsurgency effort.* The most that can be said is that for a brief period of several months, the Kennedy administration policy of criticizing Portugal was perceived—mdash;by both Portugal and the African nationalists—mdash;to foreshadow more substantive action. That action never came. Instead, the Africa Bureau in the State Department was reduced to a defensive campaign to maintain even token criticism of Portugal and a nominal arms embargo.

The new U.S. policy was inaugurated with the March 1961 Security Council vote in favor of an inquiry into the Angolan situation. The resolution failed, as Britain, France, and four other countries abstained. But the

* The U.S. ambassador to Portugal was at least informed about an abortive plot in March by Defense Minister Botelho Moniz, said to favor a more flexible attitude on the colonial issue.'s But this momentary openness to an alternative to Salazar swiftly disappeared after the realization that more radical forces might well gain from the dictator's fall.

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U.S. vote was hailed by Angolan leader Roberto as a "sharp change in American policy."' Only the previous December the United States had abstained in a ninety to zero General Assembly vote in favor of the general principle of colonial self-determination. So the contrast was real, though the March vote did no more than call for an investigation. In April the United States again pleased African countries by voting for a General Assembly resolution calling on Portugal "to consider urgently . . . reforms in Angola" leading to independence. The United States again approved a Security Council resolution in June, which deplored "the severely repressive measures in Angola" and demanded that "the Portuguese authorities cease forthwith."

These votes were accompanied by limited cutbacks in U.S. military ties to Portugal. Deliveries of weapons under the Military Assistance Program were reportedly cut from $25 million to $3 million in 1961, and the commercial sale of arms to Portugal was restricted. These cutbacks were not intended, however, to cripple Portugal's war effort. Not even the Africa Bureau thought that Portugal could or should be prevented from regaining control in guerrilla-held areas. Rather, the objectives were to win favor for the United States with African countries and to alert Portugal to the need for "reform." The interest lay not in the actual impact of military aid on the war, a subject that was rarely discussed in policy circles, but in the public, political impact.

Official U.S. aid figures record some $39.1 million in military aid from 1962 to 1968. The Portuguese air force was equipped primarily with U.S. equipment in 1961. Subsequent deliveries were either clandestine, as with seven B-26 bombers in 1965, or indirect, through other European countries. Routine military contacts testified that Portugal was a member in good standing of the Nato alliance; such contacts kept its officers in touch with Western military technology and facilitated contracts for arms or licenses for military plants in Portugal. There was substantial evidence that U.S. military ties did facilitate the colonial wars. Persistent public U.S. denials, however, did succeed in creating a misleading impression.

United States officials did not attempt to deny that links existed. Rather, they made recourse to the transparent fiction that this military cooperation was restricted to the NATO framework of northern hemisphere defense and therefore irrelevant to Portugal's African wars. The fact that Portugal itself denied the distinction was publicly ignored, and charges by the nationalist movements were routinely dismissed.

The United States never used such leverage as cutting off spare parts for U.S. equipment, nor did it repudiate a secret clause in Portugal's 1951 defense agreement with the United States, which had pledged prompt U.S. consent for "transfer of armaments, which perchance may be necessary,


from metropolitan Portuguese territory to any Portuguese colonial territory."20

The officials who might have checked on the use of U.S. arms, collected detailed evidence, and protested vigorously to Portugal—mdash;namely, the military attaches or diplomatic representatives to Portugal—mdash;were distinctly unenthusiastic about such tasks. Their sympathies were largely with Portugal. There was no strong pressure from the White House or from the Secretary of State. And even the Africa Bureau had to stay on the team when confronted with external criticism.

Thus, G. Mennen Williams, in June 1964, wrote to a critical Methodist minister in Oregon: "It is frequently asserted that the United States supplies arms for Portugal to use in Africa. This, of course, is completely unfounded."' Only two months previously, in an internal memorandum, Williams had referred to "Portugal's diversion and continued use of vast amounts of U.S. MAP (Military Assistance Program) equipment in Portuguese Africa."' The Africa Bureau lobbied for stricter enforcement, gaining the withdrawal of the particularly visible F-86 jets from Guinea-Bissau in 1967. But such isolated successes were annoyances rather than serious problems for the Portuguese military.

The reasons for U.S. failure to put serious pressure on Portugal to keep U.S. arms out of Africa are not hard to find—mdash;indeed, any one of several might have been sufficient by itself. The most specific was the U.S. military's need for the air base on the Portuguese Azores islands. As late as 1963, some 75 percent of U.S. military traffic to Europe and the Middle East passed through the Azores, and their use was deemed vital in such crises as U.S. intervention in Lebanon in 1958 and the Berlin confrontation of 1961.

The Azores lease was due to expire in December 1962, and a new official agreement was not signed until 1971. The ad hoc arrangement in the interim gave Portugal's rulers considerable leverage in Washington. With the priority given by the U.S. military to these bases, and priority given to European issues by the entrenched foreign-policy consensus, the Azores question helped maintain a barrier in Washington against offending Portugal. The result was that even the occasional efforts at dialogue with Portugal over the need for reform, such as George Ball's visit to Lisbon in August 1963, gave little expression to strong criticism of Portuguese colonialism. Indeed, U.S. envoys in contact with Lisbon, from special emissary Ball or Secretary of State Rusk to the successive ambassadors to Portugal, were more sympathetic to Portugal's situation than to the African anticolonial cause. More critical views, largely confined to the Africa Bureau, were virtually unrepresented at higher policy levels.

A retreat from strong criticism of Portugal began almost immediately

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 161

after the 1961 UN votes. In a full-scale policy review in June, officials dealing with African and UN affairs argued for maintaining the critical stance even if it should lead the Portuguese to withdraw from NATO or refuse the United States access to the Azores. The Defense Department and the National Security Council, in contrast, said that open criticism should be muted in order to minimize a possible negative Portuguese reaction. National Security Action Memorandum No. 60, of July 14, 1961, formalized acceptance of the quiet approach.

This policy framework put critics of Portugal within the U.S. government on the defensive. The Africa Bureau was forced to defend its scholarship program for Portuguese-speaking African refugees, arguing that the program had "no anti-Portuguese purpose" and that "continued contact with American ways and American education will have a beneficial moderating effect" on the students' political perspectives.' In November 1962 Williams wrote, "We have progressively succumbed to Portuguese pressure to a point at which even covert contact with Angolan and Mozambican nationalists is being challenged within the government." "Unless we are willing to abandon these nationalists to the Communists," he argued, "we must re-establish and expand our contacts with them, overtly as well as covertly.^,24

Restrictions were maintained on U.S. overt contacts with African nationalists opposed to Portugal. And, as Williams contended in mid-1963, U.S. "low pressure techniques . . . rather than giving encouragement to policy changes in Portugal . . . only reinforced their rigidity."' Covert support for Holden Roberto's Angolan group, begun in mid-1961, continued, though by the late sixties it was reportedly reduced to a token "retainer fee" of some ten thousand dollars a year.

Though the Portuguese government resented and repeatedly protested the U.S.-Roberto tie, the aid was itself revealing of the limits of U.S. divergence from Portugal. It was intended not to accelerate the anticolonial effort, but to purchase influence in case the nationalists should win and in the meantime to "moderate" the nationalist movement, dissuading them from stepped-up guerrilla warfare or from turning to Communist countries for support.

The presumption was that acceptable change was that which preserved Portuguese influence. As a Department of State document on Angola put it, in often-repeated language:

The United States recognizes the contribution made in Africa by Portugal and believes it is important that Portugal continue to contribute to stability in that continent. . . [To do this Portugal should undertake] an accelerated program of reform designed to advance all the peoples of the territories towards the exercise of self-determination .26


The corollary was that, "evenhandedly" deploring violence on both sides, the United States repeatedly urged the African movements to renounce guerrilla warfare and hope that unspecified pressures would bring Portugal, still in military control, to accept reform.

The perspective was well illustrated by an Africa Bureau Action Memorandum of April 29, 1964. The memo, noting a stalemate in Portuguese Africa, postulated that eventually Portugal would have to reach an accommodation. "The most immediate problem," Williams asserted, "is, therefore, to try to prevent the nationalists from mortgaging their future to the Communists and from reaching a stage where they will no longer be disposed to negotiate a moderate and evolutionary settlement when Portugal finally comes around to offering one." He proposed that "the nationalists should alter their present tactics and concentrate their energies, with our clandestine assistance, in setting up an extensive political organization within and outside the territories." Their turn to nonviolence, the argument continued, "might make it more palatable for the Portuguese government to come to terms."27

The scale of U.S. covert support for. the FNLA was minuscule in comparison to the ongoing ties with Portugal. It was sufficient, however, to strengthen that movement vis- à-vis its more radical rival, the MPLA. Most important was the indirect support that Roberto obtained from his close ties with the United States' Congolese clients, such as Adoula and Mobutu. MPLA guerrilla cadres trying to reinforce their forces inside Angola were intercepted and imprisoned or executed by Roberto's FNLA along the Congo border. In 1963 the MPLA was banned as well from social welfare yr diplomatic activities in the Congo.

United States policy well fit the priorities described in an October 1964 Africa Bureau memorandum on "Africa's importance to the United States," which stressed that "the need to prevent a major Communist success ranks above almost every other consideration." Reference to colonial and racial issues was more vague: "The manner in which we face the difficult and highly explosive racial issues in southern Africa will have an important bearing on our influence among the world's dark-skinned peoples.""

There was even less critical response to Portugal's colonial wars from Portugal's other major allies. In several smaller NATO countries—mdash;the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark—mdash;public opinion was galvanized in solidarity with the African movements against Portuguese colonialism. In these countries, as well as in Sweden (not a NATO member), private groups raised money for the liberation movements, organized boycotts, and lobbied with some success for parallel action by their governments. This resulted in significant aid for the educational and other development

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 163

programs of the African movements, but had far less impact on the European economic and military ties with Portugal.

The major NATO countries—mdash;Britain, France, and the German Federal Republic—mdash;experienced few restraints on maintaining and stepping up military and economic ties with Portugal. Britain followed the U.S. lead in arguing that its military aid, was only for use in the "NATO area." France and Germany rarely bothered to keep up the pretence.

The economic links show dramatically how Portuguese colonial rule was regarded as legitimate by its Western partners. The crisis in Africa provoked a turn to foreign capital to finance new investment and government budgets inflated by military expenditures. Private capital flows into Portugal from 1961 to 1967 totaled some $600 million, ten times the total for the previous seventeen years from 1943 to 1960. The government, which since the thirties had refused to raise loans overseas, entered the capital market again with a $20 million bond issue in London, to be followed by comparable amounts in succeeding years. The financing was generally arranged through Dillon, Read & Company, the firm of President Kennedy's Secretary of the Treasury. The total national debt more than tripled between 1961 and 1963, to some $180 million. Over the same period, the percent of the budget allocated to the military rose from 18 percent to 34 percent.

Lessened restrictions on foreign direct investment further encouraged the flow of capital into real estate and industry in Portugal and raw material development in Africa. By 1970 foreign direct investment accounted for some 27 percent of.,gross capital formation in Portugal, up from less than 1 percent in 1959. In Angola and Mozambique, money flowed into oil (Gulf Oil began production in 1966 in Angola), into major projects such as the Cunene and Cahora Bassa hydroelectric schemes, and into an occasional manufacturing project such as the tire factory in Luanda.

The major investing countries included Britain and Belgium, traditionally the leading investors in Portugal. The Federal Republic of Germany, the United States, and France also had large stakes, while even countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden had capital projects in Portugal or the colonies.

In the Congo a concern with pro-Western stability had led to intervention and eventually to establishment of the authoritarian Mobutu regime, in an international crisis dominated by the active role of the United States and a subordinate role for the former colonial power. Portugal clung to responsibility for maintaining stability in its territories, while its allies, occasionally critical, kept up vital military and economic support for this colonial dictatorship. The "middle ground" of a "moderate" African nationalism seemed unavailable in these two cases. And if the choice then


was between presumed anti-Western radicalism and pro-Western repression, however brutal, the Western preference for the latter option was clear.

As befits the image of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism, it was in the British-ruled territories that the complex terrain of the middle ground was more developed.

Leaving in Order to Stay: The British Legacy

Belgian and Portuguese responses to the winds of change, however contrasting, each had the effect of checking the movement against white-minority rule in the southern African region. The key frontline countries of the sixties and early seventies instead were ex- British colonies strategically strung through the region. It was these border states that served as transit routes, hosts for political refugees from South Africa, Namibia, Southern Rhodesia, Angola, and Mozambique, and, in some cases, rear bases for guerrillas returning to their home countries.

These countries were a diverse lot, but shared a history of British rule that had stopped short of a full handover to local whites. Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland—mdash;the "High Commission" territories administered by a British commissioner resident in South Africa—mdash;were fully integrated into the political economy of that country. Zambia and Malawi were emerging from a ten-year federation with settler-ruled Southern Rhodesia. In East Africa, Kenya, once excised from "white man's Africa," would rarely look back toward involvement with the struggles of southern Africa. Tanzania, in contrast, would become home base for nationalists not only from its southern neighbor, Mozambique, but from the whole region.

By the time the drive for independence came to southern Africa, Britain, unlike Belgium or Portugal, had numerous precedents elsewhere for successful decolonization. Nor were the stakes proportionately as large. For Portugal, Angola and Mozambique were the heart of the colonial empire, taking some 25 percent of exports and providing a tenth of imports in 1959. And the previous decolonization of Brazil a century earlier had not been a "success," judged by how little influence Portugal retained there. For Belgium, though colonies as such had less importance, there was only the Congo (with the adjacent Rwanda and Burundi).

For Britain, by contrast, there were giant India, west African states, and indeed South Africa itself as examples of more or less successful retention

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 165

of British influence and economic interests without the responsibility of colonial rule. The east and central African territories were small by comparison, taking less than 3 percent of British exports in 1959 and providing only slightly more than 3 percent of imports.

The famous British pragmatism and flexibility had roots in the real availability of a variety of options. In adjusting to local conditions, the British gave scope for regimes with differing class bases, ideologies, and stances toward the regional struggle. At the same time the British government sought, with considerable success, to rule out any revolutionary challenge to Western interests in the region or to white-minority rule where it was already established.

In 1960, the borders of "white man's Africa" had shifted for key decision-makers in London. While sections of the Conservative Party were still to resist vigorously the change of vision, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his colonial secretary lain Macleod, representing a mainstream view, recognized that Kenya, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland would have to follow the west African route. Once that was admitted, the timetable of decolonization in British Africa was repeatedly advanced until, by 1968, even the last of the High Commission enclaves had raised its own flag.

Those who implemented these policies did not regard the unexpectedly rapid rate as desirable. Margery Perham spoke for many when she wrote, "I can regret that the white man has not been allowed another fifty years at least in which to build his civilization in Africa."' Rather they contended against the settler lobby that adjustment, if unfortunate, was still necessary and inevitable. "Any other policy," Macleod wrote in retrospect, "would have led to terrible bloodshed in Africa. This is the heart of the argument."3° It had taken fifty thousand troops to put down Mau Mau, and Britain was no longer willing to pay such a price.

Macleod and his colleagues instead sought to hand over power in such a way that change in the colonial political economy could be minimized. The settlers should be given the opportunity to retain influence without political power, or otherwise coaxed into leaving quietly. African nationalists, once they could no longer be ignored, should assume responsibility for running the colonial state, with proper advice.

This process was not a well-thought-out systematic plan, with London in charge of the pace or able to pick and choose the leaders. Even in Tanzania, with its small settler population, vain attempts were made to stave off "one man, one vote" demands with a "multiracial" franchise, providing separate and disproportionate representation for whites, Asians, and Africans. The complexities of successive constitutions in Kenya and


Northern Rhodesia show persistent efforts to find formulas that would somehow obscure conflict and please everybody, at least temporarily.

The nationalist movements forced the pace with agitation, strikes, and the threat of violence. And while in every case these movements encompassed a range of, anticolonial forces, the postindependence regimes were shaped by the different political economies of their nations, and by the directions set by the leadership that took charge. Internal policies ranged from unabashed promotion of capitalist development, as in Kenya or Malawi, to the populism with socialist overtones of Tanzania or Zambia. There were even greater contrasts in policy toward the conflicts in the white-ruled economic heart of the region.

The range can be seen, first of all, in the cases of Kenya and Tanzania. Neither country was really a part of the regional political economy of southern Africa, with its interlocked mining, transport, and migrant-labor complex. A small number of workers did make their way south, but the major economic ties of each country were with Indian Ocean countries and over sea lines of communication with Great Britain, the colonial power. The settler community in Kenya had links with the white south and served as its northernmost ideological outpost. But British east Africa, unlike central Africa, was not structurally linked to South Africa and Rhodesia.

In the colonial period, the Kenyan struggles against white-minority rule made an obvious parallel with central and southern Africa. "Mau Mau" became a bogey to whites throughout the region. Kenya's future President, Jomo Kenyatta, held the image of an irresponsible, extremist black "terrorist." In contrast, Tanganyika proceeded to independence with virtually no violence, and nationalist leader Julius Nyerere gained a reputation as a moderate. Though Zanzibar, which was to join Tanganyika in 1964, experienced a violent revolution, the ethnic division there was African versus Arab, not the white-black split of the southern subcontinent.

One might have expected Kenyan, not Tanzanian, leaders to be most vehement against persisting white-minority rule to the south and to identify with guerrillas fighting against Portugal's or Rhodesia's armies. In fact, it was the reverse.

It was Nyerere and his Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) who took the initiative to form the Pan African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) and hosted its first conference in September 1958 in Mwanza. (The organization added "Southern" in 1962 to become PAFMECSA.) Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam, was offered and selected as headquarters of the Organization of African Unity's Liberation Committee when the continent-wide organization was formed in 1963. Tanzania also hosted the founding conference of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in June 1962, and allowed it facilities for its guerrilla

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 167

war begun in 1964. Nyerere broke with Britain after Rhodesia's settlers declared independence in 1965, and repeatedly took the initiative on diplomatic campaigns against racism in southern Africa.

While refugees from southern Africa congregated in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, as well as in Dar es Salaam, Kenya's official stance gave little priority to southern African issues. Kenyan leaders shared the African consensus against white rule, but critique of Western ties with the white regimes was distinctly muted. For liberation movement leaders, Nairobi was more frequently an airport connection on the way to or from Dar es Salaam than a source of diplomatic or material support.

The southern African policies of the two countries correlated with contrasting approaches to world and internal issues as well. The more prosperous Kenya made only limited efforts to diversify economic ties, while Tanzania sought closer links with Scandinavia and China to offset its dependence on the major Western powers. Under President Nyerere's leadership, Tanzania moved toward an egalitarian welfare state with tinges of socialism, while Kenya's leaders stressed economic expansion in the capitalist mold.

Tanzania's critics, on the left and right, have faulted the country's failure to build economic self-reliance and to transform a stagnant economy. However bleak its own poverty, however, the country served as a beacon of hope to the guerrilla fighters of Mozambique and other more distant territories. For other ex-British colonies, the idealistic example of Mwalimu ("teacher") Nyerere could be emulated or rejected, but not ignored.


More strategically placed than Kenya and Tanzania, Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) and Malawi (Nyasaland) illustrate a similar range of policies. Zambia, though perpetually hopeful of ending the crisis by dialogue, bore the brunt of sanctions against white-ruled Southern Rhodesia, and served as a secondary rear base for FRELIMO's guerrillas in Mozambique. Malawi's President Kamuzu Banda, in contrast, became Africa's most notorious advocate of cooperation with South Africa.

No more than in east Africa could the results here have been easily predicted. Contemporaries in the late 1950s considered Nyasaland's Banda the firebrand radical, in comparison to the relatively mild Kenneth Kaunda of Northern Rhodesia. After his party was elected in 1961, however, Banda concentrated on using traditional authority patterns and the structures inherited from colonialism to reinforce his own position. Though he had spent some forty years away from the African continent, he shrewdly manipulated the local political scene and virtually eliminated a generation


of younger political rivals who might have chosen a course more similar to Tanzania's or Zambia's.

Banda found allies among expatriate civil servants, mainly Britons, who still occupied almost 40 percent of the top civil-service posts in 1970, six years after independence. Toward his political colleagues, who had organized the nationalist movement in the late 1950s, he assumed the stance of an authoritarian father. Shortly after independence, Banda dismissed those of his "boys" who disagreed with his domestic and foreign policies. He suppressed a 1965 revolt led by former cabinet minister Henry Chipembere. Banda reinforced his ties with traditional chiefs, particularly from the central, Chewa- speaking region, and gave himself considerable powers of economic patronage, from land allocation to controlling licenses for small traders. Press Holdings, a party enterprise under the direct hand of the president, was built up into a leading force in the economy, with holdings in more than forty companies, including the country's two commercial banks.

Malawi's campaign for independence had been at the same time a campaign against the federation with white-settler-dominated Southern Rhodesia. After independence, Banda moved gradually to reduce economic ties with that country. Southern Rhodesia provided some 40 percent of Malawi's imports in 1964, almost twice as much as Great Britain. By 1971, the proportion was down to less than 20 percent, and Britain had moved into first place among Malawi's suppliers.

The readjustment made sense, encouraging some domestic industry and responding to British policy initiatives on Rhodesia. But Banda, who had established good ties with the Rhodesia Front of Winston Field and Ian Smith, was not enthusiastic for strong action against Smith's Rhodesia. Repeatedly ridiculing Organization of African Unity resolutions, he preached his policy of "live and let live." And, in diversifying economic ties from Rhodesia, he turned toward even closer links with South Africa and Portuguese-ruled Mozambique.

Britain supplied the overwhelming proportion of grants and loans, including recurrent budgetary grants. The World Bank and U.S. AID were also welcomed, while proffered aid from China was rejected. Ideologically, Banda stressed anticommunism, standing out as "one of the few leaders in Africa who consistently supported United States intervention in Southeast Asia.'"37

In the region, Banda first consolidated his ties with the Portuguese in Mozambique. Beira businessman Jorge Jardim visited Banda secretly in late 1961, establishing a tie that soon overshadowed the links with east and central African nationalists such as Nyerere and Kaunda. Jardim, who became Malawi's consul in Beira in 1964, could offer the improvement of

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 169

transport links through the new railway inland from Nacala. Linked to one of Portugal's leading financial groups, that of Antonio Champalimaud, Jardim also funneled capital to the new Oil Company of Malawi (1967) and the Commercial Bank of Malawi (1969). During the years of war in Mozambique, Jardim was a prime mover in establishing elite counterinsurgency commando units of white and black Mozambicans. Talking of greater autonomy from Lisbon for Mozambique, he held out hopes to Banda that someday a separate northern Mozambique might be ceded to Malawi. Malawi was, in general, hostile territory for Mozambique's FRELIMO cadres, who when passing through had to reckon with collaboration between Portugal's secret police and Banda's Young Pioneers paramilitary force.

Initially, ties with South Africa were more restrained, and in the early 1960s Banda's speeches still echoed the African consensus condemning the apartheid system. By 1966, however, he had arranged for a South African loan to finance a sugar factory and decided to rely on South Africa for construction of a new capital at Lilongwe. By 1970, South Africa held 18 percent of Malawi's foreign debt. New trade and labor agreements resulted in an increase of South African trade, and the number of Malawians working in South African mines rose from thirty-six thousand in 1964 to over ninety thousand in early 1971. Earnings from South African migrant remittances more than quadrupled."

Particularly upsetting to neighboring African countries was the fact that Banda not only developed such economic ties, but openly defended his choice of ally. South Africans were appointed to key positions, such as Director of Information and head of the Malawi Development Corporation. Prime Minister Vorster and Dr. Banda exchanged state visits in 1970 and 1971, and Banda welcomed a South African military attaché in 1969. In 1970, while other African Commonwealth states were criticizing British arms sales to South Africa, the Malawi President enthusiastically endorsed them, contending that South Africa needed the weapons to defend the Indian Ocean against Communist penetration.

No less than Malawi, Zambia at independence in 1964 was economically tied to Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. Among the legacies of Federation, for example, was the massive Kariba hydroelectric project on the Zambezi, which supplied more than 40 percent of Zambia's energy until the early 1970s. The power station and control of the system was located on the southern, Rhodesian side. South African capital, through the Anglo American Corporation, controlled some 50 percent of copper output. And the skilled- white-labor force on mines and railways contained a large percentage of South Africans and Southern Rhodesians—mdash;more than 40 percent in 1961 and still some 16 percent in 1969.


After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Rhodesia's white regime in 1965, Zambia adopted a policy of disengagement from the white south. Though Tanzania was in no position to replace southern Africa as an economic partner, it became Zambia's new principal link to the outside world. The Great North Road went into emergency service in 1966, taking out copper, bringing in oil, and earning the name "Hell Run" from its marathon drivers. An oil pipeline was constructed under a contract with an Italian company. The Tanzania Zambia railway (Tazara) was begun in 1968 with Chinese aid. In 1964, some 99 percent of Zambia's exports and 97 percent of imports moved to or through Rhodesia—mdash;less than 1 percent through Tanzania. In 1972, the last year before Zambia took the culminating step of officially closing the border with Rhodesia, 50 percent of exports and 47 percent of imports moved through Rhodesia, while Tanzania's share had increased to 28 percent of exports and 21 percent of imports.

Trade directly with Rhodesia (in contrast to transit trade over the railways) was reduced even more dramatically. In 1964 Zambia bought 36 percent of its imports from Rhodesia—mdash;this was down to 16 percent in 1966 and 1.4 percent in 1970. And while initially the 22 percent of imports from South Africa went up, replacing Rhodesian supplies, by 1970 this figure too was down to 18 percent.

Zambia's actions lent credibility to President Kaunda's repeated pleas to the international community. His voice, together with that of Nyerere, was heard denouncing the British for their failure to use force against Ian Smith's rebellion, for their backsliding in negotiations over majority rule, and for their failure to consistently enforce economic sanctions. The two presidents, who met formally more than seven times a year over the next decade, were together a leading force in consolidating an international consensus on southern Africa.

Prestige and moral authority, however, were difficult to translate into effective diplomatic leverage. Political mobilization and the threat of violence to come if concessions were not made had sufficed to win independence for Tanzania and Zambia. To oust white-settler regimes or to induce the West to abandon its support for those regimes was another matter. While Zambia, unlike Tanzania, had copper resources to serve as a strategic counter, its capability and willingness to find a course not dependent on the West was also more limited.

Though repeatedly disappointed, Zambia's Kaunda again and again sought hope in compromise. He relied on his personal faith in British leaders, on contacts with businessmen such as Harry Oppenheimer of Anglo American Corporation or "Tiny" Rowland of Lonrho, or simply on

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 171

the hope that reason might prevail with even such as Vorster of South Africa. Kaunda's critics on the left often regarded such maneuvers as villainy, and even his friends sometimes saw him as naïvely trusting in the enemies of African freedom. Yet there were clearly structural as well as personal factors involved. The ambivalence in policy, and the love-hate relationship with Western power structures, were rooted in lack of an alternative political economy. "Disengagement" from white-ruled southern Africa and pressure for change were to be carried out in cooperation with Western countries. These countries were themselves intimately tied to the regional status quo and only interested in "change" that would not upset its continued profitable functioning.

One can see this pattern in the military aspect of the conflict with Rhodesia. When the Central African Federation was being dissolved in 1963, for example, Britain insisted that the air force go to Southern Rhodesia. Kaunda was pressured into conceding the point, though he argued that this military asset was, after all, largely paid for by his own country's copper revenues. Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah complained to the United Nations, which condemned the British action. But Rhodesia gained the most powerful air force in sub-Saharan Africa (except for South Africa's).

At Rhodesia's UDI in 1965, Kaunda was angry and disappointed when Britain, then under a Labour government, refused to use force against his southern neighbor. The presence of a squadron of British javelin jets in Zambia during 1966 did provide protection for an airlift of oil and reassurance against Rhodesian attack. But it also in practice granted control of Zambian air space to Britain.

Indeed, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson openly argued in Parliament for doing "everything in our power to prevent the stationing of other air forces in Zambia."" And though Zambia eventually bought some military equipment outside the Western orbit, its principal military ties remained with Britain. As persistent Zambian complaints revealed, that aid was never seriously intended to give Zambia an independent defense capability. Whatever rhetorical heights Kaunda's statements on southern Africa occasionally reached, Pretoria and Salisbury could count on his military weakness and on London's restraining influence.

A similar pattern of dependence on Britain can be seen in the economic realm. Though it was Britain that urged Zambia to comply with the economic sanctions against Rhodesia, it was Zambia itself that would pay most of the cost. Estimated losses of over £40 million a year were only marginally compensated by British aid, such as a £14 million grant in 1967, and international aid, which averaged only some £6 million annually. This


rendered economic survival even more exclusively tied to copper revenues than it might have been, and highlighted the fact that neither the markets nor the production companies themselves were under the control of the Zambian state.

Kaunda's "Humanism," as the Zambian variety of populist ideology was termed, exalted the common man, the masses, and a society presumably undivided by class. Zambia's Leadership Code, like Tanzania's, forbade party or government officials to gain second incomes as private capitalists. One of Kaunda's favorite songs, "Tiyendi Pamodzi," exhorted everyone: "Let us go together, in a spirit of unity."

In fact, class divisions were being solidified. The partial nationalization of the copper industry in 1969 left the British, American, and South African companies formerly running the industry with substantial influence. Moreover, the Zambians who took over the running of the increasingly prominent nationalized firms were not advocates of a socialist path internally or radical policies in external relations. The Leadership Code was hardly honored, and significant numbers of party and government managers used their positions for private gain. Not blatantly, as in Kenya or Malawi, but rather in uneasy public juxtaposition to a "classless" ideology, a Zambian capitalist class was emerging as the sixties turned to the seventies. As conflicts escalated in southern Africa, the humanistic thrust of antiracism and anticolonialism had perpetually to contend with a drive to normalize conditions for capitalist development, even if the cost was long-term accommodation to the white-minority regimes.

The ambivalence of Kaunda's humanistic ideology is strikingly illustrated in relation to the issue of violence and regional warfare. Attracted to Gandhian ideas of nonviolence, Kaunda reluctantly accepted the idea of armed struggle as necessary against such opponents as Ian Smith or the Portuguese. Yet he felt more comfortable with the use of force by established powers such as Britain, and in his speeches revolutionary violence appears most often as an apocalyptic threat. Those in charge—mdash;the whites, Britain, Portugal—mdash;could, he seemed to think, be scared into making concessions by the prospect of forthcoming "bloodbaths."

In Zambia such a tactic had worked. In February 1961 he had warned the British government that without progress toward majority rule, an uprising in his country would make Mau Mau look like "a child's picnic," (More than two decades later, on a visit to Washington in March 1983, Kaunda was to use almost the same words referring to Namibia and South Africa.) Yet these warnings were to have little effect further south until liberation movements developed protracted and popularly rooted guerrilla wars.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 173


The three remaining British territories—mdash;Botswana (Bechuanaland), Lesotho (Basutoland), and Swaziland—mdash;had far more limited options. Though they had succeeded throughout the colonial period in avoiding full incorporation into South Africa, geography and British neglect of alternate development strategies had ensured virtually total economic dependence on their powerful neighbor. Merged in the Southern African Customs Union, their budgets were dependent on the 1.3 percent of regional customs revenues that the South African government passed on to them. Both trade and monetary policies depended on South African decisions. British colonial authority relied to a large extent on locally recruited whites. In the case of Bechuanaland, even the territory's own administrative capital was located outside its borders, in Mafeking, South Africa.

As in South Africa's own native reserves, or Bantustans, large numbers of Africans were forced to become migrants in South Africa. This tendency reached its height in Lesotho, where in 1967 some 142,000 people-36% of the active labor force, and 90 percent of those in cash employment—mdash;were working in South Africa. In Botswana in the mid-sixties there were over fifty thousand employed in South Africa, as compared to some twenty thousand inside the country. Swaziland had a smaller portion of its labor force, some 10 percent, working in South Africa. But in its case, unlike the other two, a high percentage of land inside its borders—mdash;more than 40 percent—mdash;was owned by whites.34

All three were, moreover, surrounded by white-ruled countries: Lesotho, an enclave completely enclosed by South Africa; Swaziland, with an additional outlet only through Portuguese-ruled Mozambique; Botswana, its most-populated areas clustered along the Rhodesian-owned rail line between Rhodesia and South Africa.

In the early sixties, still under British rule, the three countries served as escape routes for refugees fleeing South Africa. But all were also open to repeated penetration by South African security forces, who abducted selected refugees and returned to South Africa with impunity. British protests were perfunctory, and only the exceptional incident provoked more prolonged diplomatic exchanges. In 1963 Britain passed a new law making it a serious criminal offense to plan, advocate, or incite violence against the South African regime.

As each country moved toward formal independence, South African influence as well as British helped set the political context. The parameters for the successor regimes were even narrower than for other British territories to the north. Tendencies toward more radical pan-African national-


ism or populist views were marginalized. Traditional chiefly authority, having been incorporated into the colonial system, found in each case a prominent postindependence incarnation. Yet even within these constricted limits there were differences that affected the stand each country took in the ongoing struggle for the future of the region.

In Swaziland, authority and control were concentrated in the hands of the royal family under King Sobhuza. The court and an elaborate hierarchy of subordinate chiefs controlled allocation of land in the Swazi-owned areas. Land shortages, increasing during the colonial period, accentuated the importance of this chiefly control. The charisma of the long-lived king (installed in 1921) and the sanction of tradition largely excluded other political forces among rural Swazi.

When, nevertheless, there emerged a more populist challenge in the early sixties, it was short-lived. Nationalist organizers among educated Swazis and wage workers pressed the British for universal suffrage, winning a 1963 constitution that compromised by providing eight elected seats, leaving twenty-two nominated, traditionally selected, or reserved for whites. The leading nationalist group, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), prepared for the 1964 elections but was also involved in a series of strikes in 1963. In May a dispute at Havelock Asbestos mine over pay and racial discrimination escalated into a June general strike in the capital.

The strike was broken when the British flew in troops from Kenya, while the King and traditional Swazi authorities blocked discontent from spreading to rural areas. NNLC leaders were detained, and legal defense efforts over the next year effectively distracted the party from the election campaign.

The Swazi traditionalists and European settlers, meanwhile, took their own initiative to contest the election with South African financial support and advice. The King's party was able to dominate both pre-independence elections, in 1964 and 1967, and to rule virtually without challenge in the subsequent years. And though the independent government increased Swazi access to European-held land, the dominant policy was to maintain cooperation with white settlers internally, as well as with the South African government.

In Lesotho, nationalist politics were more closely linked to the ferment of black thinking in South Africa. Basotho traditional authorities lacked the clew. hierarchy of the Swazi and were themselves divided by the new political conflicts. Preaching pan- Africanist politics, Ntsu Mokhehle's Basotho Congress Party (BCP) almost won the 1965 election. But Chief Leabua Jonathan's Basotho National Party (BNP) edged out its opponent, becoming the party that took the country to independence the next year.

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 175

The BNP's electoral victory was based on a coalition of middle-level, conservative chiefs (Jonathan's own background), a conservative Catholic church, and, as in Swaziland, financial support and propaganda from South Africa. Jonathan argued that only friendship with South Africa could ensure the country's survival and protect existing jobs and remittances controlled by Pretoria.

In the 1970 election, the BCP charged that Jonathan had been selling the country out to South Africa, while the BNP denounced its opponent as tied to foreign, communist ideologies. An apparent BCP victory was blocked by a preemptive South-African-backed coup. Maintaining himself in power with police and a small paramilitary unit trained and supplied by South Africa, Jonathan survived, though Britain responded with a temporary suspension of financial aid.

Lacking the resources of firm cultural authority, or a financial base in ownership of land or other resources, however, Jonathan's regime was precarious. Throughout the seventies it would attempt to balance conflicting pressures that would put it, like it or not, in periodic conflict with Pretoria.

In Botswana, the postindependence regime under Seretse Khama was a liberal aristocracy with a flavoring of populism and a dignified, if cautious, opposition to South Africa's apartheid. The Khamas were "modernizing chiefs" during the colonial period, encouraging Western education and Christian missions. The dispute with South Africa over Seretse Khama's marriage to a white woman had highlighted his independence from traditional cultural restraints and from the southern African racial order. Though his country's border with independent Zambia was but a point on the Zambezi where four countries meet (and a point disputed by South Africa at that), Khama pressed ahead with plans for an improved road link to the ferry to Zambia.

In comparison to those of Malawi, Swaziland, or Lesotho, Botswana's diplomats were sensitive to the views of the African majority on southern African issues. Veteran African National Congress leader Z. K. Matthews served as Botswana's Ambassador to the United Nations, emphasizing the connection to African nationalist struggle in South Africa. As a result, Botswana gained a more positive pan-African image than the other former High Commission territories.

Structurally, however, there were many similarities to the other countries. Income distribution was highly unequal. Those who owned large herds of cattle were able to reap the principal benefits of economic growth, while the proportion of households with no cattle at all (some thirty percent at independence) continued to increase. Higher education, jobs in the


civil service, and ownership of cattle often went together, while those without these assets were forced to seek employment in South Africa.'

With independence, all three territories were forced to look to South Africa to negotiate key issues of economic survival, although Britain continued to provide a significant proportion of both ordinary and development budgets until the early 1970s. Together, they renegotiated the terms of the customs agreement with South Africa. Under the new 1969 terms, revenues were more than doubled. It was a better deal, observers agreed, but it also meant that a higher proportion of government budgets was dependent on revenue passed along by South Africa—mdash;some 60 percent of recurrent revenue in Lesotho in 1972-73, 44 percent in Botswana, and more than 40 percent in Swaziland.

Lesotho, without significant opportunities for capital investment, became even more dependent on labor migration to South Africa. A World Bank mission estimated that the number of male Basotho employed in South Africa increased from 125,000 in 1967 to 175,000 in 1973, while wage employment for males inside the country increased only from 14,000 to 16,000. In Botswana and Swaziland the numbers also increased, though far less dramatically. The foreign investment that enabled these two countries to show impressive growth rates in the years following independence came in significant proportion from South African companies. But with diamonds, copper-nickel, and beef, Botswana was able to find other markets than South Africa, while Swaziland could follow a similar strategy with asbestos, iron, and sugar. By 1980, Botswana even began to reduce labor migration to South Africa.

For each country, South Africa retained the dominant position in imports and as a transport link. And while Botswana ventured diplomatic recognition of Eastern-bloc countries, none of the three could count on any protection against South African military incursion save the vague sanction of world opinion.

Tacking into the Wind of Change

Altogether, the regimes left to the region by British decolonization seemed in the late 1960s to pose little substantial threat to pro-Western stability. In Kenya, in Malawi, in Swaziland, and in Lesotho those in power were adherents of their own African versions of conservative Tory ideology. Respect for tradition, cooperation with the regional and international powers that be, the legitimacy of pursuit of wealth for a minority—mdash;the

The Limits of Cold War Liberalism 177

Conservative Party that had bowed to the wind of change could hardly be displeased with such values. Shrewd politicians all, Kenyatta, Banda, Sobhuza, and Jonathan had combined the colonial state structures with ethnically-based patronage systems to consolidate their political kingdoms.

Even the alternative populist ideology of human dignity and equality, ranging from Khama's pragmatic, more conservative version to Nyerere's idealistic socialism, remained largely within the limits of British Labour Party views of gradual rather than revolutionary change. Both Kaunda and Nyerere waxed eloquent in forums such as the Organization of African Unity, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations on issues of racism and development. They held out ideals of people-centered social change and stood against the unrestrained pursuit of private wealth for a few.

In practice, however, self-reliance was elusive. Time and again, for development projects or for action on southern Africa, they were reduced to pleading with unresponsive Western institutions and politicians who still held the instruments of economic and military power. The persistence of such appeals, year after year, and indeed decade after decade, was a sign of the continuing weakness of African states and Western dominance in the area.

The Lusaka Manifesto, a document released by a summit conference of thirteen African states in April 1969, under the leadership of Kaunda and Nyerere, illustrates this weakness but also the independence of these countries on Africa's frontlines. The manifesto, aimed at a Western, international audience, noted that the white regimes reject even the principles of self-determination and nonracialism, principles on which Africa cannot compromise. But if the principles were recognized, the leaders said, they would "urge the Liberation movements to desist from the armed struggle," and the pace of emancipation could be the subject of debate. Until then, "Africa has no choice but to support the struggle for the people's freedom by whatever means are open to her."'

Those means might be limited, and the appeals to the West would continue. But the emerging African consensus, to which even conservative states would give nominal allegiance, was that armed struggle in southern Africa was a legitimate recourse. In London and Washington the contrary assumption still prevailed.

By the time of the Lusaka Manifesto, the white regimes that earlier feared the domino effect of African independence could have more confidence. If they were dominoes, at least they considerably outweighed those that had already "fallen" to black-majority rule. Although the number of independent African states in the region had gone from none in 1959 to six (or more if one includes east Africa), the threat of "radical" nationalism


was limited. The contagion of the Congo had been checked, with U.S. aid, and among Britain's successors Dar es Salaam was far away, while landlocked Lusaka was extremely vulnerable.

Britain, for its part, was facing the continuing embarrassment of Rhodesia (see chapter 6), but otherwise had won a reputation for graceful decolonization. British troops had been sent to countries in the region on several occasions—mdash;Swaziland to put down a strike, Zambia to forestall Lusaka from inviting other protectors, east Africa to put down army mutinies in 1964. But there had been no new insurgency such as Mau Mau. And British ties with the area were intact.

British exports to South Africa and other African countries were both down slightly, as a percentage of total British exports, from 12.2 percent in 1959 (6.4 percent in southern Africa) to 9.9 percent in 1969 (5.1 percent in southern Africa). But this reflected not lack of access to African markets, but the turn of British exporters toward more promising markets in Western Europe. British imports from southern Africa increased from 4.9 percent of the worldwide total to 5.8 percent over the same period, and from Africa as a whole from 9.9 percent to 12.1 percent. Britain in 1969 was still the single leading outside trading partner for southern Africa, buying 27 percent of the region's exports and providing 22 percent of its imports.

British investments in English-speaking Africa also remained relatively stable over this period of political change. These countries were the location of 18.1 percent of British direct investment overseas in 1962, and 17.3 percent in 1969. Investments outside South Africa grew slowly over the period, from £325 million to £408 million. But those in South Africa more than doubled, from some £290 million to £641 million. The British capitalist, it seems, still had some confidence in the former colonies, but even more in white-ruled South Africa.

A United States-administration preoccupied with Vietnam, meanwhile, could congratulate.itself on the retreat of the Congo from the headlines and on the lack of any other imminent threat to stability in the region. The liberal Africanist expectation that nationalism would continue to advance south had largely given way to the assumption of stable white-minority rule, which would guide the Nixon administration's policies.

Up to King Solomon's Mines Revisited home page

King Solomon's Mines Revisited:
Western Interests and the
Burdened History of Southern Africa

by William Minter.
New York: Basic Books, 1986

Front Matter html|pdf (291K)
1: The Lion's Share: Britain and Southern Africa, 1870-1910 html|pdf (1.6M)
2: A Greater South Africa: White Power in the Region, 1910-1940 html|pdf (1.7M)
3: Buying In: British, Afrikaners, and Americans, 1940-1960 html|pdf (1.4M)
4: Containing the Rising Tide: Race and Self-Determination, 1940-1960 html|pdf (1.6M)
5: The Limits of Cold War Liberalism: Colonial Southern Africa in the Sixties html|pdf (2M)
6: The Shadow of Sharpeville: The West and White-Minority Rule in the Sixties html|pdf (2M)
7: "The Whites Are Here to Stay,": Southern Africa in the Nixon-Kissinger Era html|pdf (1.9M)
8: A Luta Continua: Intervention and Crisis Management, 1974-1980 html|pdf (2.2M)
9: Letting Time Run Out: The Shape of Engagement in the Reagan Era html|pdf (1.8M)
Conclusion html|pdf (600K)
Bibliography, Notes, and Index html|pdf (2.3M)

This page is part of the No Easy Victories website.