After September 14, 1960, the Congo Crisis revolved around the US’s influence, ultimately leading to the beginning of neo-colonialism in Congo, a crippling vans corrupt policy. Mobutu received CIA support due to his ability to “block Congo’s slide into Communist orbit,” which he delivered after prohibiting USSR occupation and military assistance. However, the USSR intervention had little effect on the Katanga province as Khrushchev’s promises of military assistance to Lumumba were difficult to fulfill.
The USSR had difficulty providing military resources because the UN barred entry into the Congo. Moreover, unlike the US, the USSR had no intelligence stations in Congo. Therefore, the lack of available resources in Congo plummeted the effectiveness of USSR diplomatic aid to Lumumba’s anti-colonial agenda. The new Mobutu government ran through the Binza group, which was a grouping of CIA-selected pro-west Congolese officials that maintained direct contact with the CIA and suggested savvy political strategies to Mobutu. On September 18th, Lumumba was put under UN house arrest for the fallacious claims that he had developed plots to kill Mobutu. Even though there was a Western regime in Congo, the CIA still worried about a possible Lumumba leadership, as evidenced by a telegram CIA officials wrote: “We wish to give every possible support in eliminating Lumumba from any possibility of resuming governmental position.” Unfortunately, Lumumba never returned to office because he was kidnapped and thrown into a truck to Katanga, where he was beaten to death on June 17, 1961, by Katangan mercenaries. After this development, the Congo divulged into chaos. The US, in control of the Congolese central government, began to adopt a much more proactive and violent stance against secessionist provinces and returned to diplomacy. The US, with the help of the UN military, successfully consolidated Congo’s newly seceding colonial and anti-colonial provinces over 1960-65 (See Appendix 3).
After reunification, a power struggle appeared between Moise Tshombe (surprisingly) and Joseph Kasavubu, who the US felt was “acting more like a vegetable every day.” The unfavourability of Kasavubu and Tshombe led the US to give support to a second coup d’état led by Mobutu, and this once again succeeded. After Mobutu returned to power, he sent a message “[stressing] that he is looking to the CIA for advice and guidance now and in the future.”
Throughout Mobutu’s dictatorship (1965-1997), the US continued to give military, financial, and political help in exchange for raw resources, material benefits, and influence in Congo. The US had multiple opportunities to improve the questionable governance in Congo; however, they instead opted to garner influence over the inept and corrupt Congolese government. Mobutu was compared to King Leopold II throughout his tenure, as he consistently opted to exploit the public sphere for his private gain. Once the USSR fell, the Congo lost strategic importance to the US. This lack of relevancy and Congo’s internationally unpopular dictatorship prompted the US to halt financial aid. Moreover, the US became disinterested in a post-Cold War nation that was economically destitute and constantly on the brink of rebellion under the US’s direction. The US neo-colonial influence over the Congo established a tyrannical thirty-two-year dictatorship that relied on oppression, committed mass genocide, eliminated prospects of national unity, and created devastating poverty for the Congolese people. Ultimately, these outcomes were direct results of the US’s utilization of diplomacy to achieve influence in the Congo.
1 CIA CIA, "National Security Council Briefing: Washington, September 15, 1960.," Office of The Historian, last modified September 24, 1960, accessed February 28, 2022.
2 Times, "In the Congo," sec. 4.
3 Sean Guillory, "Soviet Intelligence and African National Liberation," April 3, 2019, in SRB Podcast, narrated by Natalia Telepneva, podcast, audio, 49:57, accessed February 18, 2022.
4 Weissman, "What Really."
5 CIA, "Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Station in the Congo," Office of The Historian, last modified September 24, 1960, accessed February 28, 2022.
6 CIA CIA, "National Security Council Briefing: Washington, September 15, 1960.," Office of The Historian, last modified September 24, 1960, accessed February 28, 2022.
7 CIA CIA, "Telegram From the Station in the Congo to the Central Intelligence Agency: Leopoldville, November 25, 1965.," Office of The Historian, last modified November 25, 1965, accessed February 28, 2022.
8 Weissman, "What Really."
9 Howard French, "Mobutu Sese Seko, 66, Longtime Dictator of Zaire," New York Times (New York, NY), September 8, 1997.
10 MARK BRENNOCK, "Rebellion may signal end of Mobutu regime," The Irish Times, last modified November 4, 1996, accessed April 14, 2022.
11 JY Smith, "Congo Ex-Ruler Mobutu Dies in Exile," Washington Post (Washington D.C), September 8, 1997.