THE STRUGGLE IN PERSPECTIVE
“The New Scramble for Africa” was first published in December 1966 in RHODESIA & WORLD REPORT and has been quoted and reprinted in several forms.
With the publication of the Whaley Commission Report which offers Rhodesia a new constitution based on the principle of so-called “racial parity, it is more important than ever that this article should be carefully studied, because it helps the reader to see the battle for Rhodesia in the only context in which it makes sense – the context of a world-historical power struggle in which the southern end of the African continent has become one of the major prizes.
The author is a well-known South African journalist and broadcaster and former information Advisor to the Rhodesian Government.
Addressing a dinner party arranged by the Rhodesian Constitutional Association in Salisbury on October 1 1965, the United States Consul-General, Mr. Roswell D. McClelland, made a statement which contains the key to a question which has continued to baffle many Rhodesians and South Africans: Why is it that the Free World, which is supposed to be fighting Communism, is so hostile to anti-Communist Rhodesia and South Africa?
The American Consul-General said this: “Africa today is in the throes of revolutionary change; and there is as much legitimacy in revolution as there is in government.”
Needless to say, he was not talking about the unilateral declaration of independence which was then little more than a month away, for he went on to say: “Indeed, and African leader, has to be revolutionary if he is to remain in power. To be otherwise is to defend the status quo; and the status quo was colonialism.”
What the American representative was telling the Rhodesian Association was that the United States was no less on the side of the revolution in Africa than the Soviet Union or Communist China.
This explains in a few words why the United States and the Communist countries have always been in step in demanding and working for the overthrow of the present regime in Rhodesia and why they continue to express much the same attitude towards South Africa and the Portuguese provinces in Africa.
What he said, in effect, was this: If you don’t let us manage the revolution the Communists will and that will be much worse for you.
His exact words: “It is the innate role of the revolutionary, and this applies a fortiori to the still White-dominated southern part of the continent, to change an existing and unsatisfactory order.”
This is “progress”
The question at once arises: Why is America, the leader of the Free World helping to promote this revolution in Africa? We have the American Consul-General’s reply: “Not to do so would be an intolerable betrayal of the moral and political principles which are not only an integral part of the fabric of American life but have provided the main impulsion for human progress in the 20th Century: democracy, self-determination, human rights and racial equality.”
The United States thus claims to be helping to promote revolution in Africa for moral and altruistic reasons.
With the Communist bloc, of course, it is different – “The Communist role has been rather to seize upon the highly-charged and ready-made issue of liberation and to exacerbate and exploit it to Communism’s own ends, not necessarily those of the Africans” – Mr. McClelland’s words.
No one needs to be reminded that the Communists explain the revolution which they are promoting in much the same terms, except that it is they who have a monopoly of good, humane intentions and the Americans who are promoting “their own ends”, in this case “capitalist imperialism”.
Both major powers admit that they are helping to promote revolution in Africa; each one claims to be doing it for purely altruistic reasons; each accuses the other of doing it for purposes that have to do with the expansion of power and influence.
We may be sure that precisely the same formula applies in South-East-Asia, especially in Vietnam, where the Americans have armed forces equal to, or greater than, the entire white population of Rhodesia.
The simple truth is that a global power struggle which in the last century took the form of nation against nation, today takes the form of a conflict between two giant power blocs or combinations – the Western dominated by the United States, and the Communist, still dominated by the Soviet Union.
Dr. Franco Nogueira, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, put the situation in a nutshell in his address at Lourenço Marques: “Europe’s power and position were greatly diminished by the last war. The major forces capable of world action have moved outside Europe and have been centered in two great poles”.
And this is how Dr. Nogueira sees the Africa revolution: “Africa has been subjected to a regime that excludes European interests and African interests as well, neither being sufficiently strong to impose themselves. Each of the two blocs has made a supreme ideological principle out of the political actions and of the strategic roles which are most likely to bring about the defeat of the adversary.”
This explains why neither of the two major powers blocs which are promoting revolution in Africa is interested in maintaining or setting up genuinely independent states on this continent. For each of the power blocs requires states which can be handled like dough and kneaded into the greater lump of its existing sphere of influence.
This is how Dr. Nogueira puts it: “A form of autonomy and independence has been created which ensures the destruction of the old forms of sovereignty and permits the setting up of new forms of sovereignty so precarious and so artificial that it is an easy matter to dominate them. A method has been adopted that leads to the transfer of political power unaccompanied by a transfer of the other forms of power (economic, cultural and military) which, in fact, determine policy. The result is that the real authority and the real control are to be found outside the frontiers of the new political units.”
So now we know, or ought to know, why Katanga’s independence had to be overthrown at any cost. Katangan independence would have been the genuine article because copper-rich Katanga possessed those “other forms of power” which would have rendered her self-sufficient and incapable of being manipulated from abroad.
Picture is clear
Portugal’s rulers have got the picture quite clear: “That is why each of the great power blocs seeks to get hold of the control of these new countries for this purpose, notwithstanding their antagonism, they take the same steps – aid to terrorist and revolutionary organizations, international condemnation of titular sovereign powers and the weakening of them, erosion of public opinion in the metropolitan country and overseas, financial, technical and military aid to the new political units, drawing them into systems of alliance, economic blocs and spheres of influence which gradually deprive them of any really independent action or the means to take it. These are the outlines of what is today conventionally termed anti-colonialism.”
“This ruthless political action”, adds the Portuguese Foreign Minister, “is shielded by high ideological aims.”
Both power blocs promote the myth that the principle of one-man-one-vote ensures respect for human rights, guarantee individual liberty, encourages economic development and thus provides the right conditions for political stability.
The question might well be asked why the two power blocs continue to promote and exploit this myth when it has been demonstrated time and time again that where implemented it produces results almost exactly the opposite of those sought.
The truth emerges with ever-increasing clarity; because the main result of the implementation of one-man-one-vote is precisely that which is required by both power blocs – “the destruction of old forms” and the making way for “new forms, so precarious and so artificial that it is an easy matter to dominate them.”
So we see that the two power blocs, one centered in Washington and the other in Moscow, have precisely the same primary requirements as they promote the revolution in Africa.
A riddle solved
Here too, we have the key which unlocks the mystery of what has been going on in different parts of the world in the last few years.
In Cuba both the Americans and the Russians were supporting Fidel Castro’s revolution against a Batista regime which neither could manipulate.
All over Latin America the same pattern is repeated again and again – no government is tolerated that is genuinely indigenous and independent and cannot be controlled from without. Washington and Moscow both support and revolutionary movements aimed at a government which they would both describe as “reactionary” – in other words, a government which insists on being master in its own house.
Really effective anti-Communists like Wesson y Wesson in Santo Domingo and the Diems in Vietnam are sabotaged by the Americans and replaced by leaders who in leftist terminology would be described as “more moderate” which means, of course, inclined to the left and definitely not conservative.
An evil choice
This is the tragic situation in which the people of Vietnam find themselves today that they cannot fight against Communism, which they hate, without fighting for American domination, which they also hate.
There is no real steam in the anti-Communist struggle in Vietnam because the Western bloc – and this includes France – has persistently prevented the emergence of a genuine national counter-revolutionary movement.
Vietnam, like many of the new states of Africa, is offered the choice of being in the sphere of influence of one or other of the major power blocs and there today is no longer third choice.
The Vietnamese are not only divided between north and south, but each individual Vietnamese is divided within himself because he has not been allowed to fight for what he really believes in and wants – a genuinely independent Vietnam!
Against this background of ideas it is easy to understand why Rhodesia, South Africa, Moçambique and Angola are all equally the target of a revolutionary movement backed by both major power blocs – it is because these territories are still free and independent and are, therefore, to be looked upon as tempting prizes in the new kind of “scramble for Africa.”
Both power blocs use the same leftist slogans about human rights and compete for the services of the same leftist revolutionaries and agitators and the same “Liberal” propagandists.
A losing battle
Is it any wonder that the West continues to lose ground in its struggle against Communism? How can it ever hope to win? For who can hold his own with the devil in a contest in which both make mischief with fire? Who can hope to be able to beat the Communists at the revolutionary game?
What it comes to is that the West tries to fight Communism with a leftism that is red-hot with another leftism which is luke-warm, at the same time making it only too easy for hardened Communist agents to infiltrate their own ranks, as did Alger Hiss (one of Roosevelt’s principle aides at Yalta) and Owen Lattimore (who played so important a part in handing over China to that “great agrarian reformer” Mao tse Tung).
We have much to learn from the Portuguese in this kind of struggle.
They are a small people, but they are great in political wisdom and in courage and determination.
The Portuguese have not been left in quiet possession of their African provinces, they have had to cling to them and fight for them.
What the Rhodesians and the South Africans are going through today the Portuguese have gone through again and again.
As long as the mid-15th century Pope Nicholas V said in a letter to the Portuguese King that he was afraid that “with the passing of time, other people of other kingdoms and nations, moved by envy, malice and ambition, would dare to come to the lands and provinces discovered and occupied by the Portuguese.”
Five centuries of history has confirmed that Pope Nicholas was right and the lessons of that history have not been wasted on the Portuguese.
One of the most important of these lessons is that a small nation, armed with vision and faith, can stand alone against seemingly overwhelming odds with good prospects of success.
The Portuguese have proved that truth and justice are powerful allies.
“We are often asked,” said Dr. Nogueira in his recent speech, “whether we are not being too rigid and inflexible in refusing to listen to others. Would it not be better to try to soothe away the hate of others by yielding a little in what is secondary, the better to save what is fundamental? Should we not try to gain support of some great Powers by trying to satisfy them in theory, by some declaration of intention even if in our hearts we do not mean to carry it out in practice?”
The same sort of questions are even now being debated in Rhodesia and South Africa – would it not be wise to make a few concessions and try to move closer to our opponents’ point of view?
Portugal’s reply to such questions is unequivocal and could, with the substitution of a few words and names, serve just as well as ours.
“Our adversaries know,” says Dr. Nogueira, “that if they make the slightest breach in any of our principles, we should at once be at their mercy; we should then be fighting on our critics’ ground not on our own; we should be abandoning the logic of our position to submit to the enemy’s logic; without our enemy having accepted anything of our aims we should have accepted everything that others want to thrust on us. There can be no partial compliance, no possible stop half-way down the slope. We must realize once and for all that the enemy’s aim is not to bring into Angola or Moçambique human rights, individual liberty and collective progress, so that all we have to do is to discuss methods that would lead to such ends. No – the aim is to dominate Angola and Moçambique and to include them in the spheres of foreign influences, to utilize their economic and strategic positions for the benefit of other Powers.”
The Portuguese attitude in the present struggles can be compressed into a single word: Realism.
The Portuguese are realists and do not fall for their opponents’ propaganda bunkum.
The Rhodesians and South Africans grow more realistic every day and more resistant to their enemies’ propaganda, but they are still not as realistic as the Portuguese – far from it!
We still have in our ranks a number of people who are inclined to take our opponents’ idealistic pretensions at face value and to be persuaded that these are real issues. They do not see reality, which is a struggle for power in which both major contenders advance behind a screen of fine words and idealistic phrases which they themselves do not believe.
These weaker brethren, with their woolly thinking and anxious yearning for conciliation and compromise, represent the “soft underbelly” in the body of our national resistance.
Others, less innocent, could accurately described the Trojan horse planted in our midst. They pick up the enemy’s propaganda, amplify it and play it back to us at close quarters, claiming incessantly to be “good Rhodesians” or “good South Africans”, whichever the case may be.
The Portuguese are not half as tolerant towards these two classes of underminers as we are.
Our Achilles heel
They are not afflicted, like so many people in the English-speaking world, with what de Quincy, the essayist, identified as a streak of Anglo-Saxon morbidity. Others have called it “the Anglo-Saxon neurosis”. It could be more accurately described, perhaps, as an incipient schizophrenia, the main symptom of it being a confused susceptibility to moral misgivings and self-accusation, an easily aroused feeling of guilt.
Soften up the Anglo-Saxon with a few sob stories, persuade him that he is not being quite fair, that he is not being a little gentleman, and he is ready to have his throat cut.
His richest virtues as a social animal, his feeling of care and consideration for others, his tolerance, his ethical flair – all these are turned against his breast and made into the means of his own undoing.
It is this morbid streak in the Anglo-Saxons and other people of North Western Europe which has become the Achilles’ heel of their defensive system and which has made propaganda by far the most deadly weapon that can be used against them.
It is precisely here where our won defenses are weakest that we have most of all to learn from the Portuguese, the nation of Europe that has been most successful in preserving its integrity and faith.