The US successfully launched its first Midas satellite into orbit on May 23, 1960. This one carried a 3,000-pound payload of technical equipment designed to detect a missile launching anywhere in the world. A few months later the US launched its Samos satellite. The Samos was specifically designed to photograph Russia and China from 300 miles out as it made its orbital journey around the earth every 94 1/2 minutes. Then as it appeared the world could settle back for a while; Russia comes back on the scene. Russia was not about to take a vacation from its quest for power and control.
On July 1, 1960, an American RB-47 reconnaissance plane disappeared over the Barents Sea. For several days Russia pretended to be helping in the search for the missing plane. Then the truth came out that it had been shot down. All except two of the crew had been killed. The survivors were being held by the Russians as prisoners. Proof was readily available that the plane had never come closer than 30 miles to Russian territory. On July 26, 1960, the United States demanded an impartial investigation by the United Nations to fix responsibility. But there ended up being no investigation because Russia vetoed it. Then an Italian member of the UN moved that the International Red Cross be allowed to interview the two American survivors. Russia vetoed that, too. Most American citizens living in their normal isolation failed to recognize the ugly significance of the entire fiasco, thus Russia had violated the first two articles of the UN charter and gotten away with it. There were no protests from the public or the press…or the church. Across the country, school children continued to be told that the UN was the only hope for peace and justice among men…and the church let it go at that.
In 1957, Russia stunned the world with her first Sputnik, built on plans stolen from the United States after World War II. Russia continued to put up bigger payloads, but as American scientific data began to build, US satellite and missile teams began to gradually forge ahead. Tiros I went into orbit on 1 April 1960. Then on 12 August 1960 the US put an inflated balloon that was as high as a ten-story building into space. 1960 also marked the launching of America’s first inter-continental ballistic missile from a submerged submarine. The space race was underway.
However, 1960 saw a clear manifestation that the Communist timetable of conquest for Africa was right on schedule. As early as 1953 the Communist leaders had promised themselves that during the 1960’s “a wave of revolution will sweep over the whole continent of Africa and the imperialists and colonizationists will be quickly driven into the sea.” (Congressional Record, April 29, 1954, p. 5708). Part of the Communist effort was in agitating and provoking the “wave of revolution” in an effort to control Africa. This is a common mode of operation for the Communists. On the other side of the situation the European nations with colonies in Africa were already busy trying to prepare the people for independence and self-government by peaceful means. Red leaders knew that any well-ordered government of the people would undoubtedly resist Russian-Chinese domination. From the Communist standpoint a peaceful transition would be a defeat. Therefore, the Communists decided to urge the people to demand freedom immediately prior to being properly prepared for self-government. Resulting chaos would give the Communists the opportunity to take over. And that is what began to take place.
The 1960 chain of events in the Belgian Congo illustrated the devastating effect of turning self-government over to a society prematurely. The citizens had been promised independence by 1964. The tragedy that resulted was not so much for independence as it was for “freedom now” and the Communists waited in the ‘wings’ to help!
This was just one in several attempts by the Communists to gain control by presenting false promises to a society not yet ready to stand on its own. Typical of Communism is to offer a promise of plenty to a society of citizens not yet ready to establish itself in a citizenship established by the people. Wanting something but not taking the time to establish goals independence provides, they bought into to the promises of politics that offered no positive future whatsoever.
The Belgians had created vast resources of wealth in this heart of Africa. Most was in the province of Katanga which produced 75% of the world’s copper, 60% of its cobalt, most of the world’s supply of radium, and large supplies of uranium and zinc. It was a nation blessed with valuable resources. The Belgians had hoped self-government could be developed among the Congolese by having the citizens learn technical skills and gradually assume responsibility for a stable government. Business leaders and investors were willing to take the risk of political transition providing the new government was well managed. They were comfortable with a transition by 1964. The Belgians promised liberal loans to the newly planned government and also promised to keep their civil service staff working alongside citizens for several years until they could safely take over.
Then enters Patrice Lumumba, storming back from the planning conference chanting the current Communist theme: “Independence now, now, now!” He was a former postal clerk who had been trained in a special Communist school in Prague. He had managed to become the head of the most left-wing political contingent in the Congo…and enjoyed popular following. Belgian officials seeing in his tone the possibility of an Algerian type of civil war, agreed to grant independence to the Congo by June 30, 1960, instead of waiting for 1964. The whole thought of a peaceful transition went out the ‘political window’ overnight. Congolese troops mutinied against their white officers and swept through the white sections of principal cities beating, robbing, and raping. The Belgians seeing the tragedy that was involved sent in paratroopers to protect fleeing whites. Lumumba treated them as enemies, and demanded that UN troops be sent in. No sooner had they arrived that he turned on them and invited Khrushchev to send in strong Communist forces to take over the entire Congo. The Communist plan was working just as planned. Lumumba began gaining control of all the land, acting like a fully disciplined Communist dictator, even to the point of committing genocide against his own people. In Kasai province his troops wiped out the Balubas tribe while his cousin, Surete Chief Omonombe, directed the massacre of the Bakwanga tribe. Rescuers were prevented from bringing out women and children. (Paris Report of Hilaire du Berrier, September 1960, p.1). In spite of this, the UN Secretariat continued to support Lumumba as the legitimate head of the government. (I have always felt that the UN building should be converted into a Holiday Inn.) Dag Hammarskjold continued to use his office as UN Secretary General to intercede for Lumumba. But to the people of the Congo Lumumba’s actions had been just too much. President Joseph Kasavubu ousted Lumumba as Premier. The Army Chief told his Communist followers to get out of the Congo immediately. Lumumba was put in jail. In February 1961 he escaped from jail. His followers continued to spread havoc. The Premier of Katanga Province put a high price on Lumumba’s head. Within a few days it was announced that Lumumba had been caught and killed by Congolese natives.
Of course, Moscow was outraged with the UN joining. The UN even tried to force Congolese president Kasavubu to set up a Communist coalition government. The UN in a further outrage tried to force the Congo government to terminate all relations with the Belgians and discharge Belgian advisors. In September 1961 UN troops attacked Katanga forcing the ouster of the government. President Tshombe was replaced by the right-hand man of Communist leader, Antoine Gizenga. This UN action was backed by American money. (Speech by Senator Thomas Dodd, ‘The Crisis in the Congo’, 1961). At this point the crisis came down not to concern over a Communist takeover of the Congo, but who would control the Communist regime once it was in power, Russia or the UN?
The Book of Jeremiah in the Bible is worthy of study in coming to see how a nation can destroy itself as it moves away from Godly Principles to beliefs that man can control his own destiny. In his book The History of the Decline on the Roman Empire (1776), Edward Gibbon’s words serve as a warning to the fledgling American nation not to follow the pattern of decline and fall that was set centuries earlier by the Roman Empire. America was warned but that warning seems to be ignored today. Rome didn’t fall because of climate change or a massive earthquake or an epidemic. Its root causes were largely moral and spiritual: The decline of individual morality and civic virtue, the breakdown of the family, the rise of unrestrained hedonism and living for sexual gratification, and the decline of the influence of religion. For the better part of three centuries, Christianity was a persecuted religion in the Roman Empire. Christians were imprisoned, tortured, and executed for their faith by the Roman government (that’s politics). Yet Christian faith continued to spread and thrive throughout the empire. Even in trying times the message of God could prevail (the church). In AD 313, Constantine I declared that Christianity would be officially tolerated throughout the Roman Empire. Within decades Christianity even became the official state religion. As the church prospered, it quickly became rich, powerful…and corrupt. Moral decay set in, and by the fifth century, the church had largely ceased to be a force for morality and virtue in the empire. This is just one of many lessons we will touch on as the church and politics come into opposition and cooperation.
Next week we will continue to follow the Communist conquest for power and control. This time the threat is right at America’s doorstep…Cuba. What Lumumba failed to do in the Congo, Castro accomplished in Cuba. Our Christian churches must make sure that congregations are well versed in the Word of God…and must not back down from or try to modify that Word…but they must also know what is going on in the world outside the walls of the church and ensure that the congregations are so informed. One of Satan’s tactics is to keep the people blind as to his actions until it is too late. It is impossible to separate the church from politics and let freedom reign. In future weeks we will see the battle that Jeremiah had to fight in educating followers of God as to the external forces that were going to tear apart Judah. The truth was not welcomed but nonetheless it was the truth.
“I offered my opponents a deal: If they stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about them”. Adali Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952