Dr. Edward Kissi of USF responds to No. 158:
A.B. Assensoh's on-going research on deciphering the extent of the CIA's "involvement" in the overthrow of Nkrumah's government may reveal very important details in the history of the Cold War from the African theater.
The difference between "actively planning" ; "participating" and "encouraging" the overthrow of a sovereign foreign government would have to be established from the evidence available to the researcher. From the surface meaning of words, there is certainly a difference between "encouraging" and "actively planning" or "actively plotting." But in foreign affairs, words take on more than their surface meaning. A state and its officials (including its Embassy personnel) can "encourage" the overthrow of a government or "wish" the downfall of such a government without taking any systematic or overt steps to topple that government. A recent example is the United States and the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela. But that encouragement can also be involvement in disguise if open or secret verbal expressions of a foreign state's desire to see a "regime-change" in another country spur a coup or internal revolt.
One can semantically claim that to be "involved" or to "plan and execute" requires active systematic steps. In the case of Ghana, only the available evidence can help Professor Assensoh determine whether the CIA "planned and executed" Nkrumah's overthrow or its "covert" officials merely "wished" or "encouraged" the Ghana Army and some top generals in it, then serving in the Congo, to overthrow Nkrumah. Did the US and CIA set Nkruma up to visit Hanoi as the coup-plotters concluded that 24 February 1966 will be D-day?.
Here is how I would proceed. Seek and interview living participants of the coup (none left now in Ghana, I should think). Their living wives, family members if they confided in them before or after the deed. Another place to look is to explore any conversation, or interaction between Ghanaian soldiers serving in the Congo and US officials. There may not be any "concrete" evidence in the US National Archives linking the CIA to the coup. But a few living State Department and CIA officials who worked at the Africa desk between 1957 and 1966 can help. I have a few names and contact addresses that I can share with you.
But remember that in diplomacy the word "encourage" can also mean "active involvement" or "planning and executing." In the hot days of decolonization and pan-Africanism, the Eisenhower and Kennedy/Johnson administrations would not and could not have openly declared their intentions of overthrowing another sovereign government ---Nkrumah's. The language of diplomacy should not obscure the intent of states. Even in the absence of tangible evidence (written source or a voluntary confession) one can infer the intent of US involvement in Nkrumah's overthrow from the extent of US actions after the coup. Were there immediate reactions of the US government and the US Ambassador in Ghana at that time to news of the coup? Microfilms of newspapers in Ghana and the US can help here.
My point is this: encouragement can also mean involvement in many subtle ways. No paper trail in US archives suggest that the US government planned and executed the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 or Slavador Allende in the 1970s. US officials only "wished" and "encouraged" the overthrow of these leaders. But Richard Immerman and others who have studied how and why Arbenz's government fell have looked at the papers of Secretary of State Foster Dulles and traced the links between his law firm and the Boston Company---United Fruit Company---that owned 90% of the land in Guatemala that Jacobo Arbenz wanted to redristribute to poor Guatemalan peasants. They have also looked at the characterizations of Arbenz as a "communist" in the US Congress and State Department----many of whose officials had huge shares in United Fruit. Their conclusion is that "encourage" in international affairs means more than it encourages.
I think Stockwell and others who stick to the "encourage" thesis are merely refusing to think beyond that word in foreign relations. They are not exploring the intrigues, meetings, exchange of money, assurances from the US Embassy in Accra, promises of asylum in the US should the coup fail, offers of secret communication codes etc that must have gone on beneath "the radar."
I hope this helps.