Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Richard L. Stockman
STOCKMAN: That is right. Again life is filled with many ironies. Withholding or withdrawing security clearances, one could only work in certain positions in the Department. I seemed to have lucked out and was assigned to the African Bureau and worked on the Nigerian Desk during the Nigerian Civil War.
Q: The Biafran War.
STOCKMAN: It was totally out of cone, so to speak, but to tell you the truth I saw far more sensitive material on that desk without the clearance.
Q: What was your impression because I think this is a very interesting war? Our policy was essentially, if Africa starts splitting up all hell will break loose because of all the tribal boundaries and we had better stick to the boundaries as they are, imperfect as they may seem. Yet there were an awful lot of attacks on this policy, particularly from the intellectuals and the glamour people, etc., that you should do something for the Biafrans. What were you getting as you were dealing with this thing?
STOCKMAN: It was very interesting because I had served a short TDY in Lom�, Togo prior to this assignment on the African desk in Washington and one of the things that I learned while in Lom� was that Ambassador Albert Sherer was wearing two hats. One of which was to go up to San Fernando Po, a little island, where a lot of humanitarian international airlifts were taking off into Biafra. Consequently there were really two points of view about this war and I do believe that most of the African specialists, who were serving on the desk, were very pro-Biafran. The lobbyist, etc. and the whole Washington scene were very clever.
Q: They were very strong in Congress. They had some people...there was one man in particular who was a congressional assistant.
STOCKMAN: Well, they were the intelligentsia of Nigeria, the Ebos. But you wonder some times looking at history today and the terrible mess there is in Nigeria, was that course of action justified. Should we not have lobbied a little stronger and maybe things would have been different today. Who knows?
Q: I think the policy has been, and it is a little hard not to go along with it, that once you start saying, “Okay, if a rebellion starts, we will maybe support the rebellion,” the whole place will absolutely dissolve.