Turmoil in Algeria

A foreign correspondent of the ATLANTIC’Swho has often visited in North Africa, CURTIS CATEexplains in the pages which follow the misgivings of those who were close to the Algerian crisis and who felt that the solution was being jeopardized by the precipitous pace of the liberation.

JUST as in warfare nothing is more difficult than an orderly retreat, so in statesmanship no operation is more delicate than an orderly process of decolonization. There are many skeptics who argue that a successful operation of this kind is impossible — a contention which has, in part, fostered the now widespread belief that any form of decolonization, no matter how chaotic it may prove to be, is preferable to the iniquitous state which preceded it. It was in this spirit that the Evian accords, which put an official end to the Algerian war, were hailed last spring in a surge of admiration which carried their chief architect, Charles de Gaulle, to new heights of glory.

It is pertinent, however, if only as a caveat, to recall that some Frenchmen had expressed serious reservations all along about the feasibility of unilateral negotiations with the F.L.N., the Algerian Front of National Liberation. One of them was General Jean-Etienne Valluy, the former commander of the ground forces of NATO’s central command, who wrote in an article published in La Revue des Deux Mondes in June of 1961: “The army is fearful of negotiations that could take the form of blackmail and haggling by the F.L.N., which, steadily increasing its demands — such as the total or partial eviction of French troops — will grant all the reasonable safeguards on paper while dragging out the discussions and strengthening its territorial framework. Having once rendered the resumption of hostilities impossible, it will gradually become the absolute master of the country — a master already half conditioned by foreign powers — and quite prepared to disavow its signature, to provoke massacres, and to make a clean sweep of the past.”

An even more prophetic warning had been issued three years earlier by Albert Camus in the introduction to his collection of Algerian essays (Actuelles III): “Those who, in willfully imprecise terms, insist on negotiations with the F.L.N. can no longer ignore, in the face of the F.L.N.’s specifications, that this means the independence of Algeria directed by the most implacable military leaders of the insurrection — that is to say, the eviction of 1,200,000 Europeans of Algeria and the humiliation of millions of Frenchmen with the risks that this humiliation will entail. This is a policy, no doubt, but it must be acknowledged for what it is and not concealed behind euphemisms.”

By midsummer, five months after the conclusion of the cease-fire agreement, Valluy’s and Camus’s forebodings had been largely confirmed. The era of peaceful and fruitful cooperation between the French and the Arabs which the Evian accords were supposed to usher in had degenerated into a state of wholesale administrative chaos, political uncertainty, and social pandemonium disturbingly reminiscent of what had happened in the Belgian Congo and in Cuba.

To understand how things could have deteriorated so rapidly in such a short time, let us first consider the situation in the Algerian hinterland on the eve of the Evian accords. Last spring, the French still had some 330,000 of their own troops and some 140,000 Muslims serving with them in Algeria; the Muslims were divided into regular troops (about 60,000) and auxiliaries (about 80,000), serving as guards, mounted police, and contact men between the French civil and military authorities and the local population. Arrayed against them were 15,000 to 20,000 wellorganized and indoctrinated rebels in Tunisia and about 10,000 in Morocco.

Inside Algeria itself, the rebels, ever since General Maurice Challe’s “steamroller” campaigns of 1958 and 1959, were limited to scattered handfuls of men, forced to eke out a hunted existence in woods, ravines, mountain caves, and temporary hideouts in cellars and lofts. Though most of them enjoyed the willing or forced connivance of the local Muslim population, only a tiny minority still possessed enough arms and ammunition to constitute a serious threat to the peace.

The French Army, in other words, had clamped down the lid on the Algerian kettle, and to keep the pot from exploding the pressure had to be gradually relaxed. In practice this meant that the French Army and its Muslim auxiliaries had to remain at their posts while some kind of provisional government was installed and a planned evacuation was arranged for the unprotected French settlers of the hinterland. This, in the nature of things, was bound to take time and to be an exceedingly delicate operation, but if the Evian accords were to have a chance of real success, it was imperative that this truth be faced up to squarely.

Instead, the whole issue was deliberately clouded. On paper, the Evian accords allowed the French Army, which was to be reduced after the first twelve months to 80,000 men, to remain in Algeria for three years after the holding of a self-determination referendum; but since this very referendum was virtually certain to result in the termination of French sovereignty over Algeria, this provision was meaningless, and the only thing that really mattered was the interval prescribed between the actual cease-fire truce and the holding of the referendum.

In his speech of September 16, 1959, De Gaulle had indicated that a cooling-off period of three years would be needed between a cease-fire and the holding of a self-determination vote. In the subsequent negotiations with the F.L.N., however, this interval was reduced by common agreement to between three and six months. It was clearly in the interests of the French, if only to allow for a more or less orderly transfer of power, to make this interval as long as possible — all the more so since Article Four of the cease-fire accords of March 19 authorized the French Army to remain on the borders of Algeria until the proclamation of the results of the self-determination vote. Since the accords also specifically prohibited all movement of armed rebel units within Algeria during this period, the French Army was legally authorized and empowered, by maintaining the electrification of the barbed-wire barriers built along the Tunisian and Moroccan borders, to keep the rebel armies of the exterior from invading Algeria and thus adding to the chaos during the difficult transition period.

WHAT actually took place was illustrative of the largely abstract nature of the Evian accords. The cease-fire truce was respected by both French troops and Algerian nationalists so far as attacking each other was concerned; at the same time, it was interpreted by the latter as giving them a green light for establishing their undisputed grip on the countryside.

The article in the Evian accords specifying that there were to be no movements of armed rebel units inside Algeria before the self-determination vote was a dead letter from the start. Instead, there followed a general scramble to get armed and to move armed units to wherever might be most profitable or secure. Seeing the way the wind was blowing, a good number of Muslim soldiers serving with the French decamped with their weapons before the French could disarm them. Others were secretly encouraged by F.L.N. emissaries to join the Force Locale, a FrancoMuslim police force, 45,000 strong, which was supposed to provide the provisional executive with the means to maintain order during the transition period. “Join the Force Locale,” an F.L.N. pamphlet circulated in the region of Marengo urged, “and then you will desert with your weapons, reinforce the A.L.N. [National Liberation Army], and wage a final battle against France, so as to wrest independence by force of arms.”

As units of the French Army began withdrawing to planned regrouping points from the regions they had been administering, local guerrillas sprang up like mushrooms and began ransoming the local populace, Muslim as well as French. In Kabylia a 20 percent tribute was levied on all money orders sent back to their families by Algerians working in France. Local chieftains who had been hiding out in the mountains emerged and began trying to replenish their depleted commands by recruiting the armed Muslim auxiliaries who had been serving with the French. Some of them, having served as informers, preferred to be repatriated with their families to France to escape the hideous tortures being meted out. There was a particularly gruesome case near Saida, where fifty Muslim soldiers were killed and three of their officers had their eyes torn out and were marched through the surrounding countryside to impress the locals. Others, to the great surprise of the French officers commanding them, were approached by local rebels and often won over with arguments of this kind: “If you join us now, we’ll let bygones be bygones and we won’t cut your throats. We need you to help us maintain order against the men of the exterior” — that is, against the two A.L.N. armies in Tunisia and Morocco.

Now why, it may well be asked, should the Algerian nationalists of the interior be so anxious to arm themselves against their brethren abroad? There are essentially two answers to this question, and both shed a revealing light on the realities, as opposed to the myths, of the Algerian imbroglio.

In the first place, this reaction was almost atavistic, for since the Maghreb has been the Maghreb, the local headman, whether called chef de poste or caid, has generally been accorded the right to levy taxes, in an amount usually arbitrarily decided by himself. Having sought to ransom the neighboring population for years in their struggle against the French, these local rebels had no intention of being robbed at the last moment of the fruits of victory by having other rebels from the exterior, who had suffered far less, march in and establish themselves as the new bosses.

The other reason was explained to me by a French officer who was serving on the Tunisian border at the northern extremity of the electrified line, where it forks into two branches with a twelve-mile no-man’s-land between them. “When we de-electrified the outer branch of the line, the one closest to Tunisia,” he told me, “the A.L.N. marched in and rounded up the Muslim peasants who had gone on living in the no-man’s-land between. They marched them back into Tunisia, made them strip, put them into military uniforms with forage caps and all, herded them into barracks, and made them take their meals in a common mess hall. They were roused in the morning by bugle call, and so on.

“None of them was allowed to keep his livestock, which was made community property. The kibbutz system, in other words. Several of the poor blighters liked the new regime so little that they took off in the direction of Tunis, while one man — someone I happened to know — made his way back to our lines and told me the story.”

The collectivization of Algeria, a blueprint of which was approved by the National Council of the Algerian Revolution in June, had begun.

THIS descent into anarchy in the hinterland was matched by equal chaos in the cities, a chaos which got far more publicity at the time, because most newspapermen are forced by the nature of their profession to remain close to post offices and telephone centrals, and thus to urban areas. This publicity, limited for the most part to the hasty transmission of spot news, probably only further confused the outer world’s view of a confused situation; and the world saw only the ghastly barbarism exhibited by several thousand European diehards, all too loosely labeled O.A.S., who did their damnedest to wreck the cease-fire agreements.

What actually occurred was both more complex and more sinister. The French Army, and in particular its professional officers, had never shown much enthusiasm for moving in brutally against the European settlers of the cities, and this lukewarmness increased with the conclusion of the Evian accords, which virtually signified the end of French sovereignty in Algeria. The French government thus found itself confronted with a situation remarkably similar to that faced by the British just before, during, and after World War I, when British officers, and later, British policemen, refused to turn their arms against the Ulstermen who wanted to remain British; and the French reacted in an extraordinarily similar fashion. A number of jails in metropolitan France were secretly opened, and several hundred French common-law criminals and murderers were issued automatic weapons, formed into mobile police units, and promised that they would regain their liberty after six months of service in Algeria. This was an almost step-for-step repetition of what the British did in 1919 and 1920 with the notorious Black and Tans. And it had the same bloody results.

The ruthlessness of these newly recruited Gardes Mobiles, particularly in Oran, where they opened up with machine guns at everything in sight, was such that it only stepped up the O. A.S.’s scorchedearth frenzy to fever pitch. Europeans suspected of O.A.S. sympathies were quietly eliminated or rounded up and tortured by these eleventh-hour policemen, just as French paratrooper toughs and hard-boiled Foreign Legionnaires had once tortured Muslim suspects. Thus, the iniquities of the past were supposed, by an increasingly cynical and indifferent power in Paris, to be equated with the crimes of the present, with the all but open connivance of a thoroughly confused and disoriented press.

Scandalized by this spectacle of mass moral abdication, Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, the editor of the Paris weekly L’Express, raised his voice in vain protest: “What! Oh, what! To have denounced the torture applied to Muslim combatants and to be silent about that which is now applied against the men, crazed and criminal to be sure, but still men, of the O.A.S.”

The Paris government piled new fuel on the flames. Muslim troops were ordered into the fray. The result was the hideous butchery of March 26, when a company of trigger-happy Muslim soldiers opened up with automatic rifles and guns on a peaceful procession of European demonstrators, keeping up the fire for a good fifteen minutes, riddling the wounded as they lay on the ground, and even pursuing the fleeing into doorways to finish them off. By the time the massacre was over, eighty had been killed and another two hundred wounded.

The reaction in Paris to this carnage offered a curious illustration of the deep moral and mental confusion which the Algerian conflict has engendered in French minds. Just six weeks earlier an outraged left-wing press had grown almost hysterical in condemning the French government’s tough repression of a massive street demonstration in Paris (duly exploited by the Communists) which had resulted in eight deaths. The eighty deaths in Algiers — immediately ascribed to O.A.S. provocations, which was not in fact the case — were deplored en passant, much as one might deplore the news of a train wreck or an earthquake.

This odd discrepancy was commented on in a remarkable article which appeared in the April 7 issue of the Tunisian weekly Jeune Afrique. “Decidedly France is a curious country,” its Paris editor wrote:

Events seem to file by before it without concerning it. For seven years it was the war. A few suffered the pangs of a guilty conscience, but on the whole the “pacification” did not keep the French from sleeping at night. Today the cease-fire has awakened no one. . . .

From one day to the next the French press has managed to change its tone without its readers seeming to be much shocked. . . . Last Monday [March 26], on direct orders from the Elysée Palace, troops opened fire on the “black-feet.” Women and children were killed or wounded. In the newsrooms of the Paris papers there were several hours of hesitation. But in the end it was the left-wing papers which felt called on to express the greatest regrets for this bloody incident. And it was France-Observateur last week which reckoned that the soldiers had doubtless fired “for too many long minutes.” The right-wing papers, after insinuating the first day that the provocation might have come from an Algerian rifleman, subsequently justified the 50 deaths.

French public opinion thus accepted, virtually without batting an eyelash, that the “black-feet” should be mowed down, just as it had accepted for seven years the tortures, the manhunts, and the “rat hunts” of Muslims. Just as it will accept, next April 8, to vote a massive “yes” to an anticonstitutional question.

This decadence in political consciousness and civic spirit augurs ill for the immediate future.

I have quoted these paragraphs at length not only because they offer a strictly accurate description of the case, but also because they demonstrate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what contempt the North African friends of the Algerian rebels then felt and doubtless feel today for the abject capitulation on the part of the former colonial power which ushered in the triumph of their cause. Just as the author of this article had predicted, the French people went out on April 8 in a “Father knows best” mood and gave a massive endorsement to a referendum which the Conseil d’État, France’s highest administrative court, had earlier declared unconstitutional on no less than four counts by a vote of 42 to 12.

THE French people who voted with closed eyes for peace in early April had been duped by a formidable barrage of official propaganda unleashed by the state-controlled radio and television services and an increasingly pliant and corrupt press. While certain Frenchmen still had the means, the majority had lost the will to face up to the facts and did not realize that the cease-fire accords and the sweeping and ill-defined powers again voted to De Gaulle, far from bringing peace, would only bring a sword to Algeria.

By mid-May the situation had so deteriorated that when Robert Buron, the French Minister of Public Works and Transportation and one of the Evian negotiators, made a trip to Algeria he discovered that some 10,000 Algerians, Muslims as well as French, had fallen victim to F.L.N. reprisals since the official proclamation of the cease-fire — an average of 160 casualties a day, as high a toll as had ever been reached in the worst months of the Algerian war. “C’est le passage des Huns,” he was reported as having told his M.R.P. colleagues at the dinner which preceded their resignation from the government on May 15; and he added that another Dunkirk, or worse, was in the offing.

Faced with this alarming situation, the French government — that is to say, General de Gaulle — chose to wash its hands of the mess as quickly as possible. Let the Algerians take over, since it was their land and thus ultimately their responsibility. On May 16 it was formally announced that the self-determination vote in Algeria would be held on July 1, in just six weeks’ time.

When Abderrahmane Farès, the Muslim chairman of the provisional Algerian executive, flew back to Paris to protest this sudden precipitation of events and to explain that for administrative reasons alone it would be impossible to hold a proper self-determination vote in Algeria so soon, since many of the country’s town halls, along with their electoral lists, had been blown up or sacked by the O.A.S., he was imperiously silenced. “Why do they need lists?” was the General’s lofty retort. “Let them vote by a show of hands.” This was not the first time that De Gaulle had demonstrated a cavalier unconcern for democratic procedures, but never, it is fair to say, had it been so shamelessly expressed.

This decision had two fateful consequences: it accelerated the exodus of panic-stricken French settlers, and it virtually torpedoed what lingering hope might still exist of anything but a militant totalitarianism emerging from the chaos.

The French Army, in the face of the bitter hatreds aroused by the Algerian war, was the only force capable of giving the paper guarantees accorded the Europeans at Evian some weight. But from the moment the self-determination vote was held and Algeria was officially granted its independence, French troops became foreign soldiers stationed on Algerian soil who could not intervene in the country without risking immediate denunciation as international aggressors. The brusque moving forward of the referendum date thus pulled the last props out from under the accords which De Gaulle’s own envoys had negotiated at Evian just two months before.

Overnight the exodus of French settlers swelled to a stampede. In the early spring of this year, a few months after assuming his new functions as secretary of state for the repatriates, Robert Boulin estimated that the settlement of the Algerian problem would necessitate the repatriation of some 200,000 Europeans by the end of this year. Three months after the signing of the ceasefire, this figure had already been exceeded, 225,000 Europeans leaving the country in the single month of June. By the end of July the figure had passed the half-million mark, or more than had been repatriated from Tunisia and Morocco combined over the past six years.

Whereas in neighboring Morocco 130,000 Jews have continued to live in conditions of endurable tolerance and well-being, all but 10,000 of the 130,000 Jews who used to live in Algeria had fled the country. What should, by any reasonable process of decolonization, have been an orderly and gradual transfer of authority and responsibilities had degenerated into chaos.

THE other consequence of the precipitated referendum was perhaps even more devastating for the future of Algeria. As long as the French, manning the electrified lines on the borders, could keep the A.L.N. armies in Tunisia and Morocco from invading, there was a faint hope of establishing some kind of interim civilian government for the difficult transition period in order to put the country on its feet again.

This was not something which any of the F.L.N. leaders could openly state, since the “civilians” — like Benyoussef Ben Khedda, head of the provisional Algerian government, or Dr. Chawki Mostefai, the F.L.N. representative on the Algerian provisional executive, who negotiated with the O.A.S. in June to put an end to its campaign of systematic destruction — owed their positions within the movement as much to the prowess of the djounouds or mudjahiddin (“holy warriors”) who had fought in the field as to the diplomatic finesse of their agents at the United Nations and in sympathetic foreign capitals on both sides of the Iron Curtain. But the problem of reconverting the military apparatus of the F.L.N. to a peacetime situation and of subordinating it to civilian rule was bound to crop up sooner or later, as it did during the ten-day meeting of the National Council of the Algerian Revolution in Tripoli in early June.

It is more than probable that Abderrahmane Farès, the fifty-one-year-old head of the provisional executive, was fully alive to this danger when he rushed to Paris in May in his abortive effort to dissuade De Gaulle from precipitating the referendum. Farès, whose training as a lawyer permitted him to be elected president of the Algerian Assembly in 1949, is a representative of that Muslim bourgeoisie which has everything to lose and nothing to gain by the installation in Algeria of a more or less militarized government of extreme left-wing or of Nasserite tendencies.

But why should Charles de Gaulle be overly concerned by the fate of Farès and his class? Had he not once predicted of Algeria that “at best it will be Houphouet-Boigny, at worst Sekou Touré”? If Algeria was destined to go the way of Guinea, it was because history had willed it so, and because the General had returned too late to the helm of the drifting French ship of state. So Algeria was consigned to its fate. The sluice gates were opened, and the long-frustrated Armies of Liberation were allowed to invade the country, with the result that a bare month after the referendum the provisional Algerian government which had negotiated the Evian accords was scattered to the winds before a hastily improvised coalition of military chieftains and “historic leaders of the revolution” released from French jails.

This development took the Algerian rebels as much by surprise as it did the French. Yet there had been precedents which offered a warning of what was almost certainly bound to result from unilateral negotiations with the F.L.N. There was, to begin with, the General’s own experience in 1944 and 1945, when he had to move against the maquisards of the wartime Resistance, who in the chaotic months following the liberation of France went on the rampage and managed to kill some 40,000 Frenchmen. The astonishing thing in 1962 was to see an older but no less haughty and stiff-necked De Gaulle turn over power to precisely the kind of people he had taken steps to quell some eighteen years before.

There was, perhaps even more pertinently, the telling precedent of what happened in Morocco after Sultan Mohammed V returned from his exile in Madagascar in the fall of 1955. To keep itself from being overtaken by the 5000 to 6000 terrorists organized in various underground groups like the Black Hand, the Black Crescent, and the Black Star who claimed, more or less convincingly, to have fought against French colonialism, the country’s leading party, the Istiqlal (“Independence”) Party had been forced to build up a terrorist branch of its own known as the Monaddama Serriya, the “Secret Organization.”

The job of building it up was turned over, a little too casually as it happened, to a rather obscure Istiqlal member called Mohammed Basri, from the Berber town of Demnat in the High Atlas. Basri proceeded to make himself a kind of Moroccan Al Capone. The rival terrorist groups were liquidated, elements of them being absorbed into the Royal Moroccan Police, while others were exterminated in a series of fierce gun battles. Having outgrown its original function, the Secret Organization, with Basri at its head, developed into a kind of parallel administration which made a specialty of blackmailing government officials and established a lucrative black market in the sale of import and export licenses. It took the Moroccan government, with all the prestige of the Sherifian throne, the support of a disciplined army led by French-trained officers, and the backing of a remarkably improvised police force five years to cut this would-be Stalin and his henchmen down to size; and until his death after surgery in 1961, King Mohammed V lived in fear of being assassinated.

None of the favorable elements which permitted Morocco to ride out this crisis exist in present-day Algeria. There has never been a dynastic tradition or a clear-cut focus of loyalty in this historic no-man’s-land of a country. The F.L.N., to which Algeria was turned over last July, was from its foundation in 1954 a revolutionary and terroristic organization and not primarily a political party like the Moroccan Istiqlal or the Tunisian NeoDestour of Habib Bourguiba. “To be admitted to the ranks of the A.L.N.,” Belkacem Krim, the provisional Algerian government’s Minister of War and later Minister of the Interior, wrote in the Review of International Politics (Belgrade, February 1 5, 1960), “one must strike down a notorious colonialist or traitor. Assassination is a stage accomplished by every candidate to the A.L.N.” Every revolutionary organization tends to develop secret statutes and initiation rules of one kind or another, but how in the heat of a savage guerrilla war or in the political tumult of its aftermath is one to decide who is a “notorious traitor” to the cause? And who is to do the deciding?

THE answer to this last question has from the beginning plagued the F.L.N., and it explains the almost hysterical insistence with which its leaders have again and again sought to denounce the cult of personality and to re-emphasize the necessity of “collegiate rule.” But collegiate rule, which is essentially faceless and depersonalized, is just about the most difficult kind of rule to instate over backward peoples, as has been proved once again in the case of Algeria. Thus, when independence dawned there last July, the muddy backwash of the revolution automatically cast up the only rebel with any real popularity in the country — Mohammed Ben Bella, a former soccer player who had fought valiantly with the French Army during the Italian campaign, during which he rose to be adjutant, but whose chief exploit since then (if we except his five years of self-instruction while a prisoner in French jails) was to stage a sensational holdup of the central post office in Oran in 1949.

Being a former soccer star or a military hero is not necessarily an attribute for efficient administrative practice, and those who were willing to give Ben Bella the benefit of the doubt got their first shock in July, when he insisted on naming Mohammedi Said, a former captain in the Waffen SS, to the politburo post controlling education and public health.

It would have been platonic, in view of the past history and recruitment of the National Liberation Front, to expect an Algerian government to take charge bristling with academic talent. Still, it is a matter of record and something which augurs ill for the future that there were only two members of the provisional Algerian government and not a single member of the politburo who had gone beyond high school studies. Even before the Evian accords were concluded last March, Abderrahmane Farès was prepared to confide to his intimates that the number of F.L.N. leaders truly equipped to run ministerial departments in any future government could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

NOTHING, in politics, is more fruitless than crying over spilled milk. Today the independence of Algeria is an accomplished fact, a fact of potentially momentous consequences which may well create new upheavals in the western Mediterranean. Just where the Algerian revolution is headed or how far it will go, no one can yet say. Algeria may become a new Cuba, or, as seems more likely, end up somewhere midway between Nasser’s Egypt and Tito’s Yugoslavia. (The Yugoslav partisans and Mao Tse-tung’s Communist guerrillas are, significantly enough, the two prototypes of revolutionary movements which have most impressed the leaders of the F.L.N.)

The one thing that is certain is that whatever regime finally emerges will be totalitarian in inspiration and that the degree of liberty and of party multiplicity which exists in neighboring Morocco will be unknown to the Algeria of tomorrow. As Ben Bella bluntly put it in a statement made to a group of French businessmen on August 14: “We are one great party, for the game of political parties is a malady of the rich, and we are poor.”

It seems unlikely that anything resembling genuine peace will soon return to the war-torn land of Algeria, any more than it did to the Congo after the Belgians relinquished their control. From the moment that Ben Bella began trying to impose the authority of his political bureau on the recalcitrant guerrilla chieftains of the Kabylia and Algerian willayas (the F.L.N.’s military command zones), it was obvious that he was faced with the same problem which had plagued his predecessor, Ben Khedda; the same problem which so bedeviled Morocco in the first years of independence. Disarming and disciplining embattled guerrillas is never an easy task; but in Algeria it was bound to be doubly difficult, if only because seven years of revolt failed to produce any leader invested with that solid aura of prestige which permitted Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia and Mohammed V in Morocco to establish their unchallenged sways.

At worst, the infighting resulting from these tensions may build up into something comparable to the brief Rif war which plagued Morocco in 1958 and 1959; it might even precipitate a general reversion to that primitive condition of tribal warfare and local banditry which prevailed along the Barbary Coast before the French landed in 1830. Alternatively, a fairly homogeneous government may emerge which will be forced to hold the country together by strong-arm or neo-Stalinist methods. Demagogy, no matter who comes out on top, will be the order of the day, and the ruling clique is more than likely to discover that the best way of bringing headstrong guerrillas and uncontrollable elements to heel is by diverting their bellicose energies toward new targets.

With unemployment rampant as a result of the massive flight of French capital and business interests, enlistment in the national (now rebaptized “people’s”) army is likely to prove a beckoning attraction. The old cry of the jihad, of the holy war, will ring out once again; and the French, being the most convenient scapegoats, will be asked to evacuate their great naval base at Mers-el-Kebir, even though they are theoretically entitled to retain it for fifteen years by the terms of the Evian accords.

The Tunisians have already secured De Gaulle’s agreement to evacuate Bizerte; and the Moroccans, not to be outdone by their neighbors to the east, are bringing pressure to bear on Spain to evacuate the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, even though they have been Spanish possessions for more than three centuries and have populations which are more than four fifths Spanish.

To believe, in these circumstances, that North Africa is now going to quiet down is to be a trifle naïve. The termination of the Algerian war of independence has only unleashed new forces which it will take more than Care packages or emergency shipments of wheat to placate. It will take more sangfroid and political realism than Charles de Gaulle cared to display last spring when he handed the country over, lock, stock, and barrel, to the F.L.N. It will require resolution, foresight, and above all, a closing of allied ranks in the face of an all too predictable campaign of Arab blackmail, masterminded by Cairo if not by Moscow or Peiping, which the leaders of the West, and particularly the United States, have too long abetted and encouraged by a general loss of nerve and inner conviction.