Great-Power Competition Is Coming to Africa
The United States Needs to Think Regionally to Win
A NUMBER of events which have occurred during the last two years have drawn the attention of the world to Goa; and there is no doubt that the repercussion of those events is disproportionate to the size of the territories at stake and to their economic value. I shall endeavor to show some of the reasons why Goa rouses curiosity or sympathy in face of the Indian Union's claim to integrate it into its own territory and under its sovereignty.
What in Portugal is called the "State of India" is a unit of territories, some with access to the sea, others encrusted in the Indian Union, with an area of some 4,000 square kilometers and a population of only 600,000. Administratively the territories constitute a Province of Portugal consisting of three districts --Goa, Damão and Diu. As the capital and most important district is called Goa, this name is often used for the whole. It will not be possible to understand the formation of Goa, spread over 600 kilometers or more on the West coast of the Indian subcontinent, without going back to its origins and bearing in mind the political situation in the Hindustan peninsula in the early sixteenth century.
The Portuguese navigators discovered the sea route to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope in 1498. From contemporary documents it may be taken that a threefold motive took the Portuguese to the Orient--commercial, political and religious, the last closely linked to the political. In this way the trade of the East with Europe, which had been carried on via Suez and the Mediterranean, was diverted, and a new route was opened to it through the Atlantic, with the result that Lisbon became a mercantile emporium. This was to spell decay for the Italian Republics and the decline of Turkish power. To weaken the latter by threatening the security of Turkey from the rear, in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and thereby relieving the pressure on Europe, was held by the Portuguese at the time to be more effective than the frontal resistance which had long been the strategy of the Powers of the West. Lastly, "to spread Christianity," to promote missionary activity among the peoples, to bring to them the message of Christ, was, as it were, an imperative for the Portuguese nation, as faithfully interpreted in the orders of the Kings. When one reads, for example, the letters of Afonso de Albuquerque (1507-1515) and of Dom João de Castro (1538-1548), one is struck by the breadth of their political conceptions, by the daring and at the same time the realism of their plans, and by their eagerness to carry to the East the faith, the culture, the soul of the West. In essence, the enterprise revealed itself to be more idealistic than utilitarian: the monopoly of trade, so long as it could be maintained, was but the essential fountain of the resources needed to achieve the other two objectives.
The conquest of new lands, the subjection of new peoples, were not among the designs of the Portuguese. Doubtless the question was more than once broached in the councils of the Crown, and divergent points of view were debated there; but the general line of policy for India underwent no considerable change in this respect. It can well be understood that for the ends mentioned no more should have been needed than to occupy a few strategic points for support of the fleets which patrolled the seas and protected the new trade routes. It was natural also that such land support should have been obtained by cession from the small local kingdoms in exchange for services rendered.
In the maze of feudal-type sovereignties among which Hindustan was divided, rivalry and strife among the small kingdoms and family disputes for the succession were constant. In fact, in Goa the Portuguese were the allies of the Hindus against the Mohammedans whose dominion and acts of oppression weighed heavily on local populations eager for liberation from their yoke. In the treaties negotiated with the local rulers, Portugal was content with permission to build a fortress and with such territory as was necessary for its defense; with recognition, as was the custom of the time, of the sovereignty of the King of Portugal through payment of a token tribute; and with freedom for missionaries to preach the faith. Given in exchange was the friendship of the King of Portugal--that is, the safety of the seas and ports and the freedom of commerce which his fleets guaranteed. No restrictions were imposed on local life and local institutions: these were such as existed, and they were left to their own natural evolution, influenced, of course, by the presence of the Christian and socially more advanced West.
Thus, what was called the Portuguese Eastern Empire was an empire entirely sui generis--a sea empire which would cease with the seizing of commerce by competing nations and with the weakening of the sea power by which the commerce was canalized and protected. It may be said that the Empire came to an end when Portugal ceased to enjoy supremacy in those two factors. How, then, was the Eastern Empire lost while Goa remained Portuguese?
In the small stretches or pockets of territory which provided support and reserves for the fortresses and trading ports, the local populations continued to live with their customs, their officials and even their own authorities, though mingled with a large number of traders, troops, builders, shipbuilders, craftsmen, members of religious orders and numerous missionaries from Europe, some in transit, many of them permanent residents. Afonso de Albuquerque's "policy of marriages," which was designed to implement the idea of linking the people to the land through the creation of permanent interests and the setting up of legitimate family life, gave rise in time to a population in which Portuguese blood had widely mingled with that of local elements. At the same time, the Christian atmosphere, the Western culture, the transplantation of other customs and institutions, the spread of the language, the political relationship with a European country of standing, helped in the formation and deep rooting of a people which was perfectly differentiated from the ethnic groups of Hindustan.
Surprisingly, the adversaries of racial discrimination sometimes seek to classify Goans according to color, language, dress or religion. Some are Christians, others Hindus and still others Mohammedans. But what above all needs to be noted in Portuguese India is the mentality, the outlook on life, the spiritual atmosphere. No qualified traveller passing into Goa from the Indian Union can fail to gain the impression that he is entering an entirely different land. The way people think, feel and act is European. There may be no geographic or economic frontier but there is indubitably a human one: Goa is the transplantation of the West onto Eastern lands, the expression of Portugal in India.
From an early date this development had important consequences from the political and juridical standpoints. From the sixteenth century onwards, the regulations, royal letters and instructions dispatched overseas--and they were concerned with India in particular--provided for the expenditure of effort and money with a view to the integration of the different peoples in the Portuguese community. It is worth quoting a report submitted to the King by the Council of India early in the seventeenth century. One reads therein: "India and the other lands overseas with whose governments this Council is concerned are not distinct nor separate from this realm, nor yet do they belong to it by union, but they are members of the same realm as is the Algarve and any of the provinces of Alentejo and between Douro and Minho . . . and thus he who is born and lives in Goa or in Brazil or in Angola is as Portuguese as he who lives and is born in Lisbon." Several instructions were inspired by this concept and the same deep roots gave birth to the Law of 1761--passed when the United States had not yet attained independence-- whereby the natives of Portuguese Asia were declared to be perfectly equal before the law to the Portuguese born in the Kingdom. This applied not only to Indians, whether Christian or not, but also to the descendants of Europeans and to Mohammedans.
It will thus be understood why the Goans do not anywhere consider or call themselves Indians but Portuguese of Goa; why they attend schools either there or in the metropolis; why they freely enter the professions; why they exercise public functions from the bureaucratic to those of the administration of justice; why they are appointed to commands and placed in positions of authority; why many of them become judges, ministers of state and governors of overseas territories; why they are represented in Parliament in perfect equality with all other Portuguese and without the slightest trace of racial discrimination.
This is the sociological, juridical and political reality with which the Indian Union is faced in the territories of Goa and which throws light on the character and development of events that have taken place there.
The Indian Union acquired its independence in August 1947 when Great Britain transferred to the governments of the two new dominions the powers till then it had exercised. Despite certain obscurities which may surround it, the process of independence reveals clearly the two following claims. The first was that India should have a constitution which should comprise the whole of British India--that is, the provinces directly administered by Great Britain and the numerous Indian States governed by princes regarded as British subjects.
The second claim is revealed by the determination of the leaders of the Congress Party to designate the new state as the Dominion of India--not the Dominion of Hindustan, as suggested by the British. This was undoubtedly so that it might more easily be considered as the legal inheritor of the contractual obligations of undivided India and of her representation in the United Nations and in other international bodies which she automatically joined by the very reason of her creation.
Failure attended the plan for an India politically entitled to represent the entire subcontinent, and two new states arose-- the Indian Union and Pakistan. (Ceylon and Burma obtained their independence from the British Government separately and directly.) But the basic idea of the unity of India as a geographic expression and of her representation by the Indian Union continued to inspire the acts of the rulers of the Indian Union irrespective of the legal texts and beyond the moment when it ceased to be a political and juridical reality.
It was on the basis of this covert and veiled premise that the Government of the Indian Union approached Portugal in 1950 requesting that negotiations be opened with a view to the transfer of Goa to the sovereignty of the Indian Union. The Portuguese Government refused to negotiate the cession of the territories and peoples concerned on the constitutional grounds that the territories of Goa, Damão and Diu were an integral part of the Portuguese nation and that the State could nowise alienate any part of the national territory or of the rights of sovereignty which it exercises (Article 2 of the Constitution). Such was the counterpart of the process of integration which had developed and become defined in 450 years of common life. The constitutional text, after all, expresses no more than the political impossibility of a state voluntarily amputating itself, as though it did not constitute a moral unity.
Besides, and apart from the fact that there was no foundation for the request, to have assented to negotiation would have been to accept as legitimate the idea that the Indian Union represented India. This aspect of the problem is of the utmost gravity. To confer on the Indian Union the political representation of the geographic expression, India, is to undermine the very basis of the independent existence of Pakistan, if not of Ceylon and Burma, for all of these states could then be held to be illegitimate incrustations in the territory of the Union. The dangers of such a conception can hardly escape them, since their independence would acquire in the eyes of the Indian Union the same precariousness and illegality of which the Union accuses Portugal in regard to her Indian State.
Thus did the so-called Goa question arise. Once the diplomatic process had been exhausted, the question took on other aspects, all conducive to the exercise of external pressure for the purpose of forcing Portugal to accede to negotiations for the cession of Goa or of creating such unbearable conditions of existence for Goa that it would itself surrender.
The Goa question is an artificial creation. It did not, of course, exist during the period of British rule; it did not exist even during the period after 1885 when the Indian National Congress adopted self-government as its main objective. Goa already enjoyed wider prerogatives within the Portuguese State than the Indians claimed for themselves from Great Britain. It would have been incomprehensible for the Goans to be associated, or to associate themselves, with political action which, in relation to Portugal, would be retrogressive and which, in relation to Britain, would not make sense. A "Goa question" could not arise; it arose in some minds only when the dream of independence created the false idea of the unity of India and of her possible territorial aggrandizement at the expense of preexisting sovereignties.
It took time and a persistent campaign of incitement for the claim to spread from the restricted circle in which it had arisen to wider fields in which the press found it easy to exert its influence. The Goans remained aloof, and it would be a mistake to think that even among the people in the Indian Union there is any conscious or deep yearning for the territories of Portuguese India. Neither the masses nor the educated classes outside politics evince any interest in the question. Beyond its frontiers, notwithstanding the efforts employed to gain approval and support for its claims, the Indian Union failed to create among independent minds an atmosphere of support, of sympathy, or even of understanding, either when it claimed the right to Goa or when it denied Portugal the right to be with Goa in India.
The positions officially taken up by the Indian Union in defense of its "right" to Goa have varied with the circumstances, with the clarification of the problems involved, and with the theses successively maintained. I propose to mention the most salient, not in order to discuss but to classify them:
Goa is an internal political question for the Indian Union--a thesis which now appears to have been abandoned.
Goa is, for the Indian Union, a question of external policy with serious international implications (an allusion to the Anglo-Portuguese Treaties of Alliance and to the North Atlantic Treaty).
Goa is a domestic question for the Goans, who ought to be put in a position to decide their own destiny by the principle of self-determination: to be independent or to be integrated in the Indian Union. No other alternative is possible because, even if the Goans themselves wish to remain linked to Portugal, the Union (as has been officially declared) will not tolerate it.
Obviously, the Goans are given no real alternative under the last-named thesis since, once Goa's connection with Portugal had been severed, it would be deprived of the possibility of independent existence or of the power to resist absorption by the Indian Union. It may be added that this thesis is presented in the field of abstractions and outside the realm of the possible, for, in so far as plebiscites are concerned, it is well known that the Indian Union went back on the engagement it had entered into with France and has not, as yet, seen its way to carrying out that to which it bound itself with Pakistan.
But the question has also been formulated thus: that Portugal has no right to be in Goa. This argument is based on the accusation of "colonialism," which Goa--the residue of a colonial empire--was held to represent. It is well known how sensitive some countries are to this accusation; conversely, also, how in Asia, where great independent states have arisen in the last decade, anti-colonialism is still a strong sentiment, capable of instilling some degree of cohesion in various peoples pending the development of positive factors of union and solidarity. The sentiment is understandable, but this does not mean that the justification for the accusations should not be examined in each case.
Colonialism is an economic and political system which is susceptible of objective examination. It occurs in the field of reality; it may be said to be reducible to figures, to concrete facts and legal statutes. It has been argued that it implies a sovereign power foreign to the subjected territory; an economic enterprise for the benefit (to a larger or smaller extent) of the colonizing Power; political or military advantage; discrimination as between citizens and subjects, with their different rights; and, above all, the absence of political rights of the colonial peoples and their inability to intervene in metropolitan affairs. But it is not solely a matter of advantages, with no counterpart in the expenditure of wealth and in sacrifices. In fact, when it is conscious of its mission the colonizing country ensures peace, is responsible for maintaining order, organizes life, promotes economic development, invests capital, provides education, raises living standards and, as has been seen, even leads them to become worthy of independence. It may well be asked whether the same end would be reached as quickly in any other way.
To determine whether or not Goa is a case of colonialism, let us examine each of these elements as they relate to it.
Financially, Goa has always been a burden on the metropolitan treasury and almost from the beginning was considered by many to be ruinous for Portugal. It seems that the passage of the centuries was to confirm what Dom João de Castro wrote in 1540: the fortresses and castles absorbed the revenues of India and "such wealth as comes from Portugal." This situation has not changed even in our own times; Goa absorbs its revenues and, in addition, large subsidies from the metropolis.
From the economic point of view, neither the metropolitan people nor the metropolitan capital exploit Goa, nor do they enjoy any special privileges. In trade, the metropolitan share in Goan imports and exports has, on account of distance, been modest.
Juridically, there is no distinction between the Portuguese of Goa and the Portuguese of the European continent, the adjacent islands and the rest of the overseas territories. The Goans enjoy all rights, have access to all posts, carry out all functions and earn their living throughout the Portuguese territory.
Politically as well as legally Goa is an integral part of the Portuguese nation; as a province it enjoys administrative and financial autonomy. The Goans take part in the formation and working of the central organs of sovereignty on a basis of equality with all the other Portuguese nationals.
This is the situation, and it is indeed a remarkable one in view of the form which usually characterizes colonial expansion in the world and of the utilitarian and materialist ideas which in many places dominate political action.
Peoples have each their own character and do not all react in the same manner. The Portuguese have always revealed the tendency to create a morally united motherland with territories and peoples which in time would become incorporated in the nation; at no time was an impediment to this seen in racial or religious differences or in the dispersal of lands. Inclination of the spirit? Sentiment of the heart? Human fraternity? The truth is that the peoples in question have demonstrated throughout history the same living solidarity with Portugal as the branches of a tree have with its trunk and roots.
In the period during which Portugal was under Spanish domination (1580-1640), resistance to the Dutch and British in the East was carried on almost exclusively by the resources and people of Portuguese India herself rather than with support from the Kingdom. The struggle in Brazil against the Dutch, not to speak of the restoration of São Tomé and Angola, was the work of the Brazilian settlers rather than of the forces sent from the mother country. Thus was the spirit of a community asserted and consolidated. These are facts which give rise to problems in the sense that they create duties. The Portuguese Government has repeatedly affirmed that the problem of Goa is above all a moral one.
From what has been said it will surely be possible to see why the Portuguese Government is morally and juridically unable to negotiate the cession of Goa and, consequently, is in duty bound to defend it. It has also been found that the Goans have no wish to be freed from Portuguese sovereignty, first, owing to patriotic feeling, and secondly, for reasons of their own interest. This has created certain difficulties for the Indian Union.
The foreign policy of the Union is based on a professed pacifism reflecting ideological motives and the circumstances of its internal life. The treaty with China known as the Treaty of Tibet defined the fundamental principles which, in the opinion of both Powers, ought to regulate international life and ensure peace among nations. And among these principles--a version of those of the Charter of the United Nations, to which the Indian Union belongs--is that of peaceful coexistence.
Since Portugal is not prepared to take hostile acts which might excuse aggression by the Indian Union, any military action or simply "police action" on the part of the Union against Goa would negate the moral basis of its position and discredit its policy. Therefore, the Government of the Union has sought desperately to achieve the cession of Goa by other means. It has failed within the scope of its avowed policy of peace because, even giving pacifism a very wide interpretation, the acts of the Union or of its agents always result in the negation of one or another of the Tibet principles or of the principles of the United Nations.
It is not worthwhile to give here an account of those acts, proclaimed by the Union to have been peaceful but regarded elsewhere as acts of aggression against Goa and the Goans. Presumably they are known. Yet they are part of a long history of bad neighborliness, of campaigns conducted by the strong against the weak for coveted territories.
To none of these acts has the Portuguese Government responded with the slightest act of retaliation, even where such retaliation would have been particularly hurtful to the Indian Union. Portugal has confined herself to organizing defense within her own territory and to counteracting the effects of the worst measures taken by the Indian Union against the persons, property or interests of the Goans. At this moment the hope of the Union is that the measures adopted will finally exhaust Goa and force it to surrender. The attitude of Portugal is to make the necessary sacrifices but without placing an inordinate strain on her energies, in order that the situation may be maintained indefinitely if necessary.
So far I have dealt with the case of Goa as a conflict which has brought the Indian Union into opposition with Portugal over a restricted territory. But these aspects of the problem are no more than the foreground wherein this and many other questions are developing in Asia. Behind the Indian Union's claim is the backdrop of the whole question of Europe's relations with Asia and eventually Africa.
During the last centuries, Europe dominated Asia economically and in part politically. That this was done solely for European profit can hardly be said with justification; however this may be, a basic nationalistic reaction throughout Asia as a whole has developed and is putting an end in our time to a historic period in which the conduct of the affairs of Asia was led by Europe. The process continues. Japan has lost the leadership of the movement, but it goes on. The objective to be attained is the independence of the peoples and their organization into states free from European interference; the basic sentiment is against the extinct colonial régime and, by extension, against the white man who symbolizes it. Such reactions are not wont to maintain just measure; they will go beyond the limits of what wise men consider prudent. From this grave complications are arising.
The first is this: the East comprises communities or states not exclusively Asian in origin; it includes those with European roots and influences--Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, to mention only the chief ones (since Goa might also be included). Anti-Western feeling, a hatred of Europe and of the West in general, unjustified though it is, engenders suspicion among some of these peoples. In any case, it will not be possible to establish complete solidarity on so negative a sentiment.
States at the outset of their independent existence cannot straightaway show the cohesion or internal unity of the old nations. Their heterogeneous character and the contrasting levels of civilization among their people are at present a cause of fragility and a source of internal difficulties. The huge areas, the many tens or hundreds of millions in which their peoples are counted, provide the basis for their becoming Great Powers, but their strength cannot yet be proportionate to the size of their territories and their peoples. This state of affairs creates inhibitions and fear of a return of the West. Though real, these fears are groundless; history is neither undone nor remade. But in relations between peoples fear acts at times like hatred. To weaken the West by every means thus appears to Asia to increase its own strength.
The colonial past of these countries has not sufficed for the rational organization and methodical exploitation of all their enormous potential wealth. Abundant capital and ample technical assistance are essential to them. In order to effect a saving in the time necessary for the internal formation of both, recourse will have to be had to the countries which still retain capitalist and industrial superiority. This, in turn, gives rise to the fear that, through close economic coöperation, the door to political domination will be opened once again.
In this atmosphere, the slogans of unhealthy propaganda are developing miasma-like. Russia, whom Asians fear (possibly because they recognize that she practises colonialism in the vast territories of central Asia), offers to aid in the "liberation" of other peoples and takes the lead in the struggle against "capitalist imperialism," trying to force into partnership with her those who need that capitalism to live.
These symptoms may disappear, indeed in time they doubtless will disappear provided retrogressive factors do not intervene. Asia has always been a world of hermetic civilizations. To open the Asian continent to wide contacts with the West is held above all to constitute a violation of the will of its peoples, who are led to believe that the advantages do not compensate for the disadvantages. There has been, it is true, interpenetration of cultures, more extensive and more profound in some cases than in others. But certain principles in the social structure and culture of the Asian peoples have remained intact. The problem is this: Left to themselves, how will they react before the great problems of life? And how will they finally organize their own lives?
The dominant classes in Asia were educated in Europe; their outlook is Western. They have imported Western institutions into most of the Asian nations. These nations belong to and take part in the work of world organizations. On the other hand, the world is advancing in the direction of uniformity. Herein lies the difficulty. Is there not a possibility that ancestral habits of thought and action may break through the veneer of Westernization? The question is put. No answer is given.
European positions in Asia having been almost entirely liquidated, we now see the new states preparing indiscriminately to instigate subversive movements all over Africa, as if conditions were identical in the various regions of that continent or similar to those prevailing among the Asiatic peoples who have gained their independence. Since Bandung, this movement is quite openly led by the Indian Union.
Apart from the four or five independent states which are to be found in Africa, and apart from the Mediterranean seaboard of that continent where there is a movement to hasten the process of evolution toward a system of autonomous governments or associated independent states, it may be said that Africa lives and must continue for an unforeseeable time to live under the control and guidance of a civilized state. Notwithstanding the political experiments which Britain has recently promoted in limited areas, the major sections of Africa consist of territories which depend on European states and lack the conditions necessary for existence as independent, democratic nations. Public administration and the guidance of labor is unavoidably in the hands of a small minority of Europeans. Their tasks cannot be abandoned or handed over to the indigenous elements indiscriminately and all at once. Transfers of sovereignty are conceivable there, but not the abandonment of it. Herein is the problem.
Asiatic anti-colonialism seeks above all just now to arouse the sympathy and solidarity of the Mohammedan peoples, themselves engaged in finding solutions for certain concrete problems. The Indian Union is aware of the facts, but it mistakenly thinks that its interests are to be served by precipitate movements to organize African colored communities into independent states.
The whole East Coast of Africa (including Madagascar) and South Africa provide an important field for Indian immigration and settlement. The real interest of a country like the Indian Union, which is saddled with an extremely dense population, would seem to be to promote the peaceful diversion of some elements of its population, which in turn would become a source of revenue and contribute to progress at home. For this, however, it should neither seek to take advantage of the prevailing stability in those areas to promote a clash with the rights or interests of the ruling country, nor to take the place of the Europeans, but on the contrary to collaborate with them. That is to say, emigration from the Indian Union should not have any political objective as now appears to be the case. If any subversive acts tending to bring about the expulsion of the white man should succeed, it is doubtful if the claims of the Indians would be respected. When, therefore, Russia supports Asian efforts to oust the Europeans from Africa, she knows that she will not merely weaken Europe but at the same time may perhaps nullify the expansionist ambitions of the Indian Union. Not all who loudly proclaim anti-colonialism are conscious of what it would mean in Africa if it were to be put fully into practice. The West cannot be absolved on the ground of ignorance.
But to go back to Goa. If this case of Goa is to be brought to an end, at least as an acute crisis and source of conflict between Portugal and the Indian Union, there would seem to be only three possible ways out, one of them violent, the other two essentially pacific.
The violent decision would be for the Indian Union to undertake integration by force; that is, for the Indian Union to make war on Portugal in Goa. It cannot be doubted that she has the means to take possession of Goa against such resistance as the Portuguese forces there might be able to offer. In view of the inevitability of this result and the small territorial and economic value of the Province in relation to the remainder of the Portuguese Commonwealth, many will ask themselves why Portugal should resist. The reason is that such is Portugal's moral duty.
Of the peaceful solutions, one would be for the Indian Union to ignore Goa. As a solution it is unnatural, because the territories are neighbors, the inhabitants have affinities and trade and other interests are reciprocal or interlocked. Nevertheless it is a possible way out, although in violation of the United Nations Charter, since there can be no good neighborliness where the existence of the neighbor is ignored. Apart from this, no problem would be created for the Indian Union by Goa's disappearance from the field of Indian preoccupations. Trade, navigation, transit, immigration, transfers of funds--all would disappear. There could be no more assaults, invasions, organized terrorism, press attacks, marches, aggressive mass meetings. Purely and simply Goa would not exist as far as the Indian Union was concerned--as though it were wiped out in some great cataclysm. (Certain consequences, to be sure, such as those resulting from the fact that many tens of thousands of Goans live in the Indian Union, would have to be faced.)
The third and only genuine solution of the problem, in so far as it can be solved between two responsible states, would be open negotiations on all those points at which proximity and intercourse create risks or can give rise to friction. The Portuguese Government has singled out some such points; others may be of interest to the Indian Union. And if there were no other thought on either side than "to live and let live," it would surely be possible to find formulas for peaceful if not amicable relations--points at which interests converge and solutions for existing or possible disagreements. I believe that only along this route will the Indian Union grow in stature, consolidate its position and bring credit to its announced policy of peace.