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6641Re: [existlist] Re: A Real Life Application? The Media's Role

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  • CLSeaWasp@aol.com
    Apr 7, 2002
      The U.S. really screwed up the Angolan war. I'm pasting below an article that
      I recieved via email about recent investigations into the US involvement.
      It's very interesting.
      Claire ;D

      Published on Sunday, March 31, 2002 in the New York Times

      From Old Files, a New Story of U.S. Role in Angolan War

      by Howard W. French

      In the summer of 1975, with the cold war raging and the
      memory of Saigon's fall terribly fresh, the United States
      sponsored a covert operation to prevent another Communist
      takeover, this time across the world, in Angola.

      The effort failed to keep a Marxist government from taking
      power but ushered in a long and chaotic civil war, involving
      American, Chinese and Russian interests, and Cuban and South
      African soldiers.

      Now, coinciding with the death last month of Washington's
      longtime rebel ally in Angola, Jonas Savimbi, a trove of
      recently declassified American documents seem to overturn
      conventional explanations of the war's origins.

      Historians and former diplomats who have studied the
      documents say they show conclusively that the United States
      intervened in Angola weeks before the arrival of any Cubans,
      not afterward as Washington claimed. Moreover, though a
      connection between Washington and South Africa, which was
      then ruled by a white government under the apartheid policy,
      was strongly denied at the time, the documents appear to
      demonstrate their broad collaboration.

      "When the United States decided to launch the covert
      intervention, in June and July, not only were there no
      Cubans in Angola, but the U.S. government and the C.I.A.
      were not even thinking about any Cuban presence in Angola,"
      said Piero Gleijeses, a history professor at Johns Hopkins
      University, who used the Freedom of Information Act to
      uncover the documents. Similarly, cables of the time have
      now been published by the National Security Archive, a
      private research group.

      "If you look at the C.I.A. reports which were done at the
      time, the Cubans were totally out of the picture," Dr.
      Gleijeses said. But in reports presented to the Senate in
      December 1975, "what you find is really nothing less than
      the rewriting of history."

      Cuba eventually poured 50,000 troops into Angola in support
      of a Marxist independence group, the Popular Movement for
      the Liberation of Angola. The group held the capital in the
      months just before independence from Portugal, declared in
      August 1975.

      But Dr. Gleijeses's research shows that the Cuban
      intervention came in response to a C.I.A.-financed covert
      invasion via neighboring Zaire, now known as Congo, and
      South Africa's simultaneous drive on the capital, using
      troops who posed as Western mercenaries.

      The United States gradually switched its support to Mr.
      Savimbi's movement, Unita, and continued to support it
      intermittently during nearly two decades of warfare.

      Dr. Gleijeses's research documents significant coordination
      between the United States and South Africa, from joint
      training missions to airlifts, and bluntly contradicts the
      Congressional testimony of the era and the memoirs of Henry
      A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state.

      The work draws heavily on White House, State Department and
      National Security Council memorandums, as well as extensive
      interviews and archival research in Cuba, Angola, Germany
      and elsewhere. It was carried out in preparation of Dr.
      Gleijeses's recently published history of the conflict,
      "Conflicting Missions, Havana, Washington and Africa,
      1959-1976" (Chapel Hill).

      The book strongly challenges common perceptions of Cuban
      behavior in Africa. In the 1960s and 1970s, when Havana and
      Washington clashed repeatedly in central and southern
      Africa, Cuban troops in the continent were typically seen as
      foot soldiers for Soviet imperialism.

      In fact, Dr. Gleijeses writes, Cuba intervened in Angola
      without seeking Soviet permission. Eager not to derail an
      easing of tension with Washington, the Soviets limited
      themselves to providing 10 charter flights to transport
      Cubans to Angola in January 1976. The next year, Havana and
      Moscow supported opposite sides in an attempted coup in
      Angola, in which the Marxist government, Cuba's ally,

      After reviewing Dr. Gleijeses's work, several former senior
      United States diplomats who were involved in making policy
      toward Angola broadly endorsed its conclusions.

      "Considering that things came to a head over covert action
      in the U.S. government in mid-July, there is no reason to
      believe we were responding to Cuban involvement in Angola,"
      said Nathaniel Davis, who resigned as Mr. Kissinger's
      assistant secretary of state for African affairs in July
      1975 over the Angola intervention.

      Mr. Davis said he could find no fault with Mr. Gleijeses's
      scholarship. Asked why the story of America responding to
      Cuban intervention in Angola had persisted for so long, Mr.
      Davis said: "Life is funny. What catches on in terms of
      public debate is hard to predict."

      The United States denied collaboration with South Africa
      during the Angolan war, but it was quickly discovered by
      China, an erstwhile American ally against the Marxists in
      Angola, and was suspected and deeply resented by
      Washington's main African partners.

      Dan Clore

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