Africa Notes: Angola: A Quarter Century of War - December 1984
December 21, 1984
''The principal element in the deterioration of [U.S.] relations with the Soviet Union," Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told a Washington news conference in April 1976, "is Soviet actions in Angola." In retrospect, the unanticipated and massive Soviet-Cuban intervention in Angola's civil war did represent an important watershed. The dramatic projection of Soviet military power and political influence into southern Africa, followed by the military interventions in Ethiopia and Afghanistan, marked the beginning of the end of superpower detente. However, the general assumption that Soviet-Cuban military support had definitively secured the rule over all of Angola of its beneficiary, the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA), proved premature.
Today, nearly a quarter of a century after the outbreak of anticolonial insurgency and a decade after the military coup in Lisbon that resulted in the hurried liquidation of the Portuguese empire, Angola continues to be ravaged by war. A host of external powers, large and small, continues to be involved in the protracted competition for control over a country whose natural resources could provide the basis for a prosperous future were it ever to enjoy a period of social peace. For most Angolans, political independence has meant until now only increased deprivation and insecurity.