Africa Notes: Moscow and Africa: A 1986 Balance Sheet - March 1986
March 21, 1986
When President Reagan took office in 1981, it was generally assumed that his administration would adopt a conservative globalist approach to African issues. For a complex mix of reasons, it did not. Instead, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker won the support of the White House and Secretary of State Alexander Haig for a strategy toward southern Africa and the rest of the continent that, although conservative in disposition, was still more regionalist than globalist.
It was not until 1985 that a somewhat disparate assemblage of politicians, officials, and opinion leaders coalesced in support of a more aggressive, ideological, and interventionist posture toward radical socialist regimes in the Third World. The most controversial of the African manifestations of this new drive from the right has been the buildup of pressure for direct U.S. assistance to Jonas Savimbi and his UNIT A guerrillas in Angola (see "United States Options in Angola" by John A. Marcum in CSIS Africa Notes no. 52, December 20, 1985). Ironically, this new wave of globalism is cresting just as it is becoming clear that many of the special relationships that Moscow seemed to have cemented in Africa between the 1950s and the mid-1970s have proven to be illusory and ephemeral.