"As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever." - Reagan, January 20, 1981

"In Vietnam, we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. It should mean we will not fail again." - from No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What the Soviets REALLY thought about Angola's Neto (they tried to assassinate him)

In his extraordinary 1980 autobiography, the late Shah of Iran discussed what he saw as an "axes of Communist penetration in Africa" in the 1970s:

Iran, which is only separated from Africa by Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, was concerned to see communist penetration into Africa along three axes: The first, going from Libya toward Chad, the Sudan, and Somalia, is the Mediterranean-Red Sea-Indian Ocean axis; the second aims to link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic by land; and the third cuts Africa in two from Angola to Mozambique. The axes of Communist Penetration in Africa are real dividing lines. Both the longitudinal and transverse axes sever the African continent. This penetration is a vast strategic movement which threatens to destabilize the whole of Africa.Tomorrow what is called Black Africa could become Red Africa.

For a little background

Interview: John Stockwell, CIA Angola Task Force

"When Bill Colby, the CIA director, went to brief the National Security Council in the White House the first time on this ... his briefing was literally: 'Gentlemen, this is a map of Africa, and here is Angola. Now in Angola we have three factions, there's the MPLA -- they're the bad guys. The FNLA, they're the good guys, and there's UNITA and Jonas Savimbi we don't know too well.' And that was to get the National Security Council involved in this thing."

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola -- the MPLA, the largest group -- was left-wing. Based in and around the capital, Luanda, its multi- ethnic membership was led by Agostinho Neto and Lucio Lara. In the 1960s it had received training from Cuba and arms from Moscow.

Well, according to high ranking Soviet defector Arkady N. Shevchenko

[Vasily] Kuznetsov's [First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union]'s assessment of Agostinho Neto was brutally candid: "We only need him for a certain period. We know he's been sick. He's come here a couple times for treatment. And psychologically he's not all that reliable. But he's completely under our control, and that's what counts now. As for what comes later, we'll handle it."

My curiosity aroused, I began to talk with ministry officers dealing with Angolan affairs. Moscow had never trusted Neto but hailed him as a hero. Echoing Kuznetsov's thoughts, one African specialist told me frankly that "we needed Neto's prestige as the historic leader of the MPLA." There were better people in the Popular Movement, such as Iko Careira, But without Neto it would be harder to attract Organization of African Unity support for the MPLA. "There were several assassination attempts on Neto before Angolan independence."
"By whom?"
"By his own people, the MPLA," he replied.
"Were these people loyal to us?" I persisted.
"I think so, but who can guarantee it? You know," he added with embarrassment, "these matters are kept under lock and key." Once again I was disgusted to find the Soviet hand behind a crude, gangsterish operation. I did not raise the subject with Kuznetsov.

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