Into the Storm: American Covert Involvement in the Angolan Civil War, 1974-1975
AuthorButler, Shannon Rae
KeywordsAmerican Intervention in Angola
Angolan Civil War
Portuguese Decolonization in Africa
US Foreign Policy in Southern Africa
Committee ChairSchaller, Michael
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAngola’s civil war in the mid-1970s has an important role to play in the ongoing debate within the diplomatic history community over how best to explain American foreign policy. As such, this dissertation uses the Angolan crisis as a case study to investigate and unravel the reasons for the American covert intervention on behalf of two pro-Western liberation movements: the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), led by Holden Roberto, and Jonas Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. That Angola is a late 20th century example of foreign intervention is not disputed. However, the more significant and difficult questions surrounding this Cold War episode, which are still debated and which directly relate to the purpose of this study, are first, “Why did the United States involve itself in Angola when it had previously ignored Portugal’s African colonies, preferring to side with its NATO partner and to maintain its distance from Angola’s national liberation movements?” Was it really, as the Ford Administration asserted, a case of the United States belatedly responding to Soviet expansionism and Kremlin-supported aggression by Agostinho Neto’s leftist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Secondly, “Exactly when did the United States intervene, and was this intervention largely responsible for the ensuing escalation of violence and external involvement in Angola affairs?” In other words, as suggested by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, was the Soviet Union’s intervention in response to the American decision to allocate $300,000 to Holden Roberto’s National Front in January 1975? If so, then contrary to the Ford Administration’s official account of the crisis, the United States - and not the Soviet Union - was the initial provocateur in the conflict that left the resource-rich West African nation in a ruinous, perpetual state of warfare into the early 21st century.