South Africa’s Intervention in the Angolan Civil War
Chapter 5 explains why and how South Africa intervened in the Angolan civil war in late 1975, showing how the intervention ultimately came to be seen as satisfying both of the major policy impulses in Pretoria: working with independent Africa, and confronting communism. The chapter refutes the dominant thesis that this intervention was largely a response to direct American entreaties and rationalized as a means to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Washington. If anything, it was the other way around: after their military operations were exposed, South Africa begged the United States and others to get more involved in the conflict. Ultimately, the analysis shows how the regime became deeply entrenched in precisely the sort of military conflict with racial overtones that it sought to avoid through the careful statecraft of détente, resulting in regional confrontation instead of the stability and coexistence that Pretoria had tried so hard to nurture.
Keywords: Decolonization, Angolan Civil War, Portuguese Empire, covert intervention, total onslaught, Mobutu, Zaire, media control, military, United States, Organisation for African Unity, Kissinger, anticommunism
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