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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Secret Third World Wars

excerpts from the book

The Praetorian Guard

by John Stockwell

former CIA agent



... In April 1974, the [Angolan] army rebelled in a coup in Portugal, making it clear that the colony of Angola, where a prolonged independence struggle had been fought, would be granted its freedom. The superpowers quickly chose sides between the three competing factions. The United States automatically sided with the FNLA (Front for the National Liberation of Angola), with whose leader, Holden Roberto, it had maintained contact over the years. In fact, Roberto was close to the Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seku, whom the CIA had installed and maintained in power since 1961. Historically the Soviet Union had generally sided with the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), although contact had been disrupted in the years preceding 1974. Reacting to Soviet policy, Communist China sent 400 tons of arms to the FNLA, and over 100 advisors. A third movement, UNITA (the National Union for the Independence of Angola), was left without a major sponsor. Led by Jonas Savimbi, it was historically the most radical of the three parties having received aid from China, North Korea, South Africa, and others over the years.

In January 1975, leaders of the three movements met under Portuguese arbitration and signed the Alvor Accord in which they agreed to compete peacefully in elections that would be held in October. November 11 was fixed as the anticipated date of independence.

Within a week, the National Security Council met in Washington D.C. and allocated $300,000 for the FNLA's use in the political campaign. The FNLA had sufficient arms from the Chinese and from Zaire and a record of bloody violence against the Portuguese and the MPLA. The CIA station chief in Kinshasa urged Roberto to move his FNLA forces inside Angola. His men went in armed and soon attacked and killed a team of MPLA organizers. At that moment the Alvor Accord was effectively sabotaged and the fate of Angola sealed in blood.

During the spring all of the factions scrambled to organize, obtain arms, and establish control over whatever territory they could. The MPLA was by far the most successful. By mid-summer, it controlled 13 of the 15 provinces. The National Security Council, which was dominated by Henry Kissinger, demanded a paper outlining possible options from the CIA. This was July 1975, just three months after the last helicopter had left the embassy rooftop in Saigon, marking the decisive end of the Vietnam War. Many, including CIA Director William Colby were surprised that the CIA would move so quickly into another adventure.

The CIA's paper offered four options: one for $600,000 which would provide political support for the FNLA, one for $6 millionwhichwould include some military support, one for $14 million which would involve substantial military; and one for $40 million. The $40 million, it was estimated, would equal anything the Soviet Union was likely to try in Angola. These options and the estimate of the Soviet reaction were not the result of a massive study. The CIA's Africa Division chief and his staff plucked the figures out of a round table discussion, and Colby relayed them to Henry Kissinger as authoritative. It must be noted that neither the Africa Division chief nor his deputy had any substantive experience in Africa. One had spent his career in Europe, the other in the Pacific Basin. Only the deputy had any substantive experience in managing paramilitary activity: he had been part of the programs that had just dramatically failed in Southeast Asia, and had never set foot in Africa.

A fifth option, staying out of the conflict and letting Angola make its own way toward independence, was not included in the paper. Was this a viable option? The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Nathaniel Davis, firmly believed so. Of the proposed CIA program, he said, "It's the wrong game for a great nation, and the players we've got are losers." The U.S. Consul General in the Angolan capital of Luanda, Tom Killoran, who was the only senior American diplomat who had worked with all three Angolan movements, firmly believed that the MPLA was in fact the best organized, the most likely to prevail, and ultimately the friendliest to U.S. interests.

Kissinger picked the second option, then decided $6 million didn't sound impressive and cabled Langley from a Paris trip authorizing $14 million. The CIA quickly mobilized to support the FNLA, fighting the MPLA.

Just returned from the evacuation of Saigon, I was ordered to put the CIA's task force together and manage the secret war under the supervision of the CIA's Africa Division chief in Langley and the National Security Council's Interagency Working Group on Angola. One month after we were formally committed to the secret war, I was sent inside Angola to assess the competing forces. I found that Roberto's forces were disorganized and numbered one-hundredth as many as he told us. Savimbi's UNITA forces seemed determined and he was scrupulously honest in the counts and estimates he gave us. We decided to co-opt him into our program.

It should be noted that, at this point, I was skeptical of the CIA and of covert action in general. What I had seen in Vietnam had amounted to a debacle. However I had spent my career out in the field. I couldn't resist the opportunity to see for myself how these operations worked from the level of the National Security Council. I truly hoped I would find that they were better reasoned and managed than they had seemed. I quickly abandoned this forlorn soldier's dream

Throughout the fall of 1975, arms were jammed into Angola, mercenaries were hired, battles were fought, and several thousand people were killed and wounded. The United States actively discouraged United Nations and other formal efforts to mediate. Our budget eventually totalled $31.7 million, a good part of which was siphoned off into corruption. We encouraged South African forces to support our Good Guys, while Cuban soldiers joined the MPLA Baddies.

By winter, the program was thoroughly exposed and the Congress mercifully passed the Tunney Amendment to the FY 76 Defense Appropriation Bill that ordered our operation closed down. In the field, our forces had been routed and the MPLA effectively controlled all of the provinces. We had given Jonas Savimbi the wherewithal to keep the Benguela Railroad closed, which was our client-state Zaire's only economically viable egress to the sea for its copper.

We had lied to nearly everyone, lies that were quickly exposed. Some of those lies to the U.S. Congress, covering up what we had done, amounted to perjury and could have been prosecuted as such. We had allied the United States with South Africa in military activities, which was illegal and impolitic. We had delivered white mercenaries into Angola to kill blacks as a technique of imposing our policies on that black African country. Meanwhile, we-not the "Communists"-had interfered with U.S. commercial interests. We had withdrawn Boeing Aircraft Corportion's licenses to sell five jetliners to the Angolan airlines, and we had blackmailed Gulf Oil Company into putting its $100 million payments in escrow instead of delivering them to the Bank of Angola. We had poisoned the missionaries' efforts to run vital schools and hospitals.

Our experience with Gulf Qil Company and Boeing Aircraft Corporation left me with an initial misperception of the CIA's involvement with multinational corporations. These two companies were frustrated and inconvenienced by the CIA's secret war in Angola. It cost them money. George Wilson, the President of Boeing, flew to Washington to protest and clear the licenses to sell his airliners to the Angolan government. In my first lectures after leaving the government, I reported that the CIA and the big corporations were, in my own experience, out of step with each other. Later I realized that they may argue about details of strategy-a small war here or there. However, both are vigorously committed to supporting the system. Corporate leaders fight amongst themselves like people m any human endeavor. They raid and hostilely take over each other's companies. Losers have been known to commit suicide. However, they firmly believe in the capitalist system. In two short meetings in Washington, we managed to turn the Boeing President George Wilson around to the point where he sent a letter that we had drafted to the new government of Angola, warning them that the price of crossing the U.S. (secret) government was the loss of access to U.S. technology.

In sum, we had severely damaged U.S. national security interests and nailed our own country with another defeat on the heels of Vietnam.

In one of the classic, ironic follies of intelligence charades, Gulf Oil Company employees returned immediately to resume pumping the Angolan oil-protected militarily by Cuban soldiers from CIA mercenaries who were still marauding and destabilizing the countryside. Nor did the Angola tragedy end with the CIA's defeat in the winter of 1976. Under President Reagan, congressional restraints were lifted and the CLA resumed its support of Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA forces. Over the years the continued destabilization has taken a horrendous toll: the Red Cross counts over 20,000 walking-maimed in Angola today and the central part of the country, which used to be its bread basket, is now a recognized zone of famine.

1 comment:

Africa Image said...

So what did the US, Russia and China get from destabilising Angola and other third world countries? Who is the next victim of CIA adventurism after Afghanistan and Iraq?

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