Ver Angola


The man whose diplomatic error about Angola almost started the 3rd world war has died

Henry Kissinger, who died this Thursday at the age of 100, after a life dedicated to the chess of world diplomacy, took 25 years to recognize his error in analysis regarding Angola, which almost precipitated the world into a third world war.

: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters (Via Correio da Manhã)
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters (Via Correio da Manhã)  

The assumption of the error comes in the book "Anos de Renovação", from 2011, in which Kissinger dedicates a chapter to the crisis that occurred in 1976.

In it, the USA tried to prevent the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), of Agostinho Neto, from taking over the Government of an independent Angola, and which was the scene of the first signs of civil war that opposed the two other nationalist organizations, the Frente National Liberation of Angola (FNLA), by Holden Roberto, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), by Jonas Savimbi.

In "Anos de Renovação", Kissinger tells how he was deceived by the then President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, how he believed those who shouldn't (the CIA) and doubted those who knew (the Africanists in the State Department).

The same episode is reported by historian Tiago Moreira de Sá, current deputy for the PSD in the Assembly of the Republic, in "Os Estados Unidos e a descolonização de Angola. Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger e o programa secreto para Angola", from 2011.

"In mid-April 1975, Kenneth Kaunda visited Washington and met with (US President) Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger. The trip, which had been arranged months before, was expected to be routine and was not expected to have any results important, intending, from the outset, to serve only as a courtesy towards one of the pioneers of the struggle for independence in Africa", wrote Tiago Moreira de Sá.

The three men's lunch on April 19, 1975 at the White House "ended up becoming a turning point in US policy towards Angola and even towards the African continent".

Kaunda convinced Ford that the Soviet Union was intervening in Angola with military advisors and weapons, which could help the MPLA to take power, and that the United States should oppose such action in defense of that country's neighbors.

"Basically, the message that the Zambian President was bringing was that Moscow's intervention had exceeded acceptable limits for the United States", highlights Tiago Moreira de Sá.

With this scenario, North American researchers William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh argue in the book "Back Channel to Cuba" that the third world war could have started because of Angola, based on documents that have since been declassified.

In the middle of the Cold War (1976), Henry Kissinger advised Gerald Ford to consider attacking Cuba as a response to Fidel Castro's sending of troops to the African country.

A conflict with Havana would lead to a Soviet counterattack of unimaginable proportions and the Americans knew it.

In a meeting between Kissinger and Ford at the White House, the Secretary of State stated: "I think we have to crush Castro."

The plan involved bombing Cuban ports and military installations as a response to Cuba's military support for the MPLA.

After the failed "Operation Mongoose", known as the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US Government was concerned about the weakening of the United States' position in the global political chessboard, as Kissinger admitted in a meeting on 24 September March 1976 in which the highest American military ranks were held.

In their book, the two researchers argue that Washington also feared that the Cubans would become "the troops of the revolution" on the African continent and that they would extend their influence to other countries, such as Rhodesia, Namibia or South Africa, Therefore, if they eliminated Castro, they could kill the revolutionary focus.

Weighing all the possibilities, Kissinger persisted in his intention to act militarily against Cuba and took the proposal to Ford, who agreed on February 25, 1976 with the operation and planned it for after the elections.

However, on November 2 of that same year, Jimmy Carter's election would change the history of the United States and the world: Carter was elected the 39th President of the United States and, with him at the country's leadership, the plan to attack Cuba would never come to fruition, avoiding what could have been the start of the Third World War, argue the researchers in "Back Channel to Cuba".

Kissinger's mistakes were also felt by the situation in Timor-Leste.

In an opinion article published today on the Brazilian news portal UOL, Jamil Chade revisits the events of 1975, which preceded the Indonesian invasion of Timor-Leste.

In 2001, George Washington University's National Security Archive published secret documents that confirmed for the first time that the Indonesian government launched its bloody invasion of East Timor in December 1975 with the agreement of President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Around 200,000 East Timorese died during the 25 years of occupation.

That month in 1975, Ford and Kissinger met with then-Indonesian President Suharto during a brief stopover in Jakarta while returning from Beijing.

"Aware that Suharto had plans to invade East Timor and that the invasion was legally problematic — in part due to Indonesia's use of U.S. military equipment that Congress had approved only for self-defense — Ford and Kissinger wanted to ensure that Suharto acted only after they returned to US territory", stated the University, when publishing the data.

"The invasion took place on December 7, 1975, the day after their departure, resulting in the violent and bloody occupation of East Timor for a quarter of a century. Henry Kissinger always denied that there was any substantial discussion of East Timor during the meeting with Suharto, but a recently declassified State Department cable from December 1975 confirms that such a discussion took place and that Ford and Kissinger advised Suharto that whatever he did would be "quickly successful."

Kissinger told Suharto that the use of US-supplied weapons in the invasion – equipment that, according to US law, could not be used in offensive military operations because it "could create problems", but indicated that they could "interpret" the invasion as self-defense.

On August 12, 1975, a few days after an attempted coup in East Timor, Kissinger noted that an Indonesian takeover would occur "sooner or later."

Six months after the occupation of East Timor, Kissinger acknowledged to senior State Department officials that US military aid had been used "illegally" and hinted at his own misgivings about the invasion.

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