In past centuries, Angola was among the areas most-devastated by the slave trade. In recent decades, it has been afflicted with wars. However, in both eras, much of the violence was driven by powerful external forces. This is because Angola, with an abundance of oil and other resources, could develop into a very prosperous country if led and controlled by the right power. In 1975 Angola was released from colonialism by Portugal. This pivotal event in history sparked the beginning of a massive conflict between many of the key players in world power. These key players included the United States, Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union.
After reading three separate accounts of the crisis in Angola (U.S. Senate hearings led by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a personal memoir by 1975 Assistant Secretary of State Nathaniel Davis, and a biography entitled In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story by John Stockwell), I have come to several conclusions. Although these three men all held important positions in the U.S. government, multiple contradictions exist in their chronologies of events. Of the discrepancies I found, all of them put Stockwell in opposition with Kissinger and Davis. I believe this is due to his position in the Central Intelligence Agency, where the greater availability of information was his advantage. Moreover, since all three accounts agree that the U.S. involvement was essentially a covert operation led by the CIA, I feel the account written by Stockwell was the most valid of the three.
When looking at the differences in chronologies, it is necessary to start from the beginning of the conflict. The first difference I found dealt with CIA involvement in Angola. Stockwell, "an experienced, senior CIA case officer" (Stockwell, 31), marked early July 1974 as the start of CIA support.
In July 1974 the CIA began funding Roberto without 40 committee
approval, small amounts at first, but enough for word to get around
that the CIA was dealing itself into the race...During the fall of 1974
the CIA continued to fund Roberto, still without 40 committee
approval... (Stockwell, 67).
However, Davis describes that covert support did not begin until much later.
Shortly thereafter (his appointment on March 11, 1975), William
G. Hyland, the director of the State Department's Bureau of
Intelligence and Research, told me that a $300,000 program of
covert support for the veteran Angolan liberation fighter, Holden
Roberto, had been approved that past January by the Forty
Committee... (Davis, 110).
Kissinger also noted this $300,000, which was given to Holden Roberto, was the first U.S. aid to Angola.
...We did not feel that our national interest was sufficiently
involved in the struggle within Angola...therefore, we only
made a grant of $300,000 which, at most, will get bicycles,
office equipment, and aid political efforts of the FNLA... (Angola, 26).
This contradiction is most-likely due to the differences in position between the three men. Stockwell was an important CIA official and had access to more classified information at an earlier time.
The second inconsistency I found dealt with the U.S. military support in Angola. Stockwell insisted throughout his book that the U.S. was spending millions of dollars on arms for the conflict.
...8 million, released on July 27, was allocated primarily for
the shipload of arms and for the procurement of airplanes
to haul material from Kinshasa into Angola...On August 20,
an additional 10.7 million was authorized for more arms,
aircraft, mercenaries, and maintenance of the liberation
forces, (Stockwell, 206).
Stockwell also reported that by December 1975 the CIA was still lying to Congress about arms and advisors in Angola. At this time, Kissinger was not reporting anything remotely close to a U.S. arms build-up. In fact, he suggested that a military-type...
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