How Cuba Ruined Kissinger’s Plans for Africa
New York Times reported in its September 30, 2014 issue (written by Frances Robles) that according to documents declassified by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the request of the National Security Archive, Henry Kissinger, who was the US Secretary of State under both President Nixon and Gerald Ford, pressed and convinced President Ford and his National Security team in 1975 to attack Cuba. The plan called for strikes on Cuban ports and military installations, using scores of aircraft, and to send Marine battalions to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to “clobber” and “smash” the Cubans, as Kissinger put it, according to the records. The plan also proposed a military blockade of Cuba’s seashores. “If we decide on a blockade, it must be ruthless and rapid and efficient”, said Kissinger at the time. The plan was to be put into action after the presidential elections of 1976. However, with the election of Jimmy Carter and possibly due to other military and geopolitical considerations by the Empire, such as an expected reaction by the Soviet Union to such aggression, the plan was shelved. What irked and infuriated Kissinger was that Cuba, a nation of about 8 million at the time, singlehandedly ruined his plans for Africa. To see how, we need to go back a few years in history.
Angola, as with other African countries, had been colonized and literally looted by European capitalist states for hundreds of years. Portugal, for instance, had set up mass forced labor camps for Angola’s population. In 1951, Angola became a “province of Portugal”, called the Província Ultramarina de Angola (Overseas Province of Angola)! Yet, the colonizers didn’t do anything for the country they were robbing – no building of infrastructure, hospitals or a single university, after hundreds of years of brutal exploitation.
In the 1950s, Angolans began to make demands for human and civil rights and independence. When worldwide diplomatic efforts at gaining independence led to nowhere, revolutionary guerrillas began an armed struggle in 1961, in what appropriately came to be known as the Colonial War. After years of conflict, the nation gained its independence on 11 November 1975, under the leadership of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). Then, with the support of the US, which by now had become the leader of the colonial powers, and arms sent to them by the U.S. and Israel, the apartheid government of South Africa invaded Angola to defeat the victorious MPLA.
Enter Cuba, a small revolutionary island nation in “the backyard” of the Empire, which sent thousands of troops to push back South Africa! By the end of 1975, the Cuban military had more than 25,000 troops – all volunteers – in Angola, battling the racist state of South Africa to keep Angola independent. Following the retreat of South Africa, Cuban forces remained in Angola to support the MPLA government against UNITA, which was supported by the US and South Africa.
In 1988, Cuba intervened once again to drive back UNITA forces, which with the help of South Africa, launched an attack against MPLA led government, leading to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which led to peace talks known as the New York Accords, which stipulated that both Cuban and South African forces withdraw from Angola and gave independence to the South West Africa from South Africa, which was a clear and definitive victory by revolutionary Cuba and both of those African nations. The U.S. and its allies continued to support UNITA and hence the civil war in Angola continued, but Cuba had already made its mark. The last of all Cuban troops left Angola in 1991, when the apartheid regime of South Africa fell and a jubilant Nelson Mandela, who couldn’t thank his Cuban brothers and sisters enough, was elected president.
But Cuba never abandoned Africa. Throughout the decades, Cuban doctors have had a permanent presence in Africa, providing care to the population who never got it from their colonizers. Today, while the U.S. sends troops to make sure the people of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia stay put and don’t spread Ebola out of their borders, Cuban doctors, alongside the heroic Doctors Without Borders, risk their lives to provide badly needed care, at this crucial time when Ebola has already infected 10,000 people in those poverty stricken countries, and when the attitude of the imperialist states of the U.S. and its allies in Europe is basically: let them die, as long as they don’t infect us!
Kissinger was pushing for war on Cuba shortly after his war crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and after planning and executing the overthrow of democratically elected President Salvador Allende in Chile. Who knows, maybe his plans for war on Cuba would have materialized, too, had it not been for the Soviet Union. And maybe a million Iraqis and 200,000 Syrians would not have died had the Soviet Union not fallen apart. But, as Cuban leaders like Fidel Castro have made their mark on world history and humanity, so has, in stark contrast, Henry Kissinger and other US leaders, from President Reagan to Obama to Hillary Clinton, who recently called Kissinger her “idol” and whom she says she consults with on policy matters. The contrast could not have been starker.