Conflicting Missions

Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976

PIERO GLEIJESES
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 576
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807861622_gleijeses
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    Conflicting Missions
    Book Description:

    This is a compelling and dramatic account of Cuban policy in Africa from 1959 to 1976 and of its escalating clash with U.S. policy toward the continent. Piero Gleijeses's fast-paced narrative takes the reader from Cuba's first steps to assist Algerian rebels fighting France in 1961, to the secret war between Havana and Washington in Zaire in 1964-65--where 100 Cubans led by Che Guevara clashed with 1,000 mercenaries controlled by the CIA--and, finally, to the dramatic dispatch of 30,000 Cubans to Angola in 1975-76, which stopped the South African advance on Luanda and doomed Henry Kissinger's major covert operation there.Based on unprecedented archival research and firsthand interviews in virtually all of the countries involved--Gleijeses was even able to gain extensive access to closed Cuban archives--this comprehensive and balanced work sheds new light on U.S. foreign policy and CIA covert operations. It revolutionizes our view of Cuba's international role, challenges conventional U.S. beliefs about the influence of the Soviet Union in directing Cuba's actions in Africa, and provides, for the first time ever, a look from the inside at Cuba's foreign policy during the Cold War.Washington Post Book World"Gleijeses's research . . . bluntly contradicts the Congressional testimony of the era and the memoirs of Henry A. Kissinger. . . . After reviewing Dr. Gleijeses's work, several former senior United States diplomats who were involved in making policy toward Angola broadly endorsed its conclusions."--New York Times"With the publication ofConflicting Missions, Piero Gleijeses establishes his reputation as the most impressive historian of the Cold War in the Third World. Drawing on previously unavailable Cuban and African as well as American sources, he tells a story that's full of fresh and surprising information. And best of all, he does this with a remarkable sensitivity to the perspectives of the protagonists. This book will become an instant classic."--John Lewis Gaddis, author ofWe Now Know: Rethinking Cold War HistoryBased on unprecedented research in Cuban, American, and European archives, this is the compelling story of Cuban policy in Africa from 1959 to 1976 and of its escalating clash with U.S. policy toward the continent. Piero Gleijeses sheds new light on U.S. foreign policy and CIA covert operations, revolutionizes our view of Cuba's international role, and provides the first look from the inside at Cuba's foreign policy during the Cold War.-->

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0336-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. NOTE ON CITATIONS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xvii-1)
  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 2-4)
  7. PROLOGUE
    (pp. 5-11)

    In 1945 virtually all Africa was divided among the Europeans: France and England had the largest shares; tiny Belgium ruled the immense colony of Zaire;aPortugal was master of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and several small islands; Spain held a few fragments; and the fate of the former Italian colonies had yet to be decided. The continent was a backwater, a safe backyard of the Western powers. There was no Soviet threat, no Communist subversion, and no threat to the white man’s rule.

    Fifteen years later, however, colonial rule was in ruins. The transformation had come without widespread violence, with the...

  8. CHAPTER ONE CASTRO’S CUBA, 1959–1964
    (pp. 12-29)

    The United States did not hesitate to recognize the government established by Fidel Castro. On January 7, 1959, just six days after Fulgencio Batista had fled Cuba, the Eisenhower administration extended the hand of friendship to the victorious guerrillas. To signal its goodwill, the State Department replaced the ambassador to Cuba, Earl Smith, a wealthy political appointee who had been close to Batista, with Philip Bonsal, a career diplomat known to work well with left-of-center governments. Within a year, however, Eisenhower had decided that Castro had to go.

    It was not Castro’s record on human rights and political democracy that...

  9. CHAPTER TWO CUBA’S FIRST VENTURE IN AFRICA: ALGERIA
    (pp. 30-56)

    When Castro came to power in January 1959, Cuba had only one diplomatic link with Africa: a legation in Cairo. Guevara’s trip to Egypt that June was the first visit by a high-ranking Cuban official to the continent. Raúl Castro followed in July 1960. Two months later, Fidel Castro delivered a speech at the United Nations dealing forcefully with African issues. Cordial relations were established with Egypt, Ghana, and Guinea. In October 1961 fifteen students from Guinea arrived in Havana to attend university or technical institutes, with Cuba paying all expenses, including the students’ stipends; they were the first of...

  10. CHAPTER THREE FLEE! THE WHITE GIANTS ARE COMING!
    (pp. 57-76)

    The anxiety U.S. officials felt about Cuba’s ties with Algeria was slight compared with their sudden panic when Zanzibar exploded. This tiny island state of 300,000 people off the coast of Tanganyika had been a sleepy British protectorate until becoming independent on December 10, 1963. One month later, on January 12, 1964, an unexpected and bloody revolt overthrew the Arab ruling elite and established a provisional government that was led by the immensely popular Shaykh Abeid Karume and included a few radicals, notably Foreign Minister Babu, who was sympathetic to China. On the day after the revolt, INR director Hughes...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR CASTRO TURNS TO CENTRAL AFRICA
    (pp. 77-100)

    The Cuban press followed the crisis in Zaire closely, and Cuban leaders drew bitter lessons from Lumumba’s fate. Nevertheless, until 1964 Cuba was merely a concerned spectator. “Lumumba,” Che Guevara said, “was murdered by the imperialists, but he was also the victim of his own mistakes.” He had trusted international law, the United Nations, and even the United States. He had not understood that violence, not reason, was necessary to defeat the imperialists. “He . . . thought he could defeat all the inherited evils of the system—everything we also fight against— with truth as his only weapon.”¹

    For...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE CHE IN ZAIRE
    (pp. 101-123)

    Toward the end of March, when the training of the First Column was almost completed, a senior DGI officer, Luis Delgado, visited Dreke at Peti-1 with several photographs of a man called Ramón. “He asked me whether I recognized him,” Dreke recalled. “I said I didn’t. Delgado insisted: ‘Look, he says he knows you, that you are friends.’” Dreke was categorical: “I don’t know him. I have never laid eyes on him.”¹

    About a week later, on March 30, Osmany Cienfuegos drove Dreke to a house on the outskirts of Havana. While driving, he told him: “It has been decided...

  13. CHAPTER SIX A SUCCESSFUL COVERT OPERATION
    (pp. 124-136)

    The mercenaries’ offensive against the Fizi-Baraka was the final act of one of the most successful covert operations undertaken by the United States during the Cold War. By deftly managing public opinion at home and foreign governments abroad, Washington kept the costs of the operation risibly low while the benefit seemed large: a pro-American regime ensconced in the heart of Africa.

    The mercenaries saved Johnson from having to make a choice between sending U.S. troops or accepting a rebel victory. British, Belgian, and U.S. officials all agreed that, as Belgian foreign minister Spaak said, Zaire’s “safety” depended “almost entirely on...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN AMERICAN VICTORY
    (pp. 137-159)

    Less than a week after Ambassador Godley reported that there were over 100 Cubans in the Fizi-Baraka, the offensive against the rebel pocket began. About 3,000 soldiers, spearheaded by 350 mercenaries, were supported by the CIA flotilla and by the CIA air force. “We expect the campaign to take about a month, but we still don’t know how tough it will be,” the NSC point man on Africa, Robert Komer, told President Johnson on September 27, as he announced that the offensive had “finally been launched.”¹

    Despite the attackers’ superiority in the air, on the lake, and on the ground,...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT CUBANS IN THE CONGO
    (pp. 160-184)

    Brazzaville, the capital of the Congo, had been one of Che’s most important stops during his three-month trip to Africa in early 1965. While there, he had promised a troop of Cuban soldiers to the Congolese government and Cuban military instructors to the leaders of the MPLA, the leftist Angolan rebel movement. In all likelihood, the column that assembled at Peti-1 on February 2 and went to Zaire had originally been intended for the Congo. Havana’s commitment to send a column to the Congo, however, remained.

    The vanguard of this column—nine military instructors—left Mariel aboard theUveroon...

  16. CHAPTER NINE GUERRILLAS IN GUINEA-BISSAU
    (pp. 185-213)

    “Fidel is a little pessimistic about Africa,” a senior aide told top Cuban officials on January 18, 1967, during a postmortem on the Congo. This pessimism, however, did not extend to Guinea-Bissau.¹ The Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) was, the Cubans believed, the strongest guerrilla movement in the Portuguese colonies. The Americans agreed. U.S. reports stressed time and again that the PAIGC was “Africa’s most successful liberation movement.”² Beginning armed struggle in January 1963 after three years of thorough political work in the countryside, the PAIGC guerrillas controlled a third of Guinea-Bissau by 1965 and...

  17. CHAPTER TEN CASTRO’S CUBA, 1965–1975
    (pp. 214-229)

    After the departure of Che’s column from Zaire in November 1965 and of Risquet’s column from the Congo thirteen months later, Cuba’s major activity in Africa was its assistance to the PAIGC. The presence of Cubans in Guinea-Bissau was virtually ignored by the Western press and by U.S. officials. Suddenly, in 1975 Castro stunned the world by dispatching thousands of troops to Luanda.

    The question of whether Havana was acting as a Soviet client in Angola is at the heart of the investigation of why it intervened on this unprecedented scale. Before examining the Angolan war, therefore, it is necessary...

  18. CHAPTER ELEVEN THE COLLAPSE OF THE PORTUGUESE EMPIRE
    (pp. 230-245)

    The Portuguese officers staged their coup against Caetano while the United States was negotiating the renewal of its military facilities at Lajes air base in the Azores. Lajes’s importance had been brought into sharp relief during the October 1973 war in the Middle East, when it had been critical to Washington’s massive arms airlift to Israel. “All our NATO allies,” Kissinger wrote, “except Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany (for a time) either directly or indirectly dissociated from the airlift and banned our overflights of their territories.”¹

    The Portuguese wanted their reward: weapons. Haunted by the growing...

  19. CHAPTER TWELVE THE GATHERING STORM: ANGOLA, JANUARY-OCTOBER 1975
    (pp. 246-272)

    Cadelo and Pina arrived in Dar-es-Salaam in late December 1974. In meetings with Neto and other senior MPLA officials, they learned that an MPLA delegation was preparing to go to Moscow to ask for Soviet military aid and that Neto was going to meet Holden Roberto and Savimbi in Mombasa on January 3, 1975, to forge a common position for the upcoming negotiations with the Portuguese at Alvor. Neto welcomed Cadelo and Pina’s desire to go to Angola. “He said we should verify for ourselves everything he had told us so that we could be sure we had a clear...

  20. CHAPTER THIRTEEN SOUTH AFRICA’S FRIENDS
    (pp. 273-299)

    For Pretoria, the collapse of the Portuguese dictatorship was a disaster. It turned friends into foes and opened gaping holes in the buffer zone that protected it from the hostile continent to its north. As Mozambique swung to the left and Angola descended into civil war, the instability in Rhodesia and Namibia assumed a more ominous and urgent hue. South Africa’s defenses were crumbling.

    Namibia, or South West Africa, had become a South African mandate after the First World War, and it had been ruled as the country’s fifth province. In June 1971 the International Court of Justice decreed that...

  21. CHAPTER FOURTEEN PRETORIA MEETS HAVANA
    (pp. 300-327)

    When the South African column, Zulu, entered Angola on October 14, the MPLA controlled the few towns, the major villages, and the few roads in the south of the country. It also held the entire coast from Namibia to Quifangondo, north of Luanda. UNITA’s territory had shrunk to parts of central Angola, threatened by the FAPLA. In the north, the FAPLA’s elite force, the Ninth Brigade, held back Roberto and his Zairean allies. It was still, however, a poor man’s war. South of Luanda there were only weak FAPLA units, badly armed and poorly trained. They were strong enough to...

  22. CHAPTER FIFTEEN CUBAN VICTORY
    (pp. 328-346)

    The Americans who planned the covert operation in Angola had overlooked Castro. A June 10, 1975, intelligence memo listing the “MPLA’s partisans” had included several African states, the Soviet Union, “Eastern European states, Communist parties and others on the left in Western Europe.” But not Cuba. “Cuba didn’t even enter into our calculations,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Mulcahy, one of the advocates of the covert operation, recalled.¹

    In late August U.S. intelligence began reporting the presence of a “few Cuban technical advisers” in Angola.² In early October the CIA promptly reported the arrival of theVietnam Heroicoand theCoral Island...

  23. CHAPTER SIXTEEN REPERCUSSIONS
    (pp. 347-372)

    The story of foreign intervention in Angola is complex and important, for in the details of who did what when lie some of the bitter debates of the Cold War. It is therefore necessary to examine the levels and timing of outside support to the two Angolan sides, focusing especially on the role of the Soviet Union. It is also important to analyze the U.S. decision to launch IAFEATURE, and the reluctance of the U.S. press to report it. Finally, the degree of cooperation between Cuba and the Soviet Union in Angola must be assessed.

    To examine the extent of...

  24. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN LOOKING BACK
    (pp. 373-396)

    Cuba’s intervention in Angola did not occur in a vacuum. While it caught Washington flat-footed, it fit, in fact, into the continuum of Cuba’s relations with Africa, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

    As a senior U.S. intelligence officer noted in 1967, Cuba’s “heavy dependence on the Soviet Union for survival . . . [was] incontrovertible reality.”¹ Soviet aid kept the Cuban economy afloat, and Soviet weapons kept the Cuban soldiers armed. Was Cuba, therefore, a Soviet puppet? No, according to U.S. intelligence, which pointed to Castro’s resistance to Soviet advice and his open criticism of the Soviet Union....

  25. APPENDIX
    (pp. 397-398)
  26. NOTES
    (pp. 399-502)
  27. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 503-538)
  28. INDEX
    (pp. 539-552)