America and Russia: The Rules of the Game: The Super Rivals: Conflict in the Third World

Soviet forces after capturing some Mujahideen.

Like a siege, instability in the Third World has laid hold of Soviet-American relations. From the Angolan civil war in 1975 to the Iranian revolution in 1978, the turmoil has overwhelmed all other considerations in the relationship, save for the growth of Soviet military power, whose menace it serves to accentuate. Or so it would appear from the most forceful commentary of the day.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, for example, warns of the adverse "geopolitical momentum" now running against us from Angola to Afghanistan, an area that Zbigniew Brzezinski calls the "arc of instability" and others describe variously as the "crumbling triangle" or the "crescent of crisis." Kissinger paints a picture of looming tragedy if the United States cannot somehow draw itself together and disrupt the current pattern of events. Unless this country acts decisively to constrain Soviet expansionism and prove to the Soviet leaders "that a relaxation of tensions is not compatible with a systematic attempt to overturn the geopolitical equilibrium," Kissinger worries, then "sooner or later a showdown is likely to occur with tremendous dangers for everybody."1 Because the United States did not cut short Soviet (and Cuban) intervention in Angola and has not yet shown the wit or the will to discourage the Soviet Union from exploiting trouble elsewhere, according to him, it has imperiled the confidence of friends and allies. He speaks of countries like Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia straying from their "clear-cut foreign policy orientation" to something "much more ambiguous," creating an "area of enormous uncertainty." Echoing him, the London Economist writes that "the Vietnam-mesmerised American reluctance" to counter "the Soviet-Cuban success in Angola in 1975 . . . led to the Soviet-Cuban success in Ethiopia . . . which, in conjunction with the turmoil in Iran and the coups in Kabul and Aden, is now having its effect on the political complexion of the whole triangle."2 Within the "triangle" extending from Kabul to Ankara to Addis Ababa, the Economist warns that "former neutrals" may become "pro-Russian" and "some of the

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