Courtesy Reuters

America and Southern Africa

The dominant element in American foreign policy since 1946 has been opposition to communism and to the communist powers. As far as Africa was concerned, responsibility for pursuing these objectives was delegated to America's trusted allies - Britain, France, Belgium, and even Portugal - whose policies in the area were therefore broadly supported despite minor disagreements which arose as American business became interested in Africa's potential. Inevitably this placed America in opposition to an Africa which was trying to win its independence from those same powers; but when political freedom could be achieved peacefully, America was able to appear to Africa like a bystander. It was therefore able to adjust its policies and accept the new status quo of African sovereign states without any difficulty. Notwithstanding these adjustments, however, America has continued to look at African affairs largely through anti-communist spectacles and to disregard Africa's different concerns and priorities.

And in southern Africa events did not force any readjustments of American policies during the 1960s; so none were made. Practical support for the status quo continued unabated until after the Portuguese Revolution in April 1974. Thus, despite America's verbal criticism of Portuguese colonialism, American arms and equipment were used by Portugal in its military operations in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. Despite the verbal opposition to apartheid, American trade and investment in South Africa were expanded, and America opposed any effective U.N. demonstration of hostility toward the apartheid state. The United States has also fought a hard, and largely successful, rearguard action against the demands for international intervention against South Africa's occupation of Namibia. And on Rhodesia, America has trailed behind British policies, emasculated the sanctions policies it had endorsed at the United Nations, and criticized Africa for the vehemence of its opposition to the minority Smith regime.

This general approach to African questions, and particularly to southern Africa, culminated in the American government's support for the FNLA/UNITA forces in the dispute between the Angolan nationalist movements.

Throughout the anticolonial war in

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