Confronting Leviathan: Mozambique Since Independence
By Margaret Hall and Tom Young
Ohio University Press, 1997, 262 pp.
Mozambique: U.N. Peacekeeping in Action, 1992-94
By Richard Synge
U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1997, 242 pp.
Over Mozambique's first two decades of independence, its ruling party, Frelimo, shifted from an idiosyncratic Marxism to market economics and liberal democracy. Frelimo embraced socialism as a formula for modernization that rejected both traditionalism and the tutelage of Western Europe. But its disregard for rural culture and traditional authorities and a failure to deliver even modest material progress earned Frelimo enmity in large areas, which became susceptible to the brutal, South Africa-backed rebel movement, Renamo. Civil war and the drying up of Eastern bloc aid left no lifeline except the World Bank and Western donors, whose assistance came with the standard conditions. The authors speculate that Frelimo's adoption of neoliberal formulas is no more likely to prove appropriate to Mozambique than its earlier Marxism; the country needs more indigenous solutions.
Synge adopts a more journalistic approach to major interventions of outsiders in Mozambique, focusing on U.N. peacekeeping efforts during the run-up to the national elections of 1994. Despite some notable failures, particularly in removing land mines and disarming former combatants, he judges the U.N. Operations a success. His account of the role of American diplomats during the transition contains several inaccuracies.