As Kosovo atrocities dominate the headlines, I wait for some former national security maven to confess to US government crimes committed during the Cold War. We know the CIA assassinated people, fomented coups and destabilized countries we claimed were pro Soviet. But we haven't taken responsibility for the consequences of these covert actions. What became of the people and countries targeted? In 1953, the CIA struck down legitimate government in Iran and brought in our guy, the Shah. 26 years later the Ayatollah's guys held our diplomats as hostages. For more than a decade all Iranians lived under fanatical religious rule.
The CIA's 1954 coup in Guatemala begot 40 years of ruthless military rule. The thugs we trained ethnically cleansed 200,000 indigenous people - by killing them.
The supporters of the Yugoslav intervention might cast on eye on Angola, where the CIA nears direct responsibility of horrendous suffering. The CIA found Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA forces in 1975 to counter the FMLA, which most of the world recognized as the legitimate carrier of Angolan independence. The CIA armed, financed and trained UNITA soldiers. They gave publicity to Savimbi to mouth anti Soviet rhetoric.
But almost a decade ago Washington signed off on an Angolan peace accord. Angola held elections in 1992, and Savimbi lost. Then, Savimbi defied the agreement he signed. Instead of disarming he waged war against the people of Angola. Some half a million people have died in the ensuing seven years. Now that the CIA has abandoned him, Savimbi and his UNITA officials sell diamonds they steal from Angola's rich supply to barter for guns and other supplies. And DeBeers, the world's leading diamond dealer, buys these ill-begotten stones.
UNITA soldiers kill Angolan farmers or force them to flee to food scarce cities. UNITA soldiers steal food or let crops rot in the fields. Francisco Strippoli, director of the World Food Program warned that Angola faces a "tragedy of massive proportions." A UN team projected that more than a million Angolans will starve unless emergency food supplies arrive. In the past UNITA has shot down several cargo planes loaded with food.
But where is the humanitarian clamor? The UN has been passive toward Savimbi. So, in this age where we repeat "never again" as a mantra, why not petition Cuba to rescue Angola? Cuban troops protected the Angolan people from South African troops and kept Savimbi at bay in the 1980s. With US backing, the UN should pay for Havana to send its troops back to Angola and finish off Savimbi and his CIA created army. Meanwhile, the US should send food.
I'm sure Bill Clinton will think this is the morally right path for Angola - not bombing Luanda its capital.
Saul Landau is the Hugh O. LaBounty Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied Knowledge at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave. Pomona, CA 91768 tel - 909-869-3115 fax - 909-869-4751