In Southern Africa, The State Department Bets Against the ReaganDoctrine

Report Africa

In Southern Africa, The State Department Bets Against the ReaganDoctrine

February 12, 1988 13 min read Download Report
Michael G.
Senior Fellow and Director of Government Finance Programs
(Archived document, may contain errors)

633 i I A February 12 1988 IN SOUTHERN AF'RICA, THE STATE DEPARTMENT BETS. AGAINST .THE REAGAN DOCTRINE INTRODUCTION Africa has been the key testing ground in the struggle between the Rea gan Doctrine's support for resistance forces fighting Soviet-backed communist regimes and the Brezhnev Doctrine's insistence on the irreversibility of communist gains.

But since 1982, even as it has trumpeted the virtues of the Reagan' Doctrine, the Reaga n Administration has been working actively against it. A high' Administration official now confirms that for more than five years, the United States secretly has been providing military assistance to the communist Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (F RELIMO) regime in Mozamljique in its battle against the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) freedom fighters.

Just last week, senior U.S. representatives, including Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci in Lisbon and Chief of Command of U.S. Forces in Europe Lt.

General Howard Crow1 in Maputo, possibly discussed further U.S. military assistance to FRELIMO. Washington also has been reluctant to press Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano to live up to his promises to Ronald Reagan to open negotiations wit h RENAMO by last January

1. The reason for this violation of the Reagan Doctrine apparently is that the State Department believes, without offering any evidence, that Chissano and his FRELIMO regime can be "weaned away" from Moscow.

Diluting U.S. Positi on. In Angola, meanwhile, the State Department appears to have allowed the U.S. negotiating position to erode. For years, the U.S correctly has insisted that no solution was possible for Angola until all of the more than 40,000 Cuban combat forces are wit h drawn. Now, according to a high-ranking Administration official, the U.S. is willing to accept an Angolan settlement that allows Cuban forces to remain south of the 13th parallel for one year and north of the parallel for a longer period While the State D e partment has been diluting the U.S. negotiating position in southern Africa, the freedom fighters have been winning battles. and demonstrating the Reagan Doctrine's soundness and power. In a pitched series of major battles in -2 Angola over the last seven months, the democratic resistance forces of Jonas Savimbis National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) three times have defeated the soldiers of the communist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola MPLA) regime and its Soviet and Cu ban patrons. Savimbis position in Angola is now stronger than ever before In Mozaqbique, RENAMO now controls about 85 percent of the countryside.

The FRELIMO regime has retaliated with propaganda attacks to discredit RENAMO and by punishing RENAMOs supporters through Ethiopian-style policies of forced famine and resettlement U R I IC N 5 n I RecogniZe Reagan Doctrine Victories. Instead of retreatin g in southern Africa and seeking hollow agreements apparently for agreements sake, the Reagan Washington should hold firm to its original demand for the full withdrawal of the Cubans before a settlement based on United Nations Resolution 435.l Cubans shoul d be forced to leave in less than one year. U.S. assistance, to UNITA must continue until the last Cuban has withdrawn and Soviet aid+ terminated. Further the Administration should demand that Angolas MPLA regime negotiate directly with UNITA, just as the U.S. demands direct negotiations between communist regimes in Afghanistan and Nicaragua and their respective resistance movements.

Washington should press for the establishment -of a coalition+ government to hold I free elections under international superv ision f Administration should recognize the victories of the Reagan Doctrine. In Angola In Mozambique, the Administration should. deman&.that Chissano keepr his promises of negotiating with RENAMO. If FRELIMO refuses, Washington must conclude that FRELIMO has dealt in bad faith. The Administration then could terminate economic assistance to FRELIMO; end humanitarian .assistance? cut off political and diplomatic support; expand political contacts with RENAMO, and press U.S. allies to do the same; and begin an assistance program for RENAMO. under the terms of the Reagan Doctrine. Washington should give Chissano a specific date for opening negotiations, beyond which one or more. of .these actions will be taken.

And then the Administration must follow through A NGOIA THE SITUATION ON THE! GROUND The Second Battle of Lomba River General Konstantin Shagnovitch, eight brigades of MPLA troops, numbering 18,000 I The MPLA launched its 1987 summer offensive in July.2 Led by Soviet 1. U.N. Resolution 435, passed in 197 8 , calls for a phased South African withdrawal from Namibia and U.N.-supervised elections to be held there. At the end of one year, all South African troops are to have been removed, a new government elected, power transferred, and Namibia granted its inde pendence 2. For a fuller discussion of the background of the war in Angola, see Fred Bridgland, Jonas Suvimbi: A Key to Aficu (New York Para on House Publishers, 1987 William Pascoe, Angola Tests the January 29, 1987.

Reagan Doctrine, Herita e Foun f ation Buckgrounder No. 470, November 15, 1985; Pascoe, U.S. Aid Pays Dividends for Ango k as Freedom Fighters, Heritage Foundation Buckgrounder Update No. 36, -3 men, with almost 100 tanks, forced their way from Cuito Cuanavale to the outskirts of Mavinga. Cap t ure of Mavinga would have been a devastating blow to Savimbi's UNITA democratic resistance; aside from the psychological impact of, losing control of a town a mere 120 miles from UN1TA's.provisiona.l capital at Jamba, Mavinga's air strip would make any fu t ure attacks on Jamba much easier. Haying learned the painful. lesson of air attacks. against UN!ITA=umts armed with WS.=supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the .communist offensive of 1987 used heavy armor, with infantrymen following tanks and armore d personnel carriers into battle nx*'.n But UNITA's strong intelligence-gathering operation had tipped Savimbi to the MPLA's plans, giving him time to obtain TOW anti-tank weapons from the U.S.

Fighting from September through November, some 8,000 UNITA sol diers defeated the superior communist assault force at the Second Battle of the Lomba River--the largest land battle ever fought in sub-Saharan Africa? The 'casualties. were high communist forces lost 2,000 dead and 5,000 wounded,. while. UNITA lost 150 d e ad and 600 wounded 7 1 I I The Taking of Cuito Cuanavae and Cuemba Savimbi's troops chasedl the retreating MPLA troops back to Cuito Cuanavale the MPLA's southern-most base. Its significance to the MPLA mirrors that of Mavinga to UNITA. Cuito Cuanavale %h asc served for) the lasts several years as+theb..

MPLA's prime base of operations against UNITA forces. Its air strip allows Cuban pilots to fly Soviet-made MiG-23 jets in missions against the southernmost regionsrof UNITA territory. The MPLA's control of Cuito Cuanavale also has1 prevented UNITA from consolidating its hold on all of southern Angola. Its capture would force the MPLA to fall back to its second line of defense roughly along .the I n .I Benguela rail~ay I UNITA Marches In. Beginning in Novemb e r, UNITA forces surrounded Cuito Cuanavale, encircling five MPLA brigades. Soviet and Cuban officers fled in helicopters to the safety of Menongue, another MPLA stronghold even-further to the northwest. From November through January, UNITA besieged Cuito Cuanavale.

Then on.January 22, the last major MPLA and Cuban troops abandoned the city only small elements of the communist force remained.6 UNITA marched in.

Benguela railway. Cuemba was the last major MPLA garrison town on the Meanwhile, other UNITA for ces were assaulting the town of Cuemba, on the 3. For coverage of the battle, see Cloete Breytenbach Biggest Battle in Southern African History i%e Joliunnesburg Stur, October 2, 1987, reported in Foreign Broadcast Information ServiceAfrica hereinafter re f erred to as "FBIS-Africa October 5, 1987 13. See also Norman Patterson, "Savimbi Predicts 'Epic Battle' Upcoming Johannesburg SAPA, Octo g. er 3, 1987, reported in FBIS-Africa October 6, 1987, pp. 4-6 4. See "Savimbi Holds 12 Nov Jamba News Conference in FBIS-Africa, November 13, 1987, pp. 4-6 5. See Peter Younghusband UNITA Forces Threaten Key City The Washingfon 7imes, November 23 1987, p. AS 6. See William Claiborne Angolaq Guerrillas Say Army, Cubans Withdraw From Strategic Garrison,"

The Washington Po st, January 27, 1988; p. A21. -4 Benguela line .still in MPLA hands. Its collapse late last month gives Savimbi total control over the Benguela railway, which traverses Angola from Benguela on the Atlantic coast to Zambia on the east. Coupled with the.fal 1 of Cuito Cuanavale the victory at Cuemba gives Savimbi a much stronger hand to use diplomatically against the MPLA. m m C a I W L w n c.

MOZAMBIQUEk 'GROWING REiNAMO STRENGTH For eleven years, RENAMO gradually has intensified its pressure on the communis t FRELIMO regime. Last year, in a key strategic decision, RENAMO redeployed its forces from north to south. This brought the insurgency to the gates of Maputo, Mozambique's capital. RENAMO sources indicate that there are an concentrated in the Maputo area . 7 This has been confirmed by a South African journalist who recently visited a RENAMO base camp within sight of Maputo itself In response to RENAMO's gains, FRELIMO launched a massive propaganda offensive. FRELIMO denounced RENAMO, for instance, for a ser ies of massacres.

The first, and most notorious, of these alleged massacres took place last July 18 at the Mozambican village of Homoine, along the Indian Ocean coast. RENAMO insurgents were alleged to have. slaughtered almost 400 civilians,-Jncluding chil dren and pregnant women sleeping in their hospital beds.9 FRELIMO's story of the Homoine massacre. For one thing, Western journalists and embassy officials were barred from the site of the alleged massacre until all bodies had been buried. For another, th e only reports of the massacre.for the first week came from the official Mozambican government news agency. As more evidence came to light, U.S. officials lowered their estimates of the dead. from1 400-to 100 and even indicated their doubts that RENAMO was responsible.l0 I estimated 5,000 soldiers in the southern provinces of Mozambique, with 1,000 Alleged Massacre. From the start, however there3 were serious lproblems,.with I I FRELIMO's propaganda war against RENAMO suffered further credibility setbacks f r om the statements-of Kindra Bryan, a U.S. citizen working in Mozambique as a missionary nurse. For three months last year, she was held August, she wrote At no time were we mistreated by the RENAMO soldiers They] were very gentle with us. They never threa tened us or shoved us with their guns The soldiers seemed disciplined and well organized and appeared captive, along with six other Westerners, by RENAMO. After her release in 7. Conversation with RENAMO representatives, Washington, D.C., February 19

88. S ee also Peter Younghusband RENAMO rebels choke off Mozambique capital The Washington Times, January 7, 1988, p. A7 8. See "RSA Journalist Describes MNR Camp Conditions," London BBC World Service, January 11, 1988, reported in FBIS-Africa, January 12, 1988 , pp. 4-5 9. See William Claiborne 5-Hour Massacre Leaves a Tableau of Carnage The Washington Post, July 24, 1987 10. For a fuller discussion, see William Pascoe, "Massacre or Manipulation 77ie Washington 7imes July 30, 1987, p. D3. to have a good relation ship with the villagers, who in turn seemed to recognize them as the government."

Bryan further contradicted FRELIMO's claim that RENAMO lias no political platform. She wrote From the beginning, the soldiers wanted us to understand their cause They claimed that. the- Marxist-government knowrr* as-ERELIMO, had ruined Mozambique The soldiers could get themselves all pumped up talking about their cause Ill The FRELIMO regime faces other difficulties. Along with such diplomatic successes as Chissano's visit to the U.S. and his meeting with Ronald Reagan last October, there have been failures. An effort to establish diplomatic relations with Israel apparently has stalled.12 The U.S. State Department, apparently believing that the establishment of relations betwe e n Israel and Mozambique wouldonhead off possible resistance to its Mozambique policy from the Jewish community in the U.S strongly encouraged the move. But FRELIMO reportedly demanded $1 million in economic assistance from Israel as the price for establis h ing relations; when Israel was unable to get the money from the U.S. government, FRELIMO balked THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND SOUT" AFlUCA Their military and political positions are eroding daily. Yet U.S. State Department officials seem determined to do every thing necessary- to .keep these regimes ,in power. In Angola and Mozambique, the State Department seems more concerned with guaranteeing the Brezhnev Doctrine than with fulfilling the .*Reagan Doctrine.

In Angola, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker has allowed the U.S. negotiating position to erode. Prior. to Crocker's arrival .in Angola at the end of January, a high Administration official declared that the U.S. would be wi l ling to accept an MPLA proposal for a partitiomof Angola at the 13th parallel. Those Cuban troops south of the 13th parallel would withdraw over a one-year time frame; those north of the 13th parallel would be allowed to remain for withdrawal at a later a g reed-upon date. Meanwhile, South African troops would a I I b'

9. During a meeting with the PLO envoy, FRELIMO ideological watchdog Marcelino dos Santos "expressed the solidarity of the FRELIMO arty, the government, and the Mozambican people with the ju st struggle of the Palestinian 13. The information on the current U.S. negotiating position came from author's conversation with the official, January 22, 1988 people for t R eir independence aid. -6 US. Reversal. This represents a reversal of the long-he l d US. negotiating position of insisting on a full and complete. Cuban troop withdrawal prior to the implementation of U.N. Resolution 435.14 Dividing Angola at the 13th parallel makes little sense. First, the 13th parallel is roughly 20 minutes jet flying time from UNITA territory; thus, Cuban forces would not be out of action. Second once South African troops withdrew;-from.Wamibia allowing rthe Soviet-backed South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) to come to pawer there, there would be no pro-UNI TA force to prevent the Cuban troops in the north of Angola from breaking the agreement and attacking UNITA. Third, the plan risks partitioning Angola permanently, thus abandoning those Angolans north of the 13th parallel to life under MPLA dictatorship.

F inally, and most important the plan fails to take advantage of the increased strength of the U.S; bargaining .position which...has "resulted from U-NITA's recent victories January 1 Deadline. As for Mozambique, .Chissano. reportedly admitted to Reagan in t heir October White House meeting that the war against RENAMO was unwnnable. Chissano is believed to have asked Reagan for U.S assistance in arranging negotiations with RENAMO. Reagan is saidcto have agreed; January 1 1988, was set as the deadline for acti o n by,FREL;IMO beyond that date, Reagan was to take a lack of movement toward- negotiations evidence-of FRELIMO's bad So far FRELIMO has not moved toward negotiations. Yet Administration officials have taken no action against FRELI MO.

More important, a high Administration official has confirmed that as part of its attempt to wean away the communist FRELIMO regime from.its close ties to the Soviet Union, the U.S. secretly has been providing military..assistance to FRELIMO for over fi ve years.l6 The military assistance includes jeeps and trucks and small arms, including rifles and mortars of Soviet-bloc ori

nr There are unconfirmed reports that covert U.S. assistance to FRELIMO includes security personnel for Chissano's personal entourage. I Just 'last week, U.S;-Secretary- of .Defense .Frank Carlucci, a former U.S.

Ambassador to Portugal, visited Lisbon. While there, according to RENAMO sources, he met with Mozambican Prime Minister Mario Machungo, who also was I visiting Portugal. S imultaneously, Lt. Gen. Howard Crowl, the Chief. of Command of U.S. forces in Europe, was in Maputo meeting with Mozambican officials.

Administration officials deny that either Carlucci or Crowl discussed giving Mozambique military assistance 14. This ins istence on full Cuban withdrawal was acknowledged by the State Department as recently as June 1987 15. Author's conversation with another high Administration offiCial, November 4, 1987 16. Author's conversation with the official, January 6, 19

88. His inf ormation confirmed other reports from Western intelligence sources. -7 Giving covert military assistance to FRELIMO could violate the Helms Amendment to the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985 This s ecifically prohibits funds a u thorized for fiscal years 1986 and 1987 from being Mozambique has "implemented a plan to reduce the number of foreign military personnel to no more.-than-55.!l7 -The-number -of foreign military personnel in Mozambique has remained above 16,000 for the las t severdyears used P or military assistance to FRELIMO, unless the President certifies that The State Department's Africa Bureau headed by Assistant Secretary Chester Crocker has been balking at taking full advantage of the UNITA and RENAMO Mozambique. The State Department position, moreover, even fails to serve U.S. interests successes to fulfill the promise of the -Reagan Doctrine to the people; of Angola and The Administration should return to the course set by the Reagan Doctrine. Specifically, the Admi nistration should Hold iirm in Angola Washington should insist on full and complete withdrawal of all Cuban troops from.-Angola. before ..pressing. South .Africa to, I implement U.N. Resolution 4

35. Any agreement that leaves Cubans. in Angola beyond the d ate of South Africa's withdrawal from Namibia runs the risk of, being broken I I d Demand direct MPLA-UNITA negotiations. In Afghanistan .and Nicaragua, the Administration insists on direct negotiations between the ruling communist regime and its respecti v e resistance movement. Angola 'should be no different Shorten the Cuban withdrawal schedule. In Afghanistan, the Reagan Administration insists that 115,000 Soviet troops leave within eight months. There is no 'reason that it should take 40,000 Cuban troop s any longer to withdraw from Angola clearly weakened, now is the time for Washington to demand that the MPU invite UNITA into a coalition government and then hold free elections under international supervision. leaders may be violating U.S. law and is not in the interests of the U.S. It makes a mockery of Administration claims to "neutrality" in the conflict Push for a coalition government. With the MPLA and its Cuban patrons End military assist an^ to FlRELIMO. Arming Mozambique's pro-Soviet Demand direct FREXJMO-REJWMO negotiations. Mozambican President Chissano promised Ronald Reagan that FRELIMO would begin meeting with RENAMO by January

1. Nothing has happened. The Adrmnistration should inform Chissano that it regards the lack of action as an indicati on of FRELIMO's bad 17. The International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985 section 813 (b)(2)(c 8 faith, and that it will take new actions unless direct FRELIMO-KENAMO negotiations begin immediately. These actions could include: terininati o n pf economic or humanitarian assistance to FRELIMO; termination of propaganda di lomatic, and political support; expansion of U.S.-RENAMO. relations, and a U.S terms of the Reagan Doctrine Push for Free Electiom in Mozambique. More than most of its prede c essors the Reagan Administration consistently has pushed for the growth of democracy, as represented by free elections, throughout the Third World. Mozambique has not had a truly free election since independence. The Administration should push FRELIMO to h old free elections under international supervision e ff ort to press its allies to do the same; and ,giving RENAMO assistance under the CONCLUSION Nowhere in the Third World is the struggle between the Reagan Doctrine and the Brezhnev Doctrine more intens e than in southern Africa. Pro-Western freedom fighters in Angola and Mozambique have tested the Reagan Administrations commitment to aiding democratic resistance forces struggling against Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist regimes. In both instances, and to v arying degrees, some Administration officials have ,betrayed the, Reagan Doctrine by letting the freedom fighters down It is now time to keep the Reagan Doctrines promise for southern Africa.

Recent UNITA and RENAMO battlefield successes strengthen the U.S . negotiating position in Angola and Mozambique. The Administration thus should pursue a victory for the Reagan Doctrine in southern Africa. Washington should not be tempted to obtain an agreement--any agreement--before the end of the Administration. Clev er diplomacy and the willingness to wait can turn the freedom fighters battlefield successes into major diplomatic and political victories for Ronald Reagan, and for the proud doctrine which bears his name.

William Pascoe Policy Analyst All Heritage Foundd on papers are now available electronically to subscribers to the A!EXIS on-line data retrieval service. The Heritage Foundations Reports (HFRPTS) can be found in the OMNI CURRNT WTm, and GVT pup files of the NEXIS library and in the GOVT and OMNI pup fire s of the GOM library I i I


Michael G.

Senior Fellow and Director of Government Finance Programs