The National Security Revitalization Act, the Contract With America's foreign-affairs plank, doesn't mention Angola by name. But the African country is certainly on the mind of the Republican right wing.
The bill, in the version passed by the House International Relations Committee, would restrict the role the U.S. plays in United Nations "peace-keeping" activities.
Of course, Washington has never let the UN take any action on Angola that would adversely affect its chief puppet there, the murderous Jonas Savimbi, head of UNITA since its formation in the early 1960s. And whatever the Republicans think of the UN, they certainly won't say boo if UN action helps maintain their client's influence.
In 1981, when South Africa invaded Angola in support of UNITA, the U.S. government vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning the invasion. Washington support of UNITA still continues, under both Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
After the UN Security Council voted Feb. 8 to authorize sending 7,000 UN "peace keepers" to Angola--allegedly to support a peace agreement between UNITA and the MPLA, the governing party in Angola--U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright praised the accord because it "provided concrete guarantees of UNITA's political and physical survival."
One thing UN forces are not in Angola for is peace--as the Somali people can attest to.
Angola is potentially one of the richest countries in Africa. It has oil, diamonds, coal, a fertile soil that let it export food and coffee under Portuguese colonialism, and ports that could, under peaceful conditions, serve much of southern Zaire and Zambia.
But 35 years of combat--beginning against the Portuguese colonialists in 1961 and turning into civil war between the MPLA and the U.S.-backed UNITA forces in 1975--have left it with the highest percentage of amputees in the world.
Around 3 million Angolans have died from the years of warfare. The country has also suffered tens of billions of dollars in material damage.
All this carnage is courtesy of Savimbi's UNITA, backed by money and weapons provided by both the U.S. government and the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Savimbi is probably not too worried about the loss of his racist South African backers. Over the years, he has built personal ties to such influential Republicans as Sen. Jesse Helms, Rep. Dan Burton, Col. Ollie North and Sen. Robert Dole.
All these characters may say they're concerned about U.S. participation in UN military maneuvers. But they didn't whisper the mildest of rebukes when Savimbi renewed the civil war in 1992 after he lost a UN-monitored election. Nor are they at all against intervention that strengthens imperialist domination.
After an Angolan army offensive drove UNITA out of all its strongholds and all the major cities it had seized, the Republicans' complaints--and Bill Clinton's too--were directed at the MPLA for violating the "spirit of national reconciliation that is so necessary."
It's hard to tell how serious the dispute over the UN is. But one thing is clear: Both the Republicans and Democrats expect it will do Washington's bidding and back its puppet in Angola.
They are no more concerned with the welfare of the Angolan people than they are with the needs of poor and working people here in the United States.
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