The Menlo Roundtable

A Clandestine Civil War: How the Secret U.S. Involvement in the Angolan Civil War had a Hidden Agenda

When we think of the Cold War, we think of Vietnam, nuclear tests, Berlin, the Red Scare, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and many more such pivotal events.

Rarely do we hear about the more minor proxy wars and the aftermath of decolonization. Rarely do we hear about Africa’s political and diplomatic history post-transatlantic slave trade. Again and again, we see U.S. interference in foreign affairs and politics in other, more vulnerable and high profile regions. This research paper is about hidden agendas and foreign power influence in a place history tends to ignore. It would not seem like the west coast of Africa in 1975 would be a Cold War hotspot; however, the influence of communism and the U.S. mission of promoting democracy expands further across the globe than previously thought. Indeed, it is true that the U.S. got involved in Angola because of the Soviet Union, but there was substantial effort to conceal the mission. Congress, Secretaries of State, the CIA, and presidential administrations disagree on the extent of U.S. intervention and the goals of that interference. Most historians now agree that the U.S. had interests in Angola far beyond resisting the Soviet sphere of influence.

Photo: White House Photographic Office Collection (Ford Administration)