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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XXVIII, Southern Africa

Myra Burton
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs


The volume contains four chapters (entitled Regional Issues, Portuguese Africa, Angola, and Independence Negotiations), each documenting a segment of U.S. policy toward Southern Africa during the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. The documentation reveals that both presidents pursued policies designed to maintain stability in the region and to avoid domestic and international criticism of U.S. ties to the white minority regimes in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.

The chapter on Regional Issues covers South Africa, which both administrations viewed as a bulwark against Communist expansion in the region. The documents illustrate the tensions between the Nixon administration and the Congressional Black Caucus and between the administration and the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs in dealing with South Africa’s apartheid regime. They also show a preference by Nixon and Henry Kissinger to avoid direct involvement in the growing unrest.

The chapter on Portuguese Africa reflects the evolution of U.S. involvement in Angola and Mozambique. Anxious to avoid alienating a key NATO partner, the Nixon administration sought to persuade the Portuguese Government to address the grievances of the black nationalist movements, while quietly granting limited assistance to the Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (GRAE) and National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) leader Holden Roberto. U.S. involvement increased dramatically in January 1975, when Portugal granted independence to its African colonies. Concerns about Soviet expansion and Cuban involvement led the United States to provide covert support to anti-Communist forces in Angola.

The chapter on Angola chronicles the continuation of U.S. support to anti-Communist forces after the Portuguese departed in November 1975. Despite substantial assistance and support from South Africa, Zaire, Zambia, and others, the U.S. was unable to turn the tide in Angola. Congressional passage of the Tunney Amendment in December 1975 cut off aid to Angola and effectively ended U.S. support.

The chapter on independence negotiations chronicles Kissinger’s effort to broker a negotiated settlement to the conflicts in Namibia and Southern Rhodesia.