“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes”, the words that exemplify shrewdness of Sir Winston Churchill. However, it appears that this wisdom is yet to be acquired by the major leader in unipolar world today, the United States.
Let’s have a sneak peek into the bipolar world. In the years 1974-75, major political changes had occurred in Lisbon, the capital of European nation and former colonial power Portugal. As a result of Carnation Revolution, a pro eastern bloc government is in place. The new government is adamant on decolonization raising eyebrows in Washington regarding fate ofthe African colony ‘Angola’ where a war of Independence had been going on since 1961. All three tribal based rebel forces namely National front for liberation of Angola (FNLA), Popular movement for liberation of Angola (MPLA) and National union for total independence of Angola(UNITA), spearheaded by seat of government in Lisbon had agreed upon a peaceful working formula and formation of coalition government for transfer of power in January 1975. Among them MPLA was center based with its major support from Luanda and had many intellectuals as its leaders. It enjoyed political support of Lisbon as well as many western European socialist parties due to its ideology based on principles of European Marxism. Hence, this peaceful formula of power transfer was immediately viewed by Washington as a communist threat. Many American intelligentsia also dissented with the idea for instance award winning journalist Jonathan Kwitny wrote “one really has to question the sanity of someone who looks at an ancient tribal dispute over control of distant coffee fields and sees in it a soviet threat to security of United States”. Recent events had all the reasons for Washington to feel queasy,shell-shocked due to withdrawal of forces from Vietnam.It was an imminent fact that Saigon won’t stand this year which became evident by its fall in April 1975. There was dire need for a new front to prove western credibility in curbing communism.
In order to prove her abilities, the United Stated via the 40-commettie released $300,000 to FNLA just a week after brokering of successful peace accord by Lisbon. As a result FNLA moved its armor to Luanda and attacked headquarters of MPLA. MPLA was immediately able to muster support in form of money, armor and flesh from Cuba and Soviet Union marking the beginning of Angolan civil war which lasted next 26 years till 2002. UNITA later became the major player with eventual victory of MPLA resulting in formation of its government in Luanda, something similar to what was agreed upon in 1975.
Moving to immediate past, with tensions rising in Middle Eastern nation of Syria back in 2011 United States immediately intervened against seated government of her foe President “Assad” and provided arms as well as dollars to rebel groups opposed to Damascus. With empowerment of rebel groups, all hopes for a political resolve to crisis had to fade away. Upon break of fighting, both sides instead of gaining supremacy over each other, were further weakened and have lost vast territories to their combined enemy the Islamic State. The war is still an ongoing conflict which has emerged as a global humanitarian crisis.
Just like Angola in 1975, crisis in form of civil war emerged due to a foreign power intervening into internal matters of a nation. The only hope after four years of fighting still remains a political resolve. Had wisdom prevailed, the United States could have used same energy in bringing opponents on a negotiating table and helped craft a draft of solution which she has provedcapable of doing many times in past, like the return of entire Sinai to Egypt in 1982.