Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Gorbachev's new thinking on superpower relations assumes that struggle between two opposing world systems no longer characterizes the present era. This second volume in the East-South Relations series explores the implications of Gorbachev's new thinking for regional conflicts. Because these conflicts jeopardize tranquil relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, they are perceived as contrary to the new spirit of global cooperation. This volume suggests that the accords on Southwest Africa may illustrate how the superpowers will resolve conflict, and shows how smaller powers may now have new roles cast for them by the superpowers. In 1975, Soviet-Cuban assistance to the Leninist-oriented Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was the first extensive Soviet-allied military intervention in the Third World. While the Soviet-backed Cubans propped up the MPLA, the South Africans intervened, on a smaller scale, in support of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) under Jonas Savimbi. After 1985 UNITA began receiving United States support, and a military stalemate ensued. The contributors to this volume analyse how the Soviet Union and the United States used this stalemate to move the MPLA, Cuba and South Africa to settle not only their differences, but also the vexing question of the Independence of Namibia. Source: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=HlHH5j0x8_sC
NVA (East German Army) rofie boots – parade ground drill during the late 60s
This is the story of an audacious, airborne assault, on 4 May 1978, on a SWAPO fortified base containing its military headquarters, logistical support, reserves and training facilities. The assault was supported by a very strong air strike by bombers and fighters as well as by air transport to drop the paratroopers into battle in one of the major, post World War para drops, 250kms deep behind enemy lines, and thus, of a necessity, the deployment of a veritable swarm of helicopters to extract the paratroopers back to safety, this execution of the whole intricate operation through a joint HQ deployed in the field. Unfortunately the subsequent uproar in the international media, based on allegations that this assault was a brutal attack on a refugee camp, did much to detract from the incredible victory the SADF had claimed for the paratroopers and the air force. Was it refugee camp as claimed by the Third World and the communist block, a SWAPO HQ and strategic military establishment as claimed by the RSA government and the SADF, or a mixture of both as claimed by the truth and reconciliation commission were the casualties mostly combatants or were they innocent civilians? This is the only personal account ever written by somebody on the SADF side who 'was actually there' and who was the commander of the paratroopers. It also brings to light much more than this brief outline, especially the dangerous nature of the whole enterprise through personal experiences, by paratroopers and air crews, and how and why it nearly became the most disastrous undertaking of the whole 'bush war' era through uncalled for meddling by an outsider who should not have been there. Publisher: GG Books UK / Helion & Company (2014) Paperback: 656 pages c 50 b/w & 50 colour photos, 4 maps Helion edition available June 2014
Artist Peter Badcock captures graphically in his very distinctive style,the strains and stresses,which characterised the determination and dedication of the South African forces in South West Africa when pitted against the SWAPO and Cuban insurgents. 1st SA Edition Publisher: Graham Binding: Hardcover ISBN: 0 620 05344 5
The Angolan war, now entering its fifth decade, initially coincided with a period of intense Cold War rivalry but has continued unabated thereafter, reflecting remarkable adaptive characteristics and the ability to survive Africas political and strategic marginalisation. Cold War patronage has been replaced by the instrumentalisation of oil and diamonds as part of the ongoing insurgency. This study reflects possibly the most complete work on the Angolan war economy to be published in recent years. The book first presents a theoretical framework for the political economy of the Angolan abundant resource war and an interpretative account of the internal and regional dynamics of the war, its global and arms dynamics and ethnic roots. Four of the sixteen chapters are devoted to the diamond industry, looking at commercial diamond mining in Angola, porous borders and diamond smuggling and the political sociology of power struggles in the diamond rich Lundas. Two chapters are devoted to UNITA logistics. The first presents an overview of UNITAs logistic support structures and the other more specifically looks at airborne support to UNITA. Two chapters focus on the oil industry, providing an overview of the industry and role of oil in the war economy, while a third investigates the ethical considerations of multinationals doing business in Angola. A separate chapter is devoted to the role of humanitarian aid during the war and a final chapter looks towards the future. Funded by the Government of Finland - 2000 - 370pp - Paperback
Thank you for that review, Phillip! It does create very interesting background to the Soviet's involvement in the War In Angola. We get to see the physique and mental conditioning of the Russian soldier... both series sound like a must see! I will really try and get them myself too!
fficeDocumentSettings> fficeDocumentSettings> For decades we have known the history of the thirties and forties almost exclusively through the eyes of the Allies. The Cold War and the concomitant secrecy of the Soviet and Eastern Bloc archives is one of the reasons for this. With the disappearance of Communism as a world power, these archives have been steadily opening, so that wide-ranging new perspectives on the history of the era have become possible. Amongst them are Anne Applebaums’s Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps , which is considered by many to be the last word on the subject, which includes an account of the post-War era camps right up to the abolition of the system under Gorbachev. Another is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s   Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar , which gives an inside Kremlin account of Stalin during his years of power. The book records even intimate details of Stalin’s life, such as how he signed his daughter Svetlana’s completed   school homework every day like any other Soviet parent. One of the great advantages of the current era is the availability of minutes and records of significant meetings and conversations, as well as previously unknown archival film material. These have been the impetus behind two very fine recent DVD series: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, Hitler and the Allies and Blood Upon the Snow: Russia’s War. Each in its own way brings a new and authentic perspective upon the pre-1945 Soviet era, and in so doing throws light upon the development of the Cold War 1945-8. Understanding Stalin and his motivations in the aftermath of WWII goes a long way to understanding the demands he made at Yalta and Potsdam, and the way in which he and his successors exercised their hegemony over Eastern Europe. Behind Closed Doors is dramatization rather than documentary, although there are a fair number of actual historical film clips. But it is not “docudrama” of the sort in which conversations are reconstructed according to a combination of history and a dramatist’s imagination. Actors have been chosen with strong resemblance to the historical figures, and trouble has been taken to imitate their voices. Ribbentrop, for example, or Molotov and Winston Churchill are “dead ringers” for their actual historical counterparts. Dialogue is taken from historical records, so that the actors speak the actual words that the real persons concerned spoke. Rather than fill in the gaps with reconstructed dialogue, the connecting material consists of voiced-over commentary. This has two significant advantages: firstly, the words spoken can be regarded as ipsissima verba, or the actual words spoken by the persons concerned, making the series itself historically reliable. Secondly, though we could never have been party to the actual meetings, we are confronted with a high level of historical verisimilitude which brings actual history alive as few series ever have. In front of one are Stalin, Churchill, Molotov and many others actually speaking as they spoke when they met and uttered these words. It is striking and gripping. The series starts with the arrival of Ribbentrop in Moscow in August 1939 in order to sign the Nazi-Soviet pact, a bare two weeks before the outbreak of the War on 1 st September. It details the high level of co-operation between Hitler and Stalin, right through to the attack on the Soviet Union by Hitler, and the consequent, titanic struggle between the two nations. During this era, the duplicity practised by Stalin and the West upon each other are clearly and excellently outlined. For example, after Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, and after the Soviet Union had murdered 24 000 Polish officers, including those found at Katyn, Beria, the head of the NKVD (secret police), met with captive Polish military leaders to enlist their support for the Soviet war effort. When they ask for their own officers to lead them, Beria coldly admits, “There has been a mistake. We have killed them”, and calmly carries on eating his dinner! This is a short series: 2 DVDs and 6 episodes. Despite this, it is surprisingly comprehen­sive in its scope. Bearing in mind that the leaders with whom Stalin dealt during the War were the same ones with whom he worked in shaping the post-War order, this series has much to tell us about the background to the Cold War, of which our own Border War formed a not insignificant part. The decisions that formed the context of the war in Angola were taken decades earlier by the (in)famous leaders portrayed in this series in places far away from here. For that alone it is worth watching. Blood upon the Snow is a series of a different order, though in its own way it sheds a lot of light on the Border War era. The series’ starting point is British author Richard Overy’s book Russia’s War. Overy has worked with two eminent Russian historians to produce a series which goes far beyond the book with its handful of photos. Extensive Soviet film archive material of the war on the Eastern Front has been assembled, bring it to life as it never has been before. In a sense, the vast battles of the   Eastern Front WERE the Second World War; it was fought by millions of troops along a front more than a thousand kilometres long. The Western front, in terms of scale, was a side-show. It is shattering to realise that there were more soldiers killed in the battle for Stalingrad alone   than during the entire Allied invasion from D-Day to the surrender of Nazi Germany. The Germans alone assembled three million troops for the attack on Kursk. War on such a scale happened nowhere else. This series thus presents us with a graphic account of the biggest and most decisive front of WWII. There are twelve episodes on four CDs. The series begins with Stalin’s five-year plans and their effects on the later war industry, works its way through the conflict and ends with Stalin’s post-War treatment of the recovered territories and his cult of the personality. Rare film sequences include Moscow being bombed, Zhukov’s first winter counter-offensive, the siege of Leningrad and the battles of Kursk and Stalingrad. The Russian historians are interviewed, and provide interesting insights, but this is a series with limited talking heads and much war footage. There is the odd error; for example, Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony was not completed in Leningrad, as the series asserts nor was it first performed there. The first two movements were written in Leningrad before the composer and his family were moved to Kuibyshev, where the symphony was completed and had its first performance. A performance in Moscow followed rapidly, after which the microfilm was transported to the West. It was performed in London and America before it was first heard in Leningrad in 1942. The first movement portrays the destruction of Leningrad, but was completed before the German attack. Its programme was altered after the German siege had begun, though Volkov’s Testimony , a biography of Shostakovitch, claims that the Leningrad of the Symphony was “the one that Stalin destroyed and Hitler merely finished off”. One of the series’ most moving features is the number of interviews with Soviet WWII veterans. Their testimony of what they refer to as the Great Patriotic War brought many a lump to my throat while watching the series. Red Army they might have been, and our enemies in Southern Africa in later decades, but they are old soldiers, and their experience is shared by millions of others, including ourselves, who have found themselves in similar situations. This in itself makes the series eminently worthwhile for SA veterans. You haven’t encountered vasbyt until you’ve heard what these old guys went through and survived! If you want to understand the Eastern Front in all its horror, and especially to hear the moving and eloquent testimony of old soldiers who fought in it under the terrible conditions that applied, you cannot afford to miss this series. 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fficeDocumentSettings> fficeDocumentSettings> The term “Cold War” refers to the fact that the USSR and the USA never engaged in actual military warfare against one another. One can understand why; the danger of MAD (mutually assured destruction) in the case of a nuclear war was too great. In the early era, up until 1963, there was quite a lot of sabre-rattling and brinkmanship. After Cuba – and even here, it is questionable how close the world really came to nuclear warfare – the two superpowers settled into a comfortable routine of “spheres of interest”, even to the extent of the West (because of its policy of “containment”) avoiding becoming involved when countries under Soviet domination rebelled and appealed for help, as in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). Only twice did they get themselves directly involved in extended-scale warfare; Vietnam and Afghanistan. Both lost. But even here, neither engaged in direct combat against the other. In the rest of the world, especially in the Third World, matters were very different. There, they fought wars by proxy against each other, supporting one or another side in local issues in the hope of achieving hegemony in a particular region. Southern Africa was one of these very real wars. “Red under the bed” disinformation notwithstanding, it is a difficult task to explain away the joint, cooperative   presence of 1 500 East German and 1 000 Soviet advisors as well as 40-50 000 Cubans in Angola, together with North Koreans and others. The two superpowers remained unscathed, while smaller countries were wrecked as a result of their wars by proxy. The individual civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Cambodia, to name but a handful, were not separate wars, but DIFFERENT FRONTS OF THE SAME WAR. This fact is excellently highlighted by the CNN series Cold War. Beginning with the end of World War II, its 24 episodes span the duration of the entire Cold War right up to the very end. There are hours of actual footage that would not easily be found together under one title. Episodes concentrate on particular issues, making it relatively easy to follow the history. A wide range of Cold War topics is dealt with. These include the post-War settlement; the formation of Iron Curtain; the Marshall Plan; the Berlin airlift; the Korean war; McCarthyism and Eastern Bloc purges; Khrushchev and the end of Stalinism; the space race; the Berlin Wall; the Vietnam war; Mutually Assured Destruction; 1960s protest in the USA; the Prague Spring; communist China; détente; the Cold War in the Middle East and Central America; Strategic arms limitation talks; Afghanistan; espionage; “Star Wars” (SDI) and Gorbachev; the fall of the Wall and the end of communism. The series is narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The episode “Good guys, bad guys” gives about a third of its length over to a not particularly in-depth analysis of the Angola War, which at least lets us hear the Angolans themselves (not particularly honestly, I suspect) expressing their point-of-view about the entry of the Cubans. There is a special interview with Fidel Castro, which is interesting for the fact that during the Border War itself, we never actually heard or saw him. The series has its faults and its bias, to be sure. But in general, if one wants to see the Border War in its context, that of the Cold War itself, and to gain a perspective of the era as a whole, it is a worthwhile series to follow. It is, unfortunately, available in Region 1 format only, but today this is relatively easy to deal with. 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fficeDocumentSettings> fficeDocumentSettings> The term “Cold War” refers to the fact that the USSR and the USA never engaged in actual military warfare against one another. One can understand why; the danger of MAD (mutually assured destruction) in the case of a nuclear war was too great. In the early era, up until 1963, there was quite a lot of sabre-rattling and brinkmanship. After Cuba – and even here, it is questionable how close the world really came to nuclear warfare – the two superpowers settled into a comfortable routine of “spheres of interest”, even to the extent of the West (because of its policy of “containment”) avoiding becoming involved when countries under Soviet domination rebelled and appealed for help, as in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). Only twice did they get themselves directly involved in extended-scale warfare; Vietnam and Afghanistan. Both lost. But even here, neither engaged in direct combat against the other. In the rest of the world, especially in the Third World, matters were very different. There, they fought wars by proxy against each other, supporting one or another side in local issues in the hope of achieving hegemony in a particular region. Southern Africa was one of these very real wars. “Red under the bed” disinformation notwithstanding, it is a difficult task to explain away the joint, cooperative   presence of 1 500 East German and 1 000 Soviet advisors as well as 40-50 000 Cubans in Angola, together with North Koreans and others. The two superpowers remained unscathed, while smaller countries were wrecked as a result of their wars by proxy. The individual civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Cambodia, to name but a handful, were not separate wars, but DIFFERENT FRONTS OF THE SAME WAR. This fact is excellently highlighted by the CNN series Cold War. Beginning with the end of World War II, its 24 episodes span the duration of the entire Cold War right up to the very end. There are hours of actual footage that would not easily be found together under one title. Episodes concentrate on particular issues, making it relatively easy to follow the history. A wide range of Cold War topics is dealt with. These include the post-War settlement; the formation of Iron Curtain; the Marshall Plan; the Berlin airlift; the Korean war; McCarthyism and Eastern Bloc purges; Khrushchev and the end of Stalinism; the space race; the Berlin Wall; the Vietnam war; Mutually Assured Destruction; 1960s protest in the USA; the Prague Spring; communist China; détente; the Cold War in the Middle East and Central America; Strategic arms limitation talks; Afghanistan; espionage; “Star Wars” (SDI) and Gorbachev; the fall of the Wall and the end of communism. The series is narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The episode “Good guys, bad guys” gives about a third of its length over to a not particularly in-depth analysis of the Angola War, which at least lets us hear the Angolans themselves (not particularly honestly, I suspect) expressing their point-of-view about the entry of the Cubans. There is a special interview with Fidel Castro, which is interesting for the fact that during the Border War itself, we never actually heard or saw him. The series has its faults and its bias, to be sure. But in general, if one wants to see the Border War in its context, that of the Cold War itself, and to gain a perspective of the era as a whole, it is a worthwhile series to follow. It is, unfortunately, available in Region 1 format only, but today this is relatively easy to deal with. 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fficeDocumentSettings> fficeDocumentSettings> The term “Cold War” refers to the fact that the USSR and the USA never engaged in actual military warfare against one another. One can understand why; the danger of MAD (mutually assured destruction) in the case of a nuclear war was too great. In the early era, up until 1963, there was quite a lot of sabre-rattling and brinkmanship. After Cuba – and even here, it is questionable how close the world really came to nuclear warfare – the two superpowers settled into a comfortable routine of “spheres of interest”, even to the extent of the West (because of its policy of “containment”) avoiding becoming involved when countries under Soviet domination rebelled and appealed for help, as in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). Only twice did they get themselves directly involved in extended-scale warfare; Vietnam and Afghanistan. Both lost. But even here, neither engaged in direct combat against the other. In the rest of the world, especially in the Third World, matters were very different. There, they fought wars by proxy against each other, supporting one or another side in local issues in the hope of achieving hegemony in a particular region. Southern Africa was one of these very real wars. “Red under the bed” disinformation notwithstanding, it is a difficult task to explain away the joint, cooperative   presence of 1 500 East German and 1 000 Soviet advisors as well as 40-50 000 Cubans in Angola, together with North Koreans and others. The two superpowers remained unscathed, while smaller countries were wrecked as a result of their wars by proxy. The individual civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Cambodia, to name but a handful, were not separate wars, but DIFFERENT FRONTS OF THE SAME WAR. This fact is excellently highlighted by the CNN series Cold War. Beginning with the end of World War II, its 24 episodes span the duration of the entire Cold War right up to the very end. There are hours of actual footage that would not easily be found together under one title. Episodes concentrate on particular issues, making it relatively easy to follow the history. A wide range of Cold War topics is dealt with. These include the post-War settlement; the formation of Iron Curtain; the Marshall Plan; the Berlin airlift; the Korean war; McCarthyism and Eastern Bloc purges; Khrushchev and the end of Stalinism; the space race; the Berlin Wall; the Vietnam war; Mutually Assured Destruction; 1960s protest in the USA; the Prague Spring; communist China; détente; the Cold War in the Middle East and Central America; Strategic arms limitation talks; Afghanistan; espionage; “Star Wars” (SDI) and Gorbachev; the fall of the Wall and the end of communism. The series is narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The episode “Good guys, bad guys” gives about a third of its length over to a not particularly in-depth analysis of the Angola War, which at least lets us hear the Angolans themselves (not particularly honestly, I suspect) expressing their point-of-view about the entry of the Cubans. There is a special interview with Fidel Castro, which is interesting for the fact that during the Border War itself, we never actually heard or saw him. The series has its faults and its bias, to be sure. But in general, if one wants to see the Border War in its context, that of the Cold War itself, and to gain a perspective of the era as a whole, it is a worthwhile series to follow. It is, unfortunately, available in Region 1 format only, but today this is relatively easy to deal with. 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