Apartheid's Contras: An Inquiry Into the Roots of War in Angola and Mozambique
Of the many bloody chapters in Southern Africa's Thirty Years War since the 1961 uprising against the Portuguese, none have been more protracted, more complex or more deadly for civilians than the conflicts in Angola and Mozambique since their independence in 1975. This new study explores the difficult questions of the original causes of these wars and the reasons for their prolongation. Born of the author's intimate knowledge of the region, his understanding of the relevant literature on ethnicity, revolution and guerrilla warfare, and his entirely new evidence, Minter's study is an original and significant exploration of the roots of war in Southern Africa. He provides a nuanced analysis of the interconnected roles of: social structure; external interventions; the particular patterns of military recruitment, conditioning, logistics and strategy that characterize Unita and Renamo; and the vulnerability and mistakes of the new Angolan and Mozambican states. The analysis serves to apportion responsibility for the enormous suffering of these years. It also outlines a new kind of Third World warfare - neither classic guerrilla warfare nor straightforward external aggression; instead, one comprising elements of civil war, but dominated by the initiatives of external powers. Minter's courageous and subtle reassessment of the modern military-political history of Southern Africa sets new standards for historians and political scientists in avoiding over-simplification and easy generalization; it provides a framework for taking full account of the panorama of factors to be considered in understanding these new forms of violent political struggle.
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