School Papers

In allies and to make sympathetic people out

 

In the post-World War II era, the
Soviet Union was essentially focused on taking over the world, to put it
bluntly. In many areas, it set out to educate the world and spread its
influence and beliefs. It offered spots in Russian universities to students
around the world to teach them how to become engineers, scientists, doctors,
pilots, teachers, etc., in an effort to educate and essentially brainwash them,
ideologically. Even if students were focused on math or physics, they would be
exposed to soviet propaganda in their obligatory classes. The Soviet Union gave
them skills, which was the clearly stated goal, but also gave them the ideological
part as well to make allies and to make sympathetic people out of them that
would return to their home countries and spread their beliefs and knowledge. They
created people who could go back home and build what the Soviet Union was building.

The United States still does the same thing, for instance with Humphrey
Fellowships, to spread western ideals for the U.S.’s benefit. It does this
under the guise of a two-year mandatory stay back in one’s home country to
prevent a “brain drain,” but really it is to spread western influence. In
Africa, the Congo specifically, Russia had a role in supporting some
revolutions. The Soviet Union also took a “divide and conquer” stance in
instances where one underdeveloped or poorly developed country was deciding
between communism versus aligning with western ideals, the Soviet Union would
side with countries closer to communist ideals. African countries became,
essentially, a war playground between the U.S. and Russia as both battled to
attain greater influence and world dominance.

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Ethiopia, a longstanding pro-American, pre-industrial
country with 50 million people, joined the Soviet side in 1977 and was given
billions of dollars of military equipment and Cuban.1
In response, Washington injected arms and money in neighboring Somalia, a
desert strip of six million people.2
The height of
the superpower competition in the late 1950’s and early 60’s coincided with
African movements for independence from the colonial powers, mainly Britain and
France. Washington, Moscow, and in some instances Beijing, were eager to move
in as Europeans were thrown out. During the 1970’s, the Soviet Union sent Cuban
proxies to Africa as Portugal was evicted from its colonies in Mozambique and Angola.3
The great powers viewed post-colonial Africa as a lush region to spread their
ideologies and for cheaply securing rich resources.4
Moscow, judging the anticolonial fervor to be a good fit with Marxism, waded in
first. In 1960, Nikita Khrushchev embraced African leaders at the United
Nations, and Soviet embassies sprouted in barely known African countries. President
Kennedy responded by appointing a high-profile politician, G. Mennon Williams,
as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, a signal that Washington planned to
keep as many African countries as possible out of the Communist fold. Africa
was regarded as a dynamic place for talented young diplomats as Kennedy’s New
Frontier did battle with the Soviets and the Chinese over foreign aid and
propaganda. In capitalist-oriented Kenya, newly independent from Britain in
1963, the Soviets and their East European satellites rushed to open embassies.

Washington quickly followed, offering exchange programs in America for Kenyan
students to offset the offers from Moscow universities. A prominent politician,
Oginga Odinga, was financed by Moscow in his political struggle with the first
President, Jomo Kenyatta, a tactic that served to reinforce American enthusiasm
for Mr. Kenyatta. The superpowers’ early interest in Kenya was not so much a
result of what Kenya had but of where it was located: on the Indian Ocean with
the port of Mombasa and near Zaire, Africa’s second largest country, rich with
minerals in the heart of the continent.5

In the former Belgian
colony of the Congo, later renamed Zaire, the United States engaged in what are
viewed as some of its most nefarious cold war covert actions. Fearful that its
first leader, Patrice Lumumba, was too cozy with Moscow, the CIA decided he had
to go, even dispatching a specialist in poisons to plan his death. That plot
never took place, but eventually the CIA arranged a coup in which Mr. Lumumba
was slain and Mobutu Seso Seko, an army colonel, came to power. In memory of
their African hero, the Soviets established Patrice Lumumba University in
Moscow where thousands of third-world students were trained by the end of the
cold war. When Angola became independent of Portugal in 1975, the Soviets and
Americans supported different factions competing for power. The Americans were
involved because Angola possessed rich oil deposits, and the Secretary of
State, Henry A. Kissinger, argued that a Soviet-dominated Angola would endanger
the Atlantic sea-lanes. The Cubans sent thousands of troops to bolster the new Marxist
Government and the United States launched a covert action to support the
anti-Communist Jonas Savimbi.6

The post-world war II era
was a debilitating and destructive experience for Africa. The three decades produced
wars and dictatorships. Across the continent, the shells of buildings, potholed
and overgrown roads, rusting buses and trains, even rotting books housed in
leaking libraries attest to the failure of aid from both West and East. In
Addis Ababa, at the rundown Soviet-built hospital, the Russian doctors have
mostly all left and Ethiopian medical graduates prefer to work abroad for
better wages. The Soviet Union’s policies toward Africa in the post-World War
II era were motivated by its desire to spread its influence and by its
competition with the West. It carried out its policies through education,
financial support to Africa and by supporting opposing sides to the U.S. in
different wars and civil battles in Africa.

1 Jane Perlez, “AFTER
THE COLD WAR: Views From Africa; Stranded by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an
Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/17/world/after-cold-war-views-africa-stranded-superpowers-africa-seeks-identity.html?pagewanted=all

2 Jane Perlez, “AFTER
THE COLD WAR: Views From Africa; Stranded by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an
Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/17/world/after-cold-war-views-africa-stranded-superpowers-africa-seeks-identity.html?pagewanted=all

3 Jane Perlez, “AFTER
THE COLD WAR: Views From Africa; Stranded by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an
Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/17/world/after-cold-war-views-africa-stranded-superpowers-africa-seeks-identity.html?pagewanted=all

4 Jane Perlez, “AFTER
THE COLD WAR: Views From Africa; Stranded by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an
Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/17/world/after-cold-war-views-africa-stranded-superpowers-africa-seeks-identity.html?pagewanted=all

5 Stranded
by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992,

6 Stranded
by Superpowers, Africa Seeks an Identity,” The New York Times, May 17, 1992,

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