Tad Szulc's commentary "The Cuban Catch in Angola Peace Terms" (Opinion, July 24) is up to his usual high journalistic standard, but like so many analysts of world affairs, he is guilty of insufficient cynicism.
For years Angola has been a de facto condominium of the various interfering powers. The fact that they have come to blows--conveniently mostly through proxies who are poor and black, and therefore "expendable"--does not alter the fact that this devastated land has been a mutually profitable investment for the geopolitical game players in Pretoria, Havana, Washington and Moscow.
The Cuban presence has been a marvelous excuse for South Africa to hold Namibia captive; South Africa and the Soviets quietly connive in a mineral cartel while huffing and puffing at each other publicly; the United States supports the rebels while pumping oil for the central government; everybody has a double-dealing "angle"--except the Angolan people.
As Szulc indicates, the travail of Angola has been most lucrative for Fidel Castro. Indeed, Cubans have become the Hessians of the 20th Century: Castro has kept his wretched duchy financially afloat by hiring out his subjects as international cannon fodder. His Soviet employers now seem to be learning what the U.S. government was taught by Panama's Manuel Noriega--a hired gun is always a potential embarrassment. But then, as Ollie North has explained so convincingly, if you want to do a dirty job, you have to hire a dirty guy.
Any settlement that evolves out of the current maneuvering in Angola will be to the benefit primarily of the wire-pullers, and if, as we must hope, less Angolan blood will be spilled, that will be purely incidental.