But we still need the big stick

The author of the article "US Covert Action: a Brief Inglorious History," June 29, lumps failed operations with successful missions and dismisses the real threat of cold-war-style Soviet imperialism. His view that "political problems cannot be solved by nonpolitical action" ignores the time-tested reality that diplomacy, without force to give it credibility, is meaningless.

The Bay of Pigs was a tragic and disastrous failure, but it wasn't the CIA that denied airstrikes necessary to the success of Operation Zapata. John Ranelagh, in his critique of the CIA, "The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA," concedes, "the operational plan ... could have worked and probably would have worked had President Kennedy not interfered once it was under way." The Bay of Pigs, had it succeeded, would have obviated United States involvement in Angola's war, although the author fails to se e the connection.

The author states that President Fidel Castro's consolidation of power in Cuba enabled him to dispatch troops to Africa. He neglects to say, however, that during US covert support to the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) resistance, the US forced the withdrawal of 50,000 Cuban combat forces from Angola.

Under President Bush's Utopian "new world order," the US relegated Angola to the United Nations, which foolishly allowed the MPLA to count the ballots in Angola's first elections. The results were vehemently contested by 14 opposition parties. A presidential runoff election between UNITA's Jonas Savimbi and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was derailed when UNITA negotiators were executed last fall in a government pogrom. Again, the CIA is har dly to blame for the Angolan fiasco. Margaret Calhoun, Washington Senior Analyst International Freedom Foundation

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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