Robert Sid Ahmed,
INTERVIEWER: Great can you tell me what was Brezhinski's approach to the Horn and what did the Horn crisis reveal if you like or would it be see in the Horn crisis with the more Hawkish elements in Carter's administration.
PAUL HENZE: Well Brezhinski was often labeled a Hawk and Vance a dove that's like all these generalizations pretty much a series of exaggerations. Brezhinski had no sympathy for Somalia he had a lot of sympathy for Ethiopia he recalled how as a child he had played soldier during the period of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and all his Ethiopian soldiers always won. Brezhinksi had a fairly substantial toward Ethiopia based on vague cultural sense of affinity and the natural sympathy the poles have for invaded people who they regard as underdogs. Brezhinski knew nothing of Somalia he had no particular sympathy for Somalia but looked upon the entire horn situation in terms of Soviet 3rd world competition. So Brezhinksi favored keeping Somalia viable in at least the minimal sense. This proved to be extremely difficult because even after the Somalis withdrew all their troops from Ethiopia they kept infiltrating guerillas and they kept causing incidents, problems, that made it almost impossible for any promises of Aid to Somalia economic or military and no serious promises of military aid to Somalia were ever made. Somalia was promised non-lethal defensive military equipment. This was a distinction that was very popular in the states at that time. Lethal versus non-lethal, it's rather theoretical it seems to me, but this was the distinction that was made, but the Somalis made themselves extremely difficult to help because they never really gave up trying to undermine Ethiopia, in the Oggaden and nearby regions. They also were quite uncooperative in respect to Djibouti and in the course of all this excitement the French gave Djibouti independence established it as a separate republic, this did not particularly please the Somalis, because they also had claims on Djibouti. That's ..
INTERVIEWER: I mistakenly interrupted you exactly, could you just summarize for me if you like, what was how the horn crisis was seen or why the Horn became a crisis in East West relations in that case.
PAUL HENZE : Well I think the Horn inevitably would have become a crisis in East West Relations because it was one of the major issues of the time and it demonstrated at that period that the old men who led the Soviet union were willing to take some very substantial risks in order to advance what they thought were Soviet interests. Looking back on it I'm inclined to think that one of their motivations was that they knew that the Soviet Union itself was a failing system, it was getting very weak and they took the classic approach of foreign adventurism in order to divert attention from internal problems. I think that lies behind much of Soviet adventurism in the 3rd world, in the 70s and into the early 80s, but we know now how weak the Soviet Union actually was at that time. It diverted enormous amounts of valuable equipment which cost the Russians very heavily at the bank to arming Ethiopia and just as earlier they had diverted enormous amounts of equipment to arming Somalia. The Ethiopian Somali war was fought for the most part with a limited amount of American equipment supplied to the Ethiopians and a far larger amount of equipment supplied to the Somalis by the Soviets, I think the American equipment clearly proved it's worth because item for item it was much more effective than the Soviet equipment. The air force is the most dramatic example, the Somali air force could not contend with the Ethiopian American supplied Air Force at all.
INTERVIEWER: I interrupted you mistakenly, very briefly what did Vance and the other liberals in the administration advocate about the Horn of Africa?
PAUL HENZE: Vance saw everything in terms of détente and in terms of salt agreements arms limitation agreements and so forth, and Vance's interpretation of developments in the Horn was that any very vigorous response to what the Soviets were doing in the Horn would jeopardize the overall chances for an arms control and détente arrangement with the Soviet Union. This was the essential difference between Vance and Brezhinksi. Brezhinski believed that you must call the Soviets to account for irresponsible behavior, Vance believed that you must be gentle with the Soviets because otherwise you would undermine your chances for agreement. Now in retrospect it was perfectly clear who was right.
INTERVIEWER: Well absolutely. Now can I just ask you can you give me your assessment very briefly of Soviet actions in the Horn.
PAUL HENZE : well I go back, Soviet actions in the Horn as I think I said earlier, derive in part I think from the perception of whether totally articulated or not on the part of the old men who were leading the Soviet Union at that time that their own system was a failing system and they needed to do something to try to give it some vigor and some energy and the easiest thing to do was be assertive and to say that to demonstrate to the Russians and the other Soviet peoples that we are advancing we're taking over the 3rd world. We're challenging the imperialists, the Americans and all of their friends and the 3rd world loves us and so on. Now that led the Soviets into adventurism in many places. The Horn was one of the most striking examples of Soviet adventurism, also one of the most costly, because rescuing Ethiopia from the Somalis cost the Soviets very heavily it cost them a billion dollars right then and there in equipment and investment. But the actual cost was probably far higher and then it went on costing. The total amount of direct Soviet cost in Ethiopia in the 17 years of the relationship is estimated to be at least 12 billion dollars. Now today one finds Soviet tanks, Soviet trucks, Soviet guns littering the Ethiopian landscape in all directions. I occasionally show these pictures to Russians to help them understand why they are as badly off as they are.
INTERVIEWER: Can you describe to me the final irony of Somali enthusiasm for embracing Socialist principles and the Ethiopian reluctance to do so. These two people who have switched sides effectively.
PAUL HENZE: Well the Somali embrace of the Soviet principles is pretty bogus, Seatbaray embraced socialist principles in order to advance his own personal interests, catered to the Soviets, mouthed socialism, in order to build up his own power. And a derivative of that was his embracing of Arab principles. The Somalia had declared itself an Arab country, a member of the Arab league and so forth, it was no more Arab than say the Cubans are or the Mexicans are. Somalia is a Muslim country, but it is not strongly oriented toward Arab culture, or Arab interests. There was very little interest on the part of individual Somalis in socialism. Socialism was imposed on the Somalis. There was not much interest on the pof the Ethiopians in socialism either. Menghistu's communism loudly proclaimed, was also pretty bogus, but it involved some very odious features, much more so than the socialism imposed on the Somalis, such as villagization and resettlement. Menghistu tried to force the entire Ethiopian peasantry into collective farms. He moved millions of Ethiopians dto hot, inhospitable lowlands, in order to get them away from areas that were infested with insurgents. People were fighting against the Dher. All of this came of course after the momentous events of 77 78. But the Soviets supported these things. Again they sometimes played it safe by making criticisms in the mid-80s there was a substantial body of criticism of Menghistu developing in the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union itself was coming apart at that time so it's not surprising that you had different views.
INTERVIEWER: Can I just a very few summing up points can I ask you just super-briefly, what do you think was the impact of US intervention in the Horn?
PAUL HENZE: Well the US didn't really intervene in the Horn, the US expressed very strong views and condemned the Soviet intervention but there wasn't any American intervention in the Horn. The United States terminated its military aid for Ethiopia, it gave Somalia, very little and long after the dust had settled.
INTERVIEWER: In that case what was the impact of Soviet intervention do you think?
PAUL HENZE: it very serious debilitation of the region. Soviet intervention left Ethiopia less developed, strapped with debt, and environmentally crippled to a far greater extent than it had been in 1974 when Haile Selassie was overthrown. They are just now beginning to come out of it. Soviet intervention in Somalia, left Somalia in a completely collapsed state. The events that occurred in Somalia in the 80s are a direct consequence of what happened in Somalia in the 70s.
INTERVIEWER: What is your assessment of Superpower control of clients in the Horn.
PAUL HENZE: Well the United States never really regarded Ethiopia as a client the United States regarded Ethiopia as a friendly country deserving sport and as a promising country deserving economic aid. And this was essentially the same view of Ethiopia that the countries in Europe took. In fact a number of European countries did continue economic support for Ethiopia, even after America aid was terminated in 1979. Europeans, Italians, French for example were often criticized for giving economic aid to Ethiopia in the 80s. Everybody then began to give major support at the time of the famine, the United States contribution was probably larger than anybody else's, but it was by no means the overwhelming part of it.
INTERVIEWER: Great, my penultimate question, what is your assessment of US involvement in the 3rd world? Why did they do it and what was the impact sort of thing?
PAUL HENZE: Well US involvement in the 3rd world is really an extension of American policy as it has evolved over the 20th century, the, the whole idea that the 3rd world didn't exist until after world war 2, during world war 2 the United States approach to countries that one might be called colonialist or imperialist was quite critical, we made British leaders quite unhappy. President Roosevelt made British leaders quite unhappy by championing independence for India and greater freedom for colonies. United states involvement of the 3rd world was essentially a welcoming of de-colonialization in the 50s or the 60s. I suppose there was no country that was a greater champion of genuine decolonialization in the sense of letting countries manage their own affairs. Helping them develop. There was a great deal of naive idealism involved. This was very different from the Soviet approach. Now the Soviets claimed to be having anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and so forth, but the Soviet aim was always to build a communist type regime and we saw this happening very early in places like Ghana, when the Soviets embraced Emkrumba, and Ghennie when the Soviets embraced the Secuture, and in a great many other parts of the world. So the united states involvement in the 3rd world I don't think was provoked by Soviets, by competition with the Soviets, by a sense of competition. It was initially the result of the very basic American approach to the world in general, stemming from the time of the American revolution. It goes back to the Monroe doctrine and things of that sort. We've always been in favor of people freeing themselves from colonial domination.
INTERVIEWER: May I ask something somewhat provocative in that case, if that is the case which I accept didn't America find herself on some occasions with some rather strange alignments within the cold war situation, embarrassing situations.
PAUL HENZE : Oh no question because competitiveness with the Soviet Union led to distortions and also led to taking risks at times. Questions and one that bedevils us today is Zaire. Belgium panicked and let the Congo become independent precipitately in 1960. It degenerated very rapidly the United States exerted itself, partly for commercial reasons but also for rather idealistic reasons to try to stabilize it and mobilize a major international effort to do so. Over time we can see there a regime in which the United States had a major hand in bringing power the Mobutu regime has degenerated. This process took place much more rapidly in a number of other places and governments that look worth supporting in the hope that they could be made more moderate, more democratic, more open sometimes turned out not to be.
INTERVIEWER: Good, my final question, you say in your book the Horn of Africa, that you were in favor of constructive interventionism, what does that mean?
PAUL HENZE: Constructive interventionism means helping constructive forces, forces that favor the principles that Western Democratic open societies favor, develop themselves, and at times helping them defend themselves. Now this was very important during a period when they were being actively undermined by subversive movements of various kinds it is perhaps less important today because the problem today is much more one of degeneration than subversion. The problem today is to help countries develop real strength to the capability of managing themselves in the cold war period one often had to help countries defend themselves from active subversion.