Daniella N. Mak

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20092010 Forum on Connections

Daniella N. Mak

Diplomatic History, African Studies, Modern Middle Eastern Studies

College '10

Colonial Discourse in the Cold War: Negotiations between Salazar and John F. Kennedy over Angolan Independence and the Azores Base from 1961 to 1963

Following Senator Ted Kennedy’s passing this year on August 25, 2009, African media outlet All Africa reported that, “Today Africa mourns the death of Senator Edward Kennedy because he is a Kennedy, because the Kennedys represented, no matter how dim it appeared, a glimmer of hope in a still colonial world.”[1] For many Africans, the Kennedy family symbolized a promise for change; a promise to give Africans a voice in shaping their own futures. President John F. Kennedy attempted to charter a new course for U.S. policy vis-à-vis Angola by supporting colonial independence from Portugal, a vision that he had set in mind long before running for presidency. However, clamor for independence from Washington caused a diplomatic rift with Portuguese leader António de Oliveira Salazar. For Salazar, it would be unfathomable to dismantle the Portuguese empire in Africa; Angola was an inherent part of the Estado Novo. Salazar would pressure Kennedy to quell his talk about decolonization by threatening Washington with non-renewal of the U.S. lease on the Portuguese Azores bases, a vital asset for Cold War operations. My thesis seeks to frame the negotiations between Kennedy and Salazar in a Cold War context. How was discourse about colonial rule and decolonization deployed by the United States, Portugal, the Soviet Union, and the “Afro-Asian states”? How did this correspond to Cold War alliances such as NATO and the Warsaw Treaty? In this thesis, I explore the colonial ideology of the Estado Novo, the nature of Portuguese-American relations as NATO allies, and the debates on both sides by leading politicians and intellectuals about colonialism and the Cold War.

[1] John Otim. Africa: The Kennedys and the Continent. Pambazuka News, 10 September 2009.