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Breakfast with Mobutu: Congo, the United States and the Cold War, 1964-1981

Bechtolsheimer, Götz (2012) Breakfast with Mobutu: Congo, the United States and the Cold War, 1964-1981. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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On the 25th November 1965 Colonel Joseph Désiré Mobutu staged a bloodless coup to take charge of the political turmoil in recently independent Congo and establish one of the most brutal and corrupt dictatorships in modern African history. This thesis explores the story of the American hand both in Mobutu’s fortuitous rise and its subsequent sustenance of his regime in the name of its geostrategic Cold War agenda. Spanning the administrations of four presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy Carter, this study considers the effects of the American Mobutu alliance on Congo and how its relationship with the Congolese leader in turn shaped the American approach towards the wider region and, ultimately, defined its Cold War in Africa. The thesis begins with the CIA-organised mercenary suppression of the Simba rebellion from 1964 to 1965, before offering a detailed analysis of the American role in bringing Mobutu to the helm of Congolese politics and ensuring the survival of his initially tenuous grasp on power. Having consolidated his grip on Congo, subsequent chapters investigate the American role in the establishment of the Mobutist ‘State Kleptocracy’, the part played by the Kinshasa despot in defining the American stand in the Angolan Civil War and, despite the by now obvious shortcomings of its Congo alliance, the Carter administration’s continued support for Mobutu when his regime was threatened by violent dissent once more. As such, this thesis aims to give a more comprehensive and detailed picture of the American Cold War alliance with Congo’s profligate dictator from 1964 to 1981.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Götz Bechtolsheimer
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International History

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