On the 12th of July 1977, over 35.000 Somali soldiers and 15.000 irregular Ogedani fighters invaded the Ethiopian province of the Ogaden. A week later, more than half of the Ogaden was in Somali hands. Although the dual efforts of the SNA and the WSLF insurgents gained them a lot of ground early on in the war, some setbacks also happened. The defending Ethiopian forces at Dire Dawa and Jijiga inflicted heavy casualties on the Somali’s. Moreover, the Ethiopian Air Force (supplied with Soviets planes) had also begun to establish air superiority, despite the Somalian advantage with their Soviet supplied equipment. While no ceasefire was in sight, the Soviets started to increase the shipments of arms to the Ethiopians. Not only did they send large numbers of military advisors and equipment, but eventually around 18,000 Cuban combat troops would also be stationed in Ethiopia and saw action in the Ogaden from January of 1978 onwards until the war ended in March of that year. While this conflict was a relatively minor conflict during Jimmy Carter’s presidency (the Iranian hostage crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan dominating Carter’s term as president), it was nonetheless influential on the Cold War in general. This minor war sparked the beginning of Carter’s transformation to a traditional Cold Warrior. This being something he wanted to avoid. He wanted to pursue a foreign policy that would transcend the traditional Cold War frame. The Détente would nonetheless end up being buried in the sands of the Ogaden. Within Carter’s administration the debate on what to do with the Soviet involvement in the Ogaden was dominated by Cyrus Vance (Secretary of State) and Zbigniew Brzezinski (National Security Advisor). Vance wanted Carter to pursue a policy of cooperation with the Soviets to save the SALT accords, while Brzezinski wanted to confront the expanding Soviet sphere of influence. The existing historiography largely ignores the Ogaden War and even when it is addressed, the authors focus largely on the debate between the two main actors. The other minor players such as Stansfield Turner (CIA), Walter Mondale (Vice President) and Harold Brown (Minister of Defense). It is the aim of this thesis to create a better understanding of Carter’s foreign policy process by taking into account the minor players of the debate. This will be done by using Graham Allison’s Bureaucratic Politics Model, which will look at the ongoing debates between the individual actors (or players) within Carter’s administration.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Lak, M.
Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Davidse, Rory. (2020, April 2). "‘How to grab the Soviet Union by the Horns? The internal debate within the Carter administration on the U.S. involvement in the Horn of Africa, 1977-1981". Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/54089