This article explores the escalation of tensions surrounding Angola's independence from Portugal in 1975, when a protracted war of national liberation escalated sharply into an international crisis. Rather than see Angola as merely a proxy war, the article depicts the varied responses to Angolan anti-colonial nationalism as consequences of “internationalization,” or the deliberate and endogenous process of framing the struggle for Angolan independence in global terms. By establishing Angolan independence as part of a worldwide battle against imperialism, racism, and Western hegemony in the early 1960s, and by raising the issue in international forums, creating transnational support networks, and operating across borders and oceans, the Angolan national liberation movements created the ideological and political preconditions for the military interventions and Cold War political theater of the 1970s. Angola thus demonstrated how national liberation movements, as transnational actors, learned to operate within the international system to gain necessary material and moral support but also provoked the ire of more powerful external actors who had their own political and ideological reasons for opposing a pro-Soviet regime in Angola.

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