There is little evidence that the Rhodesian bombing raids deep into Zambia over the past month have seriously hurt the guerrillas or are likely to prevent them from stepping up their efforts to topple the white-led Rhodesian government.
At the most, the Rhodesian strategy of taking the war into Zambia may slightly delay the guerrillas' yearly rainy season offensive, which customarily begins in December.
The Rhodesian bombings appear to be hardening the attitude of both guerrillas and Zambians, and spokesmen for the Zimbabwe African People's Union based here insist that the raids have only spurred their determination to hit back harder inside Rhodesia.
The Rhodesian raids are reported here to have resulted in the death of about a thousand nationalists but probably less than half were battleready guerrillas. Another 700 to 800 were wounded.
Unconfirmed reports reaching here say the Rhodesians are still operating in small groups just inside Zambia.
Despite the bombing of a half dozen guerrilla camps and supply centers, the Rhodesians do not seem to have succeeded in destroying significant amounts of arms or ammunition. They did, however, cripple the guerrillas' communication system and gave them new problems to worry about, such as the defense of their camps.
Probably the most serious consequence of the raids, whether intended or not, have been to further destabilize the government of Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, which was already in deep economic and financial trouble.
The raids showed how vulnerable and defenseless Zambia is and created new pressures on Kaunda, the African leader who has shown the most restraint and willingness to talk directly to Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith.
At the time of the attacks, the guerrillas went out of control, challenging the Zambian government's authority. This spared speculation that Zambia was becoming another Jordan, where Palestinian guerrillas in 1970 became a virtual state within the state, fighting pitched battles against the Jordanian Army.
Zambia is sill far from this. But guerrillas did take the law into their own hands around their camps, arresting and interrogating white farmers and shooting at low flying planes.
At one point, Zambian authorities panicked and closed Lusaka's international airport for fear the guerrillas were going to hit passenger planes.
Western observers here believe the Rhodesians had several objectives in taking their attacks to guerrilla camps on the outskirts of Lusaka:
To upset the rainy season offensive by Peoples Union guerrillas, who were expected to infiltrate large numbers of trainess into Rhodesia.
To pressure both Peoples Union leader Joshua Nkomo and Kaunda into negotiating with the transitional, biracial Rhodesian government for some kind of settlement on terms of less than total Rhodesian surrender, or at least to bolster the ever-weakening Rhodesian negotiating position.
To drive a wedge between the Peoples Union and the Zambian government and to convince Kaunda to crack down on nationalist activities here.
It does not appear that they have achieved any of these objectives.
Even had the Rhodesians killed a thousand trained guerrillas, they would have destroyed only a tenth of those in Zambia and a smaller portion of the total force.
If the Rhodesian raids into Mozambique over the past two years are any example, it is unlikely these will appreciably slow down the guerrilla war. Despite the death of over 2,000 of their guerrillas and refugees in Mozambique, where they are based, the Zimbabwe African National Union, the other Rhodesian nationalist force, has grown steadily and taken more Rhodesian territory under its control.
Nor is there any sign the Rhodesian attacks have "softened" Kaunda's attitude toward negotiations or convinced him to pressure Nkomo into reaching a compromise with the government of Rhodesia.
Friday, Kaunda said he saw no hope for new negotiations now and no alternative for the guerrillas than to intensify their armed struggle "until the final blow has been delivered to Smith."
Recently, Kaunda said he saw no hope for new negotiations now and no alternative for the guerrillas than to intensify their armed struggle "until the final blow has been delivered to Smith."
As for driving a wedge between the guerrillas and the Zambian government, the Rhodesian raids may have done just the opposite. By killing Zambian soldiers and civilians, the invading Rhodesians have angered Zambians and brought home to them as never before that the Smith-led transitional government is a direct danger to Zambia as well as to the guerrillas.
The result has been to increase public demand that Zambia buy more arms and defend itself better. Some Zambians are suggesting Zambia should strike at targets in Rhodesia.
Still, there is the potential for a rift between the Zambian government and the guerrillas. The guerrillas are increasingly feeling their strength and swinging their weight around in Zambia. Unarmed Zambian police were noticeably helpless and hesitant in dealing with guerrillas who occupied farms around the camps after the Rhodesian attacks.
There are now more armed guerrillas in Zambia -- at least 10,000 -- than the 7,000 regular Zambian Army soldiers. The guerrillas are concentrated while the Zambian Army is spread out along the borders with Rhodesia and Namibia and preoccupied with defending them.
Just how easily the guerrillas can get out of hand was brought home by the brief closing of Lusaka's international airport Nov. 17.
The International Air Transport Association warned airlines as a result of shooting from guerrilla camps and passenger planes have now changed their landing pattern to avoid the camps. They also approach the airport in a steep dive to decrease the chances of being hit by a bullet and so far, none has been.
The Zambian government is trying to resolve the threat to the airport and capital by moving the guerrillas away from this area. There are reports some have been shipped with thousands of refugees to camps in the northern part of the country.
This should lessen the potential for conflict between the guerrillas and government and decrease the chances for embarrassing incidents such as occurred here after the Rhodesian raids.
But these incidents have also driven home the fact that the guerrillas are now a force to be reckoned with by Zambia as it devises its policy toward the Rhodesian transitional government.