Rotten to the Core?
How America’s Political Decay Accelerated During the Trump Era
In civil war, hatreds are more intimate than in international conflict. The enemy is less awesome; he is killed with more conviction that he deserves it. Invariably-inevitably-the death tolls are higher. The American Civil War set records for its day. Despite the limited weaponry and skill, the Biafran war has taken the lives of an estimated two million people, mostly starved children. And now a war that is already engaging about 26,000 black guerrillas and approximately a quarter-million white or white-officered troops in Mozambique, Angola, Rhodesia, South Africa and Namibia (the United Nations' new name for South West Africa) offers such a prospect of escalation that it can hardly help but be bigger, in cemetery terms, than Viet Nam. In this corner of the globe, whose fair hills make a savage contrast with the ugliness wrought by man, the restless spirit of Nazism, with its accent on genetic myth and legal caste, will perhaps be put to rest in a swamp of blood.
The chain of austral African wars is poorly reported: correspondents are limited to nibbling in from the fringes-and there are many fringes. Some front-line reporting is possible in Angola from the guerrilla side, thanks mostly to the self-confidence of the guerrilla leader, Holden Roberto. Under the late Eduardo Mondlane, a similarly responsible attitude to world opinion was being cultivated in those parts of Mozambique controlled by resistance forces. And earlier this year, this correspondent made a brief foray into Rhodesia with the Zimbabweans (as Rhodesia's black majority call themselves). Reporting in Namibia, however, is difficult from the resistance side. In South Africa, it is practically impossible for the moment, unless one is a Russian and lands from the same submarine as the resistance fighters. Because of the extent of the war, and because of press censorship in South Africa, Portugal and Rhodesia, no war reporting of any consequence seems to have been possible, so far, from the side of the white- minority governments.
The liberation forces are as follows:
In Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) over 2,000 black guerrillas are currently engaging nearly 10,000 régime troops, including South African reinforcements. Most of the Zimbabweans are members of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), now under the interim presidency of James Chikerema in Lusaka. The remainder are members of the Reverend Ndabaninghi Sithole's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), under the interim leadership of Herbert Chitepo.[i]
ZAPU forces mount combined operations with militants of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. The joint raids have two objectives: first, to establish "reactivatable" bases and arms caches, and to build a network of resistance supporters among whom the liberation forces can work in the later, "direct action" phase; and secondly, to guide, and interpret for, the South Africans until they reach the Limpopo River at the South African border.
In Rhodesia, the joint forces wear uniforms. But so far, the rebel régime has executed its prisoners of war, and ZAPU does the same. Eventually the nationalist intention is to institutionalize uniformed warfare under Geneva Convention rules. ZAPU will then borrow Viet Cong techniques-such as mobile cages-to keep prisoners alive. They will be prepared to exchange them for their own captured comrades or for political prisoners. Taking civilians as hostages is also envisaged, but only if this appears to be the only way to open the concentration camps.
ZAPU activity is focused on the northeast, Rhodesia's fertile equivalent of Kenya's "White Highlands." Many European farmers there have evacuated their families to Salisbury. The West Zambezi Valley, where few whites live, was an important field of operations for the guerrillas in 1967-68 but is fairly quiet this year. Presumably, the preparatory work which is the object of this phase of guerrilla activity is fairly complete there now; but this underpopulated zone could have renewed importance if neighboring Botswana were better able to help the resistance fighters by offering a sanctuary for hard-pressed combat teams.
ZANU forces concentrate in the north and center and the populous southeast. They wear civilian clothes, carry forged situpas (identity cards) and are mainly concerned with sabotage (though they have so far eschewed terror).
The ANC troops operating with ZAPU shed their uniforms at the Limpopo, but their objectives in South Africa are similar to those of the Zimbabweans in Rhodesia: the establishment of bases. In South Africa, however, purely "resistance" activity is expected to continue for some time before the area is ready for guerrilla warfare; unless a fresh "Sharpeville" changes the climate, the emphasis will be on sabotage and, possibly, terror. Neither Zimbabweans nor South Africans, at this stage, fight unless obliged to.
In Namibia, almost all guerrilla activity is controlled by the South West African Peoples' Organization (SWAPO), under Sam Nujoma. According to Lourens Muller, South Africa's Minister of Interior and Police, about 2,000 ANC and SWAPO guerrillas entered Namibia and South Africa during the first few months of this year. If this figure from Muller's intelligence services is reliable, probably the bulk of these reinforcements were destined for Namibia and would seem to outnumber resistance forces already there earlier.
SWAPO concentrates mainly on the Caprivi Strip and Okavango, in the north. The new Bantustan of Ovamboland will also be a prime target. The Cunene Dam on the Angolan side of the border-a project estimated to cost $210 million and supposed to attract half a million new colonists-is such an obvious target, strategically and politically, for Angolan and Namibian forces that South Africa agreed earlier this year to help finance and man Portuguese defenses in the district.
SWAPO strategy is different from ANC's, ZAPU's or ZANU's: Nujoma's men make simple hit-and-run raids on South African military camps and related targets. The bare vastness of Namibia makes territorial occupation unthinkable without air protection. The main aim seems to be to give added meaning and urgency to the diplomatic activity now going on in Namibia's behalf at the United Nations.
In Mozambique, about 9,000 guerrillas of FRELIMO (the Mozambique Liberation Front) now occupy all of the Niassa and Cabo Delgado districts except the Niassa town of Vila Cabral and some fortified villages-notably the important Portuguese stronghold of Mueda. These outposts must be supplied by air and their main purpose seems to be to "show the flag." FRELIMO forces, now in the "direct action" phase of occupying territory, are pushing into Zambézia. FRELIMO and a splinter group, COREMO, are now active all over Tete, the panhandle district that extends into Zambia. This is the key area of present fighting because it contains the $288 million Cabora Bassa hydroelectric project, destined for completion in 1972 and intended to lure a million Portuguese immigrants in the decade to follow.
In Angola, Holden Roberto's GRAE (Angolan Revolutionary Government in Exile), which has broken relations with the OAU, has about 8,000 men all over the northeastern quarter of the country (which the Portuguese call the "rotted triangle"). The GRAE has two big Congo bases, one in the lower Congo Valley and a newer one in Katanga. A Roberto unit this year took a Swiss television team for a 600-mile, 51-day walk through its bailiwick, starting from the lower Congo Valley, touching Luanda province on the coast and exiting into Katanga. Two other guerrilla movements are also active in Angola-MPLA (Peoples' Angolan Liberation Movement) and Unitá. III
Ranged against the liberation forces are the following European or white- led forces:
In Mozambique are about 60,000 metropolitan troops of Portugal and 40,000 native soldiers. The air force includes Saber jets provided under NATO aid and Alouette "gunships" sold by France.
In Angola, the size of the army and type of armaments are almost identical with those in Mozambique.
In South Africa and Namibia, there is a standing South African army of 5,700 and a selective-service contingent raised this year from 10,500 to 22,300 to deal with the escalation of the conflict, and to enable men to be sent to neighboring buffer war zones. At present, in fact, one-third of the original force of 16,200 is abroad-in Rhodesia and in Tete. (Unconfirmed British reports say some forces are also in Angola.) There is a selective- service reserve of 42,000. Except for some Eurafrican noncombatants, the armed forces are white.
The South African army has Sherman and Centurion tanks, but these veteran war vehicles are being phased out in favor of France's AMX-90 and AMX-60 tanks and Panhard armored cars. At Uvongo, the French are assisting with experiments to produce a South African SAM based on France's "Cactus" system. France-Presse agency, relating both these developments, also noted that research is continuing on an atomic bomb, but of course this would be useless internally.
The navy that defends South Africa's long coastline concentrates on anti- submarine craft. After a Pietermaritzburg court was told in February that twelve ANC guerrillas had admitted to seeking a submarine landing site in Zululand, north of Durban, France announced that it would build Pretoria's first (Daphné class) submarines-three by 1971, three later-and an unspecified number of new sub-chasers. Defense Minister Pieter Botha said in an April white paper that still more sub-chasers would be constructed locally, and that a $20,160,000 submarine base will be built at Simonstown.
The 3,000-man air force includes a flight of Shackleton marine- reconnaissance flying boats and crack squadrons of French Mirage fighter- bombers and Mirage III pursuit planes, whose pilots were trained in France. The Mirages have air-to-ground "anti-guerrilla" rockets. South Africa is building up its helicopter force, which numbered forty a year ago, by purchasing the highly man?uvrable Alouettes and Super-Frelons, both from France.
Police number 28,600, with 15,000 reserves. They have eighty Panhard armored cars and 430 steel-plated French riot trucks. Rural whites are organized in over 200 kommandos. According to the Institute of Strategic Studies, these have 51,500 members, 250 of them light-plane pilots. In the decade since Sharpeville, the South African defense budget has risen from $55 million to nearly $450 million and is expected to increase steadily over the next few years.
In Rhodesia, the rebel régime has an army of 3,600, in two separate "regiments"-black and white-plus about 3,000 reservists under arms and 2,700 white South Africans. There is a small air force, but guerrilla reports, not denied by the Smith régime, indicate that most of the Hunters and other fixed-wing craft have been grounded as a result of economic sanctions. Now the main air weapon appears to be the Alouette "gunship." South African air crews have allegedly dropped fragmentation bombs and napalm from Buccaneers.
White Rhodesia's potential is hard to estimate exactly: of the 36,000 Rhodesians who have emigrated to South Africa or elsewhere since the rebellion against Britain began, it is unclear how many were males of military age. The white half of the 3,000 called-up reservists are probably all the whites available, since recent figures indicate that two-thirds of the 20,000 police reserves are white. As the air force numbers 900 men, its reserves must be negligible. The regular Rhodesian police number 6,400, two- thirds black.[ii]
Despite the disparity of armaments, the guerrillas have several advantages over their enemies. They can move much faster in the bush when the enemy is also on foot. They are guerrilla-trained, and have real confidence in the value of their training. Field reports show that Rhodesian losses are higher than those of the guerrillas-although the Smith régime helps to conceal this fact by conducting military funerals at night, by cordoning off roads when mortuary convoys pass and by the orthodox lies of war.
The government troops' lack of guerrilla training shows in such tactics as firing into impenetrable bush, thereby revealing their position, or the use of classical pincer movements against targets so small-a guerrilla camp, for instance-that each flank is raked with the fire of the other. Until earlier this year Rhodesian radio operators obligingly announced frequency changes at the end of each twelve-hour period. All radio traffic goes in clear.
The guerrillas have the advantage of being "motivated." This is true of many white Rhodesian troops, but not of most of the pallid Portuguese conscripts, or the Portuguese or Rhodesian black levies, who face an obvious dilemma. In a 1968 clash, guerrillas monitoring enemy communications heard a South African officer, after ordering helicopter fire and being told the chopper crew could not distinguish between askaris (native mercenaries) and "terrorists," scream, "Fire! Fire anyway!" The gunner didn't but the anecdote makes one suppose that askaris may be unenthusiastic about guiding South Africans.
The general quality of white troops appears to be poor: this is particularly true in Rhodesia, where anyone with the womb-to-tomb advantages of being white would probably have to be the worst of dropout material to become an enlisted man in the army or police. South African troops are little better, although the South African white mystique has given a certain Israeli-like prestige to soldiering. Few soldiers in this part of the world have any war experience, and that of some middle-aged officers is a quarter of a century old. Except in Portuguese Africa, the white régimes are still far short of the famous ten-to-one ratio for counterinsurgency.
The rebel régime in Rhodesia can pressure villagers for information on guerrilla movements; but although there are many cases of paid informers, the bulk of the population, at least in the northeast, seems to have thrown in its lot with the resistance. Guerrilla reports, which seek to impress the sedentary leadership with their problems, only rarely complain of villagers' disloyalty to the African cause. This rural identification with the liberation struggle has probably increased South African reluctance to participate. The headman of a ZAPU relay station village told me of the instructions he received from the commander of a local South African company: "Tell us if the terrorists come, but wait three days before you send the messenger." The first military funeral of the Rhodesian war in Johannesburg brought a small public demonstration against "dying for the Pommies" (the English-meaning white Rhodesians).
But the resistance fighters admit that the enemy's advantages are considerable too: air cover and air supply, better radio and land communications, better feeding and sleeping arrangements and medical care. And if the Zimbabwean peasant seems relatively impervious to intimidation by the white government, Pretoria and Salisbury have been more successful in pressuring Botswana into refusing transit facilities to black guerrillas. The Botswanan authorities arrest guerrilla sanctuary-seekers for "armed border violations," and subsequently sentence them.[iii] Zimbabwean returnees from Gaberones say that, while under arrest, they were tortured on the orders of white police officers for information which-while useless to Botswana-was no doubt highly saleable in Pretoria and Salisbury.
Access to the world outside the zone of conflict is a major strategic factor in the campaign to liberate southern Africa. Zambia's oil pipeline to Dar-es-Salaam diminishes South African leverage on Lusaka, and has enabled President Kaunda to authorize Zimbabweans to destroy Rhodesian oil stocks. (Formerly, he feared reprisals against his own incoming supplies.) But he is still dependent on the Cape railroad for essential Euro-American imports and Wankie coal, and consequently vetoes attacks on it. Zambia will have a blacktop road to Dar in two years, a direct rail link to Matadi by about the same time, and perhaps a Peking-built "Tan-Zam Railroad" by 1974.
Kaunda also fears Beirut-type punishment raids, because of his help to guerrillas. Although most Lusaka diplomats think these unlikely (Zambia still has five thousand South African "hostages" working in its mines), fear of reprisals and general "espionitis" were increased last year. One cause was a raid by South African irregulars on a Malawian rail bridge of great importance to Zambia; another was the sentencing of a middle-aged Rhodesian spy arrested in Lusaka with explosives intended, he told the court, to blow up ZAPU's Lusaka headquarters.
Zambia also faces enemy reconnaissance overflights and even "hot pursuit" infantry raids. Kaunda told me recently that he had opted against a missile system in favor of a larger air force, because of the great length of his hostile frontiers. As he feels his British and Canadian army and air force advisers may be unreliable, in view of their association with Portugal in NATO, Kaunda is gradually replacing them with Indians and Zambians.
The freest of the countries neighboring the liberation war zone is Tanzania, where Nyerere shows a confidence which is apparently the result of his country's stability. Tanzania is also firing Canadian officers, but otherwise shows no signs of anxiety over its open role of support for the liberation wars.
If U.N. action forced nationhood in Namibia, Botswana would acquire friendly access to the sea and consequently would have a freer hand to help its black neighbors. Similarly, if FRELIMO liberated the embryonic Ncala rail line, Zambia and Malawi would have a new friendly access to the ocean. Although changes of government in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland would probably not greatly alter policy in these virtual Rand client-states, Malawi, after the death of Banda who is already in his seventies, is expected to change radically. If Tete were liberated and Banda gone, Malawi would probably become the main springboard for the liberation of Rhodesia.
Meanwhile, the top sabotage objectives in Rhodesia are oil stocks, the railroad from Durban and Lourenço Marques (whose importance has increased with the British blockade on Beira) and the feeder line from Bulawayo to Salisbury. For oil targets, the guerrillas now have rocket launchers. ZANU claims to have cut the Durban rail line three times with plastic, but bridge destruction would presumably be more effective.
The guerrillas are almost totally dependent on the socialist powers. Training is now conducted primarily in Tanzania by Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Algerian instructors. The guerrilla company with which I spent some time this year was Russian-armed, Czech-uniformed and Cuban-trained except for its leader, a veteran of earlier operations, who was trained in Algeria.
Nationalist leaders, speaking privately, seem to scorn the ineffectual OAU liberation committee, which in May this year admitted to having collected dues from only 4 of the 41 member states. The committee is based in Dar, but of the guerrilla movements only FRELIMO has its headquarters there- while planning to move into Mozambique itself before very long. The other liberation movements are based in Lusaka or the Congo.
The liberation committee appears to spend on junketing most of that small fraction of its official current budget actually collected. The committee's Secretary-General, George Magombe, earns 50 percent more than his compatriot and neighbor, President Julius Nyerere. The 1967 OAU summit raised guerrilla hopes by promising to appoint a military committee to run the liberation budget, but the politicians have so far prevented its emergence. Except for Algeria, Zambia and Tanzania, Africa is dramatically absent from the war to liberate southern Africa.
Russia and Algeria reserve all or most of their aid for movements having OAU liberation committee approval. China takes the others. Cuba seems iconoclastic. Thus the committee, by taking sides, has deepened divisions, and has injected the Peking-Moscow conflict into the theater of war in austral Africa. The source of a party's aid, however, says little about its own ideological orientation.
More positively, the OAU's "approbation" has permitted an alliance between ZAPU, ANC, FRELIMO and SWAPO, with links to PAIGC (African Independence Party for Guinea and the Cabo Verdes) and some others. This has thrown the "disapproved" ZANU, PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa) and the GRAE together. The openly anti-communist GRAE is alone in getting Western arms (American and Belgian), channeled through the Congolese army. FRELIMO, thanks to Janet Mondlane, Eduardo's active American widow, gets Western support for its civil budget-thus freeing more funds for arms from other sources.
It is difficult to gauge how ideologically committed the guerrillas are to socialist doctrine; the country which probably comes closest to being their model is Algeria, where urban terror had precedence over guerrilla fighting and where enthusiastic amateurs humbled a modern army of half a million.
The most successful campaign in the area is certainly in Mozambique. Much of the credit for this must go to the late Eduardo Mondlane, the 48-year- old Oberlin and Northwestern graduate who was assassinated in Dar-es-Salaam in February by a bomb. A number of diplomats in Dar-es-Salaam concur with FRELIMO in attributing this "sophisticated" assassination to PIDE, Portugal's secret police, which has a long history of political killings. From Lisbon's and Pretoria's point of view, Mondlane was dangerously attractive to such Western figures as the late Robert Kennedy and U.S. Ambassador John Burns in Dar. He has been replaced by a triumvirate which lacks much of Mondlane's public relations consciousness, reads Mao and espouses Eastern-bloc causes like North Viet Nam. But the senior member of the triumvirate, Uria Simango, is continuing Mondlane's efforts tactfully to persuade the West to let Portugal fight alone. With defense currently taking an admitted 48.7 percent (reportedly more) of the Lisbon budget, Simango believes Portugal would collapse in "two or three years" if it fought without big-power aid, with only South Africa to lean on.
When Dr. Salazar finally dies, real if gradual changes of policy may prove possible in Portugal. Professor Caetano is not expected to accept the total loss of power in Angola and Mozambique easily, but he may well compromise with white home-rule movements which are probably prepared to compromise in their turn with any reasonably "moderate" liberation movement like the GRAE and perhaps FRELIMO. Both these groups and the PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau have apparently told President Senghor of Senegal they are willing to envisage a gradual transfer of power over ten years, and independent membership in a Luso-African commonwealth. In a recent interview with this correspondent, Senghor offered, on the strength of these assurances, to mediate with Lisbon to arrest a conflict in which Portugal now never takes the offensive. Despite having the largest army in Africa, Portugal seems resigned to losing slowly, limiting its efforts to containment by defoliation and to defense.
There is, of course, pressure from Salisbury and especially Pretoria to continue the fight, and Pretoria has supplied two battalions to Tete. An area specialist of London's Institute of Strategic Studies, which keeps a close watch on the South African forces, says that Mozambique is used to give combat experience to draftees, led by career cadres.[iv] South Africa is particularly anxious that Portugal should follow through with its plans to bring one and a half million more immigrants into Angola and Mozambique.
Of all the countries under immigrant government, Rhodesia seems likely to be the first to be liberated. Assuming there is a limit to how far South African help will go (would the local white public agree to provide Rhodesia with forces outnumbering the Smith régime's own troops?), the Zimbabwean campaign can be reduced to the mathematics of military power. This gives a gradually developing advantage to the guerrillas. South African politicians-though not the military-mostly feel that, if necessary, Pretoria could live with a landlocked black Zimbabwe, just as it has reached a facile modus vivendi with Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The jovial Nkomo looks as reassuring as that lifelong conservative, Jomo Kenyatta. A white exodus from Rhodesia, mostly to South Africa, would even be a bonus for the Republik.
Portuguese Africa will presumably follow Zimbabwe into majority rule. Namibia's fate may depend on the United Nations. South Africa is obviously by far the hardest nut to crack. Yet of all the minority governments in the area, the South African Government is also the one which most openly admits its fears of a future holocaust, the only one which does not pretend that a turning point in decolonization has been reached, reversing the current of history. Salisbury and Lisbon counter white fears by downplaying their wars, emphasizing unspecified victories and asserting that although decolonization is a historical trend which has reached their very borders, historically it will go no further. South Africa counters white complacency by emphasizing the dangers, and implying that only its own apartheid system is proof against the winds of change.
With expanding defense budgets, and five years of oil stocked against the expected blockade, Pretoria is also plowing aid with obvious conditions into surrounding black client-states. An agreement with Malawi to build a $42 million capital at Lilongwe, Banda's birthplace, is predicated upon the acceptance of senior South African administrators in key posts throughout the country (a situation which enhances Banda's capacity to keep track of domestic opposition). More recently, a South African trade and investment delegation has been to Madagascar, which seeks new trading partners for those lost through the Suez closure; the two countries have even talked of exchanging embassies. Radio South Africa, using only BBC-type voices and copycatting BBC taglines, has won a wide audience for its powerful transmitter, although the attempt to deceive listeners into thinking RSA is the BBC annoys as much of its audience as it initially deceives.
South Africa can also be expected to augment aid to lobbies and pressure groups in Britain and America, including purely local organizations that promote race friction. Extremist black movements in the United States may well receive subsidies (as Marcus Garvey did from the Anglo-Saxon Movement); they are segregationist in spirit, and "prove" South Africa's point that political freedom for blacks means violence. South Africa's espionage network can be expected to expand; one identifiable agent was reportedly spotted in Conakry, recently, in the entourage of a presumably unsuspecting Stokely Carmichael.
South Africa's feverish foreign-policy man?uvres aimed at survival have no direct domestic parallel, for the top black leadership within the country is neutralized in such a way-on Robben Island-that only military action or a potent threat to Pretoria could liberate them. White liberals are muffled; since their aim was always compromise-meaning compromise with white power realities-they can doubt if they are needed, or welcome, in the activist phase. White identification with guerrilla activity-with its implication of "Kill my neighbors' kids, not mine"-would be nearly impossible. Verwoerd, the jittery uitlander, has gone. Vorster, who spent two years in Smuts' penitentiaries as a Nazi in World War II, and the rest of the war under house arrest, can now permit the sale of books by Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm X and Carmichael.[v]
Meanwhile, the bogey of partition remains. The traditional Afrikaner, imbued with his sense of history, can find little comfort in what the past offers him as "tribal land by right." Jan van Riebeeck may have landed in Table Bay on April 6, 1652; but when Britain took the Cape two and a half centuries later, during the Napoleonic wars, the 1808 census showed a total population of 29,000 Europeans and Eurafricans, and 20,000 Hottentots. Since Eurafricans ("coloreds") still comprised 53 percent of the last Cape Province census, they presumably formed the bulk of the 29,000. The descendents of most early white settlers are to be found in the Catfish Row of Cape Town's District Six.
Nor were the "Great Trek's" numbers very great by modern standards: by 1850 there were only an estimated 3,000 "Europeans" (presumably, whites and near- whites) living outside the Cape, mostly in Natal. Only Sir Bartle Frere's Zulu wars, starting in 1877, dispersed immigrants who had stayed put for the previous three centuries. Gold and diamonds did the rest. But for an Afrikaner looking for a homeland he could legally claim, before the World Court if necessary, it is uncomfortably obvious that most white South Africans are first and second-generation citizens only-that white South Africa, populous as it is, is as recent an innovation as colonial Nigeria or Tanzania. A "homeland" claim could only stand in the poorly endowed Cape, where the white 39 percent and the black 8 percent of the population are outnumbered by the Eurafricans. White South Africa, if partition is inevitable, may well be something less than the whole Eastern and Western Cape.
Most outsiders-including black African intellectuals-feel a multiracial solution must somehow be possible. This would mean dismantling the black job ceiling, the "race tax" (huge wage differentials) and the segregated budget, with its black-subsidized facilities for non-Africans. It would mean giving blacks freedom of movement, property rights, a choice of jobs. It would mean, of course, a black majority in a parliament where there are now no blacks, no Asians, no Eurafricans. It would mean "integrating" a majority community (comprising 69 percent of the population) with more grievances than black Americans ever had. It would mean persuading white unionists to accept a meritocracy. It is probable, however, that whites would prefer a poorer, smaller, all-Brahmin state (or emigration) to a multiracial, prosperous South Africa in which they were no better off than the other castes.
Encouraged-or deluded-by the boom, and by the eclipse of white liberals and vocal black nationalists, most South African whites do not share the fears of their government. Of course it couldn't happen here! The traveler is reminded of Tuscaloosa in 1956. Ninety-four weekly flights to and from Johannesburg stop off every week in nineteen African capitals, including supposedly radical cities like Brazzaville and Dar-es-Salaam, putting hundreds of potential South African hostages for the liberation of Robben Island's inmates into the hands of African governments. The supposition clearly is that "the kaffirs wouldn't dare."
Kenneth Kaunda, who sees the holocaust developing, privately believes that because Moscow and Peking are the main outside supporters of liberation, the West will tumble into the "Unholy Trinity" camp. Britain, however, which has $3 billion of investment in South Africa, presently obeys the U.N. arms ban. So do countries with less at stake-West Germany, Canada, Switzerland. France and Italy alone reject and exploit the ban on armaments- and France's role may change somewhat now that de Gaulle has gone.
The United States, which also observes the U.N. arms ban, has very limited interests in coöperation with the régime in Pretoria. U.S. investment in South Africa is about $800 million-less than in pre-Castro Cuba. Nearly a quarter of this is portfolio investment which will presumably start to decamp long before an outright showdown; nearly a quarter of what remains is locally generated profits, reinvested. Gold's continuing monetary role is an inhibiting factor in dealing sternly with Pretoria, but not an overriding one.
Positively, beyond banning new investment in South Africa, the United States could be instrumental in applying pressure to South African sensitivities: religion plays an important role in white South Africa; so does sport-whites would feel deeply about a total ban on South African participation in international games and athletics. America could demonstrate sympathetic solidarity with the courageous English-language press and the restless student bodies of South Africa. The South African reaction to a tougher U.S. stand would probably be, not retaliation, but diplomatic efforts to redress a diplomatic defeat.
Perhaps the single most decisive American entanglement in the area is Portugal's NATO membership, in return for which Lisbon contributes real estate for the Santa Maria air-sea base in the Azores, and 0.28 percent of the NATO budget. Some experts view the base as redundant; in any case, Portugal could not remove the United States against its will. In dealing with Portugal, the United States is principally inhibited by the existence of the NATO treaty itself. But since 1959, Portugal has received nearly $400 million in American aid under NATO, and used a large part of it south of the Tropic of Cancer-a breach of treaty terms. There are, in southern Africa, many American diplomats who talk in terms of ridding NATO of its least useful member as a first step to positive intervention in the area's crisis.
The southern African racial conflict seems to be escalating into war-which may be alleviated and foreshortened by agitation, pressure and eventually negotiation, but cannot be forestalled. It is hard to believe that a majority in the West do not regard the present South African and Rhodesian régimes with aversion. But at present, intervention is left to the communist bloc. Like Moscow, the West is discouraged by the disunity among nationalist movements, and especially by the personal ambitions almost unrelated to policy on which this disunity is founded. Ultimately, decisions on intervention will probably depend on how much strength the Africans themselves can bring to bear. They are now, I think, beginning to show their mettle, to indicate their capacity to overthrow their occupiers. It is in this historic development that we can discern the passing of a formidable point of no return.
[i] Nkomo has been in a concentration camp without trial for over five years. Sithole, also detained without trial, was sentenced in February to six years' hard labor for allegedly organizing a plot against the life of white rebel leader Ian Smith.
[ii] Rhodesian defense figures seem to be at least slightly inflated where whites are concerned. If the Rhodesian white population is 170,000, there are 85,000 males, about 28,000 of them between eighteen and forty-one-say, 25,000 fit to fight. If there are 1,800 in the regular army, 900 in the regular air force, 2,200 in the regular police, 1,500 called-up white army reservists, and 13,300 white police reserves, this gives an "armable" figure of 19,700, which would leave very few younger males in the economy. Rhodesia's claim that the immigrant population surpasses 200,000 seems refuted by electoral roll figures.
[iii] Sir Seretse Khama has, I understand, an agreement with President Kaunda that, whatever the sentence, arrested guerrillas will be released to Zambia after twelve months; Zambia expects them to go on to Tanzania.
[iv] This reinforcement for Portugal is thought by area specialists to be provided for by the "Unholy Trinity" pact reportedly made between South Africa, Portugal and Rhodesia in October 1965. The report that a pact was signed is denied by the governments involved, crown colony Rhodesia being unauthorized to make its own defense arrangements; but the terms of the denial-"We do not need a solemn treaty"-could either be an ambiguous confirmation or an indication that common plans were drawn up without benefit of a legal treaty.
[v] And, for that matter, myself. I am also still syndicated in South Africa, though forbidden entry: the fear is no longer that the eccentric outside world will come and subvert the only soldiers of white civilization who are in step, but that what we would see and write about might subvert the State Department or the Quai d'Orsay.