Courtesy Reuters

Toward a World Policy for South Africa

In the Security Council on August 7 the United States voted for a ban on the shipment of arms to the South African Government, and in the course of the debate the American representative announced that the United States would suspend all arms shipments at the end of the year. Since South Africa has in the past found it difficult to obtain licenses for the purchase of American arms, this decision represented only a small shift in policy. But as the vote was taken under African pressure, and as it separated the United States from Britain and France (which abstained), the shift was significant; for it showed that when faced with a choice, the United States is more prepared than before to take a stand against apartheid.

The supporting speech defined American policies toward the South African Government with some precision: though hostile to apartheid, the United States is not yet convinced that force is a necessary ingredient in the solution of the problem, for "we cannot accept the conclusion that there is no way out, no direction to go except the present collision course toward ultimate disaster in South Africa." Rather, steps are envisaged "to induce that government to remove the evil business of apartheid ... from the continent of Africa."

The American view that a clash is avoidable is not shared by most observers. It is certainly not shared by the Government of South Africa, nor the majority of its white citizens. Never has so much been spent on arms in South Africa; the figure is now running at a published rate of $219,000,000 a year. Military service is bulking ever more prominently in the lives of the white people. And, apart from national armaments, the three million white people privately own two million firearms.

An ever-tightening code of security laws buttresses this armed oligarchy. There is, for example, a recent law which permits any police officer to detain anyone for successive periods of 90 days without limit and without warrant; such persons

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