Courtesy Reuters

Salvaging America's Rhodesian Policy

It scarcely requires congressional votes of no confidence or a change of administrations in London to signal that time has run out on the Rhodesian policy the American and British governments have pursued so doggedly for more than two years. There now sits in Salisbury a black Prime Minister, Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the resounding victor in April's election in which nearly two-thirds of his country's adult population-for the first time-cast ballots. The election was indeed far from perfect. It was conducted on the basis of a constitution which had been approved in a referendum excluding blacks. It excluded major claimants for power. But its results underline the fact that whatever the ideal political preferences of Rhodesia's people, most of them want peace most of all, and a majority of them are prepared to rest their hopes on Bishop Muzorewa as the best available means of bringing it about.

Western diplomacy must now adjust to this reality. Yet Washington and London should do so not by merely lifting the economic sanctions the United Nations imposed in 1966 on Ian Smith's breakaway Rhodesian regime. Rather, they should use the prospective removal of sanctions as a means of pushing the Muzorewa government toward an accommodation with its enemies. In addition, they should deflect Soviet involvement with Rhodesia's black neighbors through substantial economic and military assistance to these "front-line states" and work to keep South Africa out of the Rhodesian war.


Along with its new, predominantly black government, the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia now has the new name of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. That awkward amalgam of quintessentially African and English syllables hints at the substance behind the facade. Protected by the "entrenched clauses" of the new constitution, the four-percent minority of whites still retains substantial control over the levers of power. And the civil war that Ian Smith hoped to stem when he worked out the so-called internal settlement of March 1978 with Muzorewa and two other black politicians continues unabated; it is as if

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