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Congressional Record, Volume 131, Number 42, April 4, 1985



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United States of America Congressional Record PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 99th CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION Vol 131 WASHINGTON, THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 1985 No. 42 Senate REFLECTIONS ON ATTITUDES TOWARD SOUTH AFRICA Mr. HECHT. Mr. President, the unbridled rhetorical assault on the Republic of South Africa, tantamount to a declaration of economic warfare, is scandalous. It provides an ego trip for demagogues to criticize an imperfect society struggling to improve democratic processes and economic benefits for its citizenry, but this behavior in the Halls of Congress undermines true American foreign policy interests and indeed the interests of the Black Africans it is intended to help. The key question is do we lambaste friendly countries with parliamentary governments because they do not have perfect social systems? Is it not better to applaud the progress they are making toward more representative government? Do we permit a vision of the best conceivable democracy to justify destroying a political entity visibly making every practical effort to maintain an orderly and prosperous society that looks very good in comparison with most other African nations? In other words, is it wise to allow aspiration for the best to be an enemy of the good? Gentlemen, it seems to me- that some of us who know little about South Africa or the alternatives that might result from our punitive attitudes are committing precisely this folly. The result could be an added injury to black and white people alike in South Africa and conceivably the end of one of the few parliamentary governments based on Anglo-Saxon legal concepts on the whole continent of Africa. Is this our goal? Is it in the international interest of the United States? I say no. Let us turn away from this vindictive "holier than thou" assault on the decent people of the South African Government plainly engaged in a constructive and orderly effort to create a more representative political system. The alternative is aiding and abetting the forces of violence and revolution intent on overthrowing the reform-mined South African Government. Is that sensible for us or for the black and white population of South Africa? Again I say no. The reason for my decision is based on recent history. Throughout Africa we see many states that have accepted Soviet help and adopted the totalitarian Soviet model of government. Ethiopia is the most conspicuous example. The people are starving. The Soviet Union gives them guns and military hardware. These gifts are not to make the people better off, but to encourage them to meddle in the affairs of non-Communist neighboring states in order to destabilize them socially, and if possible, destroy them politically. The Republic of South Africa is the target of this kind of Soviet-inspired game plan, involving mobilization of hostile pressures from outside and direct support of violent revolutionary action inside. The fact is the modern economy of South Africa that has drawn so many black laborers to work there is the only hope for economic growth and adequate food in all of the states of the southern cone of Africa. The assault on the stable and productive South African society, which we are being asked to join, is an attack on political and economic progress in all of Africa. If we join, we are becoming catspaws in a Soviet game that few understand though it is plain to see. The history of the past 25 years shows that we should avoid repeating our previous errors in situations like this one. Shall we undermine a government, admittedly imperfect, that is trying to introduce democratic processes and feed its people better? Or shall we help the revolutionary critics who really want to destroy the social fabric in order to create their own totalitarian control system? I think the answer is clear. It does not matter if the result is communism or fanatic Islamic fundamentalism or any other arbitrary, undemocratic political system. It is a tragedy. Is Vietnam better off now with its harsh political controls, concentration camps, desperately poor economy, and expansionist war in Cambodia, than it was when at least in South Vietnam there was a parliamentary and electoral process and substantial free-enterprise economic activities. No, of course not. Is Iran better off now with its wildly 2 arbitrary rule by the Khomeini Moslem fanatics, its civil disorders and murders, its costly war against Iraq, and its vulnerability to Soviet infiltration from Afghanistan, than it was under the reform-minded regime of the Shah? No, of course not. Gentlemen, let us not repeat these past follies. The Republic of South Africa is a friendly nation with tremendous economic assets for all of Africa and a strategic location at the vital junction point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is moving sociologically and politically in the right direction. If we help undermine this society the result will be similar to what followed in Vietnam and Iran. It will be disastrous for all, including the Americans who are now creating a storm of criticism of the Republic of South Africa. Let us instead try to support and build up governments moving in an orderly way in the direction of representative and productive society. Let us for once heed the lessons of history and the facts of international life, not our narrow emotional reactions based on our own special circumstances in this fortunate country. Our influence because of our good fortune and strength is too great for us to let ourselves be manipulated needlessly into leaning in the wrong direction. For heaven's sake, let us desist from this unseemly attack on South Africa.