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Divestiture in South Africa

June 27, 1985

It is important when considering the crisis in South Africa not only to dwell on how our government should respond to Pretoria's apartheid system, but also to the possible effects of our policies themselves.

The South African crisis is not isolated to that country's social system itself. The stability of the present government also affects most, if not all, of the Western industrial countries. These circumstances result from the tremendous resources of that part of the world and the importance of those resources to the West. By many estimates, South Africa has three-quarters of the world's chromite, half of its gold and platinum, a fifth of its uranium and a third of its diamonds--a storehouse of great importance, both economically and militarily.

To take chromium as just one example, its usage ranges from jet aircraft components to ball bearings. its importance to an industrialized society is incredible and unfortunately we must import 92% of the chromium we need, almost half of which is from South Africa.

So, in a large sense, our vital interests are at stake in this area and because of this we should not be weak in defending our interests there. But neither should we not be committed to ending racism, even if it is at a slow pace.

We must not then allow this troubled country to become even further troubled. An unstable South Africa could only endanger our interests and allow our adversaries to take advantage of this important part of the world. The Soviets could surely be expected to exploit these racial troubles against the West by expanding tension and infighting there.

For the United States, our position must be clear. South Africa is of special importance to the Western world and therefore our policies must not help in the destruction of that society, especially when it is slowly moving ahead with racial reforms. After our Civil War it took 100 years for racial equality. We must then not allow our good intentions to become our only policy without regard for other sensitive economic and political concerns. It can be very dangerous to allow only our feelings to determine our policies.

ROBERT T. BLUTH

Granada Hills

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