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U.S.: 'Opponent of Revolution?'

September 20, 1985

The article by Walter Truett Anderson (Editorial Pages, Sept. 6), "How Did America Become an Opponent of Revolution?" touches on some important points, but it fails to follow through. The policy of the present Administration to aggressively support the status quo, no matter how odious--albeit "anti-Communist"--has created a peculiar and dangerous situation in which the repressive totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union may style itself the champion of anti-colonialist movements throughout the Third World.

Through the inept bungling of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, we allowed ourselves to be lumped together with the reactionary minority in Angola, which even our own CIA knew was doomed to defeat. Our support of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines has forced the anti-dictatorship forces to take on a pinker and pinker hue, although only a small minority of the movement holds to Marxist-Leninist precepts. We withheld desperately needed aid from Nicaragua during a time when the moderates were trying to rejoin the community of nations, and now we confront the Communists in ascendancy there as well.

The tragedy of the South African situation is that we refuse to learn from our mistakes. "Constructive engagement" is merely a smoke screen for inaction while the issue of apartheid is being decided, massacre-style, in the streets.

The people of color in South Africa are not going to wait forever for the United States to get off its lame behind and pass some innocuous sanctions (if, indeed, we are prepared to do even this), but will look for help of real substance wherever they can get it. If this means that they turn to Cuba and the Soviet Union, we have only ourselves to blame.

The bottom line is that we are not effectively offering an alternative. If we were as eager to export our American principles of free trade, equal rights for all the people, and pluralistic democracy, as we are seemingly desperate to prop up static, oppressive, totalitarian regimes, we might yet "stop the Communists" and wrest from them the mantle of liberation that sits so crookedly on their shoulders.

R. BRUCE ANDERSON

Santa Monica

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