In his apologia for South Africa ("Why South Africa Doesn't Fall;" (Editorial Pages, Dec. 3), Hermann Giliomee misses the point in seeking to refute the conventional wisdom about when a government will fall, rather than looking at the realities that underlie the Nationalist Party's undeniable grip on the country.
Giliomee points to three factors as signs of stability. First, he states that the police and army are still effective in "controlling the population." Despite the U.N. Security Council's 1977 embargo on arms sales to South Africa, the country has amassed an impressive array of weaponry, thanks to the U.S. and other countries that have side-stepped the embargo. The blacks, for their part, know they are out-gunned; this is why they have gradually increased their dependence on guerrilla attacks on sensitive "Key Points," particularly the mammoth SASOL oil-from-coal plant, where they know they can strike crippling blows to the economy and the infrastructure without risking face-to-face battle.
Second, Giliomee notes that the police and armed forces are still able to recruit blacks, and that resistance to compulsory service by whites is still insignificant. While it is true that the Defense Force as a whole has been forced to integrate to gain enough strength to meet the demands of repression both at home and abroad (Namibia, Angola, and, previously, Rhodesia), the blacks who join are still a very small minority, and are viewed as traitors by nearly all other blacks. White resistance to compulsory service (punishable by six years in a South African prison) is growing, but is discouraged by the lack of refuge offered by Western countries, including the U.S.