Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsZimbabwe

Tattered Policy in Southern Africa

March 15, 1987

The disorder of American foreign policy is conspicuous in Southern Africa, where the generosity of the United States is compromised by ill-advised interventionism.

M. Peter McPherson, administrator of the Agency for International Development, has announced a positive and constructive response to the famine sweeping selected areas of the region, and has asked United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to name a special representative to coordinate aid to the most devastated nation, Mozambique.

AID will send $50 million in food to the starving of Mozambique, and has promised an 18-month supplementary assistance program for the region totaling $93 million. But, while acknowledging the singular importance of the United Nations in coordinating the international relief program, the Administration has cut American funding for the United Nations this year and next below the contributions to which there is a treaty obligation.

That is not the only example of doing the correct thing with one hand and the wrong thing with the other. Mozambique's devastation is the result of an ugly civil war conducted by rebel forces that specialize in the destruction of crops and the disruption of civilian life. These rebels are sponsored in part by South Africa, and there is evidence that they also receive assistance from Saudi Arabia--raising suspicions of a reprise of the Saudi role in funding anti-Marxist adventures in Central America. Further funds reportedly flow from extreme-rightist groups in the United States and Portugal, whose colony it was. Mozambique's most helpful ally in fighting the rebels is Zimbabwe, but instead of encouraging that alliance the United States has frozen aid to Zimbabwe in the aftermath of an outburst of anti-American rudeness by a junior minister.

The ambiguities of the American role are further dramatized in Angola, the other giant former Portuguese colony that, like Mozambique, is ostensibly Marxist but, unlike Mozambique, practices Marxism in a way that the Reagan Administration cannot tolerate. So the United States is providing substantial assistance, along with South Africa, to another rebel force that also specializes in devastating farmlands and disrupting civilian populations. Angola now is on the brink of starvation, in part through its own fumbling administration but in large measure because of the war of attrition funded by Pretoria and Washington.

Clearly, AID is responding as it should to the starvation in Mozambique. But it will have only limited effect in that troubled nation and in the region until the United States also seizes the initiative to cut off the ugly insurgencies that serve only South African and old colonial interests. The hungry of Angola are as deserving of American food as are the starving of Mozambique. The singular strategic importance of Zimbabwe calls for the urgent restoration of foreign aid and cooperation in its efforts to help Mozambique restore order.

Beyond the humanitarian importance of programs to assist these independent nations of Southern Africa is the compelling importance of helping them to resist the cynical efforts of South Africa, in the name of self-defense, to destabilize its neighboring nations and impose hegemony.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|