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February 09, 1983 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-09

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, February 9, 1983

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

South African divestment:A
movement pickngup s team'

Vol. XCIII, No. 107

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Getting tough on guidelines

MAKING A SERIOUS inquiry into
military research at the Univer-
sity isn't one of the Research Policies
Committee's strohg points. The com-
mittee, which is charged with recom-
mending a set of non-classified resear-
ch guidelines and establishing a
mechanism for . enforcing the
guidelines, had a chance to make such
an inquiry last week, but they have
chosen to ignore the issue.
Committee members voted against a
proposal by student member Tom
Marx which would have established a
subcommittee to investigate several
specific research projects. These
projects were labelled "irresponsible"
by a military research report compiled
for the Michigan Student Assembly
last year.
Group members didn't feel they had
enough time to investigate the projects
properly. They also did not like the
idea of investigating the specific
projects targeted in the MSA report.
But the committee, which faces a
'March deadline for reporting back to
the Senate Assembly, has had ample
time to do its work. Committee mem-
bers are still divided on the type of
mechanism to be used to enforce the

guidelines, but instead of using Marx's
plan as a way to solving their differen-
ces, they have delayed progress again.
Voting down the plan because it
named specific projects to be reviewed
tries to hide the fact that these projects
raise some serious questions about
military research at the University.
These questions need answering.
Marx's proposal offered a vehicle to
get those answers as well as providing
some much-needed data for the com-
mittee. The data can be used to help
solve the arguments over the type of
mechanism needed to enforce the
guidelines.
The committee has a chance to
reconsider its hasty action. A modified
proposal along the lines of Marx's
original plan is going to be introduced
at the group's meeting next week. If
the committee is serious about
providing a workable enforcement
mechanism for the guidelines and
wants to provide answers to the
questions raised, it should not be so
quick to vote against this new plan.
Time is running out as the Research
Policies Committee nears its March
deadline. But there is still time for the
committee to show it is serious about
the job it's supposed to do.

By Carole Collins
WASHINGTON-Long relegated to the
idealistic margins, the campaign for
"divestment" in South Africa is gaining
ground today in the real world of U.S. high
finance-for reasons which include sound
business sense, as well as moral principles.
For better than a decade, American critics
of apartheid have been working to end U.S.
corporate and investment links to South
Africa, often with little effect. But in the last
12 months more headway has been made than
in the previous 12 years.
THE TURNABOUT has come primarily
because church and labor groups, com-
munity, and anti-apartheid organizations
have united their somewhat disparate objec-
tives around a common new strategy: using
the tremendous height of public money to
bring pressure on U.S. banks and cor-
porations active in South Africa. The results
have been impressive:
" The Massachusetts legislature Jan. 4
easily overrode outgoing Gov. Edward King's
veto to pass the strongest state pension fund
divestment bill in the nation. Some $120
million invested in firms doing business in
South Africa is at stake.
" One week earlier, outgoing Michigan Gov.
William Milliken signed into law a bill ban-
ning investment by state educational in-
stitutions in companies operating in South
Africa.
" In late October, conservative Grand
Rapids, Mich.,-hometown of Gerald Ford
and many Dutch-Americans with church and
ethnic ties to Afrikaaners-adopted a policy
prohibiting the deposit of idle municipal funds
in banks lending to South Africa or in U.S.
companies doing business there.
" Last June, Philadelphia became the first
major U.S. city to pass, with strong bipar-
tisan support, a pension fund divestment bill.
Soon after, Wilmington, Del., passed a
similar bill, and councilman John Ray on Jan.,
4 introduced another here in the nation's
capital.
Increasingly, these developments dovetail
with the concerns of some in the business
Wasserman

world itself. A First National Bank of
Chicago stockholder, during the bank's 1980
annual meeting, noted that some $90 million
had been lost because the bank-like the U.S.
government-ignored signs of extreme social
tension in the Shah's Iran. Another
shareholder added: "Things are not going to
get better in South Africa. So we had better,
begin to think now about what we're going to
do as things get worse."
THE CHRYSLER CORPORATION an-
nounced Jan. 26 its decision to sell off its 25
percent stake in Sigma Motors Corporation,
South Africa's third largest auto and truck
manufacturing company. Not long before,
General Electric backed out of a mining ven-
ture in the KwaZulu black "homeland," in
part because of mounting calls for investment
in the company's home state of Connecticut.
Polaroid, Inc., pulled out in 1977, after lear-
ning that its South African distributor had
violated a 1971 agreement not to sell products
to the government. Even South Africa's own
largest company, the Anglo-American Cor-
poration, has been vastly expanding its over-
seas investments as insurance against future
upheavals, according to some observers.
A few companies are even finding ways to
profit from pro-divestment sentiment.
Chemical Bank still makes trade-related
loans of a non-strategic nature to South Africa
but has made no loans to the South African
government or companies doing business
there since 1974. That bank is setting up a
special fund that would invest only in non-
South Africa-related companies in an effort to
capture part of the divested public pension
funds and church endowments.
No one understands more clearly that
divestment has become a serious matter than
the South Africans themselves. While South
African consulates have often cpnducted low-
key lobbying efforts against divestment bills,
only recently have South Africa's paid lob-
byists become active at the state level, in
response to the growipg success of state and
municipal divestment legislation.
THESE efforts have been successfully coun-
tered by groups which enjoy widespread sup-
port from churches, organized labor and

community organizations. Among the
proposals for alternative investment made by
divestment supporters in Massachusetts, one
in particular struck home with state residen-
ts: that the pension funds be used to help
revitalize local neighborhoods and generate
jobs.
There, as in Michigan, the Ford Motor
Company lobbied vigorously against divest-
ment, arguing for an amendment that would
have exempted companies which observe the
so-called "Sullivan principles" of corporateq
responsibility. Black unions in South African
have publicly rejected this approach, which
involves voluntary, company-sponsored im-
provements in working conditions, as
cosmetic and difficult to monitor or evaluate.-
Adoption of the Ford amendment itn-
Massachusetts would have exempted from
the divestment bill's coverage 11 of the 13
companies in South Africa in which state pen-
sion funds are invested. In Michigan, Ford's
lobbyist implicitly conceded divestment's-
impact by asking state legislators to exempt
the automaker as "an economically
distressed corporation." The University of
Michigan, another active opponent of the bill,
may still challenge it in the courts as an in-
fringement on university autonomy.
Divestment advocates are far from
claiming that the battle has been won. In
mid-1982, U.S. banks had $3.6 billion in out-
standing loans to South Africa's public and
private sectors, and direct investment was
estimated at $2.6 billion. Moreover, the
Reagan administration has removed restric-
tions on trade with South Africa's military
and police and eased restrictions on nuclear-4
related exports.
Nevertheless, divestment as an issue has
generated a potent, "new federalist" ap-
proach. It promises to keep apartheid more
effectively on the minds of millions of
Americans who do care, after all, about the
way their money is spent.
Collins wrote this article for the Pacific
News Service. g

Blundering in El Salvador

INCE 1981, THE United States has
' poured more than three-quarters of
a -billion dollars of economic and
military aid to El Salvador. But to
date, money that was supposed to buy
peace, stability, economic opportunity,
and most importantly a working
democracy for the impoverished
masses of El Salvador, has paid for lit-
tle more than dashed hopes and a
wounded leg for a U.S. military officer.
By now, the bankruptcy of the
Reagan administration's military
solution to the political problems of the
Central American nation should be ob-
vious.
The recent rebel takeover of the
major Salvadoran city of Berlin
clearly shows neither the leftist
guerrillas nor the Salvadoran army is
winning.
In the midst of this stalemated cross-
fire is the Salvadoran people. Yet in
spite of battles where the peasants are
the real losers, every six months
Congress goes on with the charade,
erpetrated by the Reagan ad-
ministration, which certifies the
Salvadoran government is making
progress on human rights.
Thus, the message from Washington
is clear: The United States will con-
tinue sending aid regardless of reform
and blind itself to the atrocities com-
mitted all in the name of democracy.
In the battle for Berlin, more than
250 died, apparently a small number in
A civil war that has killed thousands.

But this time among the wounded was
an American soldier. His wound, if
nothing else, should provoke the
reexamination of U.S. policy in that the
president and Congress have so far
cursorily dismissed.
The fact that the soldier was trying
to contact a Salvadoran army unit on
an actual mission is a clear violation of
the guidelines under which U.S. ad-
visors were sent there. Apparently
Americans have been close to the
fighting putting the United States close
to the war. What were they doing
there? How many other times have
Americans been actively involved in
actual missions? How much is being
hidden from the American people?
These are all questions the president
must answer. But the real question is
what are U.S. military advisors doing
there in the first place? The president
will beg to differ, but the real answer is
that they are helping foment an un-
workable military solution on a
problem that is inherently political.
Before the United States becomes
more deeply involved in the morass of
the Salvadoran jungle, before another
American is wounded, before more in-
nocent civilians die in a senseless
struggle, Congress needs to put a rein
on the president and his senseless
policies in Central America. El
Salvador needs 37 peace negotiators
much more than it needs 37 military
strategists to turn a military stalemate
into a political solution.

THIS IS YOUR CATJ
3?PEAKIN&G..

AiN

1, lll' Uiu0
AMERc S o~

4

4

I
I

L

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

,.
_ 4

Laser lover's economics

To the Daily:
I found Andy Rotstein's "save-
all laser alternative" to be short-
sighted, if not ludicrous
("Speaker supports laser
weapons," Daily, Feb. 3). Gran-
ted, the laser has great potential

within the dimensions that scien-
ce has defined to date. But there
is a gap between a potential
technology and economic
recovery.
At this moment private enter-
prise and taxpayers (through

Bad judgment on Carpenter

government spending) are in-
vesting billions of dollars on
developing high technology ideas
in areas that were not heard of a
few years ago.
The laser has already been
drawing from this pool of invest-
ment and its share will increase
in the future. So what will its ap-
plication as a weapon do for the
economy?
It might cause people working
on nuclear projects to switch
jobs; or it might draw some
people out of constructive laser
science into the field of weapons
reearch.

off
to suffer the pains of a new age.
New technologies may make us
economically better off in the
long run, but they are not going to:
help the unemployed;
technologically unskilled labor I
force. Rotstein's "funding by
printing money" suggestion
would effectively diminish the
compensation our unemployed
and elderly receive.
There always seems to be a
new advocate at the podium at-
tempting to persuade the public
of a particular program's worth.
It is about time we hear a
humane sneaker who is commit-

To the Daily:
Your snide remarks concer-
ning the death of Karen Carpen-
ter ("Karen Carpenter dead at
age 32," Daily, Feb. 5) turned

on someone's grave in a morbid
ritual of sarcastic drivelling.
You have the moral worth of
algae.
-Patrick Anderson
Fehruarv 7

-n

1'.

*tAiATA

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