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August 02, 1983 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1983-08-02

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OPINION

A

Page 6
The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCIll, No. 30-S
93 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by students of
The University af Michigan

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, August 2, 1983

S. African counterinsurgency -
tempting modelfor U.S.

4

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the By Franz Schurmann
Daily Editorial Board - -
As the debate over Central
America sharpens, ingrained
ideas about insurgency and coun-
E A f Oterinsurgency revive. Ever since
American guerrillas battled the
*LF YOU want to get ahead today, you've got to British in our own Revolution, we
e a woman," so thepopular belief goes. Those have tended to think of insurgents
ignorant enough to believe that, and who think as fighting for the people and
women are in a more advantageous position counterinsurgents as protecting
than men ought to look at figures released by the interests of the wealthy and
the U.S. Census Bureau recently powerful.
the UAll during the 19th century we
The figures show that in the course of a sympathized with rebels (except
lifetime, women with four-year college degrees for our own Graycoats). And
earn just 60 percent of what male high school even in the 20th century when we
fought against Communist in-
graduates earn. surgencies, there was a lot of
According to the statistics, the average suspicion that, maybe, we were
lifetime earnings for women with bachelor backing the wrong side. We ten-
'degrees is $523,000, compared to $861,000 for ded to think popular insurgencies
male high school graduates. were not only morally right but
bound to win in the end.
So who's kidding whom? The simple fact is Now a challenge to that notion
American women are still treated unfairly and has arisen, not in Central
unequally in the working world. America or the Middle East but
That American women are still paid less than in Southern Africa. During the
their male counterparts even today, is a sad last few years, South African for-
mark in this country's history - but it is hardly of counterinsurgency against
surprising. black African states and
Such figures ought to once and for all demon- movements along their borders
strate the need for passage of the Equal Rights which has left the latter broken
Amendment. For years critics of the plan have and beaten and the former
argued that ERA was unnecessary because quietly gloating in triumph.
wa byThis has been detailed in a
women aren't discriminated against by their em- remarkable survey that ap-
ployers. Nothing could be further from the peared in the mid-July issue of
truth, and figures like those from the Census the British Economist. The ar-
Bureau only point that out. ticle outlined in detail the
operations of the South African
It would be nice if the ERA wasn't necessary. state security council to
But anyone who looks closely enough, will see destabilize black African coun-
that it is. Whether it is figures from the Census tries and finally bring them to
Bureau; or female newscasters getting fired their knees. Many white South
,,i; u i w Africans openly speak of theiri
for being "unattractive"; or underpaid women "hegemony" over the southern
faculty members at this University; the time reaches of the continent.
has come for passage of the ERA. And while U.S. and United
Then, and only then, will women have a fair Nations diplomacy over indepen-
chance of making it in what has in the past been dence for Nambia goes on, South
a world dominated by men. African forces have fostered a
a-__civil war in Angola that has
ruined the country; South
African schemes have hit Zam-
bia, already weakened by
terrible drought and strikes, so
hard that it is a "front-line state"
fighting South African apartheid
in rhetoric only; Zimbabwe's;
Robert Mugabe, threatened by
insurgents from a dissident tribe,
is feeling the South African
economic noose around his neck,
and Mozambique has been turned
into an economic and political
basket case.
The military hard-liners behind
the Pretoria government make
no secret of-their aim to repeat
the feats of their forefathers
when, a century and a half ago,
they defeated and subjugated the
blacks. And while the Pretoria
government makes minor con-
cessions on civil apartheid, the
- - hard-liners are spreading a man-
HSa iv 4ezeo nsa -isv is-ICt eA6'*l5 ve-NelSI K tle of power all over the region, so
rich in people and resources.

T MtCK tt-kititS L Yoci -Ul. lIMS Coos-rIoS 1MRT DGiosFRIZOoM
1 o N(ITs N6N.AWLESfSO CUNTIES-.To TslOtvPEPOPLE.,..
TM1 BUL t It tT SlO INltBtt.., LKE
IHNT )TVPCK 1115 16M-IVtoS SOTHil1NmScA?x

I

The South Africans are deter-
mined to show that counterin-
surgency to protect wealth and
privilege (their own) can suc-
ceed. Many right-wingers in the
United Ststeswonder why it can't
succeed in Central America as
well. If the South Africans have
decimated SWAPO, the
Namibian insurgent
organization, why can't the
United States do the same to the
Salvadoran guerrillas? And if the
South Africans have managed to
destabilize a half dozen African
states with minimal expenditure
of resources, why can't the
United States do the same to
Nicaragua and Cuba?
The simplest answer seems to
be that if the United States wan-
ted to, it could. We have enor-
mous power compared to the
puny strength of the tiny nations
of Central America and the
Caribbean. Even if we were
disinclined to send in ground
troops to Nicaragua or Cuba, we
could bomb them militarily or
ravage them economically.
Last summer, it seemed as if
Israel was about to unleash a
south Africa-style destabilization
war against its Arab enemies. As
it was, Israel only went half way.
It did not obliterate West Beirut
and Arafat's PLO. It did not knife
into Syria to hit Damascus only 50
miles fromIsraeli lines. It did not
overthrow Jordan's Hussein and
create a Palestinian rump state
as former Defense Minister
Sharon reportedly advocated.
A year later it is clear that
what restrained Israel was a mix
of pressure from the United
States and a deep split within
Israeli public opinion. What has
kept the United States, so far,
from an all-out destabilization
campaign against our foes in
Central America has been mainly
public opposition to sending
troops down there. Looking back
on the Vietnam War indicates
that the decisive factor in our
failure to win there was not
defeat on the battlefield but

growing public opposition on the
home front.
The South African state
security council, as the
Economist reports, believes it is
close to having won the war. They
think they have smashed their
enemies militarily, weakened
their political organizations and
turned their peoples into paupers
who will have to beg money, food
and work from South Africans to
stay alive.
The council also believes it has
the total support of the four
million whites of South Africa,
who with just about the highest
standard-of living in the world,
form a true master race. It en-
visages the formation of an array
of black African puppet states,
analogous to the Soviet satellites
of Eastern Europe.
Time will tell whether this
Hitler-like scheme for a South
African-dominated "new order"
for southern Africa will last. The
lesson Israel has learned in
Lebanon is that it was easy to
conquer but hard to hold,
especially because the folks back
home did not want to take more
casualties. So too for Americans
over the Vietnam War, and for
the current opposition to getting
mired in Central America.
South Africa's counterin-
surgency success may be tem-
pting many Washington
strategists to try out its methods
in Central America. But
they might consider caution.
South Africa has clearly won
some important battles; but it
remains to be seen whether they
and four million whites behind
them can, in the end, really win a
war against 400 million black
Africans.
Equally important, it remains
to be seen if the solid support
among whites will begin to crack,
as the South Africans deal with
the consequences of maintaining
their new order in Southern
Africa.
Schurmann wrote this article
for the Pacific News Service.

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