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SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID
MANDELA

South Africa is a country that had been controlled since the 19th Century by Dutch Afrikaaners and the British Empire, which has resulted in a combination of languages, accents and some of the most stunning women anywhere. The British fought bloody wars against the Zulus. The Boar War (which produced the legendary nurse Florence Nightengale) was another horrid affair. No matter which way the struggle played itself out, black natives of South Africa were shunted to the lower rung of society by a racist institution known as Apartheid.

            Even though Apartheid had been in place in this country for many years, it did not become an international cause celebre until the Civil Rights Movement of the U.S. in the 1960s. American black athletes like tennis star Arthur Ashe drew attention to Apartheid by refusing to play in tournaments in South Africa. Throughout the 1970s and '80s, white South African athletes in golf, tennis and the Olympics found themselves either banned or discriminated against, regardless of their personal views on Apartheid.

            The American government found itself in a difficult situation dealing with the issue. First, Communism had spread in the 1960s, '70s and '80s throughout Africa. The white South African government was staunchly anti-Communist. The main arm fighting Apartheid was the African National Congress, a Communist organization. South African Apartheid also represented the great conundrum of racism. As decolonization occurred and black countries became black-ruled, a disturbing, obvious truth became apparent. That truth is that blacks living in the worst racist conditions of the Jim Crow South, under repressive white regimes in Africa, plus black populations in Europe, all lived much better lives than blacks living under black leadership.

            Today, South Africa is black-ruled, although the white leadership is included. The result is a certain amount of anarchy, and most average black South Africans actually live in worse conditions than they did under white Apartheid. However, life for blacks in South Africa is paradise compared to African nations that are completely "ruled" by blacks.

            Zimbabwe, once ruled by whites, has been taken over by the blacks. They stole the farms from the whites, and the country has descended into chaos. Most African countries - Mozambique, Somalia, Liberia, just to name a couple - have no real government, little diplomatic clout or function, are simply killing fields of civil wars; pitched battles between savages, war lords, drug dealers, slave traders, and other low lifes. AIDS has spread like wildfire and is used as a military weapon, as is rape, torture, mutilation and other charming actions. Zaire in 1994 and the Congo in 2003 have seen genocide that approached holocausts. There is every evidence that since Africa went from the controlled, racial politics of white rule to the rule of blacks, Satan has decided that this is his next battleground. The discouraging fact is that the worst racist whites are substantially better than black African "leadership." The term "lesser of two evils" applies here as well as any place, but the "most of all evils" is what history has determined to be Africa's fate. The devil has moved inexorably from Europe to Asia to the Middle East, and removing him from Africa is a job only one country has the resources to tackle. That country is the U.S.

             In 1994, Nelson Mandela became president of the multi-racial South Africa government, following victory by the African National Congress in general elections.  Mandela is a hero to many, but the reality of his life is mixed.

              Mandela was a key figure in South Africa since the 1950s. Some questions have risen concerning the part that Mandela actually played. In 1948, Apartheid became law under National party leader Dr. Daniel Malan. He was a hard-line Afrikaner, and racial purity was his goal. This term, in wake of Hitler, caused much squirming, but Dr. Malan advocated roughly "separate but equal" conditions for blacks and whites. He was voted Prime Minister in 1948 at a time when white and black children played together. He felt this mixing was unhealthy. Apartheid was a vague policy at first. As it became a tightly controlled way of life, white domination replaced the fairly easy-going relationship that existed between the races. The blacks suffered under it. Blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. Blacks and whites who were already married had to split. The Population Registration Act 1950 registered people by race and borders. It was followed by the Immorality Amendment Act 1950, Group Areas Act 1950, Natives Act 1952, Native Laws Amendment Act 1952, and the Bantu Education Act 1953.

At first, the Apartheid movement was unopposed, since the blacks had no political power. The Communists saw that Africa was a natural battlefield. Their rhetoric, centering around re-distribution of wealth, played perfectly using race as a metaphor for the proletariat. They formed the African National Congress. The ANC did not advocate the violence of most Communist revolutionary movements of the 1950s. Martin Luther King used much of the ANC platform in forming his Christian organization. The ANC became a multi-racial, non-violent organization. The Pan African Congress, however, was all black and violent.

The Defiance Campaign protested Apartheid, using peaceful protests that included singing, clapping and civil disobedience, patterned after Gandhi. Mandela, an attorney, was the national volunteer-in-chief of the Defiance Campaign, addressing crowds in non-violent appearances. He was jailed in 1952 but the ANC numbers grew from 7,000 to 100,000. Mandela became President of the Transvaal ANC, but was banned from gatherings and ordered out of Johannesburg and to step down as head of the ANC.

In 1960, 69 people were killed and hundreds injured at Sharpeville. Many were shot while running away. The massacre was followed by a state of emergency in which the government gave itself de facto martial powers. The ANC was banned and the world press investigated Apartheid. U.N. Security forces urged South Africa to end the practice. The U.S.A. condemned it. Riots and the mass burning of passes ensued. Both ANC and PAC were banned. Mandela came to Sharpeville to speak on the issue. In 1961, Mandela was jailed again, this time for a period of almost 30 years, for planning guerrilla warfare and organizing invasion by foreign Communist armies

At Soweto township near Johannesburg in 1976, school children protested. 179 children were killed and thousands were injured when police fired at the peaceful gathering. More killings occurred in Soweto and elsewhere. Steve Biko died in detention from brain damage when his head was beaten by police.

At Robben Island Maximum Security Prison, Mandela endured hard labor. Every six months he was allowed to write and receive one letter. His wife, Winnie, was eventually allowed to visit, but she was not allowed to speak of her visits publicly. Mandela was not allowed to keep a diary or read newspapers. An "information network" eventually developed. Winnie was imprisoned for 491 days in 1982. Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison until 1988, when he was hospitalized for tuberculosis. He was finally released shortly thereafter.

W.P. Botha had become President and he reformed Apartheid. Businessmen advocated the reforms because they needed a free, educated black labor force. Botha's Presidency ended Apartheid. Multi-racial facilities and black trade unions were legalized. In 1989 President Botha suffered a stroke and resigned and F.W. de Klerk became President.

The ANC and the Inkartha Freedom Party (Zulus) threatened security forces. White South Africans favored ending Apartheid, but the great fear was that if the blacks had political control, the country would descend into the chaos and murder that occurs most times in which blacks control countries. Fear of civil war was rampant. Blacks routinely engaged in a practice called "necklacing," which involved the act of throwing a tire around a man so he could not move his arms, dousing him with gasoline, and setting him afire. Blacks would gather around and watch these spectacles like sports fans. Winnie Mandela regularly ordered necklacing. She stole huge funds from ANC coffers and ordered men to be made her slaves, all under the control of security forces provided her as Mandela's wife. Whites did not approve of necklacing. They desired to live in a country in which the threat of being necklaced themselves would be reduced. The fact that blacks necklaced humans scared them. People are funny that way.

Ronald Reagan had been criticized for a "go slow" approach to South African Apartheid. However, Reagan knew that black-ruled African countries were embroiled in chaos and killing. He did not want to encourage such a thing, and helped husband the partnership between whites and blacks that eventually allowed South Africa to avoid the genocide of other African nations. He also did not wish to advocate legalization of the ANC, a Communist organization, fearing that the Communist Mandela would lead a Marxist revolution. Apartheid really ended when Communism died, and the threat of international Marxism in South Africa died with it.   

 In December of 1989, while the Berlin Wall was crumbling, de Klerk and Mandela met and the ban on the ANC was lifted. Bans were lifted on the PAC and 30 other organizations. Non-violent political prisoners were released. Death sentences were commuted. Mandela was unconditionally released after 27 years.

Mandela was horrified when he heard about his wife necklacing people, stealing funds and holding slaves. They were divorced in 1992. With her at his side, he would not have had credibility. She went to trial for murdering a black boy.

Mandela was voted President of South Africa in 1994 with 62 percent of the vote. If they had garnered 66 percent of the vote, their constitution would have been amended to eliminate whites from the government. Mandela breathed a sigh of relief, since he knew, as Reagan and others knew, that whites were needed to maintain order and stability. Otherwise, Mandela felt South Africa could plunge into hell like the other decolonized African states, and he would be blamed.

While Apartheid was a racist policy, South African blacks living under it lived better than African blacks in other countries. This is a statement that is unable to be couched in a manner that does not imply the racist view, but nevertheless remains that with which is true. South Africa became rich, prosperous, a major source of investment, and a travel destination. The switch to black-majority rule has not been smooth. Overall it has been a good thing only in theory. Actual people who live there - white and black - do not live any better than before. Whites live decidedly worse. They live much better than everybody else on the African Continent.

Mandela, despite his Communism and marriage to a murderer, is an international hero to many. He is very critical of the United States, apparently unable to come to grips with the fact that if the U.S. did not win the Cold War, Apartheid may not have ended and American media played the biggest role in his eventual victory. The difficulties of his life allow for wide leeway in judging his choices, associations and statements. His intelligence and advocacy of non-violence in the Gandhi/King tradition were heroic, especially considering the violent tendencies of the people under his influence. Mandela gained the trust of white South Africans and partnered with them without holding a grudge. Had South Africa become an all-black government, the country would likely have seen the deaths of thousands, if not more. All those prevented deaths are attributed mostly to Mandela, and partially to de Klerk and Botha.

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination," Mandela said in 1990 upon his release from prison. "I have cherished the ideal of a Democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be it, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

 

Russia's "Vietnam": Afghanistan

        In the 19th Century, the British Empire expanded to Afghanistan. At first, their superior military forces, intelligence and discipline gave them victories. They secured the ancient capital, Kabul. But over time, the forbidding weather, terrain and savagery of the Afghan opposition drove them out. The great empiricist author, Rudyard Kipling, wrote about the melancholy British experience in Afghanistan. Today, his romanticized accounts of death and suffering would be considered bad form, but Kipling's was a different time. He described in one poem the fate of British soldiers left alive but wounded on the Afghan battlefields. The Brits saw to it that they always had a weapon
"in reserve" to kill themselves, because no fate was worse than to be captured by the Afghans. They had turned torture into an art form.

The Czars tried to conquer Afghanistan when they entered the "great game" with the British, but they failed. By the time the Soviets had been repelled in the 1980s, the legend had it that Afghanistan was impregnable. They were, until American technology simply became more impregnable. Precision-guided munitions, cruise missiles and high-tech weaponry allowed the United States to march carte blanche into Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack. The lesson of American post-Cold War military incursions (Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq) are that all the old lessons are out the window. The U.S. is the New World Order; new lessons, new rules of law. Studying World War II and Vietnam yield lessons learned only in contemplation of the events that occurred after that. The fact that the Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan was the first in a two-part process. The first part showed that they were vulnerable, and foreshadowed the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The second part was the naked contrast of American success in Afghanistan vs. Soviet defeat there. It spelled the final truth of the Cold War. It was instructive in showing who is the boss. If the U.S. and all other countries are football teams, then the U.S. is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the NFL and NCAA have been disbanded; the next best team is Santa Monica College.

Therefore, any retrospective of the Soviet-Afghan War is merely for purposes of telling the story of events. There are no more lessons from Kipling or Russian tank battles. The lessons now are all those being taught by the United States.

 Guerrilla war marked the Afghan resistance, just as it did in Algeria and Vietnam. At this point, guerrillas and terrorists, who make up the last line of defense among America's enemies, are no longer the force they were thought to be. These people tend to be a thickheaded bunch. America may be required to continue turning them into fire for awhile before they come to the realization their cause is (a) hopeless and (b) unjustified.

 In 1979, the Soviet Union mistakenly thought they were close then to where the U.S. is now. As it has been pointed out in this text, the Soviets were a force of evil by nature, prone to invading lesser countries for naked gain, regardless of death and destruction to said enemies. They never showed any regard for casualties in their own ranks. They follow in the dubious 20th Century tradition of Kaiser's Germany, Japan, Hitler's Germany and China. The Soviet-Afghan War was an enigma in the West, but to the Soviets it was their "Vietnam." America was too strong to be brought down by Vietnam. The U.S.S.R. was not strong enough to withstand Afghanistan.

They had engaged in military interventions in the Ukraine (1945-1951), East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), and Czechoslovakia (1968). They were involved in efforts to put down nascent Polish Solidarity. Military attack had been as much a part of Soviet politics as the "advise and consent" powers the Senate has in American governmental affairs. Nuclear deterrence had kept the Soviets from fighting a world war they would have lost with the West. After Vietnam, in the midst of success in Africa and Latin America, regional conflicts were considered the new Soviet doctrine.

                    The invasion of Afghanistan was based on the Czechoslovakian model of 1968. It was assumed that Afghanistan was just a new satellite in the Soviet Empire. At the time, the consequences of Soviet hegemony in the Islamic world, with the implications on oil and Israel, were terribly frightening. The prospect of new Soviet sponsorship of the Arab/terrorist world in support of Communist aims was devastating. Now, with the Cold War won and liberals either saying after the fact that they were "Cold Warriors" or the Soviets were never such a threat, a brutal assessment is in order. Considering that the Soviets attacked on Carter's watch, following the establishment of his weak doctrine, it goes beyond partisan politics to address responsibility. It becomes the duty of historians to evaluate these events and learn the lessons therein. Had the Soviets succeeded in Afghanistan and continued their march throughout the region - India, Pakistan, Iran, and the rest of the Middle East, the consequences are too horrible to imagine.

            The point has been made before but must be made again that wars start under Democrat administrations. Again, this is one of a long line of statements made throughout this work which (a) appear utterly political and is (b) simply true. Bob Dole's "Democrat wars" statement of 1976 was met by howling and screaming, and in the post-Watergate climate Dole and his party did not have the backing to hold the line. He would not have said it if it were not true in the first place.

            The von Schlieffen Plan was written in 1905, but the Germans dared not attack with Teddy Roosevelt or William Howard Taft itching to get America into the role of international power. The pacifist Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected, and as if the whole thing was cause-and-effect, the Germans attacked with "the right sleeve of the last German brushing the Atlantic."

            FDR's military was almost non-existent, giving Hitler and Tojo the courage to attack and start World War II. Who lost China? It is too partisan to "blame" the Truman Administration, except that the Venona Papers show the naked truth that American spies of Leftist bent worked to undermine the Chiang Nationalists. Cause-and-effect: The Korean War.

            Eisenhower kept the peace, but Kennedy stole the 1960 election from Nixon. With Nixon in the White House, the Bay of Pigs probably succeeds, the Cuban Missile Crisis never happens, and Communism is probably stopped before it gets started in the 'Nam. Simple? Too easy? Way too Republican?  Yes, but very likely. Instead, Vietnam is started under JFK and escalated by LBJ.

Do the Soviets invade Afghanistan with Reagan in office? Is there really any honest assessment of that question in which the answer is "yes?"   

            Initial resistance by the Afghans was a short firefight against the Soviet Spetsnaz 1 unit storming the Presidential Palace. Then the citizens armed themselves and began committing acts of sabotage against personnel, installations, depots and transport, using flintlock muskets. On the night of February 23, 1980, almost everybody in Kabul climbed on their rooftops and chanted "God is Great," a testament to the power of religion. The "warrior society" had been set in motion.

The Communists had orchestrated a bloody military coup in 1978. President Nur M. Taraki had been unable to develop support among the people, so they "invited" the Soviets to restore order. In September of 1979, Taraki's Prime Minister, Hafizullah Amin, seized power and executed Taraki. The Soviet Politburo decided the situation needed stabilization.

                     The invasion began on Christmas eve. Airborne and Spetsnaz forces seized the Salang tunnel, key airfields, government and communications sites in Kabul. Amin was immediately assassinated. The main cities were all conquered quickly and a puppet regime installed.

                    The Soviets expected the resistance to end. Massive firepower delivered from fixed-winged aircraft, helicopters, artillery, rocket launchers and tanks preceded all advances. Tanks and armored vehicles cautiously moved. The Soviets shot indiscriminately at any moving object without regard for civilian casualties. The Afghan freedom fighters were from the traditional warrior society. They proved highly resourceful by temporarily withdrawing from strike areas and returning in hours, days or weeks to strike back. The Mujajadeen morale grew over time.

                     The Soviets were hated immediately by the populace. Any captured soldiers were tortured using unspeakable means. The difference between the Soviet treatment and American treatment was profound. Even though Afghanistan is a Muslim country, Americans were viewed as Christians, "people of the book." Soviet atheism was considered the worst possible form of human evil. The psychological impact on the Russians made it very difficult for them. Americans were welcomed into homes and usually treated as heroes.        

During the early and mid-1980s, the Soviets altered their strategy using air echelons. Failure to win early, however, allowed for a drain of their materiel and personnel. Combined with a drastic economic depression in the U.S.S.R., the war proved to be a microcosm of their eventual downfall.

Soviet dead and missing in Afghanistan amounted to almost 15,000 troops out of 642,000 Soviets, a modest number. 469,685 other casualties, 73 percent of the overall force, were wounded or came down seriously sick. 415,932 troops were diseased, of which 115,308 suffered from infectious hepatitis and 31,080 from typhoid fever. These figures indicate that Soviet hygiene, food and medicine were as big a reason for their failure as any other. This says much for the country as a whole.

Their forces were structured for nuclear and high-intensity war on the European plain. Unlike their fathers who fought the Nazis, returning soldiers were not respected.

                     The Afghan war was fought without consistent political leadership, either. Four general secretaries - Brezhnev, Chernenko, Andropov and Gorbachev, prosecuted it. Each successive leader was less invested in its success than the previous one. Think of JFK's lack of enthusiasm over the Bay of Pigs, multiplied. Gorbachev was credited by fawning Westerners with ending the war, but the bloodiest fighting still occurred on his watch from 1985-1986. Propaganda photos of happy Soviet soldiers building orphanages were clumsy and quickly backfired when the populace deduced that the children were orphaned because the Soviets were killing their parents. One might say the idea was not, uh, thought through.

By the end of 1983, the Soviet press reported six dead and wounded soldiers. Actually, the 40th Army had suffered 6,262 dead and 9,880 combat wounded. Finally, in 1986-89 under glasnost, the press began accurate reportage. The sudden shock of learning the truth about the war may have been worse than hearing about it gradually. The Soviets deluded themselves, often returning from a battle in which their forces had faced a route, only to act as if they had just won.

The Mujahadeen refused to dig in and wait for Soviet artillery. Tanks were of limited value, although helicopters were an asset. The guerrillas adapted, fighting at night to reduce the advantage. The guerrillas learned when the Soviets would attack and created ambush. Then came the stingers.

When everything is said and done, the Afghans won because of Ronald Reagan and the CIA. The U.S. provided powerful weapons to combat the helicopters. The Stinger shoulder-launched air defense missiles were very effective weapons against low flying aircraft. Use of the stingers by the freedom fighters heavily gave the edge to the Mujahadeen. Once the CIA entered the picture full-throttle, the Soviets never gained the edge back. Psychological and environmental conditions, combined with the stingers, were their final death knell.

Draft-age Soviet youth increasingly tried to avoid the draft. They were told they would be fighting Chinese and American mercenaries. When they got to Afghanistan they found themselves facing battle-hardened Islamic "soldiers of God" fighting for their homes and families. The English who tried to defeat the American Revolutionaries could have told them what a difficult task they faced. The difference between the Soviet and American experiences in Afghanistan is that the Soviets really did kill women and children. Despite Taliban rhetoric, the Americans did not. A certain amount of common sense mixed with facts quickly told the populace this was the case. 

Armed with CIA equipment and intel, the Mujahadeen were a force. Reports of large bribes paid to safeguard the children of Communist bigshots further inflamed the situation. Many conscripts developed a narcotics habit, financed by selling equipment, ammunition and weapons. Violent crime was rampant. Soviets robbed merchants and passersby, stole luggage at checkpoints, killed civilians, and worse than any of it, raped Muslim women. Communist soldiers did so much raping in the history of the Soviet Union that they were, over 50 years time, an army composed of serial sex molesters.

Officers were scapegoated and fragged. Female PX cashiers, nurses and secretaries were the object of fierce male rivalries, inflamed by Vodka. Quarrels were settled with grenades and small arms.

                    Villages were razed, and each act of horror raised the enemy resolve. The Soviets were so hated that the locals became even more violent in their treatment of the invaders, and their tortures increased their morale, overmatching the Soviets. CIA operatives stoked the Mujahadeen using specific propaganda. 

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