G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary of State for Africans Affairs, apparently abandoned plans for a stinging indictment of South Africa's apartheid policy at last night's Law School Forum, and delivered instead a harmless factual review of the situation.
Williams' speech had been billed as a major policy address, and sources in Washington reported that it was to have been "the toughest U.S. stand yet on South Africa." But the prepared speech was apparently killed by Williams' superiors in the State Department sometime yesterday afternoon.
Reporters who had been awaiting an advance text of the address were told shortly after 3 p.m. that plans had been changed, and that Williams would speak from notes.
In the speech he delivered, Williams said the United States would continue to work through the United Nations for a peaceful soultion of the apartheid problem.
"We do not feel the situation can be alleviated by diplomatic or political sanctions," Williams stated. He said the best way of exerting pressure on South Africa is "to keep it in the United Nations and continue to subject it to the force of international public opinion."
Panelists Challenge Williams
Williams' fellow panelists on the Law School Forum challenged his view that such a policy could produce any change in South Africa. H. E. Bwrudi Nabwera, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.N., said most African nations had concluded that "the only way out is some kind or armed conflict." He said the issue was simply "whether the present situation will continue and black Africans will live under servitude, or whether this is wrong and we will do something about changing it."
Herbert J. Spiro '50, associate professor of Government at Amherest, said U.S. policy toward South Africa had brought about the very few occasions "that I've been ashamed of being an American citizen."
Spiro condemned "our hesitancy, our equivocations, our--at least apparent--hypocrisy" and called on the government "to make it clear where we stand...in a way that will persuade others and more important, that will convince ourselves."
Though several questions from the floor sought to define what concrete steps the U.S. might take against South Africa, Williams refused to be drawn into any declarations of positive action. He said the U.S. would probably not support an oil boycott against South Africa because "it doesn't appear that it would be efficacious" in view of that country's alternate sources of fuel.
Williams stressed repeatedly that the U.S. did not approve of policies that would cause violence in South Africa. When asked if the government would aid other African nations if they attacked South Africa he said the answer would depend on "many different factors." Even in the event of a U.N. resolution urging aid "we might or might not," he stated.
Williams actual speech was an un-emotional and factual discussion of the political and economic situation under apartheld. He said there were five basic facts about conditions in South Africa: that non-whites outnumber whites by four to one; that non-whites have a majority in both urban and rural areas; that blacks are detribalized to a large extent, and are moving into urban areas; that the black population is increasing faster than the white population; and that industry, which is owned by whites depends on cheap, non-white labor