THREE DAYS OF Rhodesian military raids into neighboring Zambia, beginning last Thursday, killed 1700 members of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) in 12 guerrilla camps. That's what Salisbury said. Nkomo said the Rhodesians succeeded in killing 350 of his followers, mostly women and non-combatants. The U.S. State Department called the raids "among the heaviest and most destructive of the war, particularly in terms of loss of life." State expressed regret that the raids were carried out while Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and his three black cohorts in the current "transitional" government were travelling in the U.S. and emphasizing their "willingness and readiness to negotiate." Ian Smith, back in Salisbury, said the raids were good for morale and that they would "continue, and if need be, will be increased."
The pragmatists have gone to work. The Washington Post editorialized this week that the raids were probably necessary for Ian Smith to persuade his constituency that he would not bargain from a position of weakness. The Post lauded the pragmatists currently in control of the U.S. foreign policy establishment who are using "the carrot, rather than the stick" in relations with South Africa. Going on to proclaim that such friendly relations are the best hope for a peaceful solution in southern Africa -- in Rhodesia pushing Smith's government to the negotiating table with leaders of the Popular Front guerrillas, in Namibia procuring South Africa's acquiescence to U.N.-supervised elections -- the Post concluded that the choice between peace and violence is Pretoria's.
But Pretoria has already chosen violence. South Africa chose institutionalized violence when it erected its system of apartheid decades ago, and every time it strengthened that system in recent years with bantustans and pass laws. South Africa chose violence at Sharpeville in 1960, at Soweto in 1975, with the murder of Steve Biko last year. Supported by South Africa, Rhodesia chose violence with its raids last week. When the two countries are not choosing violence, they are backing and filling, stalling for time, as in the now-on, now-off elections in Namibia, as in the mockery of a transitional government in Rhodesia.
South Africa will not abolish apartheid. Rhodesia will not do away with the privileges its whites enjoy. The solution in southern Africa will come tragically, with a bloodbath. Negotiations will rise and set in the next 20 years, filling the headlines and giving the State Department something to do. When the war comes, when Afrikaaner minds are changed, finally, with bullets, Americans will be able only to regret that the U.S. did not do all it could to support the Popular Front in Rhodesia and the liberation forces in South Africa.