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U.S. Criticism of South Africa Superficial, Two Experts Say

By Jonathan G. Cederbaum

During the past 25 years, the United States has been superficially critical, but also tacitly approving, of the current South African government, the two members of a Bunting Institute symposium on U.S. policy toward South Africa agreed last night in a discussion with 15 people.

William Foltz, professor of political science at Yale, said U.S. administrations have "created political distance from South Africa mostly by manipulating symbols of disapproval," rather than by taking substantive action.

Foltz added that the Reagan administration's current stance toward South Africa was merely "the Carter policy with tail fins and racing stripes." During both these administrations, U.S. policy-makers "have never made a concerted thinking through of policy toward South Africa," he said.

Jennifer Davis, director of the American Committee on Africa, said that she agreed with Foltz's analysis of the inertia of U.S. South African policy during the last two decades, but that she saw a more significant shift in attitude during the Reagan presidency.

Reagan's move toward a "closer alliance" with the current South African government is creating "a new environment, which allows the South African government to flex its muscles," Davis said, adding that the increasing frequency and violence of South African military forays into neighboring Black-ruled states was evidence of the "heightened level of aggression" brought about by the Reagan administration's policy.

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