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South Africa: Operation 'Tar Baby'
South Africa, a country with an overwhelming black population, has been ruled by its minority whites for over 100 years. It is one of the most racist countries that exists today, making an official policy of apartheid -- racial segregation. The black people, whose land was occupied by the forefathers of the current white rulers, are subject to brutal policies that have left them no political rights whatsoever. Every black must carry a pass and ID card that is checked at numerous police checkpoints. Black workers cannot form unions and are subject to arrest for trying to organize, while they are forced to work at practically slave conditions. Hundreds of black people have been killed by the racist regime in its efforts to see that the whites stay in power, and blacks have no say in the government.
It is against this backdrop that one of the US government's most despicable plans was uncovered. Called "Operation Tar Baby," this secret plan lays the basic guidelines for US policy in Africa and clearly reveals the intentions the US has towards Africa and the African peoples' struggle for liberation/ For years, government officials had been putting forward that the US backed the self-determination of African people and was against the sale of arms to the South African government.
This "public" policy was outlined in a speech before the United Nations, when the US ambassador said, "All of us sitting here today know the melancholy truth about the racial policies of the government of South Africa. Our task now is to consider what further steps we can take to induce that government to remove the evil business of apartheid...In the absence of an indication of change, the US will not cooperate in matters which would lend support to South Africa's present racial policies..The US has adopted and is enforcing the policy of forbidding the sale to the South African government of arms, and military equipment, whether from government or commercial sources, which could be used by that government to enforce apartheid..." This is the public stance Washington is taking.
Behind the scenes, however, Operation Tar Baby reveals the real stance that Washington has had since 1969. Developed by Henry Kissinger and presented to the Nation Security Council, "Tar Baby" represents an extension of the same type of thinking used by US strategists in the Vietnam war. Specifically, it is based on the assumption that "The whites are here to stay and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them. There is no hope for Blacks to gain political rights they seek through violence." Now the policy is to "Enforce the arms embargo against South Africa but with LIBERAL treatment of equipment which could serve either MILITARY or civilian purposes." It also allows for US Naval forces to port there, showing strength and support for South Africa's racist government.
On the difficulty of the US maintaining even covert support to racially repressive countries in the face of international opinion, the memorandum cooly calculated, "our interests are clearly worth retaining at their present political costs. These interests include access to air and naval facilities for which alternatives are expensive or less satisfactory, a major tracking station, and significant investments and balance of trade advantages."
Since the implementation of Tar Baby, US investments in South Africa have doubled. The US has broken the United Nations sanction on Rhodesia (the next door neighbor of South Africa and also apartheid), and is largely responsible for propping up the Rhodesian economy. The US has over $2.4 billion invested in the region, and needs military security and allies in the area. A regular stream of top-level advisors shuttles back and forth between South African and the US at a rate higher than any time in the last 30 years. Military advisors have visited the US and have talked with such diverse people as Gerald Ford, Edward Kennedy and Thomas Bradely (the black mayor of Los Angeles) in an effort to get the US to agree to establish a naval base in South African port of Simonstown.
The rising tide of African liberation struggles and the great victories that have been won by them are making designs of the Kissingers and Fords increasingly tenuous. The people of Mozambique, a country which borders both Rhodesia and South Africa, finally won independence from Portugal after hundreds of years of colonialism. The US had backed the Portuguese in their attempts to put down the fight for independence and now has come out on the short end of the stick. In Angola, the Portuguese, after overthrowing their own fascist government, are negotiating with the liberation fighters to free that country.
The revelation of the Tar Baby documents has clearly exposed US imperialism and its attempts to dominate the political and economic situation in Africa. All the business interests that US corporations have built up over the years face expropriation by the peoples of Africa who wan t to use their own resources for themselves, not for the profit of imperialism. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller has almost $700 million invested in South Africa, and it is people like him and his fellow imperialists who stand to lose the most from freedom for black Africans. It is the duty of the American people to expose the corrupt plans of the US government and to support the struggles that the African people are waging. As long as the US dominates other peoples lives, there can be no real freedom at home.