Nelson Mandela Refuses to Pander to Western Politics

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 14, 1997 | Go to article overview

Nelson Mandela Refuses to Pander to Western Politics


Todd Pitock's Nov. 4 Op-Ed column, "Nelson Mandela's `dear brother leader,' " epitomizes the arrogance of the superpower mentality.

He begins by praising President Mandela for steering South Africa to become a multiracial democracy. Mr. Pitock marvels at, and perhaps is relieved by, the fact that Mr. Mandela has not stooped to taking revenge upon his former oppressors. Nevertheless, Mr. Pitock expects Mr. Mandela to maintain a shameless, hypocritical allegiance to foreign powers that cared more about their economic exploits than the moral bankruptcy and human indignity of apartheid.

Mr. Pitock characterizes Mr. Mandela's visit to Libya as either "naive and irresponsible" or "savvy and unprincipled." Both depictions are absurd.

Over the years, Mr. Mandela has maintained a consistent approach toward global alignment and has refrained from engaging in unethical or immoral acts of political prostitution. His dealings with Libya, the Palestinian Authority and Cuba (and his subsequent dismissal of the unilateral impositions of the United States) display a rare fortitude that is sorely missing in global leadership.

I agree with Mr. Pitock that Mr. Mandela "threw good politics to the wind" by embracing Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi. In so doing, Mr. Mandela seized the moral high ground by refusing to pander to "good politics."

Mr. Mandela does not need to qualify or apologize for his positions toward Libya, Cuba or any other nation. Where were all the "concerned" nations in the early and critical days of Mr. Mandela's 27 years in jail, when the African National Congress and indigenous Africans wallowed in hopelessness? And how dare America or Britain rear its head as a moral arbiter? …

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