Ever since Remembrance Day this year, I have had what my mother used to call “the blues” — much of it on account of what has become of the country of my birth. A country for which so many of my ancestors made the most incredible sacrifices. A country now 'ruled' by a man described as a “degenerate with five wives!” A country where, in many places, witchcraft is rampant. A country of unsurpassed violence.
What Few Remember
Before men like Hendrik Verwoerd came on the scene, South Africa was one of the most respected countries in the world. Now I’m reduced to tears by the contemplation of how the rest of the world has forgotten its contribution to the field of medicine, etc., and the prominent role it played in two world wars. (How quick Britain and the West were to isolate one of their greatest former allies! ) I cannot help blaming outside interference for actually providing a Dutch-born Prime Minster, Verwoerd, with an opportunity to leave the British Commonwealth.
Then came a nightmarish time when, while having to deal with the shock of imposed sanctions, and suddenly impoverished by the unexpected overnight withdrawal of all funds by the Chase Manhattan Bank—a procedure very quickly follower by all other leading banks—when South Africa was certainly not in a position to acquire the weaponry etc. required to fight the Cubans and other forces against which it did not have a grudge, South Africa was drawn into the Angolan War by President Ford. I shed tears whenever I think of how, as the principal of the school, I had to call a boy to my office the moment he turned 16 to sign the document for conscription — that in a country where, in every previous conflict, its people had been volunteers.
During the thirty-plus years since I have happily and gratefully lived in Canada, I have often pondered a conundrum: How often is a country ruined by a leader who was not born in it? Napoleon, born in Corsica, was not French, Hitler was Austrian-born, not German, and the notorious Hendrik Verwoerd was born in Holland and not in South Africa.
Most people in the rest of the world seem to know that the world’s first heart transplant was performed in South Africa, but very few are aware of the fact that in the years before Mandela and the imposition of sanctions, South Africa provided some of the best Battle of Britain pilots. It was a country, one of whose prime ministers, Jan Christiaan Smuts, was among the architects of the League Of Nations, an association of countries established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles to promote international cooperation and achieve international peace and security.
When it was replaced by the United Nations in 1945, it was again Smuts who drafted the Covenant of the United Nations, which is considered to have been his major achievement; but it should also not be forgotten that as a Field Marshal of the Allied Forces during WW2, he enjoyed the respect and friendship of both General Eisenhower and the King of England.
Let It Never Be Forgotten
As we observed Remembrance Day, 2009, I could only hope that it would never be forgotten that the only person to sign the peace treaties ending both the first and second World Wars was South Africa's Field Marshall Jan Christiaan Smuts. He was also one of five members of the British War Cabinet, helped to create the Royal Air Force and, as mentioned previously, was instrumental in creating both the League of Nations and the United Nations — writing the preamble to its charter. He was also the only person to sign the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. Let it also not be forgotten that South Africans were among the allied forces in WWI – at Vimy Ridge, Delville Wood, Arras, and Ypres.
It should also be remembered that, since WWII, South Africa's pilots have served in the Korean War, and more recently, as I have already mentioned, SA troops — some of them mere teenagers conscripted from school — were involved in the dreadful Angolan War and are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of those boys, now in their 50s, have chalked up a string of broken marriages, are unable to keep jobs – and even emigration to other countries has not provided a panacea. I have written about that in two of my books, and it's not only what they suffered physically that haunts them — it was what they saw! Even dead bodies being devoured by dogs!
Was Angola Worth the Enduring Misery?
In a 1997 interview, former President Ford certainly didn’t seem to think so. When the interviewer asked him whether he thought that, if aid had been able to flow unimpeded to Angola, it would have made a great deal of difference in the long run, he replied: "Probably not, because they're still fighting there!" He considered the net result to be that Angola was destined to have continued turbulence between the government on the one hand and rebel forces on the other. Didn’t someone actually go as far as to say that President Ford had permitted Kissinger to "design a disaster in Angola"?
There are so many controversies. One explanation was that the United States could not ignore Soviet and Cuban attempts to gain an African foothold when Angola was about to receive independence. And then, when Congress decided that no more money was going to be poured into this enterprise, the field was left clear for the introduction of far more Cuban troops and Soviet arms. It was John Stockwell, the chief of the CIA Angola task force, who said, “Most serious of all, the United States was exposed, dishonored, and discredited in the eyes of the world.” They had lost, and 15,000 Cubans were installed in Angola “with all the adulation accruing to a young David who has slain the American Goliath.”
So, To Get Back To That Conundrum
What, I wonder, gives the leader of any country the right to interfere in the affairs of another? And what makes that leader so sure that he or she has all the answers? Take the current situation with Iran.
"Jimmy Carter conveniently hides the fact that he is directly responsible for much of the turmoil we see in the world today," Paul Miller wrote in the May 25, 2007 edition of American Thinker, in an article titled "Jimmy Carter Can Only Blame Himself." And he goes on to remind the reader that "Carter began directly meddling in Iranian affairs after he took office in 1977."