Jennifer Kim’s Dec. 15 letter, “Can’t see Mandela as a ‘peace icon,’” reflects the typical hypocrisy that was shown by Western leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at the time toward white South Africa.
Both leaders insisted that “sanctions don’t work” while carrying out economic sanctions against regimes with which they had genuine problems.
It seems that, according to Kim, anyone who fights back against a regime that has Western backing — no matter how evil that regime may be — is a “terrorist,” while the regime’s security forces commit, at most, a minor misdemeanor when they slaughter civilians with weapons supplied by the West.
Nelson Mandela did what he had to do, just as American militiamen who fought against English King George III’s redcoats did. When a peaceful solution presented itself, Mandela embraced it wholeheartedly. When the politics of revenge looked as if it would turn South Africa into another Zimbabwe, Mandela stopped that from happening and brought peace.
Mandela does deserve criticism for not dealing adequately with poverty and other issues in South Africa, but only a reactionary with an agenda could accuse him of not being a peacemaker.
Furthermore, which act represents a more peaceful approach in the long run — shaking hands with Fidel Castro (as Mandela did) or pointing missiles at him and banning his cigars?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.