PRESIDENT BUSH'S decision to lift economic sanctions against South Africa is good news -- especially for black South Africans, who have been materially hurt more than anyone by the effects of these penalties.
Pretoria has made extraordinary strides toward democracy and the removal of the ghastly system of apartheid.
Much more needs to be done and the democratic world is obligated to keep pushing. But the reform process is far advanced..
It is doubtful that sanctions ever had quite the effect in pushing South Africa toward liberalization that proponents asserted. Even longtime anti-apartheid activist Harry Schwartz, now Pretoria's ambassador to Washington, says that "the struggle of the oppressed" was the key in dismantling apartheid, and that the role of sanctions has been greatly exaggerated.
President Bush realizes that the prospects for democratic change depend heavily on economic opportunity. And to emphasize this point, Bush has directed that U.S. aid to black South Africans be doubled to $80 million.
Nevertheless, it remains to be said that no foreign aid could act as quickly to improve the lot of black South Africans as the removal of economic sanctions, now that essential political changes have been made.