Editorial: So much for sanctions

So we impose sanctions against South Africa, (including a somewhat nonsensical ban on the import of uranium) and not long after discover we are at the moment importing a great deal more from that country — about 50 per cent more in fact, since we first proffered the mailed fist (gently, mind you) over a year ago.

It may be, as an External Affairs department official at Ottawa said, that it’s a bit early to jump on the import increase as evidence of a ridiculous state of affairs, until the effects of the latest round of sanctions (including the one on uranium) are assessed.

We’ll wait and see. Meantime, we continue to assert that sanctions are in any case a questionable weapon in the anti- apartheid arsenal. That has been borne out by Ottawa’s subsequent decision to drop sanctions against the Soviet Union imposed about seven years ago as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

External Affairs Minister Joe Clark acknowledged that the Soviet sanctions had simply not worked, and cited other reasons why, when the South African sanctions will stand, it was felt appropriate to drop those imposed on the Soviets.

The arguments seemed specious. We suspect our South African sanctions, too, may enjoy a relatively short life, on grounds of ineffectiveness.



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