Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:45 AM
By MARTY MORRIS
and ANDY FISHER
- The world has been blessed with an extended opportunity to celebrate
the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela and the country he changed as
political prisoner and president.
It is hard to believe today,
but 27 years ago, the U.S. could have ended up on the wrong side of
history had Sen. Dick Lugar not led Republicans - against tremendous
pressure from short-sighted conservatives within the Reagan White House –
to override President Reagan’s veto of South Africa sanctions.
1985, the world was coalescing against the hardline government of South
Africa and its practice of apartheid, a racial segregation of the
country that gave the 10% white minority control of the country, denying
rights to 85 percent of the population.
Administration opposed economic sanctions against South Africa. White
House Chief of Staff Donald Regan told The Baltimore
Sun that divestiture in South Africa would deprive Americans of many raw
materials, including diamonds, adding: "Are the women of America
prepared to give up all their jewelry?"
Lugar knew the
administration was on the wrong course. As the Senator who supported
President Reagan on the most votes during the eight-year presidency,
Lugar considered opposing the President with a heavy heart. He did so
after exhausting every attempt to bring the administration along. Lugar
even pulled the bill from Senate consideration in 1985 much to the
chagrin of Democrats. But the administration remained
intransigent. By 1986, action could no longer be delayed. Lugar lead a
lengthy Senate-House conference committee broadcasted on C-SPAN for all
the world to see.