(Mandela defends his relationship with Yasser Arafat, Omar Gaddafi, and Fidel Castro)
With the passing of Nelson Mandela have come glowing portraits of a man dedicated to peaceful reconciliation. But that is only part of the story.
Before Mandela advocated truth and reconciliation he was not a pacifist. He was not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King. He did not value non-violence for its own sake. He saw violence as a tool to be used or discarded pending the layout of the political battlefield.
Nelson Mandela was never a pacifist. When the Ghandi route of non-violent civil disobedience brought only violence from the state, Mandela declared “The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight.That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom”
He played a leading role in setting up the ANC’s guerrilla wing, and traveled abroad to gather support, even undergoing guerrilla training himself in Algeria, from the commanders of the FLN who had recently ejected the French colonials.
Once the South African government capitulated to democracy Mandela gave up violence because violence became self-defeating and democracy provided a path to victory.
This fact of history is surprising to many people. Also surprising, given that misunderstanding, is that during the struggle in South Africa it was the CIA that helped the apartheid government track down resistance fighters – not surprisingly labeled “terrorists.” In fact it was the CIA that provided the information that got Mandela arrested.
The report, scheduled for publication on Sunday, quoted an unidentified retired official who said that a senior C.I.A. officer told him shortly after Mr. Mandela’s arrest: ”We have turned Mandela over to the South African Security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be.
Some things to keep in mind during this time of remembrance.