I read "Mandela on Gadhafi Et Al." with appreciation and some reservations.

First, I offer my felicitations to The Post for pointing out the discordant anomaly of Mandela's singing the praises of Arafat, Castro and Gadhafi because of their "assistance" to the ANC in the face of their own human rights abuses {editorial, June 24.} The editorial failed to mention that this assistance to the ANC was offered to serve the purposes of their alliance with the Soviets in their joint Cold War against us.

Second, The Post left unsaid that Mr. Mandela seems not to have recognized that racial apartheid in South Africa is, as they say in mathematics, only a "subset" of the larger political apartheid that is characteristic of totalitarian societies. Mr. Mandela is firm in opposing racial apartheid, but he ignores the reality that Americans detest all kinds of apartheid -- racial, ethnic, religious, cultural and political. Mr. Mandela unfortunately has left room for doubt in the minds of Americans about this. His early remarks about nationalizing just about everything, since modified only slightly, makes some of us very uncomfortable. Will we be helping Mr. Mandela to eliminate racial apartheid so that he can institute all of the other kinds?

Nor did Mr. Mandela offer a word (that I have heard) of approval of the tremendous progress that African-Americans have made in the United States since the Civil Rights days of the 1960s and which most Americans sincerely want to see continued. There was not a word of thanks to the American people and to its government for their welcome of him on the occasion of this visit. There was not a word from Mr. Mandela regarding the tremendous changes that are taking place in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union and the implications of this on the world's new thinking in favor of pluralism and democracy.

There was no recognition from Mr. Mandela of the fact that the United States is doing more to help the antiapartheid struggle in South Africa now than the two totalitarian heads of state and their admitted friend, for, as we know, the latter can send arms to the ANC, but they can have no influence on the South African government.


Politicians,editorial writers and others who call upon Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress to "renounce" violence and disavow their allies should keep three things in mind:

1. The ANC from its nonviolent beginnings sought support, assistance and aid from the United States and other Western powers but was rebuffed when those countries acquiesced to apartheid and placed their strategic and economic interests above the human rights of black South Africans. It was only after peacefully protesting men, women and children were machine-gunned while Western democracies stood by that the ANC and the Pan African Congress took up arms.

2. Many of these critics should compare the hypocrisy and/or inconsistency of their support of violence by contras in Central America and Savimbi's South African-backed rebels in Angola. Would anyone seriously suggest that, for example, the Sandinista government was as evil and vicious as the murderous South African regime?

3. These critics should reread the Declaration of Independence and note remarkable similarities to South Africa's policies in the "long train of abuses and usurpations" designed to place the people "under absolute Despotism." The Founding Fathers (women, Indians and blacks need not apply) justified their armed struggle against the soldiers of King George III, but the brutality, immorality, injustice and violence of the Pretoria racists make King George look like a bleeding heart liberal.

The declaration, which we celebrated this week, reminds us that for abused and oppressed people, "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government. ... ". Washington, Jefferson, Hancock and their comrades used violence to achieve their goals. Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and other patriots should not renounce military options while the Pretoria government and right-wing paramilitary groups are armed to the teeth. WILLIAM V. KEENE Lanham