tutors for one or two deaf or blindnstudents? All we ever hear from thenvarious advocacy groups is how thenhandicapped don’t want pity, that thenonly handicap is our insensitivity, thatnthey want to be free to lead independentnlives. It turns out, however, thatntheir freedom and independence alwaysncomes down to the freedom tonput their hands in our wallets. That, ofncourse, is the definition of a civil right.nBut more important than all theneconomic and political implications ofnthe bill is what it says about our civilization.nTo our credit, we like to think ofnourselves as the most generous andncharitable people in the history of thenworld. We probably are. It is also to ourncredit that we are willing to do what wencan to make it easier for the victims ofncircumstance to lead normal lives. Butnit is also true that we are a people whonhave bent all our efforts toward makingnlife a little better for the worst off,ntoward raising the minimum standardsnof living and literacy a few notches up,nwhile neglecting entirely that reachingntoward superiority that has characterizednall great civilizations. We are annation of readers, but we are readingnJames Mitchener; a nation of musicloversnwho listen to Irving Bedin andnMichael Jackson; a great power whosenaflRrmative-action army boasts of conqueringnGrenada. It is only in sportsnthat we care about excellence, andneven there we measure success bynmoney. When we are gone, what willnthe Chinese historical encyclopediasnsay of us? That they were a genialnpeople who worked hard, ate bad food,nand felt sorry for the unfortunate. (TF)nSOUTH AFRICA has been unablento deflect interference with its exercisenof sovereign rights within its own borders.nOther states have declared thatnracial discrimination as practiced innSouth Africa is such an egregious offensenagainst “fundamental humannrights” that interference is required,nand since the Carter administration,nthe United States has relentlessly assertednthat South Africa could best benunderstood through the prism of humannrights. This same guiding principlenwas reasserted during the secondnReagan administration. Over the pastndecade, America has increasingly criticizednSouth Africa for claiming then6/CHRONICLESnsovereign right to project itself by strikingnthe havens of armed opponentsnacross its borders. South Africa hasnbeen said to be internationalizingnapartheid by attacking black-rulednregional states such as Zimbabwe, Botswana,nand Zambia.nYet for at least the past two decades,nand often quietly, South Africa hasnbeen reinforcing its international sovereigntynand credibility by participatingnin a number of important developmentnprojects to assist other African states.nPretoria’s Africa-centered approachnwas confirmed in New York City onnDecember 22, 1988, when it joinednCuba and Angola’s MPLA party innsigning the Tripartite Agreement tonprovide for the withdrawal of foreignnforces from Angola and for “internationallynacceptable” independence innneighboring South West Africa/nNamibia.nA few conservatives who hadnstaunchly defended South Africa’s sovereignnright to determine domesticnpolicy as well as make cross-bordernraids assailed the agreement as “suicide.”nUneasy about where America’snAfrica policy might go after then1988 election, some conservative criticsnof the Tripartite Agreement tooknaim at South Africa and especially itsnenduring foreign minister, Roelof F.n”Pik” Botha. This reflects in part theirnvisceral distrust of diplomats in generalnand the US State Department in particular.nIn Angola, the State Departmentnprefers UNITA absorption into ancosmetically broadened MPLA regimento the free, fair multiparty electionsnenvisioned in the Alvor Agreement.nSome conservatives impute the samenmotives to South Africa. A few havenvisited there and assailed the rulingnNational Party, an endorsement welcomednby Conservative Party opponents.nThese American conservativesnmay have unwittingly allied themselvesnwith South Africa’s leftist opponents,nwho hope that Conservative Partyngains in Pariiament will polarize thencountry and make the revolutionarynalternative irresistible.nPretoria’s international stance is,nhowever, best evaluated in the light ofnthe exercise of sovereignty, not burdenednwith analyses based on humannrights standards or the struggle againstninternational communism. If necessary,na sovereign nation must be willingnnnto go it alone. This is a right wenclaimed in Grenada, Britain claimed innthe Falklands, and France in Chad.nSovereignty and the imperative to survivenmotivate South Africa in its goals,ntactics, and strategies, and in its approachnto domestic and foreign policy.nThe imposition of a human rights testnfrom overseas or by domestic opponentsnis unlikely to lead to a productivendescription of what is happening in andnnear South Africa.nIn exchange for sovereign rights, thenUS is only offering multilateralism.nThe concept of human rights, especiallynas conjured up in the United NationsnDeclaration, ideally suits itself tontrashing South African domestic andnforeign policy. What South Africa’snAmerican critics may not always realize,nhowever, is that by questioningnSouth Africa’s sovereign rights we arenendangering our own. Multilateral approachesncan backfire. We who arennow imposing the human rights test onnSouth Africa, having accepted the legitimacynof that multilateralism, maynfind ourselves on the receiving end innthe future, making the best of annunsavory deal.nIn this we are not only violating ournown tradition and principles, but (on anmore practical level) willfully misunderstandingnthis country. By insistingnthat South Africa must adhere to humannrights standards, and abandon itsnperception of national interest and sovereignty,nthe US and others enamorednwith multilateralism find Pretoria anfrustrating puzzle. If Pretoria’s centralnmotivations are ignored, American policynwill always fail — as, in fact, it hasnsince at least September 9, 1985, whennPresident Reagan capitulated to StatenDepartment pressure and, adopting anhuman-rights approach, imposed hisnown punitive sanctions. A conservativenanalysis will likewise fail if conservativesninsist on interpreting the TripartitenAgreement as a capitulation to communism,nwhen Pretoria has insteadnbeen focusing on its own preservation.nThe mixture of evolutionary reform atnhome and assertiveness across bordersndoes not mean that South Africa willnbypass a diplomatic deal when it perceivesnthat deal to be in its nationalninterest.nFollowing the September 6 elections,nSouth Africa’s challenge shifts tonthe domestic front. Some success as-n