In his article (Feb. 22), "U.S., Australia Wary of Soviets' South Pacific Role," Robert C. Toth quotes an Australian diplomat as saying: "French reluctance to give independence to New Caledonia is the greatest potential threat to regional stability in the short term."
In view of the realistic title of this article, the Australian diplomat's quote seems about as believable as Hitler's claim that the Jews were a threat to the Aryan race in 1939.
Toth reports that Australia supports the independence movement and fears that "New Caledonia will become a Pacific Algeria from which the French will withdraw only after bloody warfare that brings radicals to power."
How hypocritical can you get! Australia's aim is to replace France in New Caledonia, and that is the gist of it. Because it covets the French territory, Australia would love to include it in its zone of influence, for long-term financial rewards.
It is known that the Kanak independence group sent a delegation to visit Libya's Moammar Kadafi; in 1985, when the French government, being still Socialist, did its best to deplete the French patrimony. In spite of a referendum demanding that New Caledonia remain French, the Socialists played right in the hands of Australia.
But now, with Jacques Chirac as premier, Australia sees its dream wither away. Toth states that the Caldoche, the French settlers who have lived in the island for generations (my wife was born in Noumea) "enjoy considerable support in France".
Toth mentions that there are 330,000 Kanaks, representing 43% of the total population. The French and Melanesians therefore represent 57% and that is why they won the referendum.
In America the native Indians do not represent 43% of the population, neither do the Aborigines in Australia. Are we condemning France for not exterminating more Kanaks?
Let us set our priorities straight. The Russians are the first danger in the Pacific, not the French. But the French, who seldom make their rebuttals public, and whose voice is seldom heard here, make fine whipping boys.
JACQUES M. POLETTI
Union of French People Abroad