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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:South Africa and Constructive Engagement: Lessons Learned?
Author:Davies, Joanne E.
Year:2008
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume:34
Issue:1
Period:March
Pages:5-19
Language:English
Geographic terms:South Africa
Zimbabwe
United States
Subjects:foreign policy
Politics and Government
Inter-African Relations
Link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057070701832858
Abstract:There has been much criticism of President Mbeki's policy of constructive engagement towards Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. This has grown since 2000 as the crisis has continued to worsen. This article compares Pretoria's current approach with the Reagan administration's constructive engagement towards Pretoria during the 1980s. It argues that this administration's foremost priority in South Africa was to present a policy that would allow Washington to continue its strategically important relationship with Pretoria without the appearance of endorsing apartheid. Washington's approach therefore failed on two counts. Not only was it unsuccessful in persuading Pretoria away from apartheid, it also failed to persuade observers - both in South Africa and the United States - that constructive engagement had been a genuine attempt to achieve this aim. Washington made a number of significant mistakes in the design and implementation of this policy and each of these is examined. An investigation of Mbeki's actions concludes that he is currently committing many of the same errors. Not only does this damage Mbeki's credibility, it also damages the credibility of a vital diplomatic tool - reducing constructive engagement to a diplomatic fig leaf used to cover a 'business as usual' policy with a rogue State. The article argues that Mbeki could learn some useful lessons, which are identified here through an analysis of the Reagan administration's approach - and of its failure. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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