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Southern Africa: Eight Years Later

Courtesy Reuters

In the winter of 1980-81 I analyzed the question of American involvement in southern Africa in the pages of this journal.1 I discussed a set of concepts-"constructive engagement in the region as a whole"-as a possible basis for pursuing American interests in southern Africa. It seemed to me at the time that this phrase was self-evidently consistent with mainstream U.S. internationalism and essential to the very meaning of activist diplomacy.

I recognized that there was a major risk in suggesting that the United States was prepared to deal seriously and substantively with a distant foreign policy minefield with which Americans were overwhelmingly unfamiliar. The risk, in other words, seemed to lie in its very ambition, its commitment to a realistic and sustained pursuit of U.S. goals in the region as a whole (the concept was not proposed as the basis of policy toward South Africa alone).

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