South Africa: Time Running Out

In This Review

South Africa: Time Running Out

By Report of the Study Commission on U.S. Policy Towards Southe
University of California Press (for the Foreign Policy Study Foundation), 1981
576 pp.

As a product of more than two years of exploration and deliberation on the part of a distinguished group of non-expert commissioners, this book will stand as a reference point for U.S. policy toward South Africa. The bulk of the volume is devoted to a comprehensive survey of contemporary South Africa, and to a lesser extent, its international context. Replete with facts and figures, and lifted by a moving series of interviews with a cross section of South Africans, this study provides a very useful background compendium for the analysis of internal forces within South Africa and of concrete U.S. interests in that country.

The concluding policy section, however, is less sharply defined. Reflecting the intractability of the South African dilemmas, as well as the Commission's desire for consensus, the exhaustive balancing of pros and cons sometimes muffles significant insights. The recommendations depart from the continuum of U.S. policy chiefly at the margins-in supporting a broadening of arms and nuclear embargoes and calling for a voluntary end to new investment by U.S. corporations. They also emphasize positive incentives for change and advocate substantial aid to the countries of the southern African region. Rather than breaking new ground, the Commission has chosen to fulfill its pedagogical mandate by fully elucidating the process of argumentation leading to its conclusions. The result will disappoint some and be seen by others as fostering an informed American consensus on South Africa.

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