In This Review

From Cape to Congo: Southern Africa's Evolving Security Challenges
From Cape to Congo: Southern Africa's Evolving Security Challenges
By Mwesiga Baregu et al.
Lynne Rienner, 2003, 403 pp
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Security and Politics in South Africa: The Regional Dimension
Security and Politics in South Africa: The Regional Dimension
By Peter Vale
Lynne Rienner, 2003, 251 pp
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Both of these works argue that human-centered security policies must replace outmoded and dysfunctional state-centered security thinking in southern Africa. They also concur that the prime time for effecting this shift is slipping away as South Africa's first post-liberation decade ends. Taking the view that military power is less vital to securing peace in the region than are increased political capacity and legitimacy, Baregu and Landsberg's collection looks at obstacles to better governance, faster land reform, and more effective responses to the aids crisis.

Contributors review the region's security architecture of national, regional, and extraregional institutions and actors, achieving a broad sweep at the cost of significant depth. A mere two paragraphs based on media sources assess Thabo Mbeki's approach to Zimbabwe's political implosion. Vale's book is an alternately refreshing and irritating polemic against Pretoria's old-guard security establishment, filtered through a barrage of critical theory and postmodernist jargon. Two sketchy cases -- South Africa's harsh treatment of African immigrants and its 1998 invasion of Lesotho -- provide a hook for Vale's plea for South Africa to downgrade its attachment to Westphalian principles of sovereignty and construct a friendlier sense of community with its neighbors. Some readers will enjoy the theoretical ramblings; others will wonder why we must "interrogate the discursive formation" of things when we could just as well question their underlying assumptions.