CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT: RONALD REAGAN'S PROBLEMATIC POLICY OF APPEASEMENT WITH SOUTH AFRICA
Hipp, Shandra Devon
CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT: RONALD REAGAN'S PROBLEMATIC POLICY OF APPEASEMENT WITH SOUTH AFRICAShandrá D. Hipp, B.A.MALS Mentor: Kazuko Uchimura, Ph.D.ABSTRACTDuring the 1980's, South Africa was one of the most isolated states on earth due to its system of apartheid. Despite a growing international movement to topple apartheid during this tumultuous period, President Ronald Reagan maintained a close alliance with the South African government that was showing no signs of undertaking serious reform. Reagan and his administration adopted the policy of "constructive engagement" with South Africa. The architect of the policy, Chester Crocker, articulated that the South African government would gradually end the system of apartheid and that any threat of economic sanctions would only embolden the government to continue with apartheid. As the anti-apartheid movement began to reverberate louder in the United States, the US Congress and business corporations were under increasing pressure to limit US interaction - economically and diplomatically - with the government of South Africa.The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the debate surrounding the policy of constructive engagement and the dilemma the Reagan Administration had in justifying continued acknowledgement of the apartheid government of South Africa during the mid 1980's. At issue is whether Reagan's engagement with South Africa was practical and ultimately helped end apartheid; or, was it counterproductive and was merely tacit approval of the South African government that extended the life of apartheid.This thesis was a synthesis of secondary materials (books and articles) as well as selected government documents that have been written on U.S.-South Africa relations, especially on constructive engagement. The US-South Africa relationship is a story fraught with complexity, misgivings and suspicion. It is my hypothesis that Reagan's policy of constructive engagement damaged America's creditability with the citizens of South Africa, particularly the black majority. More importantly, the policy of constructive engagement extended the life of apartheid that only ended in 1990, that ultimately gave way to the multiracial Presidential election won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela in 1994.
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