South African foreign policy in a post-apartheid, post-cold war era : a case of human rights versus national economic interests.
The clash between South Africa's dual need of a new political identity and economic viability reflects not only the difficulty in conducting a traditional foreign policy with a strong ideological overlay but also has spurred the debate over whether her foreign policy is to be conducted on the basis of expediency or principle. This study argues that although the shift to a post-apartheid society has created the context for South African foreign policy to be shaped by a new culture of human rights, it remains an interest-based pragmatic activity rather than an exercise in the projection of ethical values or ideological principles. It seems that the African National Congress (ANC)-led government has not yet resolved the basic contradictions that have bedevilled its international thinking since it came into power. Faced with this dilemma, South Africa is often reduced to straddling the fence by half-heartedly supporting principles on one occasion (as in its relationship with the Republic of China), and on another pursuing its economic interests (as her intention to sell arms to the People's Republic of China attests). The government's basic goal of developing fruitful political and economic linkages without sacrificing the principles which underpin wider policy has proved elusive. The central proposition of this study is that the defining parameters of South African foreign policy have remained largely indeterminate because of the realities of the conflicting interests posed by its domestic and external concerns. In essence, the inability to reconcile primary foreign policy goals (preservation of national economic interest) with new foreign policy aspirations (promotion of human rights and peace through the pursuit of justice and fair-play) reflects a tense ambivalence in the founding principles of post apartheid South African foreign policy.
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