U.S. Role in South Africa's Future

March 23, 1990

Report Outline
Special Focus


After many decades, there are finally signs of progress in ending South Africa's racist system of apartheid. As the de Klerk government and black nationalists led by Nelson Mandela move closer to the negotiating table, questions are being raised about the future U.S. role in the region. Many people believe the United States must supply substantial financial aid to foster democracy and development in a post-apartheid South Africa. But finding the money will be difficult in a period of severe budgetary constraints and increasing foreign-aid demands.

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The domino theory has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II. Unless Soviet “expansionism” was contained, the theory went, neighboring countries, as well as Moscow's client states in the developing world, would fall in rapid succession, like a row of dominoes, to communist dictators under orders from the Kremlin.

But the democratic revolutions of the past year have turned the domino theory on its head. One by one, beginning with Poland last spring, the members of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact have overthrown their governments and begun the process of democratization. They have taken their cue from Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's 5-year-old political and economic reform program.

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