The Diplomacy of Isolation: South African Foreign Policy by D. Geldenhuys

By D. Geldenhuys

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The Afrikaans pro-government press , specifically, played an instrumental role in the sense of serving as a sounding board or preparing public opinion for new, perhaps unpopular, government moves. P" A celebrated case of an Afrikaans newspaper expressing itself on South Africa's foreign relations was Die Burger's editorial, "The Overseas Catastrophe", on 7 April 1960. In the wake of the Sharpeville shooting, South Africa's foreign relations were in "acute danger", the paper warned, emphasising that the country's international status and relations had become wholly dependent on the handling of race relations domestically.

210 Verwoerd's next important test in foreign relations came with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London in March 1961. He went to the conference determined to try to secure South Africa's continued membership after becoming a republic. In the face of the vehement criticism of South Africa's racial policies expressed by many Commonwealth leaders on this occasion , Verwoerd decided to withdraw his request for continued membership , and South Africa left the Commonwealth. "! Verwoerd was clearly not going to disappoint the faithful and , in a short speech, reaffirmed his approach to South Africa's foreign relations: 24 We have triumphed - not over another country , nor over Britain, but we have freed ourselves from the pressure of the AfroAsian nations who were busy invading the Commonwealth.

238 Yet the public cannot simply be dismissed as a factor in foreign policy making . It is possible to speak of a foreign policy "mood" on several topical issues in the 1948-66 period. One such was a fierce anticommunist mood , thanks largely to the emphasis Nationalist governments had after 1948 placed on a perceived communist menace , both domestically and externally, and on South 29 parliamentary statute in 1960to promote scientific studies of African affairs, rendered services to government - who supported it financially - but these were "primarily fact-producing and not policy-making" .

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