Superpower Cooperation in Southern Africa

  • Daniel R. Kempton


The possibilities for superpower cooperation in any region are highly dependent on the importance of the region to each of the superpowers. However, determining a region’s significance to the superpowers is itself a serious and challenging task. The typical answer to this question points to the idiosyncrasies of the region being analyzed that give the region special or unique importance. In the case of southern Africa, this results in a now well-known litany. Southern Africa’s unique importance for the superpowers is attributable to three major features of the region. First and foremost, we must look to its mineral wealth. While southern Africa is a major source of numerous commercially significant minerals, the greatest attention is usually given to platinum, chromium, vanadium, and manganese, none of which is readily available elsewhere in the non-communist world. Additionally, neither the sheer financial lure of the deposits of gold and diamonds which account for much of South Africa’s financial success, nor the strategic importance of the uranium deposits which dot the region, can be easily ignored. Second, the coastal states of southern Africa border one of the world’s great sea transit routes, along which pass numerous military vessels and much of the Gulf states’ oil trade.


Reagan Administration South African Government Economic Assistance Regional Conflict Soviet Bloc 
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Copyright information

© Roger E. Kanet and Edward A. Kolodziej 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Kempton

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