From Isolation to Detente — and Failure

  • R. W. Johnson


The 1960s began disastrously for South Africa externally, as they had domestically. Sharpeville had the same profound effect on world public and governmental opinion that it had on foreign investors. In several Western countries a new post-war liberal political wave had begun to manifest itself in such movements as CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) in Britain and the civil rights campaign in America. Sharpeville affronted the sensitivities of this younger generation in a way that it would have been quite difficult to equal even by deliberate contrivance. The news photograph depicting South African policemen gazing out over a field of corpses strewn to the horizon was printed and reprinted in the world press. Western governments friendly to South Africa loudly condemned her policies. At the UN, South Africa soon found herself ‘the polecat of the world’, as her delegate, Eric Louw, commented bitterly.


Ivory Coast African State Nuclear Disarmament African Leader National Security Council 
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  1. 1.
    For further information see J. Bonaldi, ‘Angola: the economic interests’, Race and Class, Vol. XVII, Spring 1976, No. 4Google Scholar

Copyright information

© R. W. Johnson 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Magdalen CollegeOxfordUK

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