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A question of timing: South Africa and Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence, 1964-65

By Sue Onslow


This article explores the attitude and behaviour of South Africa towards Rhodesia's growing confrontation with the British government, which culminated in the Smith regime's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in November 1965. The issue of white minority independence in Rhodesia confronted the Verwoerd government with an acute dilemma: a UDI risked further international isolation and consequent danger for the Republic of South Africa (RSA) - the extension of economic sanctions against Pretoria, the possibility of racial war drawing in outside hostile powers, or indeed a United Nations Organization (UNO) force, which would breach the RSA's insistence on non-intervention in a country's domestic affairs. It therefore immeasurably complicated South Africa's own international position. However, the South African government appreciated the ideological, racial, geo-strategic and economic advantages that could accrue to South Africa in the context of the Cold War. 'Never was a country so compromised in its foreign policy by its domestic agenda',1 yet on the question of Rhodesia in 1964-65 Pretoria played a difficult hand in international relations with consummate skill

Topics: DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics, D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1080/14682740500062135
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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