South African JWN commenter Dominic and I have both started working on trying to find a good–preferably primary-source– articulation of the “Total Strategy” developed by the apartheid regime in 1976-77 with a view to being able to do a good comparative study between that and what is probably the Bush administration’s authoritative articulation of the ‘Global War on Terror’, namely the National Security Strategy document of September 2002.
We’re not quite there yet. Any other interested JWN readers are warmly invited to join our little project. Also, if you yourself are unable to contribute to this work but know of someone else who might be interested, please forward this post to them!
The quick background on the ‘Total Strategy’ is that in 1974-76 two disastrous sets of things happened to the “security situation” and the “security strategy” pursued up until then by the apartheid bosses:
- (1) Portugal’s massive African empire completely collapsed, “handing over” control of the two large southern African states Mozambique and Angola to national-liberation movements that were firmly African-nationalist and because of the nature and history of their struggle favorably inclined to the Soviet Union.
This was seen as the “collapse of vital buffer states”. Plus, of course, the example of victory provided by the nationalists in those two countries might–it was feared in Pretoria– serve as inspiration to SA’s own majority Black and other non-White populations… And
(2) In 1976, the sprawling, Black-only “townships” of Soweto incubated the Soweto Uprising, a revolt by disaffected Black youth that spread rapidly through most of the country’s urban areas. The youth were rebelling against the perceived passivity of their own elders as much as against the continuation of White control. They sought to make the country “ungovernable”, and were much more radical than most of the older-generation supporters of the existing nationalist organizations.
You could say that the combination of those two sets of developments, both outside and inside the country, acted as a kind of “9/11” for the leaders of the apartheid government. They described what they saw happening as a Soviet-orchestrated “Total Onslaught” on the good, White, Christian, pro-western values that the apartheid system sought to uphold. This Total Onslaught had to be met with a “Total Strategy”, that would be pursued simultaneously both inside and outside the country and involved many elements of social control, and social and political manipulation, at many different levels– not just the immediately “military” level, but also including that very prominently indeed.
It does sound a lot like the Bush administration’s GWOT already, doesn’t it? I guess my aim is to flesh out this hypothesis as much as possible.
Dominic doesn’t think this portion of Vol. 2 of the TRC report gives much useful info about the TS. However, I think it’s not a bad place to start, especially paras 108-139 and 152-165.
Dominic has found a couple of really helpful (though still not primary) sources. One is a book that I think he picked off his bookshelf called