'"To have its cake and eat it too:" US policy toward South Africa during the Kennedy administration

Zoe Hyman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The assumption that US policy toward Africa was characterized by continuity during the cold war has recently been challenged by scholars who argue that President John F. Kennedy embarked on an African policy that was distinct from his predecessors. This may be true for black Africa, but Kennedy’s support for African nationalism did not extend to South Africa. This article reveals that Kennedy’s cold war priorities ensured continuity in US policy toward the apartheid state and, in some cases, additional cooperation as cold war crises increased the perceived importance of South Africa as an ideological and strategic ally and bastion against communism on a rapidly changing continent. This article also explores the role South Africa’s apartheid government played in this cold war alliance. The ruling National Party recognized its importance to US foreign policy goals and used this to stave off serious American criticism of its racial policies, deflect attention in the United Nations, and ensure continued economic and military cooperation with the United States.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)138-155
    Number of pages18
    JournalThe Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
    Issue number2
    Early online date03 Nov 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Special Issue on John F. Kennedy


    • United States; John F. Kennedy; South Africa; apartheid; foreign policy; cold war; United Nations; segregation; National Party; America; race relations; civil rights


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