The Diplomacy of Isolation: South African Foreign Policy by D. Geldenhuys

By D. Geldenhuys

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It concerned South Africa's response to Rhodesia's UDI. 2 15 Foreign Minister Muller was frequently by-pa ssed by Verwoerd, who was in regular contact with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson through South Africa's Ambassador in London, De Wet, as intermediary. In his dealings with Wilson Verwoerd again displayed his characteristic attitude of no compromise on what he regarded as matters of principle. South Africa , Verwoerd informed Wilson , would not "sacrifice... " Apart from this "moral issue" , Verwoerd also told Wilson that "South Africa and its government are quite convinced that she would seal her own doom" if the Republic were to support sanctions against Rhodesia .

177 National Party MPs saw Malan's decision as perfectly natural in view of established practice , and they moreover thought the portfolio was given special status by being handled by the prime minister. " 178 Malan's actual role in foreign policy formulation - despite what his considerable involvement in personal diplomacy might suggest - was not as clear-cut as that of either Hertzog or Smuts, both of whom dominated foreign policy formulation in their respective governments and were outstanding innovators in this field.

These are indeed useful guides in explaining Verwoerd's performance in the realm of foreign policy. The year 1960 marked Verwoerd's debut in the world of high-level diplomacy . Macmillan 's visit in January-February afforded Verwoerd his first opportunity for direct talks with a distinguished counterpart, and for measuring his political convictions and diplomatic skills against those of a foreign leader. Although they held lengthy private consultations, it was Macmillan's "wind of change" speech that provided Verwoerd with his greatest challenge, moreover one in the full glare of the public.

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