Soldiers in a Storm: The Armed Forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition

Soldiers in a Storm: The Armed Forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition

Soldiers in a Storm: The Armed Forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition

Soldiers in a Storm: The Armed Forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition


Soldiers in a Storm: The Armed Forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition is a study of the role of the military in the creation and development of South Africa's new post-apartheid system. Philip Frankel asserts that the armed forces played a far greater role in the end of apartheid than is currently acknowledged in the literature, and that the relatively peaceful negotiations that ended apartheid would not have been possible without the participation of the South African Defense Force and two major liberation armies.

Frankel also examines the topics of military disengagement, civilianization, post-authoritarian political behavior on the part of militaries, and the process of democratic consolidation. He also discusses how many of these themes have been explored in the context of Latin America, and he points out that this is the only book that places these themes within the context of South Africa. This is an important case study with universal implications.


Apartheid has been one of the great moral issues of our time. in fitting tribute, its passing has encouraged an explosion of literature seeking to explain why South Africa escaped the blood and civil war long deemed predictable and deserving for what arguably ranks as one of the most consciously vicious social systems of the twentieth century.

Some writings, cobbled together in explaining South Africa's unexpected negotiated revolution, have sought refuge in the extensive general literature on international trends toward democratization in the last decades of this era. a second category, linked to theories that emphasize the strategic role of elites in the movement from authoritarianism to democracy, have zeroed in on South Africa's leadership, particularly Nelson Mandela, to explain why apartheid avoided racial Götterdämmerung and, like its communist counterpart, imploded with a whimper. Still others have focused on such diverse variables as the peculiarities and increasing contradictions of apartheid as an instrument of repression in the face of heroic mass mobilization in the black townships, structural developments in both the domestic and global political economies, the changing balance of regional power that progressively tightened the noose on the apartheid state, or the role of strategic institutions and interest groups at the interface between government and civil society. Winston Churchill once made the point that the art and science of politics is to predict the future—and then explain why it did not happen. This certainly applies to contemporary analysts of South Africa.

In addressing this agenda, scholars and other writers may well derive valuable insight from the fact that democratizations seldom succeed when they are opposed by the military forces of authoritarian regimes and that their success rate is improved immeasurably should the military assist or otherwise display forms of social performance that do not discourage the emergence of democratic cultures and structures.

Militaries, a substantial body of universally recognized literature emphasize, are actually critical among public- and private-sector institutions in determining the initiation of democratic transitions—the shape, aspect, and ultimate sustainability of the democratization process. Given the enormous political influence wielded by the South African Defence . . .

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