Allies in Adversity: The Frontline States in Southern African Security, 1975-1993

Allies in Adversity: The Frontline States in Southern African Security, 1975-1993

Allies in Adversity: The Frontline States in Southern African Security, 1975-1993

Allies in Adversity: The Frontline States in Southern African Security, 1975-1993

Synopsis

Through the eyes of principal African actors, this study explains local and international efforts at resolving conflicts across the racial and economic divides of southern Africa. It complements the myriad studies on security, conflict resolution, and regional integration in an area undergoing tremendous transformations as it attempts to leave the decolonization conflicts of the 1970s behind.

Excerpt

My interest in southern Africa grew out of an initial fascination with international politics of regions. Over the years, that interest was sustained by the perennial conflicts surrounding the liberation and decolonization of the region. In its present form, this work began as a modest attempt to examine the role of the Frontline States (FLS)-Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia-- in Zimbabwe's decolonization; it in turn, evolved theoretically and empirically to embrace the larger, and more interesting, question of regional security.

The choice of the FLS as a focal point for examining regional security was a deliberate one: since the mid-1970s, they were the most visible African actors agitating for regional change. As participants in forging African and global consensus about the end of minority rule, they were instrumental in shaping the contours of regional security. By the same token, they were objects of insecurity produced by decaying settler regimes; that insecurity produced strains within their domestic systems as well as in their external relations.

Conceptually, therefore, this study is informed by the need to understand the contribution of small-state alliances to conflict resolution and structural transformations in their geographical neighborhoods. Building on theories of small-state alliances, it suggests that an informal and limited alliance framework was the principal means the FLS used in supporting the liberation of southern Africa. In analyzing the FLS's contribution to the decolonization of Zimbabwe and Namibia, I argue that mere aggregation of weakness did not translate into collective strength. Fundamentally, then, we need to understand their impact on regional conflicts by also exploring how they individually and collectively attracted external participation in the subsystem. Through various phases of regional conflicts, I show that since it was an insufficient framework for problem solving, the effectiveness of the FLS informal alliance centered around the ability of members to serve as avenues for external access.

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