The appointment of P.W. Botha as Minister of Defence in South Africa in 1968 signalled a change in the understanding of the security situation both in South Africa and in the southern African region. Instead of focusing on threats directed at South Africa, Botha espoused a broader vision of security, encompassing the East-West global ideological conflict and South Africa's role in it. Three themes predominated in his speeches: that the West was threatened by Soviet expansionism, that South Africa was part of the West, and that Soviet strategy was to cut Europe off from South Africa's essential raw materials.8
South Africa's neighbouring States were important in Botha's security thinking. They were portrayed as South Africa's first line of defence against Soviet expansionism. The South African government concluded security agreements with Portugal and Rhodesia, so that in practice Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia became South Africa's front line.
Botha's understanding of the conflict between his government and the South African liberation movements was influenced by the findings of the Potgieter Commission of Inquiry in 1970, which concluded that: “it is no secret that the enemies of the Republic are trying to attack in all fields”.9 The Commission viewed South Africa as being faced by a “total onslaught” from beyond its borders, and recommended the adoption of a “total national strategy”.10 According to the 1975 Defence White Paper, the “total strategy” included “economic, ideological, technological, and even social matters”.11
The theory of “total strategy” was originally put forward by French military general, Andre Beaufre, based on his experiences of World War II and the Indo-China war. Beaufre saw a role for politicians in the development of military strategy. He argued that a war can be won through the effective co-ordination of all elements of the State with a single purpose—to engage the enemy on all fronts: military, economic,