22 March 2019

South Africa: Official's Low-Key Visit Betrays Shrinking U.S. Influence in Today's World

analysis

Senior American official visits South Africa to reaffirm that the two nations do not hate each other, but not all that much more.

There was a time - say back at the height of the Cold War, or even more likely, just after that contest had wrapped up with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, and the "re-Europeanisation" and democratisation of the Eastern European nations - when an extended visit by an American deputy secretary of state would have been pretty big business and rather big news. It would have had more than a tincture of an effort about it in the re-organising or shaping of the world.

But now, maybe, not so much any more.

Now, this is not simply from the druthers of the Trump administration in its ongoing, unceasing efforts to slay the twin dragons of globalisation and internationalism - although that certainly plays a part in it. Nowadays, a visit by a senior American official to a nation like South Africa becomes just one more momentary blip on international arrivals radar screens. Also a comment on the age, however, is that an equivalently ranking visitor from...

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