ABSTRACT

If there is a single analytical frame that over the past 15 years or more has acquired a degree of consistent use amongst analysts of foreign policy, it is the notion that South Africa is an emerging middle power. As a concept, it appeared for the first time in 1997 amid a zeitgeist of hope and renewal both in South Africa and the rest of the world. The assumed universalist triumphalism in 1989 about the supremacy of the Anglo-American model of capitalism had been replaced by a resurgence of scepticism about globalization and what it supposedly offered. Part of this process included a renewed recognition of the role of the developing world, and in particular some of its major economies or ‘emerging markets’, as key drivers of global growth. Coinciding with geo-strategic concerns, the reconfiguration of who mattered in world politics, circulated in American foreign policy circles as ‘pivotal states’ (Chase et al. 1996). Clearly the table was set to popularize the idea of ‘emerging middle powers’ in both scholarly and policy-making circles.