Books by Chester A. Crocker

Released: Jan. 11, 1993

A former assistant secretary of state's riveting memoir—as much a primer on diplomacy as an eyewitness account—of his eight- year-long effort to bring peace to southern Africa. Crocker's peacemaking odyssey in southern Africa in the 1980's was a daring high-wire act in a region where all parties had longstanding ideological and political conflicts with one another. South African forces were in neighboring territories, either overtly or covertly, to halt the feared onslaught of Communism; SWAPO, the Namibian liberation group, was fighting for independence from South Africa; and Marxist countries like Mozambique and Angola had invited the Soviets and their surrogates, the Cubans, to defend them against the South Africans as well as against their domestic enemies. Contending that US policy should center on the ``closely intertwined conflicts in Namibia and Angola,'' Crocker devised a policy that—by engaging all the regional players along with America's traditional allies—aimed at getting South Africa to agree to Namibian independence, and Angola to accept the withdrawal of Cuban forces from its territory. It was a policy that required US diplomats ``to carry water on both shoulders'' as they persuaded—often against a background of continuing political crises—intractable enemies to meet and then to agree to the once- unthinkable. The home front was no easier, as Crocker's ``Constructive Engagement'' policy enraged ideologues on the left, who objected to dealing with South Africa, and those on the right, who thought the US was selling out to the Marxists. But Crocker persisted and, in December 1988, the accords were signed, establishing a timetable for Namibian independence and for Cuban troop withdrawal. Peace finally was at hand. A dramatic story told with engaging verve, becoming modesty, and beguiling wit by an astute practitioner of statecraft. (Photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >