Stop making enemies of friends

by Jewish Report | Nov 09, 2015

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

South Africans heard with shock and horror as Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, addressed the media about the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from Parliament last Thursday that the White House is seriously considering the country’s exclusion when the new AGOA.

Could South Africa’s political swing have anything to do with it?

So why so suddenly does the White House come out against what was thought to be a done deal and with such veracity and urgency. And why was President Obama so threatening? We compromised, they compromised, a few glitches remained which it was agreed we would sort out after the signing in two weeks’ time…

“Enemy of My Enemy”

US foreign policy has been guided by the “Enemy of My Enemy” idea for over a century. It came into State Department use in regarding US foreign policy during The Spanish-American War at the turn of the nineteenth century and has had America tangled up in impossibly complicated webs ever since – never more evident, however, than now in the Middle East.

The saying, generally attributed as being of Arab origin, actually seems to predate that by far. It seems it was first heard in India 2,400 years ago. It is believed to have originated in the 4th century BCE in India. Kautilya –  the “Indian Machiavelli” – wrote about the idea in the Sanskrit military book, the Arthashastra.

Nu, so what now?

US President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the US would remove agricultural trade benefits enjoyed by SA within the next 60 days unless the country complied with certain requirements.

Sure, Obama has given both the US Congress and the SA government warning that unless the country opens its markets to US agricultural products our duty-free status would be revoked.  But that was sorted. That was then and this is now. In May, the Senate voted to include SA in AGOA.

Consider this…

  • South Africa has increasingly been adopting a ABA (anyone but America) trade policy over the past 20 years. No big-ticket imports of goods and services from the US are considered. Think Arms Deal, Nukes-to-Bankruptcy; etc. – they are all going East;
  • We allow people to walk around in public with placards inciting others to “Kill the Jew” and no action is taken against them;
  • ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe , and his deputy Jessie Duarte, who rule the roost at the party’s HQ Luthuli House in downtown-Johannesburg, Have never made a secret of their anti-Israel stance and have promised anti-Israel groups the world;
  • Two weeks ago, SA became the first country outside of the Middle East (and many IN the Mid-East too) to formerly recognise the terrorists that are Hamas;
  • Last week the SA Consumer Commission decided to act on a complaint by BDS that Woolworths were incorrectly labelling some Israeli goods and hold an inquiry – Israel is among the US’ best friends while SA’s relationship continues to plummet; and
  • This week, among a great deal of crowing from BDS, the Consumer  Commission decided to expand their inquiry into (Minister Rob Davies’ own special) Israel-only labelling law – now to include all other players in the SA retail sector.

One has to wonder on two things here…

Firstly, could any of these negative actions (and there are many more) on the part of South Africa and towards the US and/or her closest friends and allies have had any influence on Obama’s outburst on Thursday?

And secondly, whether it did or didn’t inform this decision, does the ruling party have the political savvy to realise the SA/US diplomatic relationship, which has for years been headed in one direction (where South African wants everything and refuses to give anything)? And, that is not yet informing US policy towards this country, a time will certainly come when it will and then they’ll be pushing it down that slippery slope?

Surely the ANC government cannot be so naïve as to think that these matters are not discussed between the US and Israel at all levels, possible even President to PM.

Of course the US decision, which could have massive implications for the SA economy, came as a shock to us all. But maybe, at least our diplomatic brains-trust, should have at least anticipated that our bad-neighbourly behaviour could have led to this.

Or that, given that the US foreign policy is based on the "enemy of my enemy" principle, that at least at some future time, if we don’t stop joining the leagues of thugs and terrorists, it will. 


  1. 3 David Abel 10 Nov
    It is possible that all those dots connect in the complex panorama of international relations, with the US beginning to view SA as a country which expects to receive benefits without reciprocity. And with SA cocking a snoot at Western civilization's best interests, including the unabashed embracing of radical Islamist terrorists like Hamas, a US push back could well be an unintended consequence. SA seems to be very much a "beginner" in the machiavellian art of international relations. It also brings to mind Rev Albert Mabenga's constant refrain: "Those who bless Israel, will be blessed - and those who curse Israel will be cursed". With the ANC now starting to align itself with Hamas which curses and wishes to destroy Israel, let us hope that that curse does not rub off on SA. On the contrary, may SA come quickly to the point of realization that by working in more harmony with Israel, the country will be the recipient of many blessings.       
  2. 2 Choni 11 Nov
    "Consider this". Point 4. Should it not read formally instead of formerly?
  3. 1 Myron Robinson 11 Nov
    The ANC has always had a pro Palestinian and anti Israel stance. What should be worrisome to SA Jews is the anti-Semitic stance which the ANC has been adopting for many years and which is worsening by the day. I have raised this issue in many forums but both the SAJBD and the SAZF are acting like ostriches and merely put their heads in the stand. It is about time that these two institutions become confrontational and get inside the face of the ANC whenever they make an anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israeli remark which is becoming more the norm than the exception. Minister Davies is the Leader of the pack and should be confronted on every remark.


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