Geopolitics and the Cold War Environment: The Case of Chromium

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Strategic resources are critical to the well-being of any state; states can, and do go to war to protect access to such resources; indeed securing and maintaining an adequate supply of strategic resources will constitute a central concern of any state's foreign policy. Under such circumstances, a well-informed policy making process, guided by objective analysis becomes of paramount importance. This paper examines the role of mineral dependence in United States (US)/South Africa relations, specifically in the context of the sanctions issue of the 1980s. Using chromium as a case study, it highlights how inaccurate and irrelevant information concerning the importance of South African chromium to the US, and especially the US military was used to define dimensions of the issue, producing policy that was anything but well-informed and objective.

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