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Spotlights: Nelson Mandela’s Ambivalent View of the United States

Stephan Bierling

Pages 553 - 560


Nelson Mandela held an ambivalent view of the United States. While he admired its democracy and freedoms, as a revolutionary heavily influenced by Marxist ideology, he harshly criticized Washington’s ‘imperialism’ and support for colonial powers. During the 1980s, but especially after his release from prison in 1990 and his ascent to the presidency of South Africa, Mandela became a celebrity in the United States. This did not, however, prevent him from attacking Washington’s foreign policy positions on several occasions or from maintaining close relations with America’s political foes such as Fidel Castro and Muammar Gadhafi. This article shows how Mandela viewed the United States—and international relations in general—mainly through the prism of his lifelong fight against apartheid.


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