Talk of sanctions today and everyone thinks of Iran. But not that long ago it was another country that came to mind: South Africa. Former president F. W. De Klerk, who negotiated the end of apartheid with African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, spoke recently in Washington about his experiences and their relevance to current headlines. (The event, sponsored by the Legatum Institute and Foreign Policy, marked the official launch of Democracy Lab.)
In a question-and-answer session with Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, De Klerk offered timely advice on some of today’s biggest foreign policy challenges.
On the effectiveness of sanctions as a means for pressuring governments to change: It’s a double-edged sword.
On nuclear weapons as a tool for state security: It was a Cold War strategy. (Hint to Iran: Not worth the trouble.)
On the prospects for negotiation in Syria: It’s too late, Bashar, it’s just too late…
Along with Mandela, De Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his work to end apartheid in South Africa. He heads the Global Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to share the experiences of past world leaders with current ones.