Machinery extracting minerals from a quarry

Quarries like the one above pock the South African landscape north to south.

Volume XVII – Number 2

Steven Metz

As the end of World War II recedes further away from the collective memory of society, complacency must not overtake vigilance. Currently, there are many clear and present dangers, especially for the United States and Western Europe— in particular, the supply, or lack thereof, of strategic metals. These metals are used in defense production and heavy industry, and our national stockpile is dangerously low. Forty years ago, wars were fought with an “on-hand” mentality, meaning success was dependent on what was built and ready to deploy, not the raw materials necessary for sustained production. While this approach worked well when wars spanned days and weeks, the inevitability of long-term conflicts has brought the need for stockpiles of raw materials to the forefront of our national interest. As our stockpiles reach depletion, American dependence on foreign suppliers has only increased. South Africa has massive mineral reserves, and alone provides more than half of all U.S imports of metals crucial for high-technology production. While South African political practices like apartheid run counter to American values, the security dilemma presented on the economic front cannot be ignored. Should South Africa cut off the United States from access to its mineral wealth in response to increased American pressure for social reform, our national security will be put at risk.

Keywords: United States, South Africa, Mineral Wealth, Strategic Metals, Security Dilemma

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