The Lessons of Mandela

The Lessons of Mandela

Ambassador James Joseph

9.12.2006

Ambassador James Joseph

Ambassador James A. Joseph served as ambassador to South Africa from 1996 to 1999. He was the first and only U.S. Ambassador to present his credentials to President Nelson Mandela. He was awarded the Order of Good Hope by South African President Thabo Mbeki, which is the highest distinction awarded to a citizen of another country. He also was an incorporating director of President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation and was the first chairman of the board of directors of President Clinton’s Corporation for National Service.

In a speech at the Clinton School, James Joseph, the former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, discusses lessons he learned from former South African President Nelson Mandela. The most important lesson, Joseph says, is rooted in the distinction between hard power and “soft power,” the term originated by Joseph Nye. Joseph also emphasizes Mandela’s belief that most conflicts can be settled by brains rather than blood, seeing reconciliation as the premier public value in a world that is integrating and fragmenting at the same time. According to Joseph, Mandela’s keen sense of reconciliation also guided Mandela’s leadership and management philosophy, and even his belief in economic diplomacy. “There is much we can learn from Nelson Mandela’s role as a moral leader in international affairs, from his personal relationship and standing with the leaders of the rich nations as well as those from the developing world,” Joseph says.