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A Force for Good? Paradoxes of Swedish Military Activism

Chapter in book
Authors Lisbeth Aggestam
Adrian Hyde-Price
Published in Pierre J. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics
Pages 479-494
ISBN 9780199665679
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford
Publication year 2015
Published at Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Department of Political Science
Pages 479-494
Language en
Keywords Sweden, military policy, foreign policy, EU, NATO, peace
Subject categories Political Science


This chapter examines Swedish military policy in the post-cold war era. While there has been considerable academic discussion and political debate on issues such as neutrality and non-alignment, membership of the EU or partnership with NATO, little attention has been paid to the actual practice of Swedish military policy in the post-cold war era — particularly in terms of the use of force and its links to statecraft, both crucial aspects of strategic culture. This military activism constitutes an interesting — and often overlooked — dimension of Swedish foreign policy, which poses some complex theoretical puzzles for International Relations theory and the sub-field of Foreign Policy Analysis. The chapter begins by outlining the ways in which Swedish approaches to the use of military force have changed and adapted since the end of the Cold War, and examines the sources, dimensions and political implications of Sweden's military activism. It considers the impact of the demise of cold war bipolarity on Swedish conceptions of international security and “military non-alignment”, and analyses the evolution of Swedish foreign policy role conceptions and strategic culture in response to the transformed international environment. It also tracks the shifts and recalibration of Swedish military policy from the early 1990s to the present, highlighting the change from peacekeeping and national territorial defense, to a more varied and complex military missions including peace support operations, humanitarian military intervention, conventional deterrence and counter-insurgency operations.

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