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From Cold War to the Present: Lessons about Nordic Security and Cooperation? Remarks by Alyson JK Bailes, Faculty of Political Science, HÍ Reykjavik, 31.

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Presentation on theme: "From Cold War to the Present: Lessons about Nordic Security and Cooperation? Remarks by Alyson JK Bailes, Faculty of Political Science, HÍ Reykjavik, 31."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Cold War to the Present: Lessons about Nordic Security and Cooperation? Remarks by Alyson JK Bailes, Faculty of Political Science, HÍ Reykjavik, 31 May 2012

2 HISTORY IN NORDEN An important part of national identity and self-awareness, including iconic figures Like Britain, can also attach importance to misfortunes and defeats But never radically/comprehensively reviewed as a result of ‘regime change’ ….so perhaps more selective than we like to admit? Certainly worth revisiting from new angles

3 THREE THEMES FROM that still have resonance today NATO and the credibility of Northern defence Nordic cooperation: a glass half full or half empty? Strengths and weaknesses in UK/Nordic relations and the British understanding of Norden

4 NATO: EARLY AMBIGUITIES Unclear balance of power+roles with the UN Unclear whether able to truly guarantee the Northern periphery; essentially political judgement on US guarantee as least-worst solution (cf Baltics after Cold War)  Key change with nuclear deterrence: but… Paradox of free democracies defending democracy through an Alliance of partly alien values/constraints; Nordic unease over time….

5 NORDIC TOGETHERNESS Extreme drive to find common solutions, but… How far was breakdown of Nordic pact idea due to (shared) strategic realities, or to diverse interests and identities? (Lessons of most recent experience??) Impressive survival+popularity of the Nordic idea: compensation or cushion??

6 UK AND NORDEN Several dimensions of common interest – arguably also today (+ in future, Arctic??) But also mis-steps and misunderstandings: big/small, global/local visions, plus constraints in London Perhaps most interesting: why London hankered so long after Nordic strategic union – self-interest or faulty mirror-imaging?

7 LAST WORDS FROM SIR L COLLIER: ‘I have heard it said (and not by a Norwegian) that Norway has been fortunate in the past year or so to have been led by intelligent and determined men like Gerhardsen, Lange and Hauge, whereas Sweden has been led by men who were determined but not intelligent, like Undén and Wigforss, and Denmark by men who were intelligent but not determined, like Hedtoft and Rasmussen’. ( Letter from Sir L Collier (HMA Oslo) to Mr Hankey, 18 March 1949, FO 371/77396, N2886/1072/63 (No. 190).) WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID ABOUT ICELAND?


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