Security Without Non-Alignment: The Theory and Practice of Sweden’s
This article aims to contribute to the present debate on Sweden’s security policy
orientation by introducing some general theoretical propositions and concepts
related to research on alliance formation and alignment strategies of small states.
A further aim of the article is to challenge the mistaken but common view that
Sweden ever since 1814 has pursued a consistent policy of non-military alignment.
The usefulness of these propositions and concepts is firstly illustrated with an analysis
of Sweden’s previous experiences of military alignment and participation in
cooperative security efforts aiming for collective security. Secondly, insights from
Sweden’s previous experiences and general research on alliance behaviour of great
and small powers are used to discuss potential benefits and costs related to three
possible future alignment strategies: (i) a small state military alliance between Finland
and Sweden, (ii) a bilateral military alliance between Sweden the US and (iii)
a Swedish membership in NATO. Finally, the question of continuity and change in
Sweden’s policy of non-alignment is addressed. In answering this question the concepts
of critical junctions, path dependency and external shocks are introduced as
analytical tools to analyse causes of both continuity and change. I relation to these
concepts Sweden’s security strategies have been characterised by far less consistency
than theories of critical junctions or external shocks would lead us to expect.
It is also argued that the policy of non-alignment since the end of the Cold War has
lost most of its practical relevance and that the deteriorating security situation in
Europe has created a need for a new coherent Swedish security strategy.
Lund: Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift , 2016. Vol. 118, no 4, 411-444 p.