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Why small states join big wars: the case of Sweden in Afghanistan 2002-2014

Sjöstedt, Roxanna LU ; Noreen, Erik and Ångström, Jan (2017) In International Relations 31(2). p.145-168
Abstract
The security behavior of small states has traditionally been explained by different takes of realism, liberalism, or constructivism – focusing on the behavior that aims toward safeguarding sovereignty or engaging in peace policies. The issue of why states with limited military capacities and little or no military alignments or engagements decide to participate in an international mission has received limited attention by previous research. In contrast, this article argues that a three-layered discursive model can make the choices of small states more precisely explained and thereby contribute to an increased understanding of small states’ security behavior beyond threat balancing and interdependence. Analyzing a deviant case of a... (More)
The security behavior of small states has traditionally been explained by different takes of realism, liberalism, or constructivism – focusing on the behavior that aims toward safeguarding sovereignty or engaging in peace policies. The issue of why states with limited military capacities and little or no military alignments or engagements decide to participate in an international mission has received limited attention by previous research. In contrast, this article argues that a three-layered discursive model can make the choices of small states more precisely explained and thereby contribute to an increased understanding of small states’ security behavior beyond threat balancing and interdependence. Analyzing a deviant case of a non-aligned small state, this article explains why Sweden became increasingly involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. By focusing on the domestic political discourses regarding the Swedish involvement in this mission, it is suggested that a narrative shapes public perception of a particular policy and establishes interpretative dominance of how a particular event should be understood. This dominant domestic discourse makes a certain international behavior possible and even impossible to alter once established. In the Swedish case, it is demonstrated that this discourse assumed a ‘catch-all’ ambition, satisfying both domestic and international demands. In general terms, it should thus be emphasized that certain discourses and narratives are required in order to make it possible for a country to participate in a mission such as ISAF and prolong the mission for several years. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
International Relations
volume
31
issue
2
pages
145 - 168
external identifiers
  • scopus:85020625809
  • wos:000403204300003
DOI
10.1177/0047117816651125
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
32b9d020-90d0-47f9-ad8f-259c2100e6a9
date added to LUP
2017-05-30 09:29:54
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:05:42
@article{32b9d020-90d0-47f9-ad8f-259c2100e6a9,
  abstract     = {The security behavior of small states has traditionally been explained by different takes of realism, liberalism, or constructivism – focusing on the behavior that aims toward safeguarding sovereignty or engaging in peace policies. The issue of why states with limited military capacities and little or no military alignments or engagements decide to participate in an international mission has received limited attention by previous research. In contrast, this article argues that a three-layered discursive model can make the choices of small states more precisely explained and thereby contribute to an increased understanding of small states’ security behavior beyond threat balancing and interdependence. Analyzing a deviant case of a non-aligned small state, this article explains why Sweden became increasingly involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. By focusing on the domestic political discourses regarding the Swedish involvement in this mission, it is suggested that a narrative shapes public perception of a particular policy and establishes interpretative dominance of how a particular event should be understood. This dominant domestic discourse makes a certain international behavior possible and even impossible to alter once established. In the Swedish case, it is demonstrated that this discourse assumed a ‘catch-all’ ambition, satisfying both domestic and international demands. In general terms, it should thus be emphasized that certain discourses and narratives are required in order to make it possible for a country to participate in a mission such as ISAF and prolong the mission for several years.},
  author       = {Sjöstedt, Roxanna and Noreen, Erik and Ångström, Jan},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {145--168},
  series       = {International Relations},
  title        = {Why small states join big wars: the case of Sweden in Afghanistan 2002-2014},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047117816651125},
  volume       = {31},
  year         = {2017},
}