Geopolitics of the North, Geopolitik of the Weak: A Post-Cold War Return to Rudolf Kjellén - Swedish and Scandinavian Geopolitics

Led by Ola Tunander

Jan 2003 – May 2011

After the Cold War, some Nordic scholars (re)turned to geopolitics to explain the radical changes taking place in the European North, but this new interest for geopolitics did not primarily concern Anglo-American geopolitics of Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman but Swedish-German geopolitics of Rudolf Kjellén and Carl Schmitt. The latter had recognized the importance of territory and identity and the historical role of the nation-state as one political/geopolitical form parallel to others. To these Nordic scholars, the conflicts on the Balkans had underlined the significance of territory and ethnic identity, the end of the Cold War had revealed cultural differences on a higher level, and new regional projects had been developed to overcome some of these differences. The EU had also developed into a more unified entity than recognized by the traditional Anglo-American schools. In the 1990s, all this seemed to justify a return to Swedish-German geopolitics. And Kjellén’s hundred-years old power triangle of the North (with the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia) seemed to reappear but now in a new cloak with the USA in the West, the EU in the South and with Russia in the East defining the politics of the small Nordic states. The Scandinavian states were, as before, included in the great power triangle. The return to Kjellén’s geopolitics of the North was also a return to the geopolitics of the weak.

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