Published in: Scandinavian Journal of History, 2018
This article is predicated on the assumption that small states need economic, political and societal shelter in order to prosper, and applies this theory to the case of Iceland in the period 1941–2006 – from the American occupation of Iceland to the closure of the US military base in the country. The authors argue that Iceland enjoyed essential shelter, for its development and prosperity, from the United States. The US also provided extensive diplomatic and military backing to Iceland, and profoundly influenced societal affairs in the country. Furthermore, Iceland received extensive societal shelter from the Nordic states, and economic and political shelter from international organizations. However, American and Nordic shelter did not come without costs.
A small state in world politics: Iceland’s search for shelter
Professor Baldur Thorhallsson – University of Iceland
Published in: Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration. Vol. 14, Issue 1. 2018. Special issue on power and democracy in Iceland (61-82)
The aim of this paper is to determine Iceland’s foreign policy options in relation to shelter theory. Iceland has been seeking political and economic shelter ever since the United States deserted it in 2006, by closing its military base, and in 2008, by refusing to provide it with assistance following its economic collapse. Iceland has made several new security and defence arrangements with its neighbouring states, applied for membership of the European Union and was the first European country to make a free-trade agreement with China. Moreover, the president of Iceland pressed for closer political and economic ties with Russia. Prominent Icelandic politicians frequently claim that Brexit will create a number of opportunities for Iceland and lead to closer cooperation with Britain. However, Iceland has not yet secured shelter of an extent comparable to what it had enjoyed from the United States. In this paper, we will answer questions such as: What does shelter theory tell us about Iceland’s overseas relations with the US, NATO, the EU, Britain, Russia, China, and the Nordic states? Will Iceland receive more reliable shelter provided by multilateral organizations than by a single shelter provider?