Cold water politics : The maritime strategy and geopolitics of the northern front

University dissertation from London : Sage Publications

Abstract: The dissertation deals with the strategic field of force dominating the Northern waters. Instead of an emphasis on the declared policies of the various nations, the focus here is on geopolitics, technological change and on US and Soviet military strategies influencing the security policies of the Nordic region. The increased US-Soviet interest in mobile and concealed weapons platforms, in dominating the closest link between the two and in circumventing the political and physical restrictions of Continental Europe, has increased the superpower interest in the Northern waters. They have become the object of a chilly powerpolitics: indeed, of Cold Water Politics.The dissertation presents the new US Maritime Strategy as representing ashift in US military thinking. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Sovietmilitary buildup made the West concerned about Soviet intentions; it has also made the US nuclear response seem less credible. To deter the Soviet Union from advancing military forces in or outside Europe, the USA intends to surge with its conventional attack submarines, threatening Soviet strategic submarines in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. To be credible, such operations would have to be executed at a very early phase of a conflict, thus linking the Scandinavian peninsula and Japan with tensions and conflicts around the globe.Military activities in Northern waters form part of a complex system ofstrategies and counter·strategies, perceived by the actors as signs or signals, as a US-Sovjet body language- an inter-state dialogue using steel and electronics. Not the real war but ideas about war and the perceptions of capabilities, exercises and weapons deployments constitute the frame of reference. What interests them is the possible: the sign, the perception of reality has become more "real" than reality itself. On the one hand there are the geopolitical circumstances of the Northern seas; on the other the relative autonomous sphere of perceptions, the body language of states. These elements form thetwo legs of this dissertation: Sea and Sign.

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