Keep them strong, keep them friendly : Swedish-American relations and the Pax Americana, 1948-1952

Abstract: This is a study of Swedish-American relations between 1948 and 1952, a period of exceptional flux and complexity in international politics. In this era of recovery and integration in Western Europe, the United States became profoundly engaged in European political, economic, and military affairs. Swedish-American relations are examined in the context of this deepening transatlantic intercourse, using a thematic framework suggested by Cold War historiography. Three central agendas of the postwar Western system--points of extensive contact between the US and W. European governments--are used to map out the Swedish-American interaction. They are first stabilization and productivity, secondly liberalization and integration, and thirdly military rearmament and security. This study argues that a fundamental shift in Swedish-American relations occurred in each issue area between 1948 and 1952.The transformation is described as a layered, gradual process heavily reliant on informal agreements. The pattern of change that emerges--which can empirically be traced from a stage of initial conflict through negotiation to ultimately rapprochement--is relevant for each thematic area. This study explains the mechanism of change in terms of underlying dilemmas confronting both governments. For Sweden’s Social Democratic leadership, the chief postwar dilemma was maintaining fragile domestic consensus around foreign and economic policy, in the face of a cogent challenge from influential critics. For decisionmakers in Washington, the basic dilemma was finding a means to incorporate Sweden into wider American strategy in W. Europe, especially in light of the growing commercial and military significance attached to Sweden. The thesis of this study is that the resolution of the two basic dilemmas paved the way for a rapprochement in Swedish-American relations.