Small State Security Postures: Material Compensation and Normative Leadership in Denmark and New Zealand

Contemporary Security Policy

Author/s (editor/s):

William T. Tow, Russell Parkin

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Taylor & Francis

Published in Contemporary Security Policy, 28(2) 2007: 308-29.

Nearly two decades after the Cold War, debate is intensifying among American policy planners and independent commentators over what constitutes a ‘good ally’. Largely absent from this discussion, however, is what international security role may be played by ‘small’ states with industrialised economies and Western values. There is a failure to recognise or appropriately value the importance of the contribution that small states can make in great power politics. This analysis evaluates the relative importance of small allies to American interests and strategies, and the benefits and constraints on such cooperative relationships. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ small state ally or ‘typical’ security policy or US relationship. Denmark and New Zealand illustrate a useful range of relationships and policies. Contemporary American security politics are visibly influenced by small states that project intellectual leadership. While this premise is not always applicable to the shaping of American strategic postures, it is sufficiently important to assess how small-state security behaviour can play an important role.

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