Iceland and Its Alliances: Security for a Small State

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This study provides a long overdue examination of a critical sector of the international politics of one of the world’s most politically and economically advanced states. It also provides a model or basis of comparison for other small states on how they might shape their own security policies in the larger world. Among the distinctive features of this work is a discussion of the development of an indigenous vocabulary, with words based on Icelandic saga literature, by which the most complex issues of superpower security affairs could be discussed in a national debate. A key point examined is the growth of an indigenous security expertise. The creation of a parliamentary commission and its output led to a dialectic with the Foreign Ministry that produced an informed debate on security issues in a country of about only a quarter million people. This dialectic suggests a model for development of policy making expertise by other small states.


“Michael Corgan has spent many years studying and visiting Iceland, and his history of Iceland’s relations with the West in the post-war era shows his deep knowledge of that nation and its politics. The volume is a thorough examination of Iceland’s role in NATO, and for any student or scholar of the history of NATO’s northern tier, it is an indispensable volume…. Creates a narrative that explains not only Iceland’s role in the West, but the West’s influence and role in Iceland…For students of Scandinavian security, historians of NATO, and interested readers, however, Iceland and Its Alliances would be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. It is accessibly written, and appropriate for classroom use at both undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as a resource for interested scholars.” – Diplomacy & Statecraft

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Foreword
Brief Chronology of Icelandic History
1. Historical and Cultural Factors in Icelandic Security Policy
2. Iceland’s Integration into the Western Defense Community
3. Adjustment to the Defense Force
4. Language and Security Affairs
5. Government Organization for Security
6. Political Parties in the 1980s
7. Icelandic Politics and Security Policy: 1979-1986
8. Public Opinion and Elite Attitudes on Security, 1979-1986
9. Icelandic Security Policy: Present and Future
10. Small State Security Policy Making
Appendices: Old Pact; Act of Union between Iceland and Denmark 1918; Defense Agreement; Elite Attitudes Survey Questions; Iceland Affiliations; Biographical Notes
Bibliography; Index

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