Norwegian Security Policy after the Cold WarDespite widespread diplomatic discussion, and sentiment that the UN SecurityCouncil must be expanded in order to maintain its long-term legitimacy, nogenerally acceptable formula for expansion has emerged. Concerns for obtainingor retaining voting power, and for preserving a body structured so as to be ableto take prompt and effective decisions, have prevented agreement.
This articlereviews various criteria for evaluating restructuring proposals, and suggests aformula that, while not fundamentally affecting the distribution of power on theCouncil, might satisfy many states’ minimal requirements for an acceptablepackage of changes. The end of the Cold War between East and West has strengthened Norwegiansecurity, which makes Norway no different from most other European countries. There are now more dimensions to security policy than there were when theoverriding aim was deterrence by means of one’s own and allied military forces. Cold War perceptions of military threat no longer exist.
In Norway’s particularcase, however, it is possible to talk about a remaining strategic threat, whenreferring to Russian deployments in the far north. Such a threat is only apotential one and is not imminent today. Yet it has to be acknowledged that warsbetween nations and ethnic groups have hardly been abolished. As a result, ithas become more difficult to identify the risk of armed aggression directedagainst Norway The risk would seem to reside in the escalation of a whole seriesof completely different political developments. For example, these eventualitiescould take the form of the emergence of a nationalistic dictatorship, or thedevelopment of ungovernable political chaos in formerly communist countries. Because of the existence of some very large arsenals and supplies of militaryequipment, it is important to judge the political aims of potential opponents.
These can change over time, not least if they represent irrational andaggressive attitudes. The nuclear weapons of the great powers do not seem tohave any deterrent effect on “violent ethnic cleansing”, and the emergence ofarmed conflicts in different areas can be difficult to predict. But a country’s security can also be subject to something that has become moretopical after the Cold War: low level threats. These are related to some verydifferent types of irregular national border transgressions, for exampleinternational crime and various forms of pollution. The Cold War’s dominating concept, security by means of deterrence, iscomplemented by the concept of collective security.
This harmonises well withthe traditional Norwegian approach to security policy of combining deterrencewith reassurance. The potential enemy is also a partner. A small country has noless a need for allies, but for different purposes. Following the result of the Norwegian referendum in the autumn of 1994, whichrejected EU membership, the current status of Norwegian security policy can besummarised as follows:* We are a member of NATO* an associated member of the WEU, and* our Nordic neighbours are members of the EU. FoundationsFor most of the period following the Second World War, Norway sought nationalsecurity through membership of NATO.
Up until 1940 the key word was neutrality,a neutrality that was well disposed towards the British. During the Second WorldWar Norway was occupied, whilst the legal government sought exile in London. Norway took part in an “overseas front” on the side of the Allies. An importantNorwegian contribution to the war effort was the achievement of its largemerchant fleet. Strategic valueA basic premise of Norwegian security policy is the perception of the assumedmilitary and strategic value of Norwegian territory for the combatants in agreat power conflict.
The absence of any political conflict with Norway is theprecondition for such an offensive. War between the Nordic countries is nowlooked upon as totally unimaginable and is therefore excluded from all practicalplanning. The Nordic countries together make up a “security community”. Norway was not involved in the First World War because it was mainly limited tothe European continent. It was a land war during which Norway was protected bythe British fleet at the same time as the German fleet was mainly held to itsown naval bases.
Norway was drawn into the Second World War as the result of a strategic Germaninvasion undertaken as part of its war against England. This war was fought on amuch wider geographic scale and also developed into a war at sea. Norway, withits long coastline, became a theatre of war. Furthermore, Norwegian territorywas used as one of several launching points for Germany’s war against the SovietUnion. It was the Soviet Union which later liberated parts of Eastern Finnmarkfrom the retreating German forces.
During the Cold War the military value of Norwegian territory increased. Thereason for this was the build-up of large sea, air, and to a lesser extent,land-based military capacity in the Soviet North-West. Norway was regarded asthe place where NATO could lose a Third World War should the Soviet Union freelybe able to use Norwegian ports and airfields as part of the struggle to gainmilitary control over the Atlantic. Not aloneAnother fundamental premise of Norwegian security policy is the perception thatNorway, by herself, will never be able to effectively repel a great power attackor prevent a serious great power attempt to occupy the country.
In need of assistanceConsequently, the third fundamental premise of Norwegian security policy is thatthe country is in need of military assistance from countries interested inpreventing an occupation of Norway. Since 1949 Norway secured such assistance bymeans of her membership in NATO. The Second World War demonstrated that Alliedhelp has to be agreed upon and preparations for it made in peacetime, if it isto be effective. The NATO alliance has fulfilled this need. But even during the Cold War, Norwegian security was not assumed to be sovulnerable as to necessitate the deployment of foreign, allied troops onNorwegian territory.
The political and military cooperation in NATO was assumedto form an adequate basis for deterring any peacetime attack. It also providedthe basis for Norwegian base policy which was formulated in response to a Sovietapproach before Norway became a NATO member. The government decided that Norwayshould not open bases for the armed forces of foreign countries unless thecountry was under attack or under threat of attack. For Norway, it became animportant diplomatic instrument to be able to warn that, should there occurSoviet diplomatic or military coercion which might be interpreted as a threat oran attack, the Government could retaliate by enlisting the allied armed forces. Norwegian security policy became a tightrope-walk between deterrence andreassurance. Deterrence was to make it clear that it would be too dangerous toattack Norway, because the military power of the alliance could be deployedagainst Soviet territory.
Reassurance might serve to show the Soviet Union thatNorwegian policy stood firm as long as the country was not provoked. In this way Norway has been able to conduct a stable and effective low-tensionpolicy based on predictability. The threat is removedThe end of the Cold War has also removed the threat of a Third World War. It hasaltered the perception of threat for all countries.
On this point Norway is noexception. Furthermore, it is official Norwegian policy to state that thecountry is not exposed to any threat of military attack. Norwegian authorities do talk, however, of a transition from strategic topolitical risk. It is said that one is faced with a dilemma where the mostdangerous risks are regarded as the most unlikely – but where those which affectNorway more indirectly, carry a much greater degree of probability.
Behavioural normsNorwegian security is dependent on international peace, stability and security. Because of modern communications, geographic distance no longer affordsprotection. A first line of defence consists of all actors in the internationalarena – whether states or organisations – respecting those norms of politicalbehaviour which promote peace and toleration. But as the security policychallenge is also inherent in domestic political developments, it is importantthat political chaos and conflict do not emerge. An important perception, whichNorwegian authorities share, is that democratic progress in states which earlierwere non-democratic is conducive to peace and stability. The preconditions fordemocracy are the sharing of power and a certain degree of economicprivatisation.
The conflicts in the former Soviet Union and the formerYugoslavia, which demonstrate an inclination towards violent ethnic cleansing,have been the focus of considerable attention. Norway, in common with other countries, recognises two important principles. Thefirst is that national borders cannot be violated and can therefore only bechanged by peaceful means. The second is that human rights must be respected. Norway is also an adherent of the principle that European security isincompatible with claims for ethnically clean states.
RussiaDevelopments in Russia represent nonetheless the most vital challenge forNorwegian Foreign and Security Policy. Norway cannot exclude the possibility ofa serious setback in Russian politics. In consequence of this, efforts to drawRussia more closely towards the democratic cooperation in Western European havebeen declared to be of vital interest for Norway. Regional predecessors of thisare the Barents Cooperation, established in 1993 and the Baltic Sea Councilwhich was set up in 1992. Big brotherIn the opinion of the Norwegian government, it would have been easier tointegrate Russia had Norway chosen to become a member of the EU along withSweden, Finland and Denmark.
It is more of a problem to be left alone with theRussians in the far North. A small state does not feel safe as the isolatedneighbour of a superpower. In order to prevent the development of a “Big Brothercomplex”, Norway is interested in not being regarded as an isolated country butas part of a larger community. For this reason non-Nordic countries are alsowelcome in regional cooperation. The establishment of the cooperative bodies in the Barents Region can be lookedupon as Norway’s most important single contribution to European East-Westpolitics since the end of the Cold War.
Norway is also interested in furtherpromoting Arctic cooperation by setting up a separate cooperating council whichwill be open for all countries with Arctic frontiers. Military powerIt is also of importance that Russia, with its Soviet inheritance, is Europe’slargest military power in both nuclear as well as conventional terms, and thatthe political changes in the wake of the Cold War have resulted in aproportionally larger share of Russian arms being deployed in areas bordering onNorwegian territory. North-western Russia has become the most important base forRussian naval forces, including the naval component of the balance of terror. The withdrawal of Russian forces from Central Europe and the former Sovietrepublics has led to an increase of forces in areas close to Norway. Even if Norway accepts that European peace and security have been strengthenedafter the Cold War, the country is keen to ensure that it does not becomemarginalised in Allied security policy as a result of the Alliance partnersneglecting the military situation in the Far North. On a purely military level,the Russian forces there do not represent the same kind of threat as Sovietforces did earlier, when they were linked to an offensive military capacity inCentral Europe.
This is because the Soviet forces have now been brought backhome. There now exists a more advantageous security policy situation,benefitting Norway as well. However, even though these far northern forces arenot perceived as representing a direct threat against Western Europe, certainworries are nevertheless expressed by Norwegian politicians regarding theemergence of different ideas concerning shared security. This is one of thereasons why Norway takes part in the formation of special NATO emergency forces. The intention is to make a contribution to solidarity abroad in order tomaintain security at home.
DisarmamentNorway is deeply interested in already existing disarmament agreements beingrespected, that disarmament continues to take place and it is extended to newareas. Norway does not want the CFE-agreement to be renegotiated at too early a stage. The country is following with great interest the implementation of the START-IIagreement which reduces the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and the USArespectively to 3000 and 3500 by the year 2003. Furthermore, Novalja Semlja is Russia’s only nuclear testing ground. Norway isworking for a complete test ban. The country is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is engaged in international efforts to prevent theemergence of new nuclear powers.
Norway holds a prominent position in the campaign to abolish chemical weapons. PollutionMilitary based pollution in north-western Russia represents a particular problem. It is caused by obsolescence, dumping at sea and by overflowing stockpiles onland. Norway has worked towards involving the USA in the disarmament relatedpollution problems of North-western Russia, and has been allocated some of thefunds in a programme started by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. A considerable pollution threat, albeit a non-military one, is represented bythe nuclear power plants and other industrial instal-lations in the area, suchas the nickel smelters there.
Pollution in Norway emanating from Russia is moreextensive than total pollution from Norwegian sources. CooperationPut simply, Norway would like to see as much international cooperation aspossible in order to solve her security problems in as wide a context aspossible. USAIt is the Norwegian view that transatlantic relations with the USA are in aclass of their own. During the Cold War, no other country was able to play suchan important role for Norwegian security as the USA. There is still a widely-held belief that nobody can replace the American commitment, within the NATOframework, to ensure Norwegian security.
No other country can rival the USA’s position as the leading proponent ofdisarmament, where both nuclear and conventional arms are concerned. Within NATO, Norway has entered into a number of special agreements with the USA,such as pre-positioning of weapons and materiel for the marines and air force(COB), as well as other forms of explicit military cooperation. Norway hashelped limit the scope of cutbacks affecting such measures, thanks to DefenceMinister Kosmo’s effective diplomacy. But Norway has also other agreements withother NATO countries which ensure allied support, for example the agreement withthe German-American unit NCF (NATO Composite Force).
StrategyNorway supports NATO’s new strategy and forces concept enabling it to meetunforeseen challenges threatening member countries of the alliance. Norway has put an IRF battalion, an air squadron and a frigate at the disposalof NATO for immediate emergency deployment. In the meantime, two aspects have changed. During the Cold War, the greater strategic significance of Norwegian territorywas so considerable it was reckoned that alliance partners would quickly come tothe assistance of the country in an emergency.
The threat against Norway was then so great that Norwegian forces had but onetask – the defence of Norwegian territory. Now, by virtue of her participation in the IRF, Norway has proclaimed herwillingness to deploy military forces, in an allied context, outside ofNorwegian territory. Moreover, this can be seen as the expression of Norway’snew resolve to demonstrate solidarity with her allied partners abroad, in orderto strengthen security cooperation with the same partners on home territory. TransatlanticFrom a Norwegian viewpoint, every transatlantic debate in NATO has been fraughtwith a certain anxiety lest the European and the American members of thealliance should develop such disagreements that Norway would have to choosesides. Important strategic considerations link Norway to the USA in a specialway. However, Norway is part of Europe geographically, historically,commercially and in other vital areas.
American policy represents two challenges. The first is demilitarisation andwithdrawal from Europe. The second is the call to Western European countries toassume greater responsibility for their own security. Both challenges have a bearing on how Western European NATO members organisethemselves. It is of central importance in this connection that the WesternEuropean Union (WEU) has been chosen as NATO’s European pillar. Norway is anassociated member of WEU.
At the same time WEU has been named the defence arm of the European Union (EU). Full membership of WEU is only open to states who are EU members. Again, it isonly EU member countries who can take part in EU’s joint foreign and securitypolicy (FUSP), which gives security policy a much broader basis than the purelymilitary. Thus the Norwegian EU question is explicitly linked to foreign policyconsiderations.
Norway had since the Spring of 1994 an accession treaty for EU membership, whichwas defended not least from a security policy standpoint. But in the referendumof November 28th 1994 a majority of the Norwegian people voted againstmembership. NordicForeign and security policy cooperation between Nordic countries has developedrapidly following the Cold War era when Swedish and Finnish neutrality gave risequestions of credibility. Governments looked upon such cooperation as a steptowards anticipated EU-membership for all Nordic countries (Iceland excepted).
There are, however, no indications of a Norwegian willingness to establish anyform of isolated Nordic defence cooperation. The idea of a Scandinavian defenceunion was tried and rejected in 1948/49. Norway wants to remain in NATO, and asan associated member of WEU at the very least. But following the Norwegian people’s rejection of the EU, there is a greaterrequirement to stimulate more comprehensive Nordic cooperation.
Norway is a partof the European Economic Area (EEA), and as such is a sort of economic member ofthe EU, but without regular voting rights. Rejection of EU-membership does notmean the rejection of other types of cooperation. Also on grounds of securitypolicy the Norwegian Government considers it important to fully exploit the EEAagreement’s regulations and semi-annual consultations. FNNorway’s support of the UN as the guarantor of international peace and securityis dependent on superpower cooperation not being paralysed by veto.
Norway has along tradition of taking part in UN peacekeeping operations. More than 1 percent of Norway’s entire population has served on UN assignments. This isprobably a UN record. After the Cold War the UN has regained much of its original strength. Norway hasextended her UN involvement by increasing the number of officers and troops onUN alert to 2000. Norway also supports the thinking behind a greater role forthe UN by strengthening the UN’s apparatus for crisis management and operationalleadership.
Norway supports the new concept: keeping the peace, which in certaincases means a willingness to take up arms in order to restore peace.