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Security in a Small Nation

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Andrew W. Neal

2. Do Small States Need ‘Alliance Shelter’? Scotland and the Nordic Nations

Baldur Thorhallsson et Alyson J. K. Bailes

Résumé

The aim of this chapter is to examine how Scotland as a potential independent state would prosper based on the existing small state literature and lessons of the Nordic states. The chapter argues that, as any other small entity, Scotland, as an independent small state, would need external shelter in multiple dimensions. We have found that four entities—NATO, the EU, the remnant UK, and the US — are best suited to meeting Scotland’s needs for economic, societal, and political shelter including hard and soft security. However, these solutions would incur costs different from, and not necessarily lesser than, those carried by Scotland within the present union. An independent Scotland would have to weigh the cost/benefit balance of full shelter provided by these four entities and consider important opt-outs secured by the Nordic states. The Nordic states themselves cannot provide an alternative for any key dimension of shelter but the lessons of varied Nordic experience, and softer kinds of shelter to be found within Nordic cooperation, could provide valuable lubrication for the transitional process and a supportive pillar for Scotland’s accommodation to independent existence in the world.

Texte intégral

We are grateful to Sverrir Steinsson for his exceptional research assistance and comments. The chapter draws extensively on Alyson J. K. Bailes, Baldur Thorhallsson, and Rachael Lorna Johnstone, ‘Scotland as an Independent Small State: Where Would It Seek Shelter?’, Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration, 9, 1 (2013), 1–20; Alyson J. K. Bailes, ‘Small States and Security: Does Size Still Matter?’, in Small States in the Modern World: Vulnerabilities and Opportunities, ed. by H. Baldersheim and M. Keating (Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 2015), pp. 23–41.

  • 2 Jo E. Murkens, Scotland’s Place in Europe (London: Constitution Unit, University College London, 20 (...)
  • 3 E.g. P. Hanlon and F. U. Karki, ‘Health, Culture and Society: A Scottish-Nordic Conversation’, in R (...)
  • 4 A. Salmond, ‘Scotland’ s Place in the World. Hugo Young Memorial Lecture’, London, 25 January 2012, (...)
  • 5 E.g. Michael Keating, ‘The Political Economy of Self-Determination’, in Radical Scotland: Arguments (...)

1How do small states survive and prosper in the international system? This is a debate that resurfaced with the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. For some, an independent Scotland would be too small to remain viable as a prosperous state. Others argued that an independent Scotland could be prosperous but that it would need to stay in, or join, the EU.2 Nordic models and experiences were frequently mentioned in this debate3 and used to demonstrate that small societies can be prosperous on their own.4 However, with important exceptions,5 the discourse on Scotland’s smallness has not yet received much attention in the small-state literature. This chapter seeks to draw lessons from the academic research on small states, and particularly research on the Nordic states, which may be applied to an independent Scotland. How Scotland compares with the Nordics in some key indicators is shown in Table 1.

2Based on the existing literature and the lessons from the Nordic states, we argue that Scotland as an independent small state would need external shelter in multiple dimensions. We identify four entities — NATO, the EU, the US, and rUK — that seem most suited to meeting Scotland’s needs for economic, societal, and political shelter. However, these solutions would incur costs different from, and not necessarily lesser than, those carried by the Scottish people within their present union. Costs associated with memberships (or full shelter in the terminology of the literature) of the EU and NATO have led to important opt-outs by the Nordic states, and an independent Scotland would have to weigh the cost/benefit balance no less carefully. Here we shall look at the main shelter options and their likely price tags, while also asking what the Nordic nations themselves might be able to offer.

Table 1. Scotland and Nordic nations: comparison of key ‘size’ variables6

Table 1. Scotland and Nordic nations: comparison of key ‘size’ variables6

Alliance shelter theory

  • 7 G. Liska, Nations in Alliance: The Limits of Interdependance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University P (...)
  • 8 R. O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: P (...)
  • 9 Carsten Holbraad, ‘The Role of Middle Powers’, Cooperation and Conflict, 6, 2 (1971), 77–90; B. de (...)

3Generally, the International Relations (IR) literature argues that small states need a protecting power. Realists, with their emphasis on ‘hard’ power competition, usually find that small states survive by relying on the mercy of powerful states or by joining military alliances. A small state can either align itself with the most powerful state in its environment (bandwagoning) or join coalitions against that state (balancing).7 Liberal international relations scholars, who emphasise cooperation especially in economic affairs, likewise argue that small states depend on a larger power. They need access to large markets, and must find ways to constrain more powerful states peacefully. Small states consequently cherish regional and international organisations as means for restraining powerful states through norms and rules, while promoting peace and trade.8 Constructivist scholars have also emphasised small states’ need for social status, which implies recognition by great powers.9 There is not much disagreement among IR scholars about small states’ dependence on large states, international organisations and international norms for their survival and prosperity.

  • 10 Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Domestic Buffer Versus External Shelter: Viability of Small States in the New (...)

4Building on these insights, we propose a framework that takes account of the different dimensions of small states’ vulnerabilities, and the different solutions available for small states seeking to alleviate them. We may initially conceptualise these vulnerabilities as being political, economic, and societal.10

    • 11 Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘The Size of States in the European Union: Theoretical and Conceptual Perspect (...)

    Political Shelter. The framework divides political shelter into three distinct categories. First, the most obvious way in which small states are vulnerable is in their lack of hard power. With smaller populations, less absolute wealth and less territory, small states lack the self-sufficiency, resources and strategic depth needed to defend themselves, including the maintenance of adequate armed forces. Second, small states are also vulnerable when it comes to diplomatic power. With a smaller base for taxation, small states lack administrative capacity.11 A smaller civil service makes it harder for small states to run their societies effectively, and a smaller diplomatic corps makes it more difficult for them to engage in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. Third, small states can be sheltered by the norms and rules of the international system. To summarise, small states consequently depend on larger states or organisations for both military and diplomatic backing. International organisations have particular benefits in reducing inequality between states, providing information and cutting the transaction costs of diplomacy.

    • 12 Handel (1981); P. J. Katzenstein, Corporatism and Change: Austria, Switzerland, and the Politics of (...)
    • 13 A. Alesina and E. Spolaore, The Size of Nations (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003).

    Economic Shelter. Small domestic markets and concentrated production make small states acutely dependent on international trade. With relatively few, or no, natural resources and without the economies of scale to produce a wide range of goods, small states rely on importing vital goods and exporting the few products in which they have comparative advantages. This external dependence also means that small state economies fluctuate more than larger economies, as prices for commodities rise and fall, and international economic crises hit them harder than many other states.12 Small states consequently depend on open trading relationships with larger economies, and promote free trade and economic integration for the goods and services in which they have comparative advantage.13 In this setting, economic shelter may come from a state and/or an organisation in the form of direct economic assistance and investment, a currency union, beneficial loans, favourable market access, a common market and so forth.

    • 14 S. Rokkan, D. W. Urwin, and European Consortium for Political Research, Economy, Territory, Identit (...)
    • 15 Ted Hopf, ‘The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory’, International Security(...)
    • 16 de Carvalho and Neumann (2014).

    Societal Shelter. Innovation and ideas are usually associated with large populations and free exchanges. Small states risk cultural, educational and technological stagnation without the free flow of people, goods and ideas.14 Isolation prevents states, especially when small, from keeping pace with development and adopting best practices. Individuals from small states also cherish the ability to tap into broader cultural and ideological currents. Small states, like any others, are not solely concerned with material well-being but seek ontological security for their sense of self and identity; they rely especially on predictability and order to ensure this.15 They want to feel good about their position in the world and have their standing recognised by others.16

  • 17 D. Vital, The Inequality of States: A Study of the Small Power in International Relations (Oxford: (...)
  • 18 Alyson J. K. Bailes and Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Instrumentalizing the European Union in Small State S (...)

5We may consequently expect that small states will seek economic, political and societal shelter, and that their prosperity will be strongly linked to the nature and depth of shelter they can find. Such shelter does not, of course, come without costs. Shelter providers may impose conditions on smaller states in exchange for the shelter, reducing the small partner’s freedom of manoeuvre and choice.17 The need to align with undesirable large states or organisations may be costly in normative terms, as the minor partner ends by acting in ways inconsistent with its national identity and preferred image. Participation in regional and international organisations may also stretch the administrative resources of small states.18 Nonetheless, there is plenty of important and inexpensive shelter available for small states — at least in Europe.

Nordic states’shelter

6The five Nordic states all have populations smaller than 10 million (see Table 1), and similar political (democratic), social (welfare-oriented, egalitarian) and cultural (secular, open and liberal) systems. Historically violent, the Nordics have built a new image as a non-aggressive, high-minded family of states whose troops go abroad only for peace missions. Despite many similarities between them, the Nordic states have opted for different forms of shelter, as shown in Table 2. Economic shelter is typically found in European integration, but the level of participation differs between the Nordic states. Political shelter is found in NATO and the European project, the former providing ‘hard’ and the latter ‘soft’ security. Also, the US offers the Nordic nations political cover directly or indirectly. Societal shelter is mainly sought via Nordic cooperation.

Table 2. Present economic, political, societal and security shelter of the Nordic nations and Scotland

Table 2. Present economic, political, societal and security shelter of the Nordic nations and Scotland

a Nordic Cooperation.
b Danish krone (DKK) pegged to the euro.
c European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association.
d West Nordic Cooperation.
e Denmark.

Shelter in NATO and the US

  • 19 G. Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945: From ‘Empire’ by Invitation to Trans (...)

7Unable to deter or defeat Russian threats with their own small forces, the Nordics after World War Two had to balance the logic of seeking big-power protection against that of avoiding provocation and distancing themselves from the military actuality of confrontation between East and West. Finland continued as a buffer state, opting for neutrality and friendly relations with both East and West. Plans for a four-member Scandinavian Defence Union containing Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland fell apart over differences between Norway and Sweden over NATO guarantees.19 These four states then jumped different ways in 1949: Iceland, Norway and Denmark becoming founding members of NATO, and Sweden settling for neutral status — as shown in Table 2. The choices of the four states reflected their threat perceptions and history. As one simplified explanation suggests, neutrality had failed in World War Two for the three prospective NATO members whereas the Swedish policy of neutrality had paid off.

  • 20 Lundestad (2003), p. 57.
  • 21 Valur Ingimundarson, The Rebellious Ally: Iceland, the United States, and the Politics of Empire 19 (...)
  • 22 Ingimundarson (2011).

8NATO membership was, however, not without controversy for these formerly neutral states. Norway and Denmark insisted on no stationing of foreign troops or nuclear objects on their soils during peacetime, with the exception of Greenland.20 Iceland entered into a basing agreement with the US in 1951 after painful internal debates, driven by the growing perception of global instability in the wake of the Korean War, its own lack of armed forces, and fears that NATO membership alone was not a sufficient deterrent to Soviet aggression or a Socialist coup.21 Iceland’s NATO membership and the US basing agreement would remain highly divisive issues in Icelandic politics until the late 1970s.22

9With the end of the Cold War, the strategic salience of all parts of Europe for US planners began to wane, but as Russian forces evacuated former Warsaw Pact territories and NATO expanded, the remaining concentration of Russia’s strength along its Northern coastlines actually increased the relative importance of Nordic stability. Since 2008–2009, strategic interest has been attracted back to the area by speculations on the opening up of the Arctic,23 as well as the evidence of Russian aggression in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014). Under its new Strategic Concept of 2010,24 NATO has offered Nordic and Baltic member states enhanced contingency planning for possible attacks, and in 2014 — in reaction to Ukrainian events — both Sweden and Finland signed up for closer territorial defence cooperation with NATO.25

  • 26 M. Strömvik, ‘Starting to “Think Big”: The Nordic Countries and EU Peace-Building’, in The Nordic C (...)

10For the two most easterly, non-allied Nordics, the indirect and informal nature of Western strategic cover after 1949 made other potential shelters more interesting. After joining the EU in 1995, Finland and Sweden played an influential role in the development of the Union’s military arm, now the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).26 While keen to avoid the EU’s competing with NATO or provoking Russia, they valued whatever ‘soft’ protection might come from equal involvement in a militarily active European family. Both embraced the new language in the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon (entering into force on 1 December 2009) committing EU members — albeit with strictly limited practical effect — to help each other in case of military attack, regardless of alliance status.

  • 27 Nordic Ministers, ‘Declaration of Solidarity’ (2011), http://www.utanrikisraduneyti.is/media/nordur (...)
  • 28 H. Ojanen, ‘Nordic Defence Cooperation — Inspiration for the EU or a Lesson in Matching Expectation (...)
  • 29 Government of Sweden, ‘International Defence Cooperation: Efficiency, Solidarity, Sovereignty’ (201 (...)

11If Nordics must sacrifice their precious sovereignty and free choice in defence, they will do so for partners who really can protect them, not for each other. Thus, when in 2011 they adopted a mutual ‘solidarity’ declaration,27 it explicitly excluded cases of warlike attack. Aside from the sphere of peacekeeping, Nordic regional defence cooperation has been a relatively late-blooming flower, currently coordinated through the framework of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO).28 Reactions to the Russia-Ukraine crisis have spurred new talk of, notably, a Finnish-Swedish axis; but a Swedish independent policy review in 2014 (the Bertelman Report) warned that no degree of cooperation, with anyone, can release Sweden from the quandary caused by its own defence cuts.29 At best, intra-Nordic defence work can be seen as embroidery upon the still overwhelmingly trans-Atlantic nature of the region’s ‘hard’ shelter umbrella.

Shelter in the EU

12Through European integration, the Nordic states find numerous types of shelter, primarily economic. They also enjoy considerable political cover (soft security shelter) from membership of Schengen and enormous societal shelter, for example from the EU’s research and development projects (see Table 2). In 1973 Denmark became the first Nordic state to join the EU, with Sweden and Finland ultimately joining after the end of the Cold War. From 1994, Iceland and Norway have been members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and thus of the EU’s Single Market, deeming it sufficient economic shelter for the time being. They have all taken part in Schengen from the beginning and cooperate with the agencies EUROPOL and EUROJUST.

13At the same time, Nordic relations with the EU have been diverse and often idiosyncratic. Collectively the Nordics are relative newcomers to the European project. Absent at the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Nordic states opted for limited trade partnerships with the EU, such as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In 1994, Norway negotiated terms for entry for the second time but its people voted No again. Iceland applied for membership in 2009 following its economic crash, but froze the application in 2013. Since spring 2015 its government no longer considers Iceland an applicant state — though it has not formally withdrawn the membership application. Greenland is the only entity to have left the EU, by a referendum in 1985 after it had been obliged to join with Denmark. Britain is on course to follow Greenland in the next few years. The Faroe Islands, another autonomous Danish territory, were allowed their own choice at the time of Danish entry and opted not to join, entering into a sui generis relationship with Brussels. The three Nordic members of the Union each have a distinct status, with only Finland participating fully in all EU policies including Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In 2003 Sweden’s people voted against participating in the Eurozone. Denmark gained four opt-outs in 1993 at the time of ratifying the Maastricht Treaty: from EMU, EU defence, European citizenship, and justice and home affairs.

  • 30 Ingebritsen (1998); Baldur Thorhallsson, Iceland and European Integration: On the Edge (London: Rou (...)
  • 31 Ingebritsen (1998).
  • 32 [N.a.], ‘Finland and Europe: In and Happy’, Economist, 9 October 1997, http://www.economist.com/nod (...)

14The choice of economic shelter for the Nordic states consequently varies, reflecting not only national levels of Euroscepticism but also objective features of their economic structure. All Nordic states are similar in having lofty economic and welfare standards combined with relatively large state sectors, requiring the private sector to produce high added value. Norway, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, however, profit mostly from natural resources (fish, oil, gas, other power sources and tourism); and this, as well as political culture and geography, may help explain why they have not seen strong enough protective benefits in the EU to be willing to cede sovereignty.30 For Sweden and Denmark with their more continental orientation and greater agricultural and industrial exports, the appeal of the EU market has been stronger.31 Finland’s motives for EU entry and its commitment to EMU are the most clearly security-related: the EU helped to compensate for the collapse of former Soviet trade, and sealed the Western character of the Finnish land and people.32 Just as with defence, however, some of these national solutions appear more easily sustainable than others. While Norway hardly wavered with the economic crash of 2008, Iceland suffered abject failure in the attempt to diversify its narrow economic base by building up banking services — a classic small-state ploy. Another volatile industry, tourism, has now ‘replaced’ the financial sector as a ‘saviour’ from the reliance on fisheries and energy supplies to the aluminium industry.

Shelter in Nordic cooperation

15Despite never achieving (or perhaps wanting) full regional integration, the Nordics have nevertheless supplied each other with significant elements of shelter: most obviously societal (see Table 2), but also supplementing the primary economic, diplomatic and soft security shelter derived from the EU, NATO and the US. Nordic cooperation is formalised in the Nordic Council, a parliamentary cooperation body supplemented since 1971 by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM). These institutions deal with a wide range of issues such as culture, media, the economy, business, working life, education, research, environment, legislation, justice, welfare, and gender equality, and have more recently expanded their coverage to at least the ‘softer’ security fields.

16Achievements of Nordic cooperation include the Nordic Passport Union, established by four of the nations in 1958 (Iceland joined in 1965), which waives the obligation for citizens of the Nordic States to travel with passports between Nordic states.33 The Nordic Convention on Social Assistance and Social Services and the Nordic Convention on Social Security allow migrant Nordic citizens to claim social security on the same basis as the nationals of the state in which they live.34 The common Nordic labour market, first agreed to in 1954 (agreement renewed in 1982), reflects a ‘fundamental right for nationals of the Nordic countries to be able freely to take up employment and settle in another Nordic country’.35

  • 36 Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Statistical Yearbook 2014 (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Minist (...)

17Intra-Nordic trade is extensive: 19% of Nordic exports go to other Nordic countries and 22% of Nordic imports come from other Nordic countries. Greenland (86.6%), Faroe Islands (62.6%) and Iceland (27.9%) import the most from other Nordic states whereas Greenland (93.7%), Sweden (24.7%) and Denmark (23.0%) export the most to their co-Nordics.36

  • 37 Katie Verlin Laatikainen, ‘Norden’s Eclipse the Impact of the European Union’s Common Foreign and S (...)
  • 38 Alyson J. K. Bailes and C. Sandö, Nordic Cooperation on Civil Security: The Haga Process 2009–14, O (...)
  • 39 Diana Panke, ‘Small States in the European Union: Structural Disadvantages in EU Policy-Making and (...)

18Nordic states have a reputation for diplomatic cooperation in international bodies. Nowhere is this plainer than in the United Nations, where the Nordic states overcome their small size by taking joint positions and initiatives, and supporting each other in bids for elections of non-permanent Security Council members. This Nordic unity has survived Finland’s and Sweden’s EU entry which also commits them to EU group efforts at the UN.37 Nordic cooperation also results in more influence in bargaining within the EU. Since the 1990s the Nordic Heads of Government have pre-consulted before major EU meetings, either streamlining their views or finding non-damaging ways to agree to differ. The Nordics have concocted joint inputs to high-profile EU policies, such as the Nordic Battle Group (though excluding Denmark) for EU military missions, and more recently, a proposed joint rescue module for civil emergencies.38 According to Panke, the Nordic states can, through such systematic cooperation, ‘increase their collective bargaining leverage and shape EU policies more effectively than through unilateral action’.39

  • 40 Bailes and Sandö (2014).
  • 41 Ibid.

19The Nordic states have cooperated among themselves in ‘soft’ security since the 1950s, notably through networks of police and rescue organisations. In 2009 a programme to boost mutual learning and collaboration when dealing with civil emergencies was launched as the ‘Haga process’. The Haga system has by now reviewed many specific issues and operational areas, albeit with sparse visible results.40 Its latest studies, notably on host nation support for cross-border civil operations, have highlighted the considerable variations in national structures and laws regarding non-military security. Cultural differences over central-local burden-sharing, over how far to trust the military, and over public-private relations, further complicate the picture. Haga’s limitations are, however, to some extent compensated by other advances being made e.g. in Nordic cyber-security cooperation and cooperative research into societal security.41

Scottish shelter options

20As seen in Table 3, four entities — NATO, the EU, the US, and the rUK itself — appear best suited to meeting Scotland’s needs for economic, societal, and political shelter (including hard and soft security). In its given, north-west European and ‘strong state’ context, Scotland’s independence — should it ever happen — would be more of a ‘velvet divorce’ than a violent (conflict-driven) breakaway or radical régime change. The new country’s strategy might thus be expected to lean towards continuity at least in relation to its international alliances. Further, Scotland’s peripheral geographical site and its shortage of neighbours mean that it has few, if any, truly new options for any dimension of shelter. In fact, the SNP have made clear that Scotland has a vital interest in staying in the EU and would also wish to remain a full member of NATO. Controversy during the referendum debate hinged on the conditions on which this might happen and especially, whether Scotland would have a residual right to membership (as a former part of the UK) or would need to apply afresh.

Table 3. Hypothetical shelter solutions for Scotland after independence

Table 3. Hypothetical shelter solutions for Scotland after independence

21What is clear is that the Scottish situation lacks direct European precedent, as no member state has split up after previously joining NATO and/or the EU. This leaves room for widely diverging hypotheses, as was seen in the referendum campaign. To an outside observer, however, it seems hard to build realistic scenarios where London would wish or be able to treat Scotland in a zero-sum, purely hostile and vengeful way — at least on strategic points — when facing a peaceful split. After all, Scotland would remain physically attached to the rUK, as its strategic hinterland and main buffer against the traditional line of perceived threat from Russia. It would fall to London to try to reassure NATO about the impact of the split on defence readiness in, and contributions from, the British Isles.

Shelter in NATO, the US and the remnant UK

22The logic of Scotland’s seeking its ‘hard’ strategic shelter from NATO is both external and internal. No other organisation offers the collective military strength to deter possible assailants (from any quarter), while also following democratic practices that give a voice to its smallest members. Some Scots may appreciate being part of a trans-Atlantic political community based on democratic values. Others might simply find it a reassuring element of continuity.

23From an internal viewpoint, being a small member of NATO gives scope to reduce national defence spending and avoid building a full range of force capabilities. Small members that deviate from this pattern normally have special reasons for threat-consciousness, such as Estonia, on the Russian border.42 During the crisis sparked by Russian action in Ukraine, NATO has renewed its appeal for all Allies to meet a norm for 2% of GDP spent on defence,43 but it continues to send mixed signals to its smaller members by stressing specialisation and offering them designated reinforcements. Also, its recent ‘Smart Defence’ concept positively encouraged members to give up capabilities too limited to be viable.44

  • 45 E.g. Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Voice: A National Conversation (Edinburgh: Scottish E (...)
  • 46 Stuart Crawford and Richard Marsh, A’ the Blue Bonnets: Defending an Independent Scotland (London: (...)
  • 47 [N.a.], ‘In Full: SNP Resolution on Nato’, Scotsman, 16 July 2012, http://www.scotsman.com/news/pol (...)

24NATO’s collective budget is very small and not a significant cost for a nation like Scotland. Like the Nordic neighbours, the Scots would more probably have to ‘pay’ by continuing to contribute to NATO-led (as well as EU-or UN-led) military missions abroad; even small states can meet niche requirements in this context, while their presence conveys political solidarity. In the independence debate, the SNP said they would wish Scotland to join in such tasks when backed by a clear international-legal mandate — i.e. not Iraq-style coalitions.45 One study at the time claimed that intervention forces as well as basic territorial defence could be provided for little more than half the money Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to UK defence.46 The SNP itself proposed to save GBP one billion annually on the latter figure.47 Much would, of course depend on the division of former UK forces; on whether Scotland tried to sustain independently viable naval and air arms, with their high equipment costs (the SNP suggested sharing air and sea bases with the UK which would open up an extra dimension of cover); and other possible changes in force structure, such as a revised active/reservist balance.

  • 48 Scottish Government (2009).

25Would NATO itself want to keep Scotland, as a small ‘security importer’ with reduced defence spending and capacity, where — moreover — the dominant political movement proposes to declare itself a non-nuclear state and remove the present Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane?48 The major headaches this poses for the UK Government should not obscure the fact that very few NATO states now have other people’s nuclear forces on their territory, and Scotland’s nearest neighbours — Norway and Denmark — co-founded NATO while rejecting any such presence. (Iceland joined this position in the 1980s.) Viewed logically, NATO should care about maintaining an effective UK deterrent, and about handling the delicate London-Edinburgh negotiations sensibly, rather than about exactly where the British assets ended up. It would be hard for it to reject Scottish accession on the grounds of military spending or force size, when other recent entrants’ performance has varied considerably and Iceland, a founder ally, has no forces at all. What would probably dominate, ultimately also in London’s view, would be the case for maintaining unbroken NATO coverage (with its scope for coherent US reinforcement) across the Nordic/North Atlantic space, and having Scotland as a modest contributor rather than a detached free-rider.

26The United States does not want an independent Scotland and has made that clear. It does not want to lose access to Scottish facilities and have a strategic black hole north of the rUK. This would be a serious setback for US defence leaders who envisage a gradual strategic ‘pivot’ away from Europe to Asia. Should this nevertheless happen, while protective of the rUK’s interests, Washington could be expected to urge London to reduce the risks by building a good defence understanding with its new northern neighbour. Edinburgh would come under equally strong US pressure to cooperate and would have good cause to do so. Its territory’s ultimate shelter would be US nuclear and conventional might, as is the case for all the present Nordic (and Baltic) nations. Further, ‘the USA is Scotland’s largest [overseas] export market and the leading source of inward investment into Scotland’49 — investments that would be least disrupted if Scotland’s present EU status was preserved. Scottish cultural and societal links with North America are strong, as in Ireland. Overall, one might imagine Washington not only strategically underwriting Scottish/British solutions but actively brokering them, as it has done between London and Dublin at crucial turning points — a classic aspect of political shelter.

27The analysis thus far makes plain that good ‘shelter’ solutions for Scotland depend, not least, on coming to terms with the rUK as shown in Table 3. In reality, the latter would be Scotland’s primary shelter even after independence: in strategic, economic, and soft-security terms, and also societally and culturally insofar as cross-border agreement would reduce disruption and distress for ordinary citizens. The SNP has stated that an independent Scotland would wish to retain the Queen as monarch (to keep close societal links with the UK) and the pound sterling as currency (implying backing from the Bank of England), so an independent Scotland is highly likely to, at least, seek such shelter at a minimum.

Shelter in the EU

28As Norway’s and Iceland’s cases show, the European Union does not automatically appeal to Northern European small states as a shelter. Scotland, however, has already experienced and on balance profited from it for forty years (see Table 2). Anti-EU feeling is less dominant than in the UK. Brussels may even seem a more palatable source of authority than London. Continued presence in the EU would thus be an obvious solution for Scotland’s shelter needs in the areas of the economy, ‘soft’ security, and societal (as regards concrete functions like communication and infrastructure) and some political dimensions, as shown in Table 3.

  • 50 Peadar Kirby and Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Financial Crises in Iceland and Ireland: Does European Union (...)
  • 51 Severin Carrol, ‘Barroso Casts Doubt on Independent Scotland’ s EU Membership Rights’, Guardian, 21 (...)

29Recent Irish experience of EU support during the debt crisis underpins this case, but also highlights the price to be paid.50 How the overall ‘costs’ of EU shelter for an independent Scotland might change is a complex question that is only starting to be probed in public debate. How would Scotland’s independently assessed contribution and its receipts from EU funds compare with what it experiences as part of a much larger net-contributing nation? If Scotland had to make a new membership application as many (including the President of the European Commission) believe,51 could it stay outside the Schengen system and maintain a ceiling on its budget contribution as earlier negotiated for the UK? These are important questions, but such material concerns have not deterred other recent small applicants to the EU, who reasoned rather in terms of the vulnerabilities they would feel outside the Union, the even less attractive prospect of trusting a national protector, and the support and discipline of a political community grounded in the world’s most peaceful values.

30Scotland’s calculation may be even easier because it faces ceding no sovereignty to Brussels beyond what it is already accustomed to. Only joining the Euro would change that, and the SNP have no such plans at present — though the calculus might change after Brexit. Granted EU membership, Scotland would have far fewer representatives and votes and a much smaller voice at the EU table than the UK has at present. But that would be offset by the freedom to promote its own distinct European interests — which Scottish representatives, unlike genuinely new entrants, could do with skills honed for decades. They could freely seek new political/tactical alliances with member states both small and large.

Shelter in the Nordic family

  • 52 Bailes and Thorhallsson (2013).

31Enough has been said already to show that the Nordic states as such cannot offer Scotland sufficient shelter in any vital dimension, given their own limitations and strategic dependence. They all rely openly or de facto on the US and NATO, while Iceland and Greenland have special bilateral defence arrangements with Washington. Further, all are deeply involved in the European integration process as full members or as part of the Common Market through the EEA. Greenland and the Faroe Islands, though not formally in the EU, have fisheries agreements with Brussels and draw indirect economic benefits through Denmark. All enjoy a wide range of political and societal protection from the Union’s diplomatic strength and its extensive regional, research, educational and cultural programmes. All derive soft security benefits — not currently available elsewhere — from European cooperation in fields such as environmental and energy security, disease control and migration management: all of which would be equally pressing concerns for Scotland.52

  • 53 C. Ingebritsen, Scandinavia in World Politics (Lanham and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

32Iceland’s case as the Nordic state with the most acute shelter needs may illustrate the point. The other Nordics could neither fill the whole gap left in Iceland’s military security after US forces withdrew in 2006, nor rescue the Icelanders from their exceptionally severe economic crash in 2008. Yet, to balance this, Nordic cooperation offers Iceland crucial political and societal links with an otherwise remote European mainland; provides a multiplier effect for its policies on key issues like the Arctic; and draws it into joint positions on many European and international issues where it shares in the undoubted appeal of the Nordic ‘brand’. Such Nordic practices offer a powerful example for other small states of how to exert influence despite smallness, and they would prima facie provide a very desirable added element for Scotland’s hypothetical shelter-building as well. The SNP for its part has explicitly stated that it wishes to follow the Nordic model and its norms and values. With such a new partner, the Nordic states could continue to lead by example53 and encourage others to adopt their ‘good’ practices.

  • 54 Håkon Lunde Saxi, Nordic Defence Cooperation after the Cold War (Oslo: Norwegian Institute of Defen (...)

33Specifically, the Nordic states could support Scotland’s negotiation of good bargains with the US and rUK, inside and outside multilateral institutions, and would have powerful motives for doing so, given their own stake in North European stability. They could provide political inspiration and cover for distinctive characteristics the Scots might want to stress in fields like peace promotion, arms control, humanitarian initiatives and the anti-nuclear stance (as well as social-liberal values at home). Both these roles would provide ‘political’ shelter for Scotland’s willed identity change. Concrete economic, soft security, and societal benefits could be sought through closer Scottish-Nordic cooperation, including common approaches to the growing Arctic challenge. Scotland’s reduced military resources could be optimised by studying Nordic lessons and joining Nordic initiatives like NORDEFCO, the current framework for five-nation defence cooperation.54

34Might this mutually sheltering relationship take institutional form? Scotland could prima facie try to join both Nordic Cooperation (in its parliamentary and governmental dimensions) and the West Nordic Cooperation (WNC) of Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland and coastal Norway. Nordic political and public attitudes would surely be sympathetic, but the precedent involved in granting NC membership might give pause since the Baltic States were earlier denied it. Admitting Scotland to the WNC might be less contentious given its close geographical presence — including Shetland and Orkney — and common issues such as oil/gas exploitation. Alternative forms of association, or new ‘Nordic-plus’ cooperation frameworks, could doubtless be invented.

35Scotland needs to find like-minded states in order to receive backup in international negotiations. The Nordic nations seem like ideal partners but if they are not willing to support Scottish negotiation positions, and, for example, would rather remain silent in order to keep cordial relations with the US and the rUK, Scotland has to look for other partners or move closer to the US and/or the rUK positions.

Conclusion

36The five Nordic states have lived for decades with the same strategic asymmetry that would face an independent Scotland. They have found many-sided shelters while maintaining strong national idiosyncrasies. The diversity in the types of shelter pursued by the Nordic states reflects each state’s unique challenges and the costs associated with different shelter options. Norway, Denmark and Iceland found military shelter in NATO, whereas Finland and Sweden were best served by neutrality. An equally wide range of Nordic national solutions applies to relations with the EU. In each other, the Nordic states find many types of shelter, primarily societal. In other dimensions, the shelter of Nordic cooperation basically supplements that provided by European integration, NATO and/or the US.

37In extending the general small state analysis and lessons of the Nordic model to a potential independent Scotland, we have found four entities — NATO, the US, the rUK itself, and the EU — prima facie best suited to meeting Scotland’s needs for economic, societal, and political shelter including hard and soft security. As any other small entity, a Scotland moving towards independence would need to weigh carefully the benefits and costs of these shelter options and how they compare to the benefits and costs of its current arrangements within the UK. In doing so it would need to dismiss at the outset any notion that Nordic neighbours could either provide an alternative for any key dimension of shelter, or invent solutions offering escape from the sometime very tough choices to be made and prices to be paid. With that once clear, however, both the lessons of (varied) Nordic experience, and the comradeship and softer kinds of shelter to be found within the Nordic family, could provide valuable lubrication for the transitional process and a supportive pillar for Scotland’s accommodation to independent existence in the world.

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Notes

2 Jo E. Murkens, Scotland’s Place in Europe (London: Constitution Unit, University College London, 2001); Scottish National Party, ‘Senior EU Official Backs Benefits of Small States’, 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20141202110524/http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2012/dec/senior-eu-official-backs-benefits-small-states [last saved to the Wayback Machine 2 December 2014].

3 E.g. P. Hanlon and F. U. Karki, ‘Health, Culture and Society: A Scottish-Nordic Conversation’, in Radical Scotland: Arguments for Self-Determination, ed. by Gerry Hassan and Rosie Ilett (Edinburgh: Luath Press Ltd, 2011), pp. 85–101.

4 A. Salmond, ‘Scotland’ s Place in the World. Hugo Young Memorial Lecture’, London, 25 January 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/25/alexsalmond-hugo-young-lecture

5 E.g. Michael Keating, ‘The Political Economy of Self-Determination’, in Radical Scotland: Arguments for Self-Determination, ed. by G. Hassan and R. Ilett (Edinburgh: Luath Press Ltd, 2011), pp. 40–48; D. Donald and A. Hutton, ‘Economic Self-Determination: Towards a Political Economy of Scottish Citizenship’, in Radical Scotland: Arguments for Self-Determination, ed. by G. Hassan and R. Ilett (Edinburgh: Luath Press Ltd, 2011), pp. 49–62.

6 Population information from World Bank, ‘Countries and Economies’ (2015), http://data.worldbank.org/country; territory from [N.a.], CIA World Factbook (CIA, 2015), https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ GDP information from 2012 (in International Dollars) from the Scottish Government (GDP includes a proportionate allocation of UK oil/gas revenues); military expenditure from SIPRI, ‘Military Expenditure Database’ (2015), http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database; armed forces from the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2015 (London: Taylor & Francis, 2015).

7 G. Liska, Nations in Alliance: The Limits of Interdependance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962); R. E. Osgood, Alliances and American Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968); P. W. Schroeder, ‘Alliances, 1815–1945: Weapons of Power and Tools of Management’, in Historical Dimensions of National Security Problems, ed. by K. E. Knorr (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1976), pp. 227–62; Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliance (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987); G. H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

8 R. O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); Robert O. Keohane and Lisa L. Martin, ‘The Promise of Institutionalist Theory’, International Security, 20, 1 (1995), 39–51; G. J. Ikenberry, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Baldur Thorhallsson and Anders Wivel, ‘Small States in the European Union: What Do We Know and What Would We Like to Know?’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 19, 4 (2006), 651–68; D. Panke, Small States in the European Union: Coping with Structural Disadvantages (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2010).

9 Carsten Holbraad, ‘The Role of Middle Powers’, Cooperation and Conflict, 6, 2 (1971), 77–90; B. de Carvalho and I. B. Neumann, Small State Status Seeking: Norway’s Quest for International Standing (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2014).

10 Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Domestic Buffer Versus External Shelter: Viability of Small States in the New Globalised Economy’, European Political Science, 10, 3 (2011), 324–36; Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Iceland’ s External Affairs in the Middle Ages: The Shelter of Norwegian Sea Power’, Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 8, 1 (2012), 5–37.

11 Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘The Size of States in the European Union: Theoretical and Conceptual Perspectives’, European Integration, 28, 1 (2006), 7–31 (p. 19).

12 Handel (1981); P. J. Katzenstein, Corporatism and Change: Austria, Switzerland, and the Politics of Industry (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1984); Katzenstein (1985).

13 A. Alesina and E. Spolaore, The Size of Nations (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003).

14 S. Rokkan, D. W. Urwin, and European Consortium for Political Research, Economy, Territory, Identity: Politics of West European Peripheries (London: Sage, 1983).

15 Ted Hopf, ‘The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory’, International Security, 23, 1 (1998), 171–200; Jennifer Mitzen, ‘Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma’, European Journal of International Relations, 12, 3 (2006), 341–70; B. J. Steele, Ontological Security in International Relations: Self-Identity and the IR State (Abingdon and London: Taylor & Francis, 2008); Ayşe Zarakol, ‘Ontological (in)Security and State Denial of Historical Crimes: Turkey and Japan’, International Relations, 24, 1 (2010), 3–23.

16 de Carvalho and Neumann (2014).

17 D. Vital, The Inequality of States: A Study of the Small Power in International Relations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 5.

18 Alyson J. K. Bailes and Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Instrumentalizing the European Union in Small State Strategies’, Journal of European Integration, 35, 2 (2013), 99–115.

19 G. Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945: From ‘Empire’ by Invitation to Transatlantic Drift (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 51–52; Tony Insall and Patrick Salmon, ‘Preface to the Nordic Countries: From War to Cold War, 1944–1951’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 37, 2 (2012), 136–55.

20 Lundestad (2003), p. 57.

21 Valur Ingimundarson, The Rebellious Ally: Iceland, the United States, and the Politics of Empire 1945–2006 (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters, 2011).

22 Ingimundarson (2011).

23 Christian Le Mière and Jeffrey Mazo, Arctic Opening: Insecurity and Opportunity (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2014).

24 NATO, ‘Strategic Concept’ (2010), http://www.nato.int/lisbon2010/strategic-concept2010-eng.pdf

25 A. Klus, ‘The Nordic Dimension of the Ukrainian Crisis’, New Eastern Europe (2014), http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/interviews/1242-the-nordic-dimension-of-the-ukrainian-crisis

26 M. Strömvik, ‘Starting to “Think Big”: The Nordic Countries and EU Peace-Building’, in The Nordic Countries and the European Security and Defence Policy, ed. by Alyson J. K. Bailes, Gunilla Herolf and Bengt Sundelius (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 199–214.

27 Nordic Ministers, ‘Declaration of Solidarity’ (2011), http://www.utanrikisraduneyti.is/media/nordurlandaskrifstofa/Norraen-samstoduyfirlysing-ENG.pdf

28 H. Ojanen, ‘Nordic Defence Cooperation — Inspiration for the EU or a Lesson in Matching Expectations?’, TEPSA Policy Paper (2014), http://www.tepsa.eu/tepsapolicy-paper-by-hanna-ojanen-nordic-defence-cooperation-inspiration-for-the-eu-or-a-lesson-in-matching-expectations; Tuomas Forsberg, ‘The Rise of Nordic Defence Cooperation: A Return to Regionalism?’, International Affairs, 89, 5 (2013), 1161–81.

29 Government of Sweden, ‘International Defence Cooperation: Efficiency, Solidarity, Sovereignty’ (2014), http://www.icds.ee/fileadmin/media/icds.ee/failid/Bertelman2014.pdf

30 Ingebritsen (1998); Baldur Thorhallsson, Iceland and European Integration: On the Edge (London: Routledge, 2004).

31 Ingebritsen (1998).

32 [N.a.], ‘Finland and Europe: In and Happy’, Economist, 9 October 1997, http://www.economist.com/node/102291

33 Nordic Council, ‘The Nordic Passport Convention’ (2015), http://www.norden.org/en/om-samarbejdet-1/nordic-agreements/treaties-and-agreements/passport-issues-citizenship-and-national-registration/the-nordic-assport-convention

34 Nordic Council, ‘Nordic Convention on Social Assistance and Social Services’ (2015), http://www.norden.org/en/om-samarbejdet-1/nordic-agreements/treatiesand-agreements/social-and-health-care/nordic-convention-on-social-assistance-and-social-services

35 Nordic Council, ‘Agreement Concerning a Common Nordic Labour Market’ (2015), http://www.norden.org/en/om-samarbejdet-1/nordic-agreements/treaties-andagreements/labour-market/agreement-concerning-a-common-nordic-labour-market

36 Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Statistical Yearbook 2014 (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers, 2014), p. 111.

37 Katie Verlin Laatikainen, ‘Norden’s Eclipse the Impact of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy on the Nordic Group in the United Nations’, Cooperation and Conflict, 38, 4 (2003), 409–41.

38 Alyson J. K. Bailes and C. Sandö, Nordic Cooperation on Civil Security: The Haga Process 2009–14, Occasional Paper, Institute of International Affairs and Centre for Small State Studies (Reykjavík 2014), http://www.ams.hi.is/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Haga-Process-PDF.pdf

39 Diana Panke, ‘Small States in the European Union: Structural Disadvantages in EU Policy-Making and Counter-Strategies’, Journal of European Public Policy, 17, 6 (2010), 799–817.

40 Bailes and Sandö (2014).

41 Ibid.

42 Alyson J. K. Bailes and Örvar Þ. Rafnsson, ‘Iceland and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy: Challenge or Opportunity?’, Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 8, 1 (2012), 109–31.

43 NATO, ‘Wales Summit Declaration’, 5 September 2014, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm (A declaration issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales.)

44 NATO, ‘Smart Defence’, 1 September 2015, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-34AEED99-772DF4E3/natolive/topics_84268.htm

45 E.g. Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Voice: A National Conversation (Edinburgh: Scottish Executive, 2009), p. 119.

46 Stuart Crawford and Richard Marsh, A’ the Blue Bonnets: Defending an Independent Scotland (London: Royal United Service Institute, 2012).

47 [N.a.], ‘In Full: SNP Resolution on Nato’, Scotsman, 16 July 2012, http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/in-full-snp-resolution-on-nato-1-2414919

48 Scottish Government (2009).

49 Scottish Development International, ‘North America Briefing’ (2013), http://www.scottish-enterprise.presscentre.com/International-activity/North-Americabriefing-445.aspx [accessed6February2013].

50 Peadar Kirby and Baldur Thorhallsson, ‘Financial Crises in Iceland and Ireland: Does European Union and Euro Membership Matter?’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 50, 5 (2012), 801–18.

51 Severin Carrol, ‘Barroso Casts Doubt on Independent Scotland’ s EU Membership Rights’, Guardian, 21 September 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/sep/12/barroso-doubt-scotland-eu-membership

52 Bailes and Thorhallsson (2013).

53 C. Ingebritsen, Scandinavia in World Politics (Lanham and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

54 Håkon Lunde Saxi, Nordic Defence Cooperation after the Cold War (Oslo: Norwegian Institute of Defence Studies, 2011).

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1. Scotland and Nordic nations: comparison of key ‘size’ variables6
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/4009/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
Titre Table 2. Present economic, political, societal and security shelter of the Nordic nations and Scotland
Légende a Nordic Cooperation.b Danish krone (DKK) pegged to the euro.c European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association.d West Nordic Cooperation.e Denmark.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/4009/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Table 3. Hypothetical shelter solutions for Scotland after independence
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/4009/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k

Auteurs

Head and Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Iceland. He is also Jean Monnet Chair in European Studies, and Programme and Research Director at the Centre for Small States at the University of Iceland. He established the Centre for Small State Studies in 2002. His research focus is primarily on small state studies, European integration and Iceland’s foreign policy. He has published extensively in international journals, contributed to several academic books and written two books on small states in Europe. He holds a PhD (1999) and MA (1994) in Political Science from the University of Essex in England.

Alyson J. K. Bailes was a full-time Visiting Professor at the University of Iceland from 2007 to 2016 and taught at several universities in Europe, including the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. She previously served in the British Diplomatic Service for thirty-three years. Bailes was the United Kingdom Ambassador to Finland from 2000 to 2002, Political Director of the Western European Union from 1997 to 2000 and Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) from 2002 to 2007. Bailes published extensively on European defence, arms control, Arctic security, small states and the Nordic states’ foreign policies and edited several books on these subjects. Bailes passed away in April 2016.

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