40 years of reporting on International Politics by Britt-Marie Mattsson

Britt-Marie Mattsson has had an eventful life covering the "mystical" years 1970-2010 so far lived as described in her new book Neutralitetens tid: Svensk utrikespolitik från världssamvete till medgörlig lagspelare. As a journalist she tries to be neutral about the neutrality politics of Sweden over this time but a dualism of the good guys, the social democrats and Olof Palme and the bad guy Carl Bildt can easily be spotted.

Mattson makes a point that since the joining of the EU Sweden have said good bye to the neutrality politics. However, in the election manifesto of the Red-Green opposition it is possible to see the traces of a return to this cowardly position where the Left Party has tendencies of wanting to leave the political alliance of the EU. Carl Bildt has consequently dealt with this problem all through his career and has secured Sweden in the European partnership although joining the NATO is an achievement not yet made due to the popular vote. Working presently under NATO command in Afghanistan, it is possible to discern a discordance between the elites and the masses in Sweden.

According to Mattsson Carl Bildt says that "Militarily we are not in an alliance but politically we are allied in the EU". As I understand these matters, this must be a very difficult situation that has been discussed in the press before. As Mattsson described being in the EU we should optimally have a one voice situation via Lady Catherine Ashton, the High Representative, but her office is not yet established due to problems of defining the same after almost a year. This makes Swedish foreign policy much of an affair of the Moderate Party and Carl Bildt himself.

In actuality Sweden with 2% of the EU population would not have much of an independent foreign policy given the above. Reinfeldt and Bildt have made a good job recently though and Sweden has gotten credit for this and is relatively stronger. They don't write often about Sweden in The Economist, but in the last issue both gentlemen are getting due credit.

Mattsson points out that Olof Palme made Sweden larger than it normally is on the map during the era of the neutrality politics. It is actually a funny mechanism that being neutral and advocating for peace gives a country such a leverage in some corners of the world. Because if the US would have said that it is neutral, Europe would have looked quite different and Sweden might not have been so peaceful at all.

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