Swedish-American Relations and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975



Naman Karl-Thomas Habtom

Between 1965-1975, Sweden and the United States experienced a worsening diplomatic relationship as a result of domestic pressures caused by the Vietnam War. In Sweden, this came initially in the form of grassroots activism, which spread into the electoral base of the governing Social Democratic Party, whose leadership feared losing voters to the Communist Party. Simultaneously, the government of the United States sought to combat any criticism towards its campaign while at the same time not alienating an otherwise strategic partner. The massive fluctuation in diplomatic relations was further complicated by a wide array of issues, ranging from American deserters to Swedish mediation efforts and attempts at freeing American prisoners of war. Notably, military and intelligence cooperation during this period remained strong and largely unaffected. This episode offers many lessons on Cold War neutrality and attempts by small states to forge an independent foreign policy while seeking to maintain relations.

About the Author

Naman Karl-Thomas Habtom is the Senior Vice President of the Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum, the Managing Editor of Manara Magazine, as well as a freelance writer on international affairs and security policy. This article was initially written as a dissertation during his studies at the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge.

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