In the face of Vladimir Putin’s “machismo,” Sweden is upping the ante by adopting a “feminist” (yes, that’s what they call it) foreign policy to combat the patriarchy of Russia.
No, this isn’t a satire of nonsensical academic theories coming to life.
Take it away “Can Vladimir Putin Be Intimidated By Feminist Sweden?”:
There is a measure of the surreal to these developments and Sweden’s response to them. When in October Swedish forces hunted what was all but certainly a Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago, Swedish media dispatched reporters into dinghies, where they breathlessly tried to intuit news in the movement of naval vessels. And when Sverker Göranson, the supreme commander of Sweden’s armed forces, went before the media last month to present concrete evidence that a submarine had violated his country’s territorial waters, a Russian newspaper responded by calling the officer “unmanly.”
It was probably meant as an insult, but the writer behind the snub may have unwittingly paid the Scandinavian nation a compliment. After all, even as Russia steps up its military activity in the Baltics and elsewhere, the new Swedish government is working hard to send a message to the world that Vladimir Putin’s bluster represents machismo’s death knell.
Margot Wallström, the newly minted foreign minister, has said that under her leadership Sweden will become the only country in the world to conduct a “feminist foreign policy.” That’s a perspective that flows from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark measure that recognized both the disproportionate impact war has on women and the role women must play in ensuring peace and security.
In the interim, Wallström will remain at the Foreign Ministry, with her feminist vision for Sweden’s ventures abroad intact. By empowering women, the argument goes, there are better chances of snuffing out wars before they start and of ending them in more equitable ways. However, it is less clear what such a feminist foreign policy has to say about the old-school power politics that Putin has helped resuscitate in the past year.
During a recent debate in the Swedish parliament, Wallström said that her feminist approach is based on the American political scientist Joseph Nye’s concept of “smart power.” “The tools of foreign policy can, in varying degrees, be hard as well as soft. The situation at hand determines this,” Wallström said. “The half of the population that so far has been almost systematically excluded and forgotten — namely, women — will now be included.”
Asked how she believes a feminist foreign policy will help end Russian aggression, Wallström suggested it would be useful to review women’s participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and to look at what it does to address the problems women face — a statement exactly as vague as it sounds.
“If Sweden would really invest in military defense and at the same time push for a feminist foreign and security policy, then the government faces a big rhetorical problem in explaining how these two things go together,” said Ulf Bjereld, a professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg and a supporter of the Social Democrats.
“One option is to insist that military defense and feminism represent two branches of the same tree: that citizens’ security is guaranteed by having a strong military and that the feminist agenda is guaranteed through diplomacy, aid, and other arsenals beyond defense,” Bjereld said. “Is that credible or not? Well, credibility is like beauty — it’s in the eye of the beholder.”
Wallström’s feminist foreign policy is based on three Rs: representation, resources, and respect. In its dealings with other nations, Sweden should push for fair representation of women in everything from ambassador posts to political committees, notes Wallström. Sweden should also encourage other countries to ensure equal access to resources and to respect women’s rights, she said.
“Are female police officers being allowed to take part in surveillance operations? Are women in a given country being asked about their ambitions?” she said, citing her efforts to include women in the peace-making process in Ukraine. “This perspective should permeate everything we do.”
It’s heartening to know that Western elites are now so deluded that they will try to enact their own bullshit. Look out Putin.