1st Edition

Military Strategy of Middle Powers Competing for Security, Influence, and Status in the 21st Century

By Håkan Edström, Jacob Westberg Copyright 2020
    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages
    by Routledge

    Military Strategy of Middle Powers explores to what degree twenty-first-century middle powers adjust their military strategies due to changes in the international order, such as the decline in US power.

    The overarching objective of the book is to explain continuity and change in the strategies of a group of middle powers during the twenty-first century. These strategies are described, compared, and explained through the lens of Realism. In order to find potential explanations for change or continuity within the cases, as well as for similarities and differences between the cases, the strategies of 11 ‘middle’ powers are analysed (Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, India, Japan, and South Korea). This group of countries are considered similar in several important aspects, primarily regarding relative power capacity. When searching for potential explanations for different strategic behaviours among the middle powers, their unique regional characteristics are a key focus and, consequently, the impact of the structure and polarity, as well as the patterns of amity and enmity, of the regional context are analysed. The empirical investigation is focused on security strategies used since the terrorist attacks 9/11 2001, which was one of the first major challenges to US hegemony.

    This book will be of much interest to students of military and strategic studies, foreign policy, and International Relations in general.

    1: Uniformity and differences in middle powers’ strategy

    2: Exploring middle powers’ strategic diversity

    3: The strategies of middle powers in security communities

    4: The strategies of middle powers in security regimes

    5: The strategies of middle powers in conflict formations

    6: Security, influence, status and the competition among middle powers


    Håkan Edström is Associate Professor in Political Science at the Swedish Defence University, Stockholm.

    Jacob Westberg is Associate Professor in War Studies at the Swedish Defence University, Sockholm.

    In an increasingly uncertain world, the evolving military strategies of middle powers deserves far more academic scholarship. This insightful, in-depth expert study fills a critical void in our understanding of how these powers seek to respond and shape their new environments. Edström and Westberg manage to compare a variety of middle powers with accuracy and deep knowledge. An excellent read for scholars and practitioners alike.

    Ben Schreer, Professor of Strategic Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney

    With the end of the Cold War, security was popularised as a framework for understanding the nature and role of the military in international politics – to the detriment of the realist military strategic agenda. With the publication of Military Strategy for Middle Powers, Håkan Edström and Jacob Westberg succeed not only in providing new and innovative realist pathways to think about the military strategic domain; they also draw the attention to a particular group of countries that are competing in a very unique way for security, influence and status in a time of unipolar demise. The authors make use of the ideas of self-preservation, position and power, and status to contextualise, analyse and compare the defence strategies of this group of countries. The typology of balance of power, bandwagoning, isolation and hedging sets the scene for a detailed outline and discussion of the diversity of defence strategies of middle powers. The book is well structured, well argued and well researched. It is compulsory reading for those with an interest in military strategy and an understanding of the critical military role of middle powers in regional, continental and global defence contexts.

    A.J. Esterhuyse, Associate Professor of Strategy, Military Academy, Saldanha