Still Living in the Shadow of 1864? Danish Foreign Policy Doctrines and the Origins of Denmark’s Pragmatic Activism

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The Danish defeat to Prussia in 1864 is typically regarded as the starting point for a reactive and pragmatic foreign policy, which was only replaced by foreign policy activism by the end of the Cold War. In contrast, this article argues that by reinterpreting Danish foreign policy practice in the light of Danish foreign policy thinking, i.e. the doctrines providing the principles for conducting foreign policy, pragmatism and activism may both be viewed as integral aspects of Danish foreign policy since the early twentieth century. The article discusses how to define foreign policy doctrine and how doctrines relate to grand strategy and foreign policy practice and it sets up a simple framework for identifying doctrines and their role in Danish foreign policy. From this starting point it identifies two Danish foreign policy doctrines – the Munch doctrine and the Hækkerup doctrine and discusses how these two doctrines have served as central bodies of principles on Denmark’s role in Europe and the world. Two attempts at challenging the two dominant doctrines – the Danish ‘footnote policy’ towards NATO in the 1980s and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s ‘super atlanticism’ in the 2000s – are discussed and it is explored why both of these attempts at transforming Denmark’s position turned out to be ultimately unsuccessful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDanish Foreign Policy Yearbook 2014
EditorsHans Mouritzen, Nanna Hvidt
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
PublisherDIIS, Danish Institute for International Studies
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print) 9788776056919
ISBN (Electronic) 9788776056926
Publication statusPublished - 2014
SeriesDanish Foreign Policy Review

ID: 139815724