In 1972, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme’s fierce condemnation of the Christmas Bombings of the North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations at the highest level between Sweden and the United States. The author argues that Sweden’s official position of neutrality allowed its Prime Minister greater independence of action on the international stage. Palme opposed the American military intervention in Southeast Asia for its violation of Vietnamese self-determination. Superpower aggression against one small country threatened all others, including Palme’s own. At the same time, the diplomatic freeze did not substantially damage Swedish-American relations. In spite of the tension with the Nixon White House, Stockholm and its embassy in Washington maintained excellent relations with Congress, with many ordinary Americans, and even with Nixon’s own State Department.
Lubna Z. Qureshi earned her doctorate in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley.
Chapter One: The Early Evolution of Olof Palme and Swedish Vietnam Policy
Chapter Two: The Accession of Olof Palme
Chapter Three: The Christmas Bombing and Consequent Diplomatic Freeze
Chapter Four: Sweden and the American Prisoners-of-War in North Vietnam
Chapter Five: Reconciliation with Washington
Chapter Six: The Postwar Reconstruction of Vietnam and Swedish-American Relations
“Lubna Qureshi deftly explores Olaf Palme’s influence on the long 1970s and the turbulent politics of the Vietnam War. Qureshi demonstrates why Palme was a well-respected and admired statesman around the globe. This expertly researched and persuasively written book is highly recommended.”
"Lubna Z. Qureshi presents an original, nuanced, and thoughtful portrait of Olof Palme in Olof Palme, Sweden, and the Vietnam War: A Diplomatic History. Moving beyond labels such as “antiwar” or “anti-American,” Qureshi shows how well-informed Palme was about Vietnam and how much he advocated for the Vietnamese people. Well-written and expertly researched, it is an essential volume in the literature of the Vietnam War."
"A fascinating account of the interaction between one of Europe’s major post-war political figures and the United States’ actions in Vietnam. It shows that one man’s empathy can have important repercussions in international relations when they chime with a much wider feeling of distaste for bullying behaviour towards a small state. Palme spoke for my whole generation of baby-boomers, and due to him we were maybe very interested in rock and roll but also in serious progressive politics. And by annoying a superpower at great personal risk he inspired us all. We need a person like him now for similar reasons. Qureshi’s account of his efforts is sober and yet uplifting, a great read."
"In her exceptionally well-researched and sympathetic biographical study of the Swedish leader Olof Palme, Dr. Lubna Qureshi has filled a significant gap in the international history of the Vietnam War. She demonstrates the importance of the Swedish role in the diplomacy of the conflict, the treatment of American prisoners of war, and postwar reconstruction. Her book is a vital if challenging contribution to understanding the role of neutral nations during this controversial era."