B. Vivekanandan, Global Visions of Olof Palme, Bruno Kreisky and Willy Brandt: International Peace and Security, Co-operation and Development

Date01 July 2020
Published date01 July 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Review
B. Vivekanandan, Global Visions of Olof Palme, Bruno Kreisky and
Willy Brandt: International Peace and Security, Co-operation and
Development (London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016),
xix+293 pp. 124.79, ISBN 978-3-319-33710-4 (Hardcover).
In these days, we read a lot about the rise of nationalism in Europe and elsewhere.
Many important countries in the world today are led by populist leaders. The
welfare model in many European countries is facing serious challenges and being
dismantled. We are also told that many institutional mechanisms related to
European integration model based on common understanding and solidarity are
facing crises.
In these difficult times, the book by Professor Vivekanandan, one of the leading
scholars of European Studies in India, reminds us of a glorious period of European
intellectual history. He has narrated personal, intellectual and official details of
three towering personalities: Olof Palme (Sweden), Bruno Kreisky (Austria) and
Willy Brandt (Germany). All three were respected not just in their own countries
but also throughout Europe and the world. At the time of their leadership in the
1970s and 1980s, they influenced European policies towards Soviet communism
and helped reducing tensions. All three were idealist and led social democratic
parties in their respective countries. They were friends and worked together. As
Bruno Kreisky and Willy Brandt also spent a significant part of their life in
Sweden and Norway respectively, all three had a deep impact of the Nordic
intellectual, political and social traditions on their personalities. In the forward of
the book, Professor Thomas Mayer of the University of Dortmund has described
them as ‘The Three Musketeers of the golden age of social democracy’ (p. viii).
The author has reminded many times throughout the book that all three were well
ahead of their times. Moreover, ‘a welfare-state system everywhere, based on
international solidarity and common security, was their motto’ (p. xiii). In addition,
they believed that all disputes should be settled through negotiations.
Professor Vivekanandan asserts that Olof Palme was the ‘most outstanding and
most internationally minded, statesman Sweden ever produced’ (p. 90). He came
to prominence in 1968 when he led a big demonstration to the US embassy in
Stockholm to protest against the Vietnam War. He was equally critical of Soviet
interventions in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979. He supported
liberation struggles in various parts of the world. He also advocated a new thinking
and approach towards international security. He argued that both conventional
International Studies
57(3) 317–324, 2020
2020 Jawaharlal Nehru University
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DOI: 10.1177/0020881720928870
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