This chapter outlines the key themes of the book: the importance of Africa, decolonisation and the legacies of empire in shaping the fortunes of the small and middling powers in the Cold War; and the special role Africa played in defining Ireland's identity. It argues for a more nuanced reading of the Cold War narrative, to take account of the close inter-relationship between national histories, cultures, social structures and foreign policy. It introduces the ‘fire brigade’ states – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, a group of small and middling powers valued by the international community for their support of collective security and the primacy of international law – and their contribution (collectively and individually) to a changing international system. It explores the manner in which Africa defined the parameters in which they operated. And it examines the special place of Africa in the Irish consciousness.
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