There is a measure of the surreal to these developments and Sweden’s response to them. When in October Swedish forces hunted what was all but certainly a Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago, Swedish media dispatched reporters into dinghies, where they breathlessly tried to intuit news in the movement of naval vessels. And when Sverker Göranson, the supreme commander of Sweden’s armed forces, went before the media last month to present concrete evidence that a submarine had violated his country’s territorial waters, a Russian newspaper responded by calling the officer “unmanly.”

It was probably meant as an insult, but the writer behind the snub may have unwittingly paid the Scandinavian nation a compliment. After all, even as Russia steps up its military activity in the Baltics and elsewhere, the new Swedish government is working hard to send a message to the world that Vladimir Putin’s bluster represents machismo’s death knell. 

Margot Wallström, the newly minted foreign minister, has said that under her leadership Sweden will become the only country in the world to conduct a “feminist foreign policy.” That’s a perspective that flows from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark measure that recognized both the disproportionate impact war has on women and the role women must play in ensuring peace and security.