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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
In this column, Jan Oberg, director and co-founder of the Transnational Foundation (TFF) in Lund, Sweden, writes that his country is no longer neutral but is closely aligned with the United States and NATO.
- Over the last 25-30 years Sweden’s military, security and foreign policy elites have changed Sweden’s policy 180 degrees.
These fundamental changes were initiated by the Social Democratic government under Prime Minister Goran Persson (1996–2006) and have been carried out with virtually no public debate.
The rapprochement with interventionism, militarism and the U.S./NATO in all fields has been planned, incremental, furtive and dishonest; in short, unworthy of a democracy.
These elites are more loyal to Brussels and Washington than to the Swedes.
If your image of Sweden is that of a progressive, innovative and peace-promoting country with a global mindset, an advocate of international law, it is – sad to say – outdated.
Sweden is no longer neutral and it is only formally non-aligned; there is no closer ally than the U.S./NATO, although it is not a NATO member. It has stopped developing policies of its own and basically positions itself in the European Union and NATO framework. It no longer produces important new thinking – the last was Olof Palme’s Commission on Common Security (1982).
It has no disarmament ambassador and does not consider the United Nations important; there is not a single Swede among the U.N. Blue Helmets.
Nuclear abolition is far down on the agenda, problematic as a NATO-aspiring country. But one thing has not changed: Sweden remains the world’s largest arms exporter per capita.
Sweden no longer contributes to the protection of smaller states through a commitment to international law. Its elite wholeheartedly supported the bombing of Serbia/Kosovo. It thought – also under Social Democratic leadership – that the mass-killing sanctions on Iraq and the occupation were appropriate.
Sweden supported the destruction of Libya – participating with its planes there, although it only carried out reconnaissance, not bombing, missions.
Sweden did not support the planned war on Syria but also did not voice any audible criticism of the West’s support of only the militant opposition, including Al-Qaeda affiliates.
Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt operates mainly as an eminently well-informed international affairs traveler and blogger who doesn’t seem to want to waste too much of his precious time on being a minister. And when he does, he isn’t known for consulting many people around him.
Here follow a few recent events/news which further emphasise the deplorable path Sweden – the elites rather than the people – have decided to follow.
1. Sweden’s security political elite has lately been considering broader alliances with NATO and the EU. How enigmatic! After having been neutral and non-aligned during tough confrontations and tension in the Cold War years, Sweden now needs to join NATO when there is no single analysis anywhere indicating that it is likely that Sweden will be faced with a threat in the foreseeable future.
While the intelligent security and defence discourse is now about human security, the environment and high-tech challenges, Sweden’s elites talk about defence as weapons only.
This is dangerous ”group think” steered by bureaucratic vested interests and paid for by taxpayers who are de facto threatened more by these interests than by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A reality check would lead to a reality shock.
2. Swedish planes shall now, in the light of a conveniently hysterical interpretation of the crisis in Ukraine, equip its planes with cruise missiles.
The security priesthood of the country consists of a handful of researchers on military affairs at huge, well-financed state institutes in close contact with politicians and the military with whom military-loyal journalists have close bonds.
The country that once did something for a better world has joined the militarist world. At a time when both NATO and the U.S. are getting weaker, Sweden’s elites plan to put all Sweden’s eggs in that basket.
It has no policy vis–à–vis, say, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries or any vision of the world in 20 years to navigate towards. It has no ideals, values or commitments, only a ”follow-the-U.S./NATO and EU” flock mentality.
3. The U.S. ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski, recently told Sweden to join NATO, otherwise it won’t get any help in the event of an attack – in short, blackmailing disguised as deep concern and generous offer to bring (conditional) help. This was revealed by the conservative Swedish daily, Svenska Dagbladet.
The message is based on “fearology2 – because everybody knows that should Russia attack anyone, Sweden would not be the first target and it would be in the interest of NATO to control Swedish territory before any spreading of Russian forces from somewhere else to the Nordic area.
In short, NATO’s interest in Sweden is much greater than Sweden’s in NATO. Whatever one may think of these fantasies, they are just that: No one has thought up a credible scenario for how Sweden would be invaded by Russia and remain defenceless.
But this is the military-fundamentalist propaganda the Swedes are the target of these years: We must join NATO because we have such a weak defence that we can’t defend ourselves!
The liberal party’s defence policy spokesman, Allan Widman, recently stated this in a manner indicative of the low intellectual level of defence discussions here: ”I can only state the fact that Russia has about 140 million people and Sweden nine million. We won’t be able to manage serious challenges from outside on our own…”
Now, if the Swedish military can’t provide any protection for the nine million Swedes with a budget of eight billion dollars (among the 10 percent highest per capita in the world) at its disposal, it’s time to ask how inefficient and cost-maximising it can be without its leadership being fired.
4. Just this week it was decided that AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), planes can pass through Swedish airspace in connection with NATO’s Ukraine crisis missions.
5. Sweden (like Finland) is discussing how to receive military aid, including troops, from NATO. This goes beyond what NATO members Denmark, Norway and Iceland have ever accepted. And Sweden is not a NATO member!
This must not be Sweden’s future.