a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
johan  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Finland must apply to join Nato without delay, say president and PM

A more knowledgeable friend wrote a much more eloquent piece that was published today. Google botched the translation, so here's a better one:

    Today, 16 May, Sweden will submit its application to NATO. If Erdogan or perhaps Orbán does not block it, within a year we will become a member of the largest alliance in history. For those of us who oppose NATO, time has already run out - we won't have time to mobilise to stop the decision, or even get the issue dealt with democratically. Things have moved very quickly since the world really grasped the changed security situation.

    The fact that the Left Party opposes the decision is being waved away. It is not surprising. The Left Party's credibility on defence issues is low. Not only because of the vacillation on the issue of armaments to Ukraine, but also because the Left Party's alternative to NATO is now to arm Sweden. Something they have consistently opposed in the past. It is sad, because now the development of the Swedish armed forces is being left to our hawks. This means not only that we will be involved in more expeditions to the Third World, but also that our own security will be weakened by NATO membership. I am referring not only to the heightened threat level but also to the type of defence that the right will build.

    In the debate, it has long been a prevailing truth that NATO membership provides a stronger defence. Certainly, NATO has an obvious deterrent effect on Russia. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous. But it is also clear that defence trends are set by NATO's strongest partner, the United States, and that the alliance has functioned primarily as a foreign policy tool for the country.

    NATO advocates are correct in the sense that membership does not seem to force countries to participate in operations. On the contrary, several members have opted out. On the other hand, it is clear that NATO influences how countries' defences are structured and trained. When Sweden dismantled its invasion defences, operational defences took their place. New capabilities were brought into focus. The operational defence no longer carried the ability to secure our borders from hostile forces. The coastal artillery was completely dismantled, and Sweden's ability to sink a Russian missile cruiser, as Ukraine did with the "Moskva", was weakened. The Amphibious Corps was formed instead. That the corps would be able to operate abroad was emphasized in the plans. At the same time, great emphasis was placed on the compatibility of our forces with NATO.

    The fact that defence was reduced after the collapse of the Soviet Union is not surprising in itself. The security analysis showed that Sweden's potential enemy no longer posed a threat. But instead of focusing on a cheap and general defence focused on cost-effective and deterrent capabilities such as anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles in home guard and infantry regiments, we did just as the other NATO countries did. We retooled to engage in the same warfare as the US. Instead of strengthening our ability to deal with conventional war, we developed mobile, lightly armoured, quasi-police units. It is therefore no coincidence that we have conducted several expensive, protracted and difficult-to-defend operations in irregular conflicts. Several countries that have approached NATO have made the same mistake. The most obvious example was when Georgia, which at the time aspired to NATO membership, was invaded by Russia. The country, which has fewer than 4 million inhabitants, had a force of 2 000 in Iraq at the time. Instead of training and strengthening Georgia's defensive capabilities against its most likely enemy [Russia], the US, in the process of their full membership, had trained and equipped them to participate in a pacification campaign against insurgents in the Middle East. Instead of strengthening their defences, they acted in line with the prevailing NATO doctrine. This dissonance is telling for other countries that have been close to NATO as well. It is also part of the explanation why the defence issue has been separated from perhaps our biggest security problem, which is our welfare.

    For all these years, the right has got away with discussing the defence issue separately from the total disaster of privatisations and dismantlements. Despite the fact that the issues are closely linked. With our current health care and transport infrastructure, Sweden cannot hold out for long in the event of an outbreak of war. It is the civilian health service, through the civil defence, that will deal with wounded civilians and military personnel. On a typical weekend in Stockholm, Karolinska goes into staff mode. Our railways don't even handle our civilian traffic but instead of fixing this, vital infrastructure is sold to foreign powers. No new bomb shelters have been built since 2002. Overall, societal resilience is low on the agenda, whether the threat is war or climate change. But unfortunately, the left has been making dizzying arguments against NATO, focusing almost exclusively on the history of the alliance and the lack of democracy in its member states, instead of making clear the link between welfare and resilience in a crisis, and the long-term effects that joining NATO will have on the direction of defence.

    Based on a shock doctrine, many decisions will now be taken. Many of them will have far-reaching effects, globally as well as in our neighbourhood. Russia will see the Baltic Sea surrounded by NATO, which will make a possible confrontation with the Baltic States more difficult. Sweden will also become a less interesting party to deal with when negotiations concerning our interests can be conducted directly with the United States. Nevertheless, the situation is not as stressful as the right would like to claim, there is no realistic scenario where Sweden would be invaded by Russia at this time. If anything, the war in Ukraine shows that Russia's capabilities have been overestimated by virtually the entire warfare community. Right now, over 70% of Russia's standing combat forces are locked in what appears to be a protracted war. Russia's air force and navy have demonstrated weaknesses that Sweden has both the technical knowledge and an existing industry to exploit. Russia's aversion to Swedish-Finnish NATO membership could also have been used to facilitate peace negotiations in Ukraine - once you join, the "threat to join" card cannot be played again.

    We are now facing a situation where we are tying our defence to the goodwill of the US. It is the only country in NATO that could seriously assist us with our greatest shortage: soldiers. The other European countries would themselves be drawn into the war and would be unable to come to our rescue. This comes at a time when the US has wanted for nearly 30 years to turn away from Europe and focus instead on the perceived threat posed by China. Starting with Obama, every US president has sought to break the deadlock in the Middle East and realign the military. Although Article Five does not oblige members to support the US in the event of a confrontation in the Pacific, surely no one believes that NATO would not be pulled in. What is to say that NATO will not impose yet another new, for us irrelevant, defence doctrine on Sweden?

    So NATO is not only a moral issue, but also risks preventing us from strengthening our defence in practical terms.