CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
Over the last 25-30 years Sweden’s military, security and foreign policy elite has changed Sweden’s policy 180 degrees.
These fundamental changes were initiated by the Social Democratic government under Goran Persson and foreign minister Anna Lindh and have been carried through virtually without public debate.
The rapproachment with interventionism, militarism and US/NATO in all fields has been planned, incremental, furtive and dishonest; in short, unworthy of a democracy.
This elite is more loyal with Brussels and Washington than with the Swedes.
If your image of Sweden is that it is a progressive, innovative and peace-promoting country with a global mind-set and advocate of international law, it is – sad to say – outdated.
How Sweden has changed
Sweden is no longer neutral and it is only formally non-aligned; there is no closer ally than US/NATO. It has stopped developing policies of its own and basically positions itself in the EU 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 UN important; it does not have a single Swede among the UN Blue Helmets. None of its top-level politicians make themselves available as mediators in international conflicts.
Nuclear abolition is far down 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 a commitment to international law. Its elites 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.
Since Sweden cannot legally export arms to a country in war but upholds a close military technological co-operation with the U.S., its parliament decided to make the US an exception.
Sweden supported the destruction of Libya – participating with its planes there, however only conducting 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.
That could be a reason that his comments on various events repeatedly attract laughable media attention. If you compare, as he has, Ukraine’s former President Yanokovich with Norway’s Quisling and thereby make Putin equivalent to Hitler and Russia to Nazi-Germany you no longer operate as a statesman but, rather, as an emotional hothead or a marketing consultant. (Add to that that Bildt recently refused in the Swedish Broadcasting’s ”Saturday Interview” to distance himself from neo-Nazi elements in Kiev).
Bildt’s simplifying, twisted interpretation of Georgia 2008 is revealing of his biased emotionality where earlier – for instance during his position as High Rep in Bosnia – he deserved respect for operating in an intellectually sober manner.
If you don’t have your own thinking and policies, Russophobic platitudes is all you need. And it qualifies for CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Sweden is heading for NATO membership
Here follow a few recent events/news which emphasize further the deplorable path Sweden – its elites rather than its people – have decided to follow.
1. Sweden’s security political elite these years ”considers broader alliances with NATO and the EU” as Defence News recently informed us.
How enigmatic! After having been neutral and non-aligned during tough confrontation and tension in the Cold War years, Sweden now needs to join NATO when there is no single analysis anywhere that makes it likely that Sweden, in the foreseeable future, will be faced with a threat.
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 tax payers who are de facto threatened more by these interests than by Putin. A reality check would lead to a reality chock.
Cruise missiles for “deterrence”
2. Swedish planes shall now, in the light of a conveniently hysteric interpretation of the crisis in Ukraine, equip its planes with cruise missiles. (Defense News)
Incredibly, decisions like this is taken with the intellectually sloppy mantra that it adds to the country’s ‘deterrence’ capacity.
The security priesthood of the country consists of some researchers of military affairs at huge, well-financed state institutes in close contact with politicians and the military to whom military-loyal journalists have close bonds. Everybody, follow the party line! Saty in the box! Don’t challenge the domain assumptions!
Sweden now jumps on a sinking ship
The country that once did something for a better world, has joined the militarist world. In a time when both NATO and the US is getting weaker, Sweden’s elite foolishly plans to put all Sweden’s eggs there.
It has no policy vis-a-vis, say, the BRICS countries or any vision of the world in 20 years to navigate towards. It has no ideals, values or commitments, only a ”follow-the-US/NATO and EU” flock mentality.
The US Ambassador is invited to blackmail
3. The US 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, Mafiosi blackmailing disguised as deep concern and generous offer to bring (conditional, however) help. This was revealed by the conservative Swedish daily, Svenska Dagbladet, Google translation here.
How many – and which – ambassador’s are given the opportunity to speak directly to all parties of the Swedish parliament?
The message is pure blackmail – and based on fearology – 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 interests in Sweden is much larger 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.
If one of largest militaries per capita can’t defend its people there is something wrong with it
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 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 is about 140 million people and Sweden is 9 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 of the 9 million Swedes with a budget of 8 billion dollars (among the 10% 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 planes can pass through Swedish airspace in connection with its Ukraine crisis missions.
5. Sweden (and Finland) is discussing how to receive military aid, including troops, from NATO (see Dagens Nyheter April 27, 2014). This goes beyond what NATO members Denmark, Norway and Iceland have ever accepted. And Sweden is not a NATO member! (You may see a petition against this here)
It’s time to begin to think
Take the money, prestige, privileges and funds from the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes – MIMAC – of the world – and in Sweden too – and force them to think:
* Think for the common good and not for their vested interests.
* Think for the world and not for their parochial psycho-political nationalism.
* Think of the people’s human security and make violence-prevention the top goal.
* Think first of non-violent policies and use militry as the last resort in accordance with the UN Charter.
* Think as you should in a democracy, with the people, for the people and by the people.
As long as all you have on your shelves is fighter planes, the world’s problems will be seen as bombing missions.
And that’s when peace, co-operation and mutual understanding is dropped and cold – even warm – wars become ”realistic”. This must not be Sweden’s future.
Jan Oberg is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research in Lund, Sweden.