(votes: 3, rating: 3.67)
Provocatively as it may sound, militarism is now a major factor for what may be left of Western cohesion. Undoubtedly, both Sweden and Finland have been under severe pressure on the part NATO and the U.S. in particular. Further, Sweden and Finland are now joining because elites related to the MIMAC in both countries, rather than the people,decide on security and foreign policy matters. There was extremely little open and intellectually free public discussion, and no alternatives to NATO membership presented to public debate.
It was argued that there cannot be a referendum because there was a substantial time pressure, presumably before Russia would also "take" Sweden and Finland after it controls all of Ukraine. A further reason to join is the intellectual disarmament that decision-makers have united around one alternative, forgot to leave other doors open and deliberately quelled alternatives.
The Swedes and the Finns will become less secure. There will be harder confrontation and polarisation as well as much less communication instead of soft borders and mediating attitudes. In a serious crisis, they will be drawn in at an early stage. Russia’s weapons will increasingly be re-targeted towards the Nordic countries.
Decision-makers have left the realm of the rational factural analysis, perceptions and interpretations. And they would never have agreed to spend a similar sum to help solve one of humanity’s real problems, say alleviating poverty and certainly not with the same urgency and determination.
The end of the Nordic region’s role as constructively “different” and low-tension
In this article, I attempt to take a macro perspective on the disastrous developments for the Nordic region’s security, peace prospects and traditionally constructive role in the wider international system. What used to be called the Nordic balance—having different security profiles, taking each other’s basic interests into account but not forming a Nordic alliance with uniform policies—has been incrementally demolished in consequence of the U.S./NATO provocative expansion since 1990 that broke all the well-documented promises made at the time by the West’s leaders to Mikhail Gorbachev about not expanding NATO one inch eastwards if he accepted a re-unified Germany in NATO.
The NATO-Russia deadlock that has led to the conflict in Ukraine served only a pretext to what has been going on the last roughly three decades, ending so far—to mention a few instances—in Denmark’s role as faraway bomber nation since 1999 and negotiations with the U.S. about bases on Danish territory; Norway’s similar bomber role and acceptance of U.S. bases on its territory; heightened tensions in the region (and the Arctic) and, as I predicted right after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Finland’s and Sweden’s panicking, rushed and fatal decision to join NATO.
Why Sweden and Finland are joining NATO
NATO’s Cheek by Russia’s Jowl
Here are some of the possible reasons for this tension-increasing and security-reducing membership decision:
— Undoubtedly, both have been under heavy pressure on the part NATO and the U.S. in particular. Sweden’s late prime minister, Olof Palme, who stood for the UN goal of international disarmament, nuclear abolition and the intelligent concept of common security, was murdered physically but also politically. U.S. ambassadors have held secret meetings with Swedish MPs, involving many channels, demands and rewards.
— Sweden’s single worst security challenge was the Russian submarine, U 137 Whiskey on the Rocks. It was a Russian submarine, yes, but the operation was an American PSYOP—Psychological Operation—conducted by the “Navigation Expert” on whose board was the only one never interviewed in Sweden and who soon after disappeared.
It was a PSYOP intended to make Sweden recognise that the Soviet Union was a threat, that its defence against the East was deficient and that it should seek protection from the West itself. This is rather well-documented by professor emeritus, Ola Tunander’s, eminent multi-decade research, latest published in the book, “Navigations-Experten. Hur Sverige lät sig bedras av U 137” (The Navigation Expert. On how Sweden accepted to be deceived by U 137). Step by step, Sweden was guided in the “right” direction. Certain Swedish politicians knew what was going on, but the media and the people did not.
— Both countries have moved to be wooed by the U.S. and NATO. They have, over the last 20 years, become engaged with NATO in all kinds of ways—so, as the saying goes: Since we are already engaged, why not marry now? In other words, Finland and Sweden now join because they have made one wrong decision after the other, drew themselves into a “no-choice-but-NATO” corner and abdicated every ounce of their historical, independent-minded creative foreign policy thinking. And stopped criticising warfare and militarism. Like in other parts of the NATO world, the peace discourse has been disappeared.
That has also been possible because critical, or alternative, independent intellectual input into ministries of foreign affairs has been cut out and substituted by various types of pro-American marketing of policies, spin-doctoring and shallow “analyses” with predictable conclusions. For decades, the elites of what I call MIMAC, orthe Military-Industrial-Media Academic Complex, have influenced the national pro-NATO Groupthink in all the Nordic countries.
Provocatively as it may sound, militarism is now a major factor for what may be left of Western cohesion, as I have argued in “Abolish NATO Or Convert It To Serve Peace. 30 Arguments” (2022). It can be seen as a form of secular religion withits theses and threat postulates not up for discussion and NATO as its church.
— Further, Sweden and Finland are now joining because elites related to the MIMAC in both countries, rather than the people,decide on security and foreign policy matters. There was extremely little open and intellectually free public discussion, and no alternatives to NATO membership presented to public debate. Public service and leading dailies all on the NATO line. Decision-makers knew that NATO’s nuclear weapons foundation and its members’ wars, particular in the Middle East, were seen as negative among the citizenry. Neither was there any discussion of the likely costs of NATO membership.
— It was argued that there cannot be a referendum because there was a substantial time pressure, presumably before Russia would also “take” Sweden and Finland after it controls all of Ukraine. The most important foreign and security political decision since 1945 was made virtually without comprehensive analyses of pros et cons or long-term consequences and in a hurry, exploiting the massive, one-sided media promoted outrage at Russia, utilizing the beloved enemy reference to whom is all that is needed to explain what ’we’ have to do what we do.
The Swedish decision-makers of course knew that there would never be a 75% majority for NATO, which is what there should be to make such a fundamental, fateful decision. So much, you may say, for democracy—but no new NATO member has held a referendum where NATO and other alternatives were freely discussed and a 75% majority came out in favor. And 75% would be a reasonable criteria for joining.
According to the Swedish Svenska Dagbladet daily of May 6, 2022, 48% of the respondents think that Sweden should join NATO, but the number of those undecided have increased from 22% to 27% in just one week.
Finland’s pro-NATO opinion seems to have grown from 53% in February to 76% in May 2022. It was, however, only 19% in 2017 according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Ukraine has played its role.
—A further reason to join is the intellectual disarmament that decision-makers have united around one alternative, forgot to leave other doors open and deliberately quelled alternatives. Peace has come to mean weapons, deterrence, more and more of it coupled to blind loyalty with every US/NATO war. For instance, then Social Democratic prime minister Göran Persson’s government quickly decided to scrap Sweden’s legislation banning weapons export in 2001 in order to be able to continue exporting arms to the US during its invasion of and war in Iraq.
This multi-year intellectual disarmament is manifest and always tends to favour military over civilian means as well as diplomacy. And not only in these countries, of course.
An institute such as SIPRI—Stockholm International Peace Research Institute — has decayed intellectually into something that should rather be named Stockholm International Military Security Research, SIMSI, as I have suggested years ago. If a defining criteria of academic peace research is to seek reduction of all kinds of violence, like medicine is about reducing diseases, SIPRI has nothing to offer today.
In other words, the political creativity that was needed to run an independent policy of common security, neutrality, non-alignment and global disarmament coupled with a strong belief in international law vanished years ago.
Once upon a time, in contrast, Finland’s President Kekkonen stood for policies of active neutrality, a special relationship with the Soviet Union — Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance — a go-between role and initiating the OSCE. Finland could be proud of a foreign policy that made its people feel that neither the East nor the West was an enemy, various kinds of equidistance prevailed. And that was during the height of the First Cold war when the Warsaw Pact was about 10 times stronger vis-a-vis NATO than Russia is today.
How was it possible? One reason was that policies had an intellectual foundation and leaders a deep experience with and consciousness about what war meant. Not so today. It’s easier to follow the flock and make more or less populist, Twitter-like statements about threats, war and peace.
Some likely consequences of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership.
Route Restored? Results of the NATO Summit in Madrid
There are potentially so many—some more likely than others—that they cannot all be listed in a short, pointed analysis like this. But let me mention:
— The Swedes and the Finns will become less secure. There will be harder confrontation and polarisation as well as much less communication instead of soft borders and mediating attitudes. In a serious crisis, they will be drawn in at an early stage, occupied and told what to do by the US/NATO. Russia’s weapons will increasingly be re-targeted towards the Nordic countries. We will have hard borders—Finland building fences—and the Baltic Sea will no longer be a sort of buffer but a NATO Sea.
— Probably because there is no real threat of a Russian occupation of any Nordic NATO member, the authorities have to invent them by using ’fearology’ — i.e. telling their citizens that the threat is very serious and only NATO membership and bigger military budgets can protect and save them. It’s long been a standard argument in Stockholm that Russia might occupy the island of Gotland in the Baltics, and in May 2023 the Swedish Chief of Defence stated—not without similarity to a calm hysteric—that Russia might attempt in a crisis situation to occupy southern Sweden (Skåne) which I have argued here should be a reason why he ought to be replaced.
— To the degree that, at some point in the future, the two countries will be asked to host US bases—like Norway and Denmark now—they won’t be able to say ‘No’! Such bases will be Russia’s first-order targets in a war situation. Since September 2022, Finland is in negotiations with the US about US bases close the Finnish-Russian border.
— From a Russian point of view, of course, their NATO membership is extremely tension-increasing and confrontational. Russia has 8% ($ 66 billion) of the military expenditures of the combined total of NATO members. Now there will be a huge re-armament throughout NATO; the 2% of GDP is now a floor. In passing, this measures is bizarre in that military budgets should be determined in relation to a comprehensive analysis of civilian and military threats and not be tied to whether a country’s economy expands or contract. But, again such is the intellectual level in both politics and the media.
Germany alone plans to increase to almost twice as much as Russia’s expenditures. Ukraine has received at least US$ 75 billion of weapons, even exhausting NATO budgets and depleting arsenals which, one would think, implies a reduction in security. Add a re-armed Sweden and Finland and we shall see Russia’s military expenditures move towards perhas 4% of NATO’s expenditures or less—and still be called a formidable threat.
Decision-makers have left the realm of the rational factural analysis, perceptions and interpretations. And they would never have agreed to spend a similar sum to help solve one of humanity’s real problems, say alleviating poverty and certainly not with the same urgency and determination. (These policies have already proven to have seriously negative consequences for Europe itself—and the destruction of Nord Stream will deepen the malaise; in addition, they do not have the intended effects on Russia. But, as has been shown at the G7 Hiroshima Summit, nobody stops and thinks.
— There will be virtually no confidence-building, arms control and conflict-resolution mechanisms left in Europe. No discussion will be possible about a new all-European peace and security system. And whether it is understood and respected or not, Russia will feel even more intimidated, isolated and—in a certain situation—might lose rationality and act in despair—as does, normally, the weaker party in an a-symmetric conflict.
NATO-Russia direct confrontation and escalation certainly cannot be excluded. Neither can human mistakes or technical failures under circumstances with very little communication. We are living in very dangerous times and these two countries in NATO and Norway and Denmark ever more integrated in NATO will only increase that danger, towards lose-lose for all.
— If Finland and Sweden so strongly wanted to be “protected” by the United States and/or NATO, it is completely unnecessary for these two countries to join because, if there is a serious crisis, the US/NATO will under all circumstances come to “protect” or rather use their territories to be closer to the Baltic republics. That’s what the Host Nation Support agreements are about.
The only reason to join could be paragraph 5—but the disadvantage is that paragraph 5 requires that Finland and Sweden will be expected to participate in wars that are not about their defence and perhaps even in future international law-violating wars à la those in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. But will young Finns and Swedes be wounded and killed in future NATO-country wars? Are their societies really ready for that?
— It will cost a fortune to convert their military infrastructure to full NATO membership—and when they have joined, they cannot not pay whatever the price will turn out to be. In addition, there will be much less de facto sovereign decision-making possible—here de jure is irrelevant. And it was already very self-limited before they joined.
— As NATO members, Finland and Sweden cannot but share the responsibility for nuclear weapons—the deterrence and possible use of them by NATO. It’s also obvious that NATO vessels may bring nuclear weapons into their ports, but they will not even ask; they know the arrogant US response that “we neither confirm nor deny that sort of thing.”
This goes against every fiber of the Finnish and Swedish people—and Sweden’s decision to not develop nuclear weapons dating some 70 years back.
Despite this sentiment, the present Swedish prime minister visited NATO’s HQ on the third day of his PM status and declared—without any such mandate in Sweden—that his country would live up to all its obligations in NATO including its nuclear doctrine. (No media reacted).
— The days when Sweden and Finland can—in principle, at least—work for alternatives are numbered. That is, for the UN Treaty on nuclear abolition and the UN goals of general and complete disarmament, any alternative policy concepts like common security, human security, a strong UN etc. They won’t be able to serve as mediators—like, say, Austria and Switzerland. No NATO member can pay anything but lip service to such noble goals. NATO is not an organisation that encourages alternatives. Instead, it seeks monopoly as well as regional and global dominance.
— Finland and Sweden say yes to militarist thinking, to a ‘peace’ paradigm that is imbued with weapons, armament, offensiveness (long-range + large destructive capacity), offensive deterrence and constant threatening: NATO is human history’s most militaristic organisation. Its leader, the United States of America, has been at war 225 out of 243 years since 1776. And, according to Brown University’s Cost of War Project, it has killed 900 000 people directly and 3,6 indirectly since 200, predominantly in the Middle East. Every idea about nonviolence, the UN Charter provision of making peace by predominantly peaceful means (Article 1 in the Charter) will be out of the window.
— The political attention, as well as funds, will tend to switch to military matters, away from contributing to solving humanity’s most urgent problems. But—we know it now—the excuse will be Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
— While everybody knows that the Arctic is going to be a region of central security and peace concerns in the near future, this issue has hardly been discussed in relation to the two countries’ NATO membership. However, it doesn’t require much expertise to see that US/NATO access to Sweden and Finland, in addition to Norway and increased prsence in Greenland represents a clear advantage for them in the future confrontation with Russia and China there.
Military Aspects of Russia’s Stance in the Arctic
As NATO members, Sweden and Finland not only accept but reinforce decades of hate of the Russian people, everything Russia including Russian-European culture. They will say yes to the West’s reckless, knee-jerk collective (illegal) collective punishment the Russian people, the cancellation of Russia on all dimensions including the human rights violation committed by preventing citizens from accessing certain Russian media.
— The prospect that no NATO advocates talk about is this: In all likelihood, we have only seen the hard beginning of an extremely cold Cold War with an ever-increasing risk of a Hot War too. It is the stated purpose of the US—and that means NATO—to weaken Russia militarily in Ukraine so it can’t rise ever again and to undermine its economy back home through history’s hardest, time-unlimited and unconditional sanctions—that is, sanctions that most likely will not be lifted in a lifetime.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the US/NATO system is also moving towards an ever colder Cold War policy vis-a-vis China as is documented in TFF’s Behind the Smokescreen Report. With a United States and EU that is declining relatively on a series of indicators, this is clearly self-destructive and accelerates that decline.
— Finally, by joining NATO, the two countries and the rest of the Nordics will be forced to side with the larger West in the future world order change in which China, the Middle East, Africa and South America as well as huge non-Western regional associations will gain strength.
The U.S. priority Number One is China. As NATO members, the Nordic countries will be unable to walk on two legs in the future, a Western and a Non-Western, and will decline and fall together with the West, the U.S. and NATO in particular.
A split and problem-torn U.S., EU and NATO have just come together for one reason: the negative policy of hating Russia and cover-up for its crystal clear co-responsibility for the conflict that brought us where we now are.
The West has no positive vision anymore—its actions are about re-armament, threats, sanctions, demonization, the self-righteous “we-never-did-anything-wrong” and the concomitant psycho-political projection of its own dark sides upon others, Russia and China in particular.
For small countries to put all their eggs in one basket when they do have alternatives and acting without a clue about the next five-to-ten years has always been a recipe for disaster, for war. It also means an increased risk of being drawn into global warfare; it must be remembered that NATO is 31/32 members but has over 40 partners on all continents and that the alliances’ de facto operations on a daily basis violated its own Treaty of 1949 which, with the exception of Chapter 5, is a copy of the UN Charter.
There were huge problems which should have been solved for humanity to survive: climate, environment, poverty, inequality, militarism, nukes, etc. They are now banished to the shadows. Economic crisis and disruptions followed, and then came the Corona and took a heavy toll on all kinds of resources and energies. And, finally, now this war in Europe with its underlying NATO-provoked conflict.
This is not the time to make huge, irreversible decisions in a mood of historical hysteria and panic. This is indeed a moment that requires caution and rational decision-making instead of fearology-based, limitless militarism.
There were alternatives
In my view, this tragic situation of a new type of Cold War in Europe could have been avoided. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact represented a golden opportunity to shape a new all-European peace and security house, a UN-like Europe with a strong OSCE, a new thinking—perestroika—towards defensive defence, common human and global security and giving priority to early warning and civilian conflict-handling.
NATO of course would be incompatible with such new thinking and since it’s own raison d’etre had disappeared, it made European members and global partnership expansion its new raison d’etre.
One can only regret that all the Nordic countries lack the political freedom and intellectual power to see the larger picture in time and space. NATO has had the time since 1949 to prove that it can make peace. We know now that it can’t. The Nordic countries’ complete integration into NATO, therefore, is one big gift to militarism and future heightened insecurity and warfare.
(votes: 3, rating: 3.67)