Eduard Chmelár comments on Sweden’s decision to join NATO and stop being a neutral state after two hundred years.
Comment by Eduard Chmelár
This article was published on 16 May 2022 at the Czech media !Argument.
Overrunning Ukraine was the biggest political, military and strategic mistake of Vladimir Putin’s career. The world peace movement will never forgive him for literally resurrecting the North Atlantic Alliance, which was already in a state of clinical death, even in the words of French President Emmanuel Macron, and making it relevant again. He has thus put the brakes on the search for a new security architecture for the 21st century for a long, long time.
The creation of this architecture, despite the fierce opposition of the NATO supporters, is inevitable, only it will now take longer, more complicated and probably more tragic. For NATO’s militarist philosophy does not match the needs and threats facing the planet. In the panic that followed the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Putin prolonged the life of the North Atlantic Alliance and gave the militarists of all countries the best alibis for their perverse actions. This is to say nothing of the way in which he screwed Serbia by asking the West to recognise an independent Donbass in exchange for recognition of Kosovo, which is rightly felt in Belgrade as a betrayal.
Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO also fits into this general hysteria. Although the two countries are presented in the media as twins in this process, their motives are different.
Finland has a border with Russia of over 1 300 kilometres and complicated historical relations. It was conquered by Tsar Alexander I of Russia in 1809 and lost its independence for over a century. When Finland declared independence after the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin immediately recognised it, but it was attacked twice by Stalin during the Second World War and had to give up ten per cent of its territory. The Finns were effectively forced into neutrality, notably by the 1948 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union, which cut them off militarily from Europe.
Sweden’s policy of neutrality has been historically successful
It is a different story with Sweden. Sweden has been neutral since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814, making it not only the oldest neutral country in the world, but also the country with the longest-lasting peace in human history. It is a proven fact that Sweden has kept the peace precisely because of its neutrality, which the NATO propagandists constantly try to question and falsify. They point, in particular, to the specific Belgian case and claim that neutrality does not actually work. This is a deliberate misrepresentation; the Swedish experience is quite different.
It is therefore incomprehensible that a country that has built up a two-hundred-year tradition (and, let us emphasise, a very successful one, both domestically and in foreign policy) should give up this precious asset without any in-depth discussion, after intense pressure from the United States and in an atmosphere of international political hysteria in a matter of weeks. It was the Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson herself who, only two months ago, was explaining to the public that Sweden’s application to NATO would destabilise northern Europe, that such an important decision should only be taken in times of calm, that predictability is one of the greatest virtues of security policy.
Finally, the rhetoric of the two brotherly states is also different – while the Finnish President explicitly stated in his conversation with Putin that his homeland is joining NATO for his sake, the Swedish Prime Minister, on the contrary, assures that it is not for Russia’s sake. So what is it because of?
To join NATO is to abandon the legacy of Olof Palme
Another important argument against Sweden joining NATO is its long-standing strong commitment against nuclear weapons, which is a fundamental pillar of Swedish foreign policy. However, NATO is a nuclear alliance and to join it is to accept its nuclear weapons doctrine. That is why the former Minister for Development Aid, Pierre Schori, recalled the message of the assassinated Prime Minister Olof Palme, who, forty years ago, warned against considering joining NATO, saying that ‘the nuclear-armed states will always hold us hostage’.
It was the Swedish Social Democrats who, during forty years of uninterrupted rule, promoted and maintained a policy of ‘middle ground’ between the rival superpowers, the USA and the USSR.
The world is losing its balance.
Today, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde naively thinks that Sweden’s NATO membership “will have a dampening effect on conflicts in Europe.” The opposite is true. I have written before that NATO expansion is something of a pyramid game from a security point of view, and all the great geopolitical strategists from George Kennan to Henry Kissinger have warned of the risks in this sense. In vain. Today we are reaping the consequences of this disastrous policy.
Pope Francis also warned that the real cause of this war was the expansion of NATO – and it is interesting that he has since been ignored by the major American media, and all the politicians who falsely claimed to be behind him no longer claim to be behind him. And yet we have imposed yet more North Atlantic Alliance, yet more armaments and yet more militarism on a sick planet. That is why I would argue that in Ukraine we have all earned ourselves a much bigger problem than it seems – a problem that will not end in victory for one side or the other, that we are still not solving, and that, in hindsight, we will judge that the Ukrainian war was only the beginning. The Sarajevo of the 21st century.
I am afraid that the Swedes themselves are unable to understand the consequences of such a policy today. They are acting impulsively, even if logically from their point of view. A recovery from this euphoria is inevitable. The Swedes will find this out the moment they are locked into a military alliance with Turkey and the US, which have diametrically different foreign policy objectives to Stockholm and with which they will have to undertake operations that Sweden will not agree to. Just remember how Stockholm protested when NATO took control of the international ISAF forces occupying Afghanistan in 2003.
The Swedes will get a second icy shower the moment they realise that Brussels will force them to increase their low military spending by a hundred per cent and that they will have no money to fund their generous social programmes.
After all, the Swedes themselves are not very enthusiastic about joining NATO. Many take it to mean that they have no choice, if that is what they decided in Helsinki, because they are militarily tied to Finland. Yes, the North Atlantic Alliance will be stronger and more confident militarily with Finland and Sweden, but that should not satisfy us, because there will not be fewer wars, but more. The world is losing its equilibrium, and that means that the current solution is temporary and conflict with the Eastern powers is inevitable.
I am therefore afraid that the Nordic countries have contributed, by this action, to a more or less illusory sense of their own security, but not to world peace.
Cover photo: Sweden and Finland representatives welcome in Washington, where they came to discuss their NATO application. Source: Office of the Vice-President of the US.