The Historical Background: Sweden has had a policy of armed neutrality since 1812. But the breakup of the USSR did not lead to a period of peace as some believed. NATO and the EU both in co-ordination tried to take advantage of the collapse of the USSR and the collapse of Tito’s Yugoslavia to recruit countries to their respective organisation. The Cold War of the post-war period since the Yalta Conference has continued unabated throughout the postwar period.
The Russians hoped that when the Warsaw Pact was ended, NATO would end with it. This at least was the hope and expectation in the euphoria of what at the time many thought was the end of the Cold War that has been a constant presence in international politics since Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the capitulation of Japan. But it never happened. The Cold War did not end, though the Warsaw Pact did.
So here we are now in the EU which at the present time overwhelmingly consists of NATO member states. We do, after all, live in a neoliberal world, where conservative reaction is a powerful influence everywhere. NATO has expanded eastwards at protests from Russia to include the ex-Warsaw Pact countries of Central Europe. There are only a few exceptions of countries outside NATO apart from Sweden´s Armed Neutrality, which it shares with Switzerland. Irish Neutrality has been observed since the 1930s. and Finland remained outside NATO sharing a long border with Russia, but since the EU moved to incorporate Ukraine, Russian resistance was stiffened, and Finnish interest in joining NATO has declined markedly. Austria is also neutral. Serbia is in a similar position. Within Ukraine, Ukraine-NATO relations have been divided, positive in western Ukraine, negative in the eastern Ukraine and in Crimea.
Since the 2014 Riksdag Elections: The weak minority Social Democratic Government in a Hung Riksdag (see Don’t Mention the Immigrants!), resulted in a Bourgeois Alliance together with the Sweden Democrats defeating the Government’s budget and passing the Opposition shadow budget. A compromise was cobbled together that bypassed the Sweden Democrats and established three areas where the Bourgeois Alliance and the Social Democrats and Greens would agree to thrash out proposals that they could agree to, the three areas being education, energy, and defence.
The last of these – defence – addresses whether Sweden continues with its armed neutrality or “moves closer to” (närma sig) NATO” as the Moderate Leader cautiously put it. This is an odd formulation, as for three of the four bourgeois parties “moving closer” boils down to joining NATO. Centre Party remains uncommitted, while the Governing Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party are opposed to this. The Social Democrats are firmly opposed, arguing that we can and should co-operate with NATO, as is the case at present. The Lövfen Minority Social Democratic Government took this up with the Finnish Government and proposed closer military co-operation, including joint exercises with NATO. This both keeps Finland out of NATO while aligning the policies of Finland and Sweden. But almost certainly it will not be enough for three of the four bourgeois parties, who have suggested a Public Enquiry (Utredning), while the Government feels this is unnecessary.
The problem of financing is crucial. But the bungling mess of consecutive Governments of both main parties eager to make cuts has led to the present situation. If you spend 40 years cutting back on defence you cannot expect to make up the difference in 5 or 10 years without compromising other sectors of the economy which have also been cut back. Panic measures do more harm than good.
Related posts: Submarines in Stockholm Archipelago
See also related posts on EU: Ramshackle Empire: Sweden’s Armed Neutrality ; Swedish Military conscription; The EU is Rule by Oligarchy; Manoeuvrings within the EU Council; EU Council remains All-Powerful; EU Militarisation; EU Militarisation 2,