3) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentyeight

I don’t think that an attack against Sweden will be of a military nature, but the attack will come in the form of a prolonged cyber operation and/or through an economic conspiracy against us. The only thing that can discourage the Russians from committing a cyber attack on Sweden is if we have an ability to attack Russia with the same means.

Georgia’s president Mikhail Saakashvili believed that NATO would intervene if Russia attacked Georgia militarily. But Georgia is more isolated localized geographically because there are only two access roads by land from the Nato country Turkey. Plus, the airport at Georgia’s capital Tbilisi is isolated. In addition, Turkey has a long history of turncoat policy regardless of the consequences for northern NATO countries and others, and it is the Turks who controls the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus into the Black Sea. A NATO intervention was hardly possible.

Georgia 2008 was the famous “litmus test”. It will of course be more of a risk-taking for Russia to attack Sweden before we can join NATO than it was to attack the isolated Georgia. But players come in plenty. Professor Rolf Tamnes, Norwegian historian and professor at the Department of Defense Studies (Institutt for forsvarsstudier – IFS), emphasizes that Russia does not trust Swedish non-alignment, since the extensive cuts in the Swedish defense force is considered as an incentive to seek external help, for example from NATO and the United States.

Apparently, it is not clear abroad what Swedish “non-alignment” stands for. In my opinion, it stands for freedom to choose alliance partners according to our own preferences. We should make this clear to the world, even if the outside world then will reject us even more, because uncertainties benefit us even less. We are sitting in the fox trap regardless.

How may Russia evaluate their geo-economic field and balance it with the geomilitary field?

1) Russia prefer to look at it as if the outside world is dependent on what they have to offer in the form of Russian gas and oil, but I believe that they realize that Germany may make themselves independent from the geostrategic Gazprom and thus Russia. They must keep the Germans happy.
2) It is almost a required condition that Russia is able to simultaneously attack the entire Baltics and parts of Scandinavia not to mention Iceland, if they intend to be able to count on free passage through Öresund, Kattegat and Skagerack, and they must be able to keep their main trading countries, e.g. the Netherlands and France.
3) This in turn requires that the United States first, nearly lose its superpower status. We therefore have no interest whatsoever in the United States losing its superpower status.

But I think that Sweden as a state must grant access to our territory for US troops on Swedish soil if we are to join NATO. It is not enough to receive a Naval ship visit from time to time, which we could also do as a non-aligned country in peacetime. I am not particularly happy to let 5,000 American hungry hearts invade a Swedish small town or one of our Baltic Sea islands in peacetime. Maybe we can do as Norway and let the US stock up materiel in Swedish bunker rooms?

Homework:

The US may have bases in Sweden as a requirement for a Swedish membership. Above all, an air defense base on one of our Baltic Sea islands and access to our airbases and ports. Otherwise the US will never have the time window to intervene in Scandinavia and even less in the Baltic countries, before Russia has swallowed parts of us. If the United States cannot intervene in time on our latitudes and longitudes, then it makes no sense for us to join NATO and we will probably then be denied membership.

But there is also the possibility to accomodate American service members families and thus unburden some pressure on our communities and our society as a whole. Let them contribute to our society and at the same time make it possible for them to use public services such as hospitals and schools at the same low cost as for Swedes. The schools should even be free of charge. I have absolutely no problems with Americans as a people.

Do you agree or not agree? Please motivate your position.

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden

2) To be or NATO be. Lesson twentyseven

Off course, the United States does not want to betray the baltic people, but it may be that they realize that it will be impossible to defend the Baltic countries if one does not add big resources to Norway and Poland. One can also choose to defend the Baltic countries already in the Baltics, by deploying long-range air defense systems and mechanized ”verbands” (German word for troops) in the Baltic states. Either the Americans do not see this possibility as realistic, or they abstain from it for political reasons e.g. because they do not want to rock the hornets nest. It might be that they have been duped or maybe they have missed the whole idea of their own fault. In any case, the Americans have not yet deployed any air defense systems in the Baltic countries.

Germany can, in a strategic twilight dusk, deny the Americans access or transit to Poland. In that case, a scenario with a “fire break” dividing Sweden is a probable solution. Chief Engineer Helge Löfstedt expressed this about the presumption of our cooperation in the journal Försvarsutbildaren nr 3 2014;

“The problem is mostly about how Sweden should avoid ending up in a situation where the help takes humiliating forms which leads to Swedish wishes being neglected in conjunction with the development of the conflict.”

What is good in the defense committee report “Road choices in a globalized world” (Vägval i en globaliserad värld) is that the defense committee proposes an expanded and deepened defense cooperation with the Baltic countries. But when they express themselves like this, they are only half right;

“The future is becoming increasingly difficult to predict. It is not possible to imagine that a military conflict in our immediate area would only affect one specific country. A military attack exclusively against Sweden remains unlikely for the foreseeable future. However, crises and incidents, which also include military means of power, can emerge in our region, and in the long term military threats can never be ruled out.”

It is a false axiom that Russia would not have the will or the ability to attack Sweden singularily. In the Georgia War of 2008, a singular Georgia with far-reaching plans to join the NATO organization stood against a Russian attacker, and the Russian attack was planned according to Putin’s own statement several years afterwards. The attack was a signal to the US that; “We can strangle your supply line of materiel and isolate the US forces in Afghanistan right here, so don’t even think about expanding NATO membership to Georgia at our expense.”

There is a threat against a singular Sweden, if our politicians say we will join NATO, just as there was a threat against Georgia in 2008. It must also seem very attractive to the Kremlin to secure its northern flank at a reasonable cost in a European full scale war.

The question is whether Russia really believes it would be easier to secure its northern flank than it would be to win in east Europe. If I am allowed to answer in the Kremlin’s place; It could be if, with “victory”, you are considering gains from the political and military neglect by the victim countries, as well as the result of the implementation of hybrid warfare combined with classic Russian extortion and threat rhetoric against the Scandinavian countries.

In eastern Europe, classic blackmailing and threat rhetoric doesn’t work as well as it do in northern Europe, in peacetime. Putin can annex a little bit at a time in eastern Europe. Or Putin can take a big chew in Scandinavia, as Hitler did.

If democracy can prevail and the people is allowed to decide on NATO membership, the decision is given a legitimacy which Putin will find hard to dismiss. If our Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and the Government (2019) are to decide, they will put Sweden in unnecessary danger. Which do you think is the most dangerous of the following three alternatives:

1) To apply for membership in NATO after an invitation to the Membership Action Plan.
2) Almost unnoticed bit by bit slipping into NATO without us applying for membership for that matter.
3) To be non-aligned or only in alliance with Finland and build a strong Swedish defense on our own.

Following line 1) requires that Sweden get militarily involved in the outside world and make binding commitments of military assistance to, among other countries, the Baltic states.

Following line 2) is a natural consequence of Sweden caring about its small neighboring countries and brothers in e.g. the Baltics. We are prepared to help the Baltic countries, even though we do not know how to do just that in the event of a Russian invasion of the Baltic countries, and that we are prepared to help gets us involved in international exercises and treaties dominated by the United States.

Following line 3) is a risky business because we don’t know what is going on inside Putin’s head. But we know that we then cannot count on help from the US, who is NATO’s foremost guarantor. We can, of course, be freeloaders just by realizing that the US and NATO almost certainly need to use Swedish territory as a build-up area for a recapturing of the Baltic States. But such thinking creates contempt among the NATO member countries, rightly so, and that may cause them to do whatever they feel like in and with Sweden. So, paradoxically, we lose influence and self-determination in the event of a war in our neighborhood if we would choose to follow line 3.

I believe that a Swedish NATO membership should be debated. But the decision should be left in the hands of the people through a general referendum, and not be left in the hands of the politicians who are not competent in anything that has to do with our defense, except for the gender issue and the ”value ground” that is. A popular referendum is an extra safety net for Sweden as a state, because it will not be as easy for Putin to militarily attack selected parts of Sweden if the decision on NATO membership is decided by vote of the Swedish people.

Homework:

Considering that we need to join the NATO organization simultaneously with Finland, as we already discussed a little in Lesson twentysix, how do you look at our dilemma? What road would you have embarked on if you had the above mentioned three choices?

Is there an additional choice?

Please motivate your conclusions.

Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden