NATO and Sweden 

Since the creation of NATO in 1949, there has been ongoing attempts to expand the organization eastward to counter Soviet Union or Russian power. Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, NATO has successfully gained more members and significantly moved its borders closer to Russia. This has created increased tensions between NATO and Russia. Some have argued that NATO expansion and the desire to add Ukraine to its ranks contributed to the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. 

In April, Finland joined NATO as the 31st member of the military alliance and has already started building a fence along the Russian border. Finland’s 1,340-kilometer (832 mile) border with Russia is the longest of any European Union member. Next member target for NATO is Sweden. At this point, both Turkey and Hungary are objecting to Sweden joining the alliance. NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg made no breakthrough in recent talks about Sweden’s membership with Turkish President Erdogan.

NATO wants to bring Sweden into the fold by the time U.S. president Biden and other allied leaders meet in Lithuania on July 11-12, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to endorse the move. All 31 member countries must ratify a candidate’s accession protocol for it to join the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Biden has long been an advocate for NATO expansion. It is unclear why this has become a democratic party foreign policy cornerstone. It might have originated from Zbigniew Brzeziński, born in Warsaw in 1928, a democratic Polish American diplomat and political scientist and to some extent the creator of recent democratic party foreign policy. He served as a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968 and was President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981 and after that became a key influencer of senior democratic party members, including Obama and Biden. Brzeziński was a strong supporter of NATO and was fiercely anti-Russian. 

In addition to the expansion of NATO, the Biden administration has already sent more than $100 billion in support to Ukraine. Within the NATO framework, Biden is beefing up of US hardware in Europe: two more squadrons of F-35s in Britain, two more naval destroyers in Spain, an additional brigade in Romania and a permanent army headquarters in Poland. Biden hopes to find peace through a stronger military, NATO expansion and continued cold war actions against Russia. 

As far as Sweden is concerned, Turkey’s government accuses Sweden of being too lenient on terror organizations and security threats, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Sweden traditionally has strong links to Kurdish organizations, including the PKK. The PKK has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in clashes. It is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the U.S. Sweden has promised to tighten its terror law and the U.S. will continue to pressure Turkey and Hungary to approve Sweden. 

Sweden’s neutrality began after a disastrous loss of territory to Russia during the Napoleonic wars in 1812. This security policy enabled it to distance itself from shifting military alliances, leaving Sweden neutral throughout European conflicts and wars, including the world wars. This neutrality has served Sweden well for more than 200 years, so it seems odd that Sweden should be so eager to join the U.S. and NATO crusade against Russia. It seems that neutrality has benefited Sweden greatly in the past and it would likely continue to be positive for Sweden. However, given the strong desire by the U.S. to have Sweden join NATO, it seems likely that eventually Sweden actually will join. Turkey is clearly looking for something in return for an approval though…to be continued… 

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