Hello from Bison Peak in Colorado. By the time you see this, the knot should be tied on Sweden joining NATO. There’s still a little arm-twisting that will go on behind the scenes, but most of the heavy lifting is done (and Turkey got the bribe they wanted, sooo everyone’s happy).
From a strategic POV, this is a huge win for NATO. Sweden is, bar none, the most capable country to join the alliance in the last 50 years, not just another security consumer mooching off everyone else. In addition, Sweden’s capabilities are also hyperfocused on one goal in particular…keeping Russia in its place.
Sure, the Swedes have been relatively neutral in the past, but they’re still armed to the teeth with shiny new toys. And from the perspective of the Americans, getting Sweden on board was the best possible outcome.
For the alliance as a whole, Sweden is more than just another name on the list; it’s a country that could reshape NATO’s entire outlook on the war in Ukraine.
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Hello from Bison Peak in Colorado. I’m at about 12,000 feet right now. Probably won’t be staying here for the night anyway. By the time you get this message, everything should be pretty official. It looks like the Swedes are going to be joining Naito at the Vilnius summit. The Turks, after making a couple of outlandish demands, they basically indicated that they were looking for a bribe.
Apparently behind the scenes got the bribe that they were after and have given a preliminary approval. Now, this is not done until it’s done. You still have to have the Turkish parliament sign off on ratification. And after that there is one more obstacle with the Hungarian parliament. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has actually been acting as a advanced force for the Russians in Nieto in the EU.
So there are some complications could could arise. But the heavy lifting has been done now and that’s just to require a little bit of light arm twisting to probably make it happen. I have no idea what the bribe is that the Turks demanded and received, but everyone seems pretty pathetic. Things like this happen in Europe all the time anyway.
So on to the strategic issue. First and foremost, Sweden is the most capable country to join NATO’s since its formation back in the 1950s 1952. I believe you had your initial batch of Atlantic countries, which included, say, Britain and the Netherlands and Canada, the United States, obviously, those were very capable countries. And then in 1955, West Germany was admitted almost as a subject state.
The Germans were not allowed or issued opinions on strategic issues, and so they basically just served as a bulwark within the to the allied system until we had reunification in the 1980s. And since then, the countries that have joined, whether it’s during the seventies and the eighties, with countries like Greece or Spain or Portugal or in the post-Cold War era, such as Latvia or Romania or Poland, they have definitely fall into the category of what they like to call security consumers, countries that don’t have militaries that are right size to their needs and or have extreme geographic vulnerability to potential hostiles.
Sweden is the first country of note that has does not achieve that pattern. Sweden has been a major industrial military power over a half a millennia. And the reason we don’t think of Sweden as a major player is because for the last 300 years it’s been neutral in a conflict called the Great Northern War. Three centuries ago, Sweden was the preeminent military power of the entirety of Europe and almost ended up ruling it all.
And it took a coalition of everybody else, including the Russians and the people that we now think of as the Germans, to break Swedish power in Northern Europe. Since then, they have enforced a degree of neutrality on themselves, literally going back centuries. But they are not a normal, neutral country. They are armed to the freakin teeth. They are a maritime power.
But unlike the United States that has maritime interests in every ocean basin, theirs is entirely focused on the Baltic Sea. They have arguably the best amphibious military capability outside of the United States and the United Kingdom. And again, it’s very, very focused on a very specific geography. And that means that with the Swedes within the NATO’s firmly, you get that sort of defense competence with a cooperation that is very, very focused on one thing and one thing only.
And that is Russia. The Swedes have been quietly advocating for positions that will box in the Russians and that will encourage independence and development in places like the Baltic republics ever since 1992. Now they’re not doing it as a neutral. Now they’re doing it hand in glove, and it’s only going to be a matter of time, I would say, weeks to months, not years to decades before Sweden emerges as one of the leading voices within the alliance itself on pretty much everything that matters as regards the Ukraine war.
That means defense cooperation, that means military procurement, that means pushing for democracy in all of the fringe states. That means hemming in the Russians. That means taking a relatively forthright position vis a vis the Chinese. It is basically you’re looking from an American point of view, is it the best country in the world? Just joined the network. And unlike countries like, say, France or Turkey or even the United Kingdom that have their fingers in a lot of pots.
And so there’s always conflicting interests in the Swedish military. Every day, you wake up, you prepare for one thing, the war with the Russians. And there is a war with the Russians right now. All right. That’s it for me, everyone. Take care.