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Sweden finally within sight of joining NATO

Feb 21

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Sweden has been trying to join NATO for almost two years now, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Turkey and Hungary had been stalling that process, preventing Sweden from joining the Western military alliance. But recent public signals of approval from both Turkey and Hungary suggest a positive shift, indicating that the final obstacles for Sweden to join NATO might be disappearing.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan considers what assets Sweden can bring to NATO, and concludes that the Swedes are the most powerful NATO addition since the 1950s. With strong force projection in Arctic, amphibious, and other local terrain types, Zeihan says that the addition of Sweden will expand NATO capabilities in the Baltic theater.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s Feb. 21 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has indicated that Sweden accession to NATO shall be ratified by the Hungarian Parliament before March 1, which means Sweden will soon be welcomed into the alliance as a full member.

Sweden will be a very capable addition to NATO, as opposed to some other nations’ lackluster contributions. Between Sweden’s military prowess and strategic position on the Baltic Sea, there’s potential that Sweden has some immediate influence over NATO policies regarding Russia and Baltic states.

I suspect that Sweden will emerge as a prominent voice within the alliance and play a large role in the coming years.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. Today we’re going to do a bit of a redox. The big news, it’s February 17, is that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says that he fully expects the Hungarian parliament to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO when they reconvene before the end of the month. This is the last technical barrier between the Swedes and joining the full alliance. So I thought it would be a good time for us to review exactly what that means.

 

The Swedes are going to be a fantastic ally of the rest of the Europeans and especially Americans. And so here is the original video that we recorded on the topic. When it became obvious that the Turks were the second last to ratify the accession treaty did so a few months ago.

 

Hello from Bison Peak in Colorado. I’m at about 12,000 feet right now. Probably gonna be staying here from night. Anyway, by the time you get this message, everything should be pretty official. It looks like the Swedes are going to be joining NATO. At the Vilnius summit, the Turks, after making a couple 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 we there is one more obstacle but the Hungarian parliament.

 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has basically been acting as an advanced force for the Russians [sic] NATO in the EU. So there are some complications could, could arise. But the heavy lifting has been done an hour and us 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 close, pathetic. Things like this happen in Europe all the time. Anyway. So onto the strategic issue.

 

First and foremost, Sweden is the most capable country to join NATO 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 either the Allied system until we had reunification in the 1990s. And since then, the countries that have joined, whether it’s during the 70s in the 80s, 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 fallen into the category of what they like to call security consumers, countries that don’t have militaries that are right-sized to their needs, and/or have extreme geographic vulnerability to potential hostiles. Sweden is the first country of no two that has does not match that pattern.

 

Sweden has been a major industrial military power over a half a millennium. 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 frickin’ 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 family, you get that sort of defence 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 a 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 and all of the fringe states. That means hemming in the Russians, that means taking a relatively forthright person addition, visa vie 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.

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