Agneta Norberg, Long-time Swedish Peace Activist: Sweden and Finland, former `neutral’ countries, are drawn more closely into NATO
Note: In the summer of 2011, Nancy and I visited Finland after an absence of 21 years. Much had changed. The `knock out’ social programs that had characterized our five year stay there with our daughters had eroded some. Recognizing that was saddening. Still much better than anything we have in the US oF A, but it was clear that the glory days of Finnish social democracy are over. The gap between rich and poor, as a result of the country’s partial opening to U.S. style neo-liberal capitalism was evident. More homelessness,whole classes of people (Finnish farmers) thrown into poverty, but also a small core of more super-wealthy Finns. Finland too has its 1%. The gap between rich and poor – as narrow as any in the capitalist world in the 1980s had grown substantially. The Finnish basis of political power within the European Community – one company really – Nokia, has lost some of its momentum, and with that Finnish prestige and influence in the European Union has shrunk some too.
In response to my queries about Finnish security policy, I was repeatedly told by old friends that polls continued to indicate that more than 70% of Finns opposed the country drawing too close to NATO and giving up it history role – adapted with striking speed after the Battle of Stalingrad turned the tide of WW2 – of neutrality. Finland had just fared well economically as a bridge between East and West, but it was also a principled foreign policy that gave the Finns a respected voice in both the USSR and Western Europe. But if Finns in their majority still probably hold to such views, the Finnish government and military find themselves moving more and more into NATO’s orbit. These economic and security trends apply equally for Sweden as for Finland, and perhaps even more.
Besides further surrounding Russia, as it did during the Cold War and continues to do through NATO today, the United States security policy towards northern Europe is fixated on a quiet but aggressively developing competition over control of the Arctic Ocean both on the North American and Russia side. Strangely enough this rivalry is fueled in part by global warming which all the Arctic players (the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Japan, maybe even UK) have dibs on. Hurricane Sandy might have put the fear of global warming into the minds of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites, but in Moscow and Houston (seat of the oil companies) they are peeing in their pants for joy every time global temperatures rise another degree Celsius In a bizarre way, all the players are counting on the distinct possibility that global warming will melt the northern ice enough to create a sea passage from the Altantic to the Pacific, one sought after for centuries by Dutch, British and Italian maritime interests as a path to the riches of Asia. Similarly, the North Americans are pinning their hopes that the famed (at least if you are Canadian) Northwest Passage from the Hudson Bay to the Pacific will open up as well.
Besides opening strategic maritime Arctic gateways, the possibility of finding large reserves of oil and natural gas is fueling the competition as well. There are strong suggestions that such reserves exist above Russia. All the energy competitors see global warming as less of a threat to the fate of the earth than an opportunity to make yet a few more hundred billion dollars. Strange world that puts short term gain before the fate of the earth…but that is how it is shaping up, and not just in the Arctic. In any case, I hope this gives some perspective to Agneta Norberg’s commentary below. Met her once briefly a quarter of a century ago. Like Ever-Ready batteries, she just keeps on truckin’, as does our dear Swedish friend, Marily Barden, who sent me this.
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Sweden and Finland Join NATO’s Militarization in the Arctic North
By Agneta Norberg
My intervention here is about Sweden and Finland, two countries in NATO’s
“Partnership for Peace.” The US National Security Directive #66 states:
“The US has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic
region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests.
“These interests include missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence and maritime security operations; and freedom of navigation and over-flight.”
In November 2009 the US Navy released a paper called “Navy Arctic Roadmap.”
The paper refers to the directive quoted above and the roadmap speaks
about the intent to “Preserve the global mobility of US military and civilian vessels and aircrafts throughout the Arctic region.”
Less than three weeks after unveiling this Arctic strategy, NATO held a
two-day meeting in Iceland attended by US/NATO top-military commanders and
the NATO Secretary General. They proclaimed that the high north is going to get more NATO attention. (Now that Arctic ice is melting due to climate change and energy corporations can drill for oil.) Russia was not invited to send an observer.
Norway has now moved its operational command into the Arctic, the only
command centre above the polar circle, and purchased 48 F–35 fighter jets
for Arctic patrol. Denmark is said to have plans to establish an Arctic
Command, an Arctic response force and military buildup at the Thule airbase in Greenland. The US and Britain are conducting joint submarine warfare exercises under the shrinking Polar ice cap.
Today all countries bordering Russia are members of NATO or in the Partnership for Peace, which most people describe as an antechamber to NATO.
US military airfields are set up in all Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Hungary. Fighters from the US, Great Britain, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden are training on daily missions close to St Petersburg, Russia. All this is a breach of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. Russia is today totally encircled by hostile installations and some of these are radars, which will serve the dangerous missile defense program.
Also for this purpose huge radar installations are installed in northern Norway (at Vardö), Romania and in Turkey.
How do Sweden and Finland fit into this pattern? Both countries have taken
part in numerous recent war exercises held in northern and southern Sweden
and northern Norway with the NATO countries as well and in the waters in
the Baltic Sea.
On the December 15, 2004 the Swedish parliament passed a decision about
Sweden’s adjustment to NATO, and the US military’s need for a large training area for their many wars. A large part of Northern Sweden will
be opened up for military training of combat vehicles, fighter planes, weapons and drones.
At North European Aerospace Test range (NEAT), weapons corporations were invited to test systems of different kinds and join war exercises. The new type of satellite-directed war requires larger areas for training as do weapon systems like AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile).
The area is ideal because it’s as large as the country of Macedonia. In July 2010, The US Air Force conducted bomb training for a couple of weeks at NEAT and British Royal Air Force was allowed to train almost the entire year 2011. But already in 2002 Israel got permission to train their drones, which later were used in the war on Gaza.
Esrange, the world’s biggest downloading station for satellites, not far from the city of Kiruna, is situated within NEAT. Every state or corporation, which are ready to pay, can buy maps from Esrange over any area on the earth.
When in South Korea, I came to know that Esrange serves the South Korean Air Force with maps covering North Korean territory. Another example of Esrange´s role in warfare is the following story: At a lecture in Kiruna, by Bruce Gagnon a couple of years ago about how space is used in modern warfare, one young woman in the audience confessed that she as a student trainee at Esrange, had questioned the practice of downloading maps of Russian territory. She asked why these maps were sent to receivers in the US. She never got a good explanation, she told us.
There is a rather strong resistance towards joining NATO in both Sweden
and Finland according to recent polls. What can the governments do to circumvent these anti-NATO sentiments and bring us into this dangerous alliance?
One way is to drag non-NATO countries into the alliance without mentioning NATO. This was done in 2011 when British Prime Minister Cameron hosted a meeting in London and invited all Nordic countries, including the Baltic states, to consolidate common interests with the Nordic nations. The common interests were about air space, sea areas, security in Northern regions, cyber security, training in equipment and of troops.
“Interoperability” it is called. The reason for this cooperation was said to be the increasing tensions in the Arctic area. We have to understand these realities and make pressures on the parliamentarians in political parties who proclaim in their party programme that they are against NATO membership. We have to start a serious debate about these dangerous step-by-step developments.
Many Swedish and Finnish people still believe we are non-aligned and neutral countries.
We who see the dangerous developments have to work together with other Nordic activists to counter these war preparations and stop it. One step
we are planning is to hold the 21st annual Global Network space organizing
conference in Kiruna, Sweden on June 27–30, 2013. By bringing key peace
movement leaders from around the world to northern Sweden we intend to
shine a bright light on these offensive and destabilizing NATO plans for war to control Arctic resources. Please plan to join us.
Agneta Norberg is vice chair of Swedish Peace Council, a member of the IPB Steering Committee and serves on the Global Network board.
The Crumbling of Finland’s Consensus Culture: Silence Into Rumpus by Johanna Korhenen. at Open Democracy