Comment: For whom should the Swedish people go to war?

The Sweden-NATO relationship

After 200 years of peace, every Swede is now suddenly being ordered to 'mentally prepare' for war by Sweden's commander-in-chief and government. It all seems very strange and would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. What exactly has happened?

publicerad 10 januari 2024
- av Markus Andersson
Commander-in-Chief Micael Bydén, Minister of Defense Pål Jonsson and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
This is an opinion piece. The author is responsible for the views expressed in the article.

The last time Sweden was really at war was in 1814 during the short campaign against Norway. Since then, more than two centuries have passed and, apart from a few missions in the Third World under the UN flag or NATO leadership, we have avoided being militarily involved in the major conflicts and wars. On the contrary, it is our non-alignment and the principle of neutrality that is highlighted globally. Even though war-mongering forces have of course often made accusations of cowardice, it was definitely clear that Sweden was a country that actually worked for peace and dialogue – not for war and escalation.

Recently, the situation has become diametrically opposed. For example, our Commander-in-Chief recently announced that all Swedes must be “ready” for war – “down to the individual level mentally preparing” for aggression.

It’s not “pitch black” yet, Micael Bydén adds, but he believes that the situation is extremely serious and that what is happening in Ukraine could also happen in Sweden – and that this is something that all citizens and society as a whole must now prepare for.

It has been well over 200 years since battles took place on Swedish territory, and since then, through determination, we have managed to avoid being involved in two bloody world wars. Now, in 2024, according to ÖB, we are suddenly facing a potentially imminent invasion.

The whole situation seems very strange. What is it that has prompted this sudden threat of war?

Accountability of Swedish politicians

What could Sweden, historically so peaceful and diplomatically successful, have done to cause the outside world (read: Russia) to consider us a threat to the extent that, according to our leaders, they might consider invading the country?

For decades, Swedish leaders have systematically and purposefully chosen to dismantle and disarm not only the Swedish military – but also civil defense and crisis preparedness in general. Stocks and reserves have been emptied, discarded and demolished. Nor has there been any ambition to keep the population equipped, strong and prepared in the event of crisis and war – rather the opposite has been sought.

When crisis and times of unrest (real or created) in Europe have subsequently become reality, it has been a simple matter for the power establishment to persuade the majority of citizens that Sweden stands no chance in the event of conflict. The solution sold is that the big, strong USA and NATO will come and “protect” us. Peace activists’ main criticism of Sweden’s increasingly close ties to the US is that it represents a fundamental departure from traditional Swedish non-alignment.

The popularly unsupported engagement with the US and NATO is widely claimed to strengthen Swedish security, while many point out that it has in fact had the exact opposite effect.

It is hardly far-fetched that the alleged threat of war is linked to the fact that Swedish authorities have decided to allow foreign soldiers and weapons systems onto Swedish soil. At present, there is not even a guarantee that American nuclear weapons are not already deployed in Sweden. In short, the country’s fate is now in the hands of others (read: the US) when it comes to existential decisions of fundamental importance to our future.

Infantile explanatory models

Instead of bluntly urging people to “prepare for war”, perhaps the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense, the Prime Minister and others could take the time to answer the question why? Why do our leaders suddenly find it uninteresting to engage in any kind of dialogue, cooperation and peace in the region?

Are they asking the Swedish people to settle for the same infantile model of explanation used so many times before in history, such as in connection with the American-orchestrated attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria – where Vladimir Putin, after Saddam Hussein, Moammar Ghaddaffi and Bashar Al-Assad, is now described as the next irrational Disney villain to destroy?

For which interests are we supposed to be ready to sacrifice our lives? The question is particularly relevant to ask because it is not in the interest of Swedes or Sweden to go to war, but unfortunately it seems to be in the interest of the Swedish rulers. Unfortunately, it has been a long time since these two interests had anything to do with each other, which now seriously puts the security of the people at stake – at least if you listen to the leaders themselves.


Markus Andersson

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