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Liberals: Sweden must join NATO

The Local · 13 May 2009, 14:34

Published: 13 May 2009 14:34 GMT+02:00

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The Liberal Party is established as the strongest advocate of full NATO membership for Sweden.

Last week the party's foreign policy spokesperson Birgitta Ohlsson submitted a dissenting opinion to the parliamentary defence committee which presents the party's strongest position yet in favour of Sweden joining the transatlantic military alliance since the last general election in 2006.

"Sweden has been a member of Partnership for Peace for some time. We have taken part in several operations and would gain from the greater influence and security a full membership would give," Birgitta Ohlsson told The Local.

The Swedish security situation has changed since 2002, Ohlsson argues, and the ratification of the EU Lisbon Treaty and its new solidarity clause presents new challenges for Swedish security policy.

"Most of the EU members are also NATO members and they are in the process of building up a parallel system. It is unsustainable for Sweden to be outside if everyone else is in," Ohlsson said.

She rejects as unrealistic the argument that a Scandinavian cooperation can provide an independent security policy alternative.

"This insight has been reached by our Scandinavian neighbours... Sooner or later we have to realize that for a small country like Sweden this (NATO) support will always be needed."

Ohlsson argued that Sweden has not been "neutral" since the Second World War and in practice has allied itself with the western powers. She argues that there is a need for an open debate over the situation.

"Surveys show only 25 percent support for joining NATO. Much of this opposition has to do with blind hatred of the USA - particularly on the left. We have a new possibility now that the USA has another president in Barack Obama," Ohlsson told The Local.

Birgitta Ohlsson claimed that there is some support for a formal membership of NATO among its Alliance government partners but that the Liberal Party is the only one to have developed a consistent position on the issue.

But Ohlsson's view has gained little traction among the Liberal Party's partners in the four-party Alliance government.

Political commentator Stig-Björn Ljunggren told The Local that while Birgitta Ohlsson was following the conviction of her principles, the notion that Sweden would sign up to NATO any time soon was unrealistic.

"If you ask the people what they want, they would say no. It’s about tradition. We managed quite well staying out of the two World Wars after we were almost divided between Russia and Denmark in the 1800s.

"Sweden was a kind of superpower in Europe 300 years ago, and then we were beaten, and almost eaten by the others. I think since then, we’ve had a tradition for 200 years of staying out of the action. We are big country in size, but few people. Instead of solving problems with violence, we take a cup of coffee and talk it through."

Ljunggren's hypothesis was conversation with foreign policy spokespersons from the Christian Democrats and the Moderate Party.

"The answer is very simple: Sweden is militarily non-aligned. That's how it has been and that's how it is today, and it is a policy that the Christian Democrats support.

"That's not to say it can never change in the future but it's not something being talked about at the moment," says Holger Gustafsson of the Christian Democrats.

Gustaf Blix of the Moderate Party explained that the government's largest party is in favour of NATO membership, just not yet.

Story continues below…

“The Moderate Party is in favour of Sweden joining NATO. But we are saying that if and when Sweden joins NATO, it must have the wide support of the Swedish population.

"If this will happen, we need bipartisan support in Sweden joining NATO, and we will probably go hand-in-hand with Finland, which is also not a member right now.”

Kerstin Lundgren of the Centre Party was unavailable for comment but her party's official policy is clear on the matter.

"The Centre Party wants Sweden to cooperate with organisations working for peace and security. These might include, for example, the UN, EU and NATO. We do not however think that Sweden should be a member of NATO".

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Additional reporting: Lydia Parafianowicz

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:26 May 13, 2009 by Jan M
Does Swedish military 'non-alignment' or neutrality date back to the Second World War and earlier conflicts? Certainly that definition from the Second World War is slightly clouded by the recent discovery that the Swedish government of the time issued export credits to the Nazis and the more widely known fact that Nazi troops and supplies used Swedish territory to gain unrestricted access to Norway and neighbouring countries. I think a fairer description would be pragmatic self-interest rather than 'non-alignment'. However that doesn't hold true now because Sweden broadly faces the same security threats as Norway and Finland and there's no point in pretending that not being part of NATO is a better way of dealing with them.
16:15 May 13, 2009 by zaq
Jan M - thank you for make it clear !

Does NATO need Sweet Eden ? If so for what ?
16:28 May 13, 2009 by casinoed
If Stig-Björn Ljunggren's comments are correct then, to go a step further than the previous post, he is an example of the blind self-interest and cowardice that is all to often demonstrated by Swedes.

"We managed quite well staying out of the two World Wars..." he says. The seventy million souls, most of them civilian, who perished in that dark period of history might well take issue with the idea that pandering to the Nazi's was an achievement to be proud of.

The issue should not be about asking how many Swedes want to join NATO, rather it should be about how many members of the alliance want the gutless Swedes around to simply run up the white flag at the first sign of trouble.

Sweden was a kind of superpower in Europe 300 years ago - in your dreams sunshine!
17:39 May 13, 2009 by tigger007
i don't want a gutless country next to me in a world war!

how can u let someone walk right thru your backyard and don't say anything! that's why sweden doesn't get the respect that it desevers . yes nato is run by the usa,uk,france(the power players)but for good reason! today if a country wanted to invade like the germans did in world war 2,they would have to have atleast 10 million strong! sweden is down sizing it's military,so joining nato isn't such a bad idea. it thing it's about time sweden gets it's feet wet first before it joins nato!

PS. i know that i will get into the fire with this comment!! :)
18:30 May 13, 2009 by mkvgtired
They know that if they stay "neutral", if their borders are ever challenged NATO/US/UK will come to the rescue anyway.
18:47 May 13, 2009 by sebseb
Comment: Nato is now the world army used to fight terrorism. But the problem is that terrorism is a scam. We often read that 911 may have been an inside job, just like the 7/7 bombings in London.

UK and USA want to sell their soul for a dozen terrorists. That is quite weak.

Those 2 events got the concept of the Britishs and Americans to transform their society into an Orwellian one. I just hope that Sweden won't ever get into this trap. Olhsson says that only 25% are for NATO in Sweden, but that this is mainly because of the lefties who are against. I think that the 25% are just the apolitics people who don't get anything about anything. They are just followers and pushovers. Lets UK and the US live in their illusion and desillusion. That's their mess. People in Sweden fight for the real liberty and Freedom.
18:55 May 13, 2009 by Jamtjim
The french are already in nato so why not sweden too.

You got that right... its always cheaper to let somebody else do it...
18:59 May 13, 2009 by onur25
While no doubt Swedish sympathies lied with the third Reich, it is very easy with hindsight to accuse them of cowardice. Before using such harsh words, we should take a moment to think how courageous we would be (wherever we are from) if we had the Nazi juggernaut breathing down or neck. I sometimes wonder if Britain and France would have backed Poland if they truly appreciated the power of blitzkrieg.

As for NATO, it is an organisation that exists not to fight. If push comes to shove, I think all NATO members would honor their pact but they would never let it come to that. So joining is a good idea strategically, but never at the expense of individual warfare capability.
19:11 May 13, 2009 by tigger007
People in Sweden fight for the real liberty and Freedom. SEBSEB!

hey right!!! how can u fight for freedon and liberty,if u DON'T stand for nothing!!

Lets UK and the US live in their illusion and desillusion. That's their mess. SEBSEB! if it wasn't for our MESS as u call it! your ass would be speaking german! let me ask u this! if there was another world war and the usa,uk,and france said f#%ck it! let the fight it out! then what? we would get harsh remarks about doing nothing,you can have it both ways
20:06 May 13, 2009 by Kaethar
Aha. I see this has turned into another Sweden-bashing thread.

I am proud Sweden is not a member of NATO. I am extremely happy that during the last elections the Liberal Party had a HUGE drop in votes.
20:06 May 13, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
yo man, i see u haz gone to som greatz schools man cuz you use lot of difcult wordz.
20:13 May 13, 2009 by Stebro
No, we don't need Nato.
20:17 May 13, 2009 by peropaco
Swedes are like the Remora's
20:24 May 13, 2009 by Kaethar
Exactly. And I don't believe NATO needs us. So it's a win-win situation. =)

NATO is made up of a bunch of paranoid embittered people who see everyone different as a threat. But hey, I'd be worried to since we're seeing a backlash due to years of forceful spreading of agendas. NATO use fear tactics to get their way. You'll be attacked by Arab countries or Russia if you don't join us. Etc. How about we disagree.

Go Sweden and Finland for keeping out of NATO! Don't forget Finland used to be occupied by Russia... they're apparently seeing something NATO countries are not.
22:03 May 13, 2009 by Thebinary1
Anyone know why was NATO created in the first place?

Well - after reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO - it should be obvious why it would be better for Sweden to stay out of NATO.

Don't get me wrong, co-operation in one thing, independence is another.

By all means - Sweden's Defence Force should be engaged in active co-operation with NATO simply because Sweden is an extension of NATO's purpose in defending Europe. However, it should be a right for Sweden to refuse and deny NATO's agenda if Sweden sees differently from NATO. This is the sole reason for supporting the status-quo.

Additionally, I find the language for "the right of first refusal" pretty scary. I mean, if Europe is being invaded - and NATO acts, but its response is not completely effective (for Sweden) ... NATO could in practice decide to consolidate its defences to cover a smaller area using foreign armies. So if Sweden joined NATO, and an invasion force starts to make its way from the North Pole towards Brussels - NATO reserves full rights in using Sweden's Airforce to abandon the defence over Lappland and consolidate Sweden's Airforce with the Airforce of other NATO members over Brussels. Granted that the probability of such an invasion force from the North Pole is very remote, the fact that a possibility exists for NATO to behave in what I have just described above is very disturbing.

Hence why I say, co-operation is better than joining - simply because when disagreements arise ... being un-cooperative is much more easier and quicker to execute than un-joining.
22:44 May 13, 2009 by sebseb
Being into NATO means having to fight imaginary terrorist in Pakistan and eventually Iran. (we don't know what Israel is able to)

A sure thing, is if we have a huge war, Europe will have to choose between being friend with Russia and China or with the USA.

Since I live in Europe, that I actually have a lot of respect for Putin since he is not an hypocrit, he speaks out (contrary to what we have seen in the US), I back China and Russia. Europe depend on Russia for natural gas. China is going to be the new power.

We don't need the USA. I live in Sweden, so I don't want to mess with Russia and China.

The USA are finished. They should have tried to be friend with the Latin American countries. At least, they have Canada as a puppet....
23:15 May 13, 2009 by jsrassat
Sweden joining NATO would be about as large of a mistake as joining the EU. Anything that strips national sovereignty is a poor choice in my opinion, even if it is "co-operative."

Eventually everyone will compromise, that's just the way the infection spreads.

"And our freedom's consuming itself,

What we've become is contrary to what we want

Take a bow."
23:27 May 13, 2009 by Braderunner Rennuredarb
So...let me get this straight:

1: You respect Putin and you want to gob his knob because Europe depends on Russia for natural gas?

2: You back China because they are going to be a new power?

Translation: You are scared Russia and China will squash, so you support them in hopes they wont squash you.

00:25 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
Sweden,s conduct during the second world war was nothing more than shameful. While other countries in Europe faced a life and death struggle.....Sweden did business with both sides and profited. Europeans do not forget this, and I,m sure the Norwegians dont. To even call yourself neutral is also hypocritical when Sweden still profits from weapons sales today.

Not really bothered if Sweden joins NATO. Certainly Swedes can bet on the lack of respect (though not openly or officially) due to the country,s history as being gutless opportunists in wartime......it,s what most think.

Still, Sweden could be a nice location for a few American bases or some missle silos. Military personel can expect to be bored shitless though!
00:28 May 14, 2009 by voidplay
There is no great difference between joining NATO or not joining it. Which ever makes economic sense.

The UN has not succeeded in preventing wars, and it has been caught up in more scams than success stories. None of the 'Soverign' countries have succeded in preventing the Iraq war. Save for few small and insignificant entities the Iraq war seemed to have every ones approval.

But let us take into consideration the Iraq war and what Sweden (or any pro-NATO) country could get out of it. Iraq war to me seems to be a last attempt to twart the recession, we should be sure they knew it all along.

Reconstruction money, Vehicles (Volvo, scania), construction contracts, ever thing from cellular networks (Ericsson) to radio stations. These will be from loans given by USA and close allies in imaginary money with imagimery value and will instead hold 'proportionate' interest in the Iraqi assets (oil?). This will probably keep Dollars and Euros high inspite of making the biggest losses every where. Good reasons to join EU or NATO ?

But like it or not the whole of europe (all of western + most eastern) +USA+Canada+Australia is already a single country and have always been since WW2.
00:55 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
The superpower comment made me laugh too!! I must have missed that fact during European history reading. My whole concept of Europe is turned upside down, for what I thought 300 years ago was a land made up of largely peasants was actually a superpower! Watch out NATO......the BIG BOYS are thinking of joining the game!
06:58 May 14, 2009 by casinoed
To be fair he did say that Sweden was "kind of" a superpower.

I suppose he was just giving yet another example of the Swedish humility thing they harp on about.

It always reminds me of the old Mac Davis "O Lord, it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way...."

Sing along everyone...
07:42 May 14, 2009 by casinoed
9 posts was probably a little early to go getting all rattled about this subject, Kaethar

First, you need to accept this is a site dealing with Swedish news in the English language. That means lots of visitors, like myself, will have parents and grandparents who made unimaginable sacrifices to rid the world of Hitler and the Nazis.

I dunno what they teach Swedish kids in schools, but every Swede should be made to study a map of Europe in 1942 to decide for themselves whether their parents and grandparents did the right thing by looking the other way while Europe burned.

Perhaps then we might start to see a bit of genuine humility from Swedes and, gulp, possibly even an acknowledgement.

And as for Sweden-bashing, get over yourself Kaethar. Brits and Americans are constantly being vilified for standing up for what we believe in, but you won't hear us cry foul about it.
09:03 May 14, 2009 by skane refugee
Do you have a source for the export credits during WW2 point?

Sweden was by far Germanys biggest wartime trading partner providing all manner of vital miltary supplies (often using technology and machinery directly from Germany) from a 'you can't bomb us we're "neutral" ' manufacturing base ... but I had always assumed that the exports were in exchange for cash/gold etc ...

If they offered export credits then Swedens true wartime history is even more damning than I had imagined ... Swedish exports were certainly responsible for prolonging that awful conflict ... around a million died per month, many more towards the end of the war ... so it is anyones guess how many were deliberately sacrificed to 'enrich' the Swedish people and launch her multinational companies (hauntingly ... the true figure could exceed the population of Sweden of course)

In one of the most important books to date on Swedens WW2 role 'the art of cloaking' it was shown conclusively from archive material that the Wallenberg family (behind Ericsson, Electrolux and a host of household name Swedish multinationals) secured the looted wealth of Holland for themselves and the people of Sweden through provision of vital Swedish supplies to Hitlers Reich during the war ... the book shows to what extraordinary lengths the Wallenberg family (with the tacit support of the Swedish authorities) went to 'launder' their ill-gotten gains. Would bet that similar activities went on to secure for Sweden the looted wealth of many other occupied nations and indeed of holocaust victims, though the Dutch authors only focussed on Hollands lost wealth.

There was a recent thread asking what is Sweden best at in the world ... my candidates would be 'cloaking', 'spin' and 'denial' ;o)
09:13 May 14, 2009 by Nemesis
Yes, now it is safe, to join NATO.

During WW2 Sweden actively helped the nazis and was surrounded by them, to the point of loan guarentees and allowing through troop shipments even though that was a breach of Swedish neutrality.

Hitler planned to nazify Sweden. Goering talked him into suspending it until Russia was dealt with, otherwise Sweden was next. I wonder how Sweden's insane rules and political fantasies, would have stood up to a panzer tank.

Ordinary Swedes helped Finland, Denmark and Norway as much as possible, but a lot joined up with the nazi's,

Sweden needs to wake up. It needs to join NATO as that is by default who has really been giving it protection sine 1945. Also Sweden needs to join the Euro, regulate its banks properly, drop the hypocrisy and act like an adult.
10:14 May 14, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Wow, so many know-it-alls...
10:24 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
Maybe the Nordic Alliance idea is the way to go guys! The Norwegians could then rest easy knowing that their reliable powerful neighbour will protect them in times of need (by the way I,m being sarcastic).

Get the Finns on board and they can protect you all! A small nation but they sure know how to put up a fight........The Red Army got a taste of their fighting spirit!

As for the Nazification comment earlier on by Nemesis.......I dont think it would be too difficult to achieve even now. Despite all this political correctness and liberal ideas.....just under the surface, Sweden is one of the most racist states I,ve come across in Europe. Superior, Master Race mentality. Give them a drink though and they turn into 3 yr olds!!!
11:58 May 14, 2009 by kaze
I don't see the point.

The only one of Sweden's neighbours who could even remotely possibly decide to attack them is Russia and if that happens NATO is going to help anyway.

Sweden in WW2: Come on, what other choice did they have? Once Norway had fallen they had to stay neutral or they were screwed. And neutral they did stay- it just so happens that by virtue of geography they were in a far better position for trading with the 'bad guy' Germany (they looked bad but the worst was not to be revealed for a long time) than with the UK.
14:09 May 14, 2009 by Marc the Texan
I always get a laugh about how the Swedes get so much flack about WW2, but admit it, you guys really wussed out. That said, I don't hold it against Sweden because the SOS (Save Our Skins) policy worked out well in the end.

Another reason I think Sweden should stay out of NATO is that they would have more influence on NATO, which I think is the wrong way to go. It took the US to initiate action in Yugoslavia in the 1990s before anything happened and that was in Europe and very recent.

Sweden is with us in spirit, but other western countries already know that Sweden doesn't step up, but prefers to stand back.
17:01 May 14, 2009 by Kaethar
Too early? This discussion has been going on for years, dear.

And that's not Sweden's fault. It's the fault of the people in charge of your government at the time. And it's up to you to decide if it was worth it. You can fight any battles you please, but don't expect the rest of the world to agree with it and/or join in.

I think they did the right thing. A non-alignment policy meant protection for Sweden's own inhabitants. That is the point of a country, after all. And it's not like a country of 8 million people would have been able to defeat the nazis. The point of a country is not to act as the world police and begin a war with whoever you disagree with and assassinate leaders who disagree with your views, etc.

An acknowledgement of what? I'd say most Swedes are totally aware of what went on during the second world war. Do you expect an apology? Will never happen. All Swedes I know are very happy we stayed out of the war so all our relatives are still alive. Herd mentality? Perhaps. But hey, we're only animals.

That's what you call it? A euphemism if I ever saw one.
17:05 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Alot of ignorant people have posted here about swedish supposedly immoral conduct during ww2.

What you forget in the equation is the USSR and the winterwar against Finland. Besides, none of the small nations in ww2 joined the war volontarily. Only Britain and France did and they were major powers at the time. Not even the USA joined the war until attacked.

Put yourself in the swedish position. Yes, Swedens iron-ore was vital to the german warindustry which is why germany would have invaded Sweden as soon as Sweden stopped exporting iron. And German troops were in both Denmark and Norway. And at the same time Sweden had the threat of USSR right next door.

If your nations were so bloody moral, why didnt you come to Finlands aid when it was attacked by the USSR in 1939? All other nations together didnt give half as much aid as Sweden and Sweden was the only nation that declared itself nonbeligerent rather than neutral. And tens of thousands of swedish volonteers were ready to go to Finland(even thou the war ended before most of them were deployed).

That said, the way our army is being reorganised, it makes sense to join Nato today.
17:56 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
Are you suggesting that selling iron ore and ball bearings to a war machine headed by a rampant dictator running riot in europe all the way to 1943 is not immoral? Moreover accepting payment in gold (hopefully free of bits of teeth) when deutchmarks were in short supply by the nazis later in the war..........this is not immoral either?

Allowing the free movement of Nazi troops through your territory to invade your neighbour Norway.......Again not immoral?

Adolf Hitler was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939....google it!

Norwegians gave reistance, Finns demand respect for their fight against the Red Army. Sweden made money. All facts! If Sweden joins NATO it is very probable that it will have to get involved in conflicts....quite a shift from norm!
17:56 May 14, 2009 by Jamtjim

A lot of what you say is right. Sweden did not have a lot of choice about remaining non-beligerant during the war. They would have been invaded had they not been.

However there remains two uncomfortable truths here. The first is that Sweden did very well out of the war. As Britain and France where literally bankrupted, Sweden did a raring trade dealing with whoever payed the most. Whilst Sweden did not participate directly in the war, the actions of the government no doubt extended it. Sweden is undoubtably the rich country it is today as a direct consiquence of the war and as mentioed earlier many swedish companys owe a great deal of their success to nazi sympathisers and immoral dealings.

The other one is the one that bugs me the most and it is when the Swedes hold themselves up as a beacon of pacifism by endlessly repeating that they havent been at war for 200 years or whatever it is. The reason they have not been involved in any conflict is because, at least from a military point of view, they have been an irrelavance and not from any saintly predisposition. A country unable to wage war is not automatically a pacifist country. For me at least, a country with a strong military who chooses not to use it... now thats pacifism
21:23 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
Britain, Poland, France, Belgium, NL to name a few did not have much of a choice in WWII either. Flattened cities and millions dead are a cultural memory of many in europe kept alive on memorial days, and rightly so. Some of the so called swede bashing comments in this thread can be explained by resentment of Sweden,s conduct. Taken from another angle sweden,s non-beligerant stance had a significant effect of fuelling and continuing the power and ability of the Nazi machine to destroy and kill. Without Sweden,s role the nazis would have had significantly less military hardware......tanks and bombers need ball bearings, bombs are made from steel etc. So, as well as profiting, their conduct also led to real deaths elsewhere! Swedish lack of acknowledgment on this = lack of respect!
21:27 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Think non-beligerent is between neutral and at war. Sweden was as neutral as it could possibly convince germany about during ww2 well into 1943, to my knowledge.

Yes and no. I think it gave Sweden a golden 15-20 years, sure, but you take it way to far, imho. Swedens economy is based on processed indigenous rawmeterials and engineering and hightech industries. Before ww2, after ww2 and now. More hightech now obviously, and services. However, not being an expert in economic history, ill bend to more qualified people on this.

Couldnt agree more. Even thou alot of the windfall sweden made out of ww2 went into our military. And, believe it or not, swedish armed forces served an important role in the containment of the USSR.
21:31 May 14, 2009 by Jamtjim
Again Kooritze , you are only partly correct.

Britain and France both chose to go to war after Germany invaded Poland when we specifically told him not to... Bad Mr Hitler. Initailly Adolf didnt even want to go to war with Britain as he felt us Brits would most likely side with him.

Interestingly, we wernt prepared to go to war over Austria and Czechoslovakia....

Whether or not war was inevitable, the declaration of war at that time was unargueably a choice...
21:40 May 14, 2009 by Jamtjim
Nic_tester. You may say 15 - 20 years but I would argue that we still feel the "benifts" of Swedens ill gotten gains even today.

Rather wisely I must say, Sweden invested in new housing and infrastructure with the so called ¨"Million Programme". This effectivley dragged Sweden into the twentieth century and allowed swedish society and business to funtion in a competative way, sowing the seeds for Swedens modern day success.
21:45 May 14, 2009 by skane refugee
The obvious alternative move for Sweden would have been to symbolically side with Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Norway, quickly submit to inevitable German occupation with minimum bloodshed, and then to offer 'passive resistance' to the occupiers ...

In this way, the Swedish people would have maintained Scandinavian unity, tied down large numbers of occupying troops, been able to disrupt essential supplies to the axis and basically tip the balance of WW2, bringing a much earlier end to the conflict, all without shedding Swedish blood while keeping the moral high ground ...

That route would have likely saved countless millions ...

60 years on most of the blood money's gone (the golden age of relative material affluence, full employment and high wages a receding memory), but the shame lingers ... and the Norwegians now lord it over their impoverished neighbours whilst enjoying the respect of the historically literate ...

It's like a morality tale ;o) ...
21:45 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Well, swedish industry is based around companies and inventions founded in the late 19th centuary and early 20th. That and raw materials. From late 1980's crisis sweden branched into services also. Cant see how ww2 got any relevance on this in the long term. But as I said, im not a professor in economic history.
21:47 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Give me one example from history where any nation acted thus, with its eyes open?

And again, you forget the winter war and USSR.
21:50 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Swedish foreign policy history for the last 200 years have revolved around the threat from Russia and with the USSR unusually aggressive and militaristic you suggest Sweden should declare war on ANOTHER great power? You bonkers?
22:02 May 14, 2009 by Jamtjim
I think that to have taken that course of action would have been noble in the extreme but would you really have expected the Swedish to sacrifice their own for the sake of nobility. I dont mean to be fasceatious but when you think about nazis, the thought of belevolent occupiers does not spring immediately to mind.

I think that remaining non beligerant was propably the only real choise they had. Do get fat on Nazi and Allied money, somewhat shameful...
22:05 May 14, 2009 by skane refugee
Sweden refused transit of miltary aid and supplies to Finland from France and Britain
22:10 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
Yea, Right! All Britain offered Finland was a load of bullshit and the offer to occupy a part of sweden to deny the ore-fields to germany. As strategically sound as this was, its laughable to claim this was any help to Finland. Read up on that war is my suggestion. If Britain and France were so eager to help finland, a good start would have been to declare war mayhap? Or they had to wait until they invaded a neutral country for their own strategic purpuses to do that?

And if they were not to declare war, why talk about sending troops to help? And why not send military hardware that was extremely hard to come by especially for Finland but also for Sweden (working as finlands proxy in the armsdeals just before and during the war)
22:33 May 14, 2009 by skane refugee
Limited sacrifice of blood ... think invasion of Denmark ... just sacrifice of profit foregone and an independence that was purely notional anyway ...

The occupation of the nordic nations was far less brutal than elsewhere in Europe, though of course a long way from 'benevolent' ...

Agreed, Sweden had no good choices available when it's Scandi neighbours were invaded by Germany ... but they did not even choose the less noble path of true neutrality ... they chose active industrial partnership/integration with Germany behind a sham veil of neutrality ... hence the continuing controversy, cloaking, spin and denial

Swedens wartime exports to the allies were very limited and more or less irrelevant to the allied war effort ... whereas Swedish exports were absolutely vital to the axis war machine ...

one small example was that Sweden refused point blank to deal with the US when they offered the present day equivalent of several billion dollars (way over market rates) for a years supply of military grade ball bearings from Gothenburg based SKF. These vital supplies went to Germany instead, negating a hugely expensive (in blood and treasure) allied bombing campaign against the Schweinfurt ball bearing factories in Germany designed to cause the wehrmacht to literally grind to a halt!

Sweden may have been a non-combatant in WW2 ... but that is not the same as being non-aligned

At the very minimum, one could have reasonably expected true non-aligned neutrality, which would have shortened WW2 considerably
22:40 May 14, 2009 by nic_tester
skane refugee, sometimes statements say more about the speaker than about the intended subject. Your mission is obviously to slag off sweden to the best of your ability, for reasons unknown.

However, it is rather obvious that Swedens only aim in ww2 was to remain free. If any other aims can be identified it would be to keep the USSR out of Finland. Its that simple. By your statements you try to make it seem like Sweden was allied or sympathetic to Germany. But Swedens trade with germany merely reflected the threat Germany posed. The less of a threat Germany posed to Sweden, the less Sweden traded with Germany.
23:12 May 14, 2009 by skane refugee
Correct ... though not just the fringe personal opinion of a random poster with a 'grudge' ... but the opinion of the US government (reflecting a growing mountain of supporting historical evidence unearthed since the 1990's):

The official US government report on wartime complicity released in May 1997 concluded that Sweden (by far Germanys biggest wartime trade partner) “…. chose collaboration - including allowing Nazi troops to cross its territory - because it feared invasion, its government was pro-Nazi, and Swedes saw an opportunity for profit”

Sweden, Switzerland and other neutrals, the report charged, ``all helped support and prolong Nazi Germany's capacity to wage war at a time of grievous Allied and civilian casualties.'' And the report said - and respected historians like Paul A. Levine (a US holocaust scholar based in Sweden) agree - that after the German defeat at Stalingrad in January 1943, Sweden's sole reason for continuing trade was to retain the economic benefits.
23:44 May 14, 2009 by Kooritze
Great points of view here guys. nic_tester, I shall definately be doing some reading on the USSR threat and Sweden,s role in it. I know a few Swedes fought over there in Finland........but re your comment of declaring war on ANOTHER major power earlier........Sweden never declared war on anyone during WWII.I,m not sure of this adjusting trade dependent on Nazi threat level either. From my understanding Sweden more or less switched sides in 1943...trade biased to allied countries after this time. Pragmatic as ever Sweden backed the wrong horse 1939-43. Realising this, they switched....continued to get rich!exiting WWII with ALL infrastructure in tact. Sorry but where I come from we were blitzed to hell probably from bombs and planes made from Swedish materials. I like Sweden but on this point..
00:03 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Got a link to that report, silly as it is? I mean, I would feel better if it was some wacky congressman having an aide draw up a wacky report rather than the entire US government making a fool of itself by claiming things that no professional historian ever claimed, such as the SAP lead swedish government of ww2 being pronazi.

Swedens position in ww2 was no worse than the US. The US stayed out of the war until it was attacked and declared war on. Before that it helped its allies with military supplies. Same as sweden. Yes, sweden did trade with Germany but that was necessary for avoiding being invaded. And sweden was a small nation surrounded by nazi-germany and the USSR.

Seriously, you are making a fool out of yourself in this thread, for reasons unknown. Like your ludicrous interpetation about the british bid to send troops to finland, no wonder you dropped that argument doublequick.
00:11 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Maybe my english failed me there. But scane refuge made the preposterous claim that sweden should have declared war on germany in 1939/1940?!?? Swedens attention was firmly fixed on the goings on between Finland and the ussr so its an even more ignorant assertion in that light. If sweden would have declared on any1 it would have been the USSR, not germany, was all I was saying. Sweden did take a small step towards declaring war on the ussr by declaring itself non-beligerent in the russo-finnish war of 1939 rather than neutral (which usa and gbr did).

Swedens main contribution to finland was warmaterials, few volonteers were deployed since the war ended quickly.

Well, as many people have pointed out, swedish rawmaterials were vital to germany. And germany invaded denmark and norway and holland without thinking twice about it. So, obviously, refusing to trade with germany would invite a vastly superior power to attack. Much as the US oil-embargo on Japan prompted the Japanese attack on the US(well, japan was obviously not superior to the us).

So, in practice, sweden did back nazi germany to 1943. But out of necessity rather than a particular love of nazism.
00:17 May 15, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Don't waste your time. Skåne Refugee is just a big talker. I'm still rolling on the floor laughing at his Iceland analysis.
00:36 May 15, 2009 by Kooritze
Playing this neutrality card all the time, and we did,nt have any choice, we just wanted to be free etc etc....is a lame excuse. Sweden is a complacent, conforming society to this day. The government says....and the people do. Kind of reminds you of social traits in another country in another time! Despite being a fan of Sweden and it,s nature I do see a lack of social cohesion in the society, a lack of character, too many people boxed in their little flats, keeping each other at a distance and lots of social problems behind closed doors.

Maybe if Swedes had been affected by WWII it would be a very different society with a different soul and outlook on life.No Remembrance Day to honour the dead here........we wer,nt involved in that so to speak....not important. Take a side...join NATO and be a part of the real world.
00:51 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
No its not, its the truth. At least if you got any interest in understanding history rather grandstanding.

Whatever. Dont like it? off home to britain, we shant miss your bony ass you limie git.
01:30 May 15, 2009 by freethinker
Hmmm.. Sweden was affected by WW2. It would've been incrediably stupid of Sweden to not have come to some form of accomodation with Germany. The rest of Scandinavia had fallen, and I seriously doubt that England, France, or the US were in any kind of possition to help Sweden. Come on let's be real here. Lets examine Poland... after the German/ Russian alliance invaded Poland- yes the germans were briefly allied to Russia- France and England did declare war on Germany, yet did nothing other than rattle sabres right up to the point Germany invaded France. The US was neutral until 1941 when the Empire of Japan devestated the Fleet harbored at Pearl Harbor at Hawaii, and until then there was an active peace movement in the US. What was Sweden to do? The Swedish Government made decissions on the options they had at that time. If the Allies wanted Sweden's help they should've have been willing to send troops and do everything they could, yet they did not. Truth be told the allies up until Germany conqured France, and Paris fell in 2 weeks had been appeasing Germany themselves. They thought that if germany just took one more small nation that they would stop...yeah right, and then the French lost their country...uhuh... Please Study history more carefully before making assumptions...geesh. This is just a thought from an American in the US.

On a lighter note- I think I know why when you put a gun in a German's hands they head to France. All the Germans want is a decent meal, and to enjoy the company of a lovely woman. What German would want to come home to someone named Ulga -probably weighing a ton - who cooks a dinner called a weinersnitzle...lol
03:06 May 15, 2009 by kmbr
What German would want to come home to someone named Ulga -probably weighing a ton - who cooks a dinner called a weinersnitzle...lol

What German would want to come home to someone named Ulga -probably weighing a ton - with a butterknife haircut, who cooks a dinner called a weinersnitzle...lol
09:15 May 15, 2009 by Puffin
I had not really understood Sweden's situation unlike I saw this map while taking a history class here. Sweden had no good decision to make during World War 2 - sure they could have fought for 1½ hours like the Danes did.

But Sweden was completely encircled in a huge country with a tiny population, huge difficult to defend coastline and bordering countries occupied - I don't see this as similar to the USAs sitation at all.


Then Sweden's situations occupying an area of strategic importance between East and West during the cold war made neutrality the only sensible way to go
10:07 May 15, 2009 by Kooritze
Getting back to the NATO question. UK/US have played with swedish public opinion on joining NATO in the past too. You may wish to read up on US and British Submarine deception in the 1980,s. The Secret War against Sweden by Ola Tunander is a good book on the subject.

In the 80,s there were US/UK Submarine incursions into swedish waters putting Swedens military on alert.......the US/UK claimed they had no subs in that area.....so obviously the swedes thought they must be Russian. Perception of threat prevailed........and public opinion in sweden changed from 30% to 80% as viewing Russia as a threat.......thus raising the question that the country needed to join NATO!
10:50 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Interesting. Well, NATO, Sweden and the cold war is as murky a subject as any. I need to read more on it.

I spoke with some old american soldiers who sortof was an eyeopener for me about NATO defenceplanning and swedens role in it. Assuming they had good information.

If what you say is true the anglos were rocking the boat, possibly as a part of the Reagan strategy of putting pressure on the USSR economically by the armsrace (starwars and all that). Opening up a northern front by making Sweden join Nato?

Problem is that the propaganda was very efficient and the SAP still have an interest in keeping it in place to preserve its selfimage. And, well, all sides were served by keeping the image of swedish neutrality in place. NATO was happy since they knew they could depend on swedish army denying swedish territory (and thus norway and thus domination of the north atlantic) to the WP, the USSR was happy about it since the alternative was NATO membership and the Swedes were happy about it for reasons I dont quite understand. But they were.
11:50 May 15, 2009 by Wills
Bender and Nic,

I wouldn't be so quick to denounce Skane_Refugee. A great deal of what he writes appears measured and accurate.

If you look at some of the Swedish Council Research funding (particularly going to Lund) in the last ten years, you'll see he is in fact correct. There is an acceptance that perhaps the narrative of 'small country protects citizens etc etc', is misleading, and follows typical European explanations for their involvement or lack thereof in the war. Normally, with a patriotic twist.

There are sound arguments suggesting that National Socialism was far more widespread in Sweden in 30's and 40's than typically acknowledged. If true, this would put the burden of proof on you rather than Skane.

I also remember once being asked the question ‘How would you convince someone to do something against their religion and/or country?' I spouted some answer about appealing to their moral ideals or some such rubbish. The answer I was given - money. The only variable is how much. I suspect this is also true of nations, which are run by people. Economic benefit is probably a far stronger (not nicer) incentive than protection of the people; especially if you don't believe it feasible to protect said people.

Gone off topic, sorry.
12:01 May 15, 2009 by Kooritze
The book I mention above was an eyeopener for me too. Just another example of how the US/UK are always playing strategic games and how mass media and public opinion can be manipulated through deception. Offically, there still remains a denial by US/UK of these incursions between 1981 and 83........although there have been private whistleblowers within US military, personal friends of Brigadier-General Lars Hansson (Swedish Navy),confirming that these operations took place........and all the hype about soviet subs in Swedish waters was propoganda.......it was US/UK Subs!

Essentially, the operations were a success as Sweden started to believe in a threat......prompting debate on joining NATO and militay alliance to the West.
16:23 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Well, I think all nations employ a host of people to further the interest of the nation abroad. Its just that large nations employ more such people that thus have a capacity to produce more elaborate plans and schemes. And that large nations have larger footprints and resources so the schemes and plans have greater impact. I cant really get worked up about it.
16:29 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Like? Support one of his arguments then? Preferably one of the arguments he made in this thread.

If you have a point to make, make it? And if not, well, then your post was kindof pointless, wasnt it?
18:12 May 15, 2009 by skane refugee
The Russian 'threat' idea is a complete red herring in this context.

The Russo-Finnish war you refer to was fought between November 30 1939 and March 12 1940 ... the invasion of Denmark and Norway was not until 9 April 1940 (i.e. almost a month after the Russo-Finnish war had ended with an independent Finland retaining almost all of her pre-war territory and with the red army utterly humiliated)

Although the Russians 'won' some concessions at the end of that conflict (Finland ceded a part of western Keralia and permission for a Russian naval base on the Hanko peninsula) ... tiny Finland with a small part-time army, limited equipment and a long border had more than matched (indeed, according to many commentators, humiliated) the Red army (with an invasion force of over 1 million men supported by heavy artillery etc) for most of the winter of 1939/40 ... even destroying 2,000 soviet tanks (ironically with molotov cocktails!)

... military strategists outside Russia (especially in Germany) concluded that Stalins purges of the officer class had so weakened the red army (especially in terms of tactics and discipline) that it was no longer capable of defending Russia herself, let alone projecting power elsewhere in Europe

The Russo-Finnish war exposed the red army as impotent, and more or less invited the eventual tearing up of the German/Soviet non-aggression pact and the German invasion of Russia on 15 May 1941 in pursuit of what Germany had always lacked ... raw materials and oil

The idea that Sweden was threatened in any way by Russia at the time of the German invasions of Denmark and Norway in 1940 is so far off the mark as to be invisible ;o)
18:18 May 15, 2009 by skane refugee
Absolutely NO REFERENCE to British (or indeed French) TROOPS for Finland in my posts ...

Just out of interest, during the war, aircraft ordered by Finland were as follows: 64 aircraft from Britain, 44 from the US, 30 from France and 10 from Italy ... though the Finns proved more than capable of defending themselves against the weakened Red Army without much help from outside (see previous post!)

Would be interested to learn more about Swedens tangible contribution to the Finnish war effort in the Russo-Finnish war 1939-1940 (not just making money through arms deals ;o) )
18:23 May 15, 2009 by skane refugee
Of course ... it's easily googled but the relevant quotes can be found in this Boston Globe article from 1997 ... http://www.dhh-3.de/biblio/news/1997/0607/

(I had a better link to a great CNN piece on a similar theme, but can't find it immediately :-( ... may post it later if anyone's vaguely interested

19:11 May 15, 2009 by Kooritze
Skane refugee.......thanks for the great article. I look forward to the next if you find it.

What can I say except..........I does,nt suprise me in the least!........despite arguments in this thread on: trade adjustments to nazi threat level, no choice, neutral stance, war with USSR (for which I will still read up on), we wanted to remain free etc.

As previously understood, Sweden was pro Nazi and Anti-semitic up until 1943.....where they realised they backed the loser in the war....and pragmatically changed sides and policy on jews to enter the country.

Moral beacon my ass............
23:16 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
You posted this a few pages back:

I guess that was a reference to the transfer of zulu warriors then? You are being dishonest.

You just show ignorance in this. Swedens aid to Finland was substantial and both for egocentric reasons and sentimental ones, Sweden desperately didnt want the USSR occupying Finland. An example is that in this very dangerous time a third of swedens minute airforce was sent to Finland. Still, in my personal opinion, it WAS shameful that Sweden did not declare war on the USSR and send substantial regular troops. Its understandable if you study the historical facts but its still shameful and it was the wrong descicion. Your ramblings about Swedens actions visavi the allies and nazigermany really just strike me as silly and historically ignorant but you have a point in that sweden failed Finland.

These are some numbers grabbed off some wiki article:

* 135,402 rifles, 347 machine guns, 450 light machine guns with 50,013,300 rounds of small arms ammunition;

* 144 field guns, 100 anti aircraft guns and 92 anti-armour guns with 301,846 shells;

* 300 sea mines and 500 depth-charges;

* 17 fighter aircraft, 5 light bombers and 3 reconnaissance aircraft.

But hardly the gist of it, Finland really would not have been able to resist the USSR without swedish material aid, even thou they are the bravest and best soldiers in all the world. Just them anti-armour guns were a godsent at the front. Much of the material they succeded in scrambling together just before the war was gotten with the help of swedish contacts. 1939 was not really a buyers market if you were looking for guns.

For those that find finnish brawn facinating (i do), here is a link to a wiki-article about the most lethal soldier in world-history:

23:28 May 15, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
With emphasis on appears... Some facts are true, some are left out, and misleading conclusions are drawn.
23:43 May 15, 2009 by nic_tester
Thats not the report, its a newspaperarticle discussing the wallenberg family during ww2, mentioning that report in passing. I cant find it either thou, I wanted to se what case they made for painting a SAP government pro-nazi. Ive not seen any serious person come to that conclusion. Not that I looked into it in particular but come across the issue quite a few times.
00:28 May 16, 2009 by Kooritze
I,m done with this thread...........

some interesting addition on the continuation of the tangent from the initial subject of Sweden joining NATO

03:21 May 16, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Sweden has seemingly done alright by staying out of NATO even during the Cold War, which was when NATO was most important for Europe. Tho old USSR could have walked over Sweden very quickly if a conflict had started despite Sweden's neutrality, so their neutrality policy was never tested.

Of course it's a different world now with Muslim terrorism being the #1 world security concern.

I think this should be open for serious debate among the Swedes. It's not an easy decision for my Swedish friends.
11:08 May 16, 2009 by nic_tester
Not necessarily. Most people are not aware of the extent of swedens armed forces between 1950-1990. And NATO was prepared to assist, neutral or not.
11:22 May 16, 2009 by Yendor
Question? If Sweden were to ask to join NATO what would it have to "bring to the table" that NATO does not all ready have? Or does Sweden just want to join NATO so that it can take from the "table" more than it can give? I got the feeling that Sweden is just looking for a "sweet deal" and it sounds like this, reduce its military to "rock bottom" and use that money to fund social services and then cover their military needs by joining NATO. So Sweden could just end-up to be a drag on NATO and not an asset!
11:52 May 16, 2009 by nic_tester
Possibly, but what military remains in sweden is more or less nato compatible already and most of it is very high-tech, at least as far as nato-applicants go. And sweden is currently finishing up a process of turning its old coldwar invasiondefence military into a more rapidrespone expeditionary styled military which would fit well with NATO.

Military expenditure as part of GDP is low but this is true of all european countries with the exception of UK maybe. And, including sweden would not increase the threatlevels to nato since sweden is not currently in any international dispute.

Compare the entry of the baltics? Incapable of defending themselves, nonexistent armies and a large increase of the risk of nato getting entangled in a conflict with Russia.

CIA factbook:


Armed forces homepage (i think?):


Tech examples:


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