Sweden heading from neutrality to NATO
4 Apr, 2011 05:41
Eight Swedish fighter jets will be used to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, despite the fact Sweden is not a member of NATO, prompting numerous protests and discontent among the population.
Swedes are already venting anger at their government for committing troops to Afghanistan, and feel their national interests are being sacrificed for NATO and the US.Sweden is widely known as a voice of neutrality and peace. “The Swedish people still believe that we are non-aligned and neutral,” says Agneta Norberg from the Swedish Peace Council. Why then does Sweden need anti-war groups like Ofog?“Sweden is very integrated and involved in NATO’s activities both in their administration and with over 500 soldiers in Afghanistan right now that are under NATO command, whatever the Swedish government is saying, but that’s the fact,” explains Cattis Laska from Ofog. The Swedish Defense Ministry‘s statement about Swedish combat troops in Afghanistan said: "We see our participation in the international crisis management missions under popular mandate as an expression of solidarity and responsibility of Sweden in the world."The question is – under whose “popular mandate”?“When they talk about NATO’s strategic concept it is Washington’s strategic concept,” claims Agneta Norberg.Most Swedes are not aware of how aligned Sweden is with NATO.“The media have ignored it. You have the military and some politicians cooperating intensively with the United States and with NATO and a large mass of the population being totally unaware,” claims Al Burke from the Stop NATO organization. The public is told it is peacekeeping under the program “Partnership for Peace”.“Partnership for Peace is just an antechamber for NATO,” says Agneta Norberg.“NATO is also active in Sweden doing military exercises,” adds Cattis Laska. Sweden is home to NEAT, the North European Aerospace Testrange, with some 24,000 kilometers of restricted airspace plus ground room it is a testing playground for NATO and the US.And as activists argue this is where war starts – at home.Neutrality or NATO? Some say it is about time Sweden makes a choice. Critics claim there are so many ways the country is giving hands-on support to the alliance that the Nordic nation might as well join the club officially and give up its unaligned status.