Sweden Shows it Can be Done
no excuses - it debases everyone
This put a smile on ‘Ole Sal’s face this AM;
The Swedish government said Monday it wants to increase its defense budget by 28%, putting it on track to reach the military spending target 2% of gross domestic product set by the NATO alliance, which the Scandinavian country is preparing to join.
“We are in the most serious security policy situation since the end of World War II, which requires Sweden to have a defense that is ready to protect Swedish territory,” defense minister Pål Jonson said.
Unveiling a defense bill for 2024, Sweden’s center-right coalition government said military spending would increase by a total of 27 billion kronor ($2.4 billion). Of that amount, approximately 700 million kronor ($63 million) will be spent on Sweden’s future membership of NATO.
Sweden gets it. Not only does she have a “history” with Russia going back centuries, she has a new government who has a responsible view of defense only encouraged by recent events.
Sweden was right on COVID, and they’re right here too.
It is an old and proven concept that if you truly desire peace, you must be prepared for war. You have to be so strong that no potential enemy will see you as “easy pickings.” It works well for individual and collective defense.
There is also a foundational belief that I’ve repeated often here during the years; an alliance is a friendship of nations who make an official effort to put everything on the line to defend each other.
You have small friends, you have large friends. You have rich friends, you have poor friends. You have friends who are naturally good in one area, other friends who are better in another.
No one has to do exactly the same thing, just do their fair share in their comparative advantage - make an honest effort. Friends know each other well, each other’s strengths and weaknesses - they can easily look to one friend to another and get a good idea if they are doing their “fair share” when they face common challenges. NATO is no different.
Though imprecise, in NATO one of the best delineaters of a serious friend or free loader: what percentage of their GDP they spend on defense.
It is a long standing agreement that members must spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. There is no excuse in 2023 that this is not done. We are long overdue for some kind of sanction - the now seven years old “Plan Salamander” has been a starting available for tasking for a decade or so - but alas - I am but one voice.
Even before the Russian invasion in FEB22, more and more NATO nations were starting to head in the right direction. COVID caused a bump, but the trend line is clear (NB, NATO presently has 31 member states, when Sweden finishes up, it will be 32).
I’m a nudge on this topic because I am not just a dyed in the wool believer in NATO, I was once a NATO Staff Officer and still hold that loyalty to an institution that, warts and all, is a unique success in the history of alliances.
Continental Europe was reminded that Russia was/is/will be on its Eastern Front back in February 2022. This is a new era for the alliance where the doves, who were proven wrong, need to take the “L” and get to serious work with those of us who had a realistic understanding of the role of power in human events.
This sobering reminder was the catalyst for the perennially neutral Finland and Sweden to finally decide to join NATO. If nothing else can convince you that we are in a new era, I would hope this would
Problem was, both got lazy in the post Cold War Era. They both need to demonstrate their seriousness if they were going to take the jump. They are.
As recently as 2018, Finland’s defense spending was 1.22% of GDP. By 2022 it was to 1.96% and rising to 2.3% this year. In the same time, Sweden went from 1% to 1.3%. That jump outlined above to 2% is a huge and commendable effort that should put the rest of our miserly allies on report.
Can the USA play hardball to make sure everyone does their fair share even if it hurts feelings?
Yes we can be demanding, we’ve earned it.
Finland and Sweden have woken up from some Inception-like waking up from history - a half-decade after their Baltic NATO neighbors (minus Denmark, ahem) - but this is good, especially with the latest announcements above that makes this 2021 graph if extended out, even more impressive.
What about the rest of NATO?
Where are we? 2023 numbers are hard to come by, so let’s look at 2022;
Where are we heading to?
BEL, DNK, ESP … you should go sit in a corner somewhere and think about your behavior … and LUX … really? That’s just an insult to everyone.
Who really needs to have Sweden thrown in their face - nations who could, even at just 2%, make such a tremendous contribution to the combat power of NATO?
CAN, DEU, ITA.
Yes, we are all looking at you. Some others are mocking your excuses.
Want to see the proper attitude? Look to Poland.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday the NATO member plans to spend more than four percent of its gross domestic product on defense next year amid security concerns over the war in neighboring Ukraine.
He announced the sum of 137 billion zloty ($33 billion) at the opening of this year’s edition of the region’s biggest trade fair for military equipment, the MSPO in Kielce, Poland.
“When we see the emerging danger beyond our eastern border… we know perfectly well — history and experience has taught us this — that any price is worth paying to ensure that Poland is free, sovereign, independent and that Poles can live in safety,” Duda said.
More of Poland for everyone. If POL can do 3%+, the much richer nations of CAN, DEU, and ITA can as well.