Adventurous NATO policy of going global and confronting China unpopular: Swedish scholar
Published: Jun 23, 2022 09:22 PM
Cartoon: Vitaly Podvitski

Cartoon: Vitaly Podvitski

Editor's Note: 

NATO, which is constantly looking for imaginary enemies and justifying its existence by inciting confrontation, is about to hold a summit, and it also plans to extend its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific region. Behind its aggressive narrative, contradictions and divisions within NATO have become increasingly prominent. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is not going according to NATO's playbook. This series of articles will provide some clues regarding NATO's predicament. 

In the second piece, Ulf Sandmark (Sandmark), Chairman of the Schiller Institute in Sweden, shared his views with the Global Times (GT) on why he opposes Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership and why NATO's "adventurous policy of going around the world to confront China" will become unpopular. 

GT: You are against Sweden joining NATO. Can you explain why?

Sandmark: I'm part of a campaign group against Sweden's membership of NATO. We are in the streets protesting almost every day. This is an ongoing campaign which started when we first heard about this possibility of Sweden joining NATO. I'm taking part in demonstrations and making speeches and so on.

Now many people are joining us because we are quite shocked about this approach to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO. Why we are against NATO is because we are for peace and we don't want to take part in the NATO wars. Scandinavia is an area of the world that used to be a low-tension area. But now, with this possibility of Sweden joining NATO, we will have a very high-tension area. 

Close to our border, and especially to the border of Finland, there is the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in the world. It's the Russian naval bases at the Kola Peninsula which holds the majority of Russia's nuclear-armed submarines. So if these bases are threatened, the whole nuclear balance will be out of the window. And this would be a very huge provocation to Russia. This is creating enormous tension in our region. And in case of nuclear war we will become primary targets for nuclear attacks, if we threaten Russia in this way.

GT: The issue of Finland and Sweden joining NATO has caused divisions within NATO. Turkey opposes the two countries' NATO membership. What do you think about the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining NATO? Will divisions within NATO expand further in the future?

Sandmark: We have already seen the Turkish opposition to the NATO membership applications of Sweden and Finland, and there were negotiations on Monday in Brussels' NATO headquarters, where the Finnish and Swedish delegations met with the Turkish delegation, and they were discussing for the first time for five hours. There was optimism from the Swedish side at this time because of the effort by Turkey to take part in solving the issues, but they were far from being solved. According to security expert Jan Hallengren, Swedish Defense Research Institute, probably Sweden would not be able to join until the end of this year. 

If you look to the Turkish protest against Sweden's access to NATO, it is quite rational, actually, because they are involved in peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. They're pursuing a policy of peace, which Sweden and Finland should be doing instead of joining NATO. Besides, a nuclear confrontation or crisis in Scandinavia would endanger all the NATO members. If Sweden and Finland join, it would destabilize the whole world situation. Therefore, it's quite reasonable from the Turkish side to protest against the Swedish and Finnish NATO membership.

GT: Recently, many leaders of European countries mentioned "Ukraine fatigue", and there were even voices to persuade Ukraine to "cede territory to seek peace." What's your take on it? Has the conflict exposed more of NATO's stalemates?

Sandmark: Absolutely, as the war in Ukraine drags on, people understand that this war is not about helping Ukraine - this was what people thought in the beginning - but now they find that this is a war to win against Russia.

Now, the war in Ukraine has been turned into a NATO war against Russia, where Ukraine is more and more becoming a proxy for the US and Britain, and NATO, to attack Russia. It's a very dangerous situation. And people are starting to do negotiations. The European leaders from Germany, France, and Italy were recently going to Ukraine to try to open up some discussions. But the British are very much against this, and immediately when there is peace negotiation or any peace effort, the British come like a rocket to convince them that they should not make any peace and there are pressures also from the US not to have any peace negotiations.

GT: The consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war are increasingly serious, and European countries bear considerable losses, such as rising energy prices and inflation. Is the security threat from Russia advertised by NATO persuasive in European society?

Sandmark: Everyone in Scandinavia knew that Russia is not a threat to Scandinavia, because Russia is busy in Ukraine, it has no force to attack Sweden and Finland. There is no rush for our nations to join. 

They blame the prices and the inflation on Putin instead of blaming the sanctions, which has been imposed from the Western side, that has increased the inflation that was already there before. But now, we see increasing protests against such narratives. Now we are seeing rising prices and interest rates, we can have a big finance shock that will devastate the whole Western Europe and the United States economy. So we can expect to see huge protests coming out against the war policies.

GT: Leaders of some Asia-Pacific countries, such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, are invited to the NATO summit to be held at the end of this month. Will the globalization of NATO, which the US is trying to seek, come to fruition in your opinion?

Sandmark: This is also a shock to the Swedish and Scandinavian population, because they think that NATO is supposed to help defend our nations. But what we see is NATO in the Madrid summit planning to go global and to go with a policy against China. This would mean that Swedish and Finnish young men and women would be sent all the way to the other side of the globe to take part in wars if the two countries join NATO, which is not in our interests.

In the summit in Spain, China is on the agenda and they have the plan to turn NATO against China. This is absolutely ridiculous. NATO, if you look at the name, it means North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They don't even know the geography when they bring South Korea and Japan into this summit. The British and Americans are leading and controlling this. But how many members will they have in a global NATO? That would probably be fewer and fewer of the members wanting to take part in this adventurous policy of going around the world to confront China and other nations in Asia. It won't be popular. 

What we need now are more possibilities for solving problems we have in the world, because we have huge starvation, a huge pandemic and an economic crisis. People are revolting against this. We should find a common understanding, especially around the food crisis. Regarding the food crisis, Turkey is trying to negotiate to get food out of Ukraine and Russia. This could be a first step to have a common understanding between different sides for a common effort to stop the world starvation. And we also need to find a way to a new architecture for security, peace and development.