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Sweden: The End of the Neutrality
An incredibly big iceberg.
STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — Sweden: a people proud of their neutrality. A people who boast of not being involved in any military conflict for hundreds of years. A people that avoided taking sides in World War II and again in the Cold War. A country that offered the first complete welfare state with 'cradle to grave security', the famed 'middle road'.
Sweden's neutrality was important to the US during the Cold War: the country was a buffer zone between the 'Big Bear' to the east and NATO member Norway to the west. War games concentrated on keeping up defences for twenty four hours until a US naval fleet could come to the rescue.
Sweden: a country like many others in Europe that tolerated a communist party in parliament but secretly collected information on communist sympathisers and sent this information to the CIA.
Sweden: a country whose cabinets have for at least the past ten years regularly reported to the US embassy in Stockholm where they've been given 'report cards' - where a 'failing grade' could mean financial and political disaster.
Much of the above came into the light of day through the Cablegate releases of WikiLeaks. Other tidbits came from intelligence sources in Norway. Almost every unpopular piece of legislation in the 'noughties' - the FRA 'Lex Orwell' act and the IPRED act as but two examples - as well as the persecution of The Pirate Bay were all dictated by the US through their embassy in Stockholm.
This is all known and well documented today. Swedes have had reasons to be worried about where their country has been heading. But the above turns out to be but the tip of the iceberg - an incredibly big iceberg.
Sometimes a Tabloid
Aftonbladet enjoyed a reputation as being a tabloid long before the Assange story broke. But now and again even Aftonbladet can startle their readership with some amazing feats of investigative journalism. You're about to read one of them.
Killing for the US
By Christopher Holmbäck. Published 2012-01-06.
On 18 May 2011 over 100 representatives for Swedish and US weapons industries, defence departments, and governments met at the Swedish embassy in Washington DC. SAAB's vice-CEO Jonas Hjelm, who before he was recruited by the weapons manufacturer had been a cabinet secretary in the department of defence, explained why the meeting was so important:
'Sweden is the third largest exporter of military materials to the US.'
'North America will be SAAB's biggest market in four years.'
The cozy gathering ended with a dinner invitation in the residence of the Swedish ambassador. This was yet another workday for Sweden with her all the more intimate military cooperation with the US. Since 1989 Sweden's had an office in the embassy working exclusively with joint ventures in the weapons industries, and after 9/11 Sweden became one of the most important allies and most reliable weapons suppliers of the US.
Swedish politicians have since the 1990s used our heavy weapons industry to make us, as can be read in government propositions, 'mutually dependent' on our allies. The control of our defence policies has thereby shifted, most notably to the US. The core of both the Swedish air defence and Swedish weapons export, the fighter plane JAS 39 Gripen, is propped to the gills with US technology. This means that even if the US were to violate Swedish regulations and agreements, it's 'of course an impossibility', according to Swedish weapon export controllers, 'to stop the cooperation between Sweden and the US' (heard on radio programme P1, 18 November 2010).
The joint ventures are instead militarised quickly. Sweden has become an 'offensive player in international operations', explained Robert Moore, US vice chief for joint security ventures, during a bilaterial meeting in Stockholm in June 2009. Swedish troops are commandeered by US officers in Afghanistan, and recently they again demonstrated their eagerness by chasing pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Robert Moore is also happy that 'the focus of the Swedish military has shifted to building alliances, an ability to scramble swiftly, and interoperability'. He listed the key events in this metamorphosis:
√ The 2006 airforce exercise 'Red Flag' where Sweden for the first time took part in military operations on US soil;
√ The NATO exercise 'Loyal Arrow' which Sweden arranged in the north of the country in 2009; and
√ Swedish fighter planes and military communications systems are today almost completely synchronised with US systems.
At the same time, this cooperation between national weapons industries takes its first steps into the new era of unmanned and privatised warfare.
Swedish JAS squadrons deployed to the NATO base in Sicily during the war in Libya.
The US assumes more and more the right to execute anyone at all in the global war on terror. Barack Obama lets mercenaries carry out key assignments and then hides his own pilots behind computer screens with remote controls in the US. And Sweden is there to help. One example: in a project jointly financed by Sweden and the US, the company ÅAC Microtec from Uppsala, in conjunction with the university in the same town, is developing nano-satellites to guide US drone systems and help the US further develop their unmanned warfare capabilities.
We're in the middle of a military technological revolution where SAAB, ÅAC Microtec, and Sweden are pushing developments. Unmanned aircraft as big as the JAS 39 Gripen will soon be able to drop nuclear weapons. Swarms of drones will themselves choose which targets to attack. Every village, every neighbourhood can soon be monitored, and all that digital information can easily be stored in searchable databases.
No one knows where this development will end. But the sense of international ethics and morality that followed after the old wars, to the extent they could help us, is eroding today at the same furious pace the unmanned weapons systems are being developed. This indiscriminate war of 'execution' by the US - where drones drop bombs in six muslim countries and where elite troops, mercenaries, and local elite troops trained by the US carry out missions together, hunt down and kill in nearly one hundred countries - makes it likely other players can also attack their declared enemies.
What target is more reasonable: a Taliban suspected of hiding a mortar under his bed? Or university engineers suspected of collaborating with ÅAC Microtec?
The Swedish cabinets have cast their dice. Carl Bildt and Sten Tolgfors talk in the same tongue as the US generals and weapons companies: Sweden is to defend her territory by 'protecting our values', 'safeguarding the flow' of oil, weapons, and other goods in the global economy, and by stopping terrorists in Afghanistan before they attack our own shores. It's for this reason that revelations of US death squads in our war in Afghanistan are met with silence in Sweden. And that's why Swedish cabinet ministers and weapons manufacturers are developing military ventures with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the other dictatorships in the gulf who are blocking the democratic uprisings in the area and who are at the same time the most important allies of the US in the region.
And whilst the election campaigns are dominated by household economy issues, our governments decided to bind Sweden into a global war of extermination with unforeseeable consequences. The Swedish people didn't get to debate the issues when the concepts 'war' and 'peace' were replaced by 'terrorists' and where 'our values' and 'economic flow' are to be defended by Swedish weapons and Swedish troops.
We must urgently demand our politicians open up the debate on our role in the global warfare of the US, so our citizenry can be given the chance to form their own opinions, and so that we the citizenry can decide ourselves what we're to support.
Offer up your best defence.
- Don Henley
Sweden: The End of the Innocence