“Total defense” alert from Sweden

So-called “total defense” concept becomes dominating in countries around the Baltic Sea region. For example, German federal defense ministry recently raised doubts on country’s readiness in a military conflict. These days, Swedish government wanted to prepare citizens for a possible crisis or even a war. Sounds of alert are heard in states around Baltics…

About 5 million Swedish house-owners received in their post-boxes (in the morning of May 28, 2018) a 20-pages leaflet titled “When crisis or war begins”. The brochure’s idea is to prepare citizens in this non-allied country to a country’s new military doctrine called “total defense”.

Danish commentator, Peter Wivel in the Danish daily Politiken (“Sweden prepares for a critical time”, 28.05.2018, p.7) makes his explanation: the booklet has been quite expected as the time for the next elections in September is approaching and troubled governing socio-democrats would like in this way “to assemble the nation”.

But there is something else in the booklet, says P. Wivel: it is warning that a possible war is inevitable. Therefore, citizens have to be prepared for a troubled time…

The Swedish message this time is connected to possible global/regional crisis as well, first of all with climate threat and cyber attacks; the latter is even more dangerous as it can make all electronic communications (on which the whole nation is heavily dependent) disrupt and invalid.

To be prepared for bad times, Swedish people –this is what the leaflet suggests- have to make “emergency baskets” in each family for at least a week’s survival with necessary amount of food, water, medicine and, of course, cash, as dispenser machines would not work…

Suffice it to say that there is already a global “Cyber Security Index, NCSI”, which measures countries’ readiness against cyber attacks and crimes; the index includes every NATO and all EU states, as well as a number of developing countries. The e-Governance Academy in Tallinn updates the data on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available.

The ten countries best prepared presently against cyber attacks are: France, Germany, Estonia, Slovakia, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

The Index can be consulted at http://ncsi.ega.ee/

Distant past, present and future threats

A military alert of such dimension for the first time occurred in Nordic countries, i.e. Sweden and Denmark in 1961: that time it was a threat of nuclear crisis among the “great powers” in the world.

In modern time, i.e. in January 2017 Swedish Defense Ministry warned the government that the “situation” had deteriorated: the US’s new administration acknowledged that America did not any more believe in the NATO’s concept and send a signal that it would “turned away” from Europe.

The Swedish defense ministry hinted on Russia’s leadership that can use “the moment” and try to get back the territories lost during the collapse of the Soviet Union. That idea was wholeheartedly supported by Sweden’s neighbors, i.e. Estonia and, particularly, in Latvia with a great number of ethnic Russians residing there. By the way, the European Commission has warned Latvian government for long to resolve the so-called “Russian minority” issue (with about 30-40% of the total population) but no radical measures have been taken. Now, says the Danish columnist, “it might be too late” and added that people in Denmark, specifically in Bornholm, could be very interested in the Swedish “warning leaflet” as well…

The “alarm” in earnest broke out in December 2017, as the US new administration confirmed “a troubled message” to the European states to increase defense’s impetus otherwise the US would “shed their doubts” in NATO’s principles and mission. In winter 2017, the Swedish government assessed that if an intervention occurs (?!), the military would survive “about three weeks”; hence the country needs assistance from friendly neighbors.

Although, there is no direct mentioning in the booklet of any country that can threaten Sweden, the stress is on the need for a “stronger European security”. It sends a clear message to countries in the Baltic Sea region that military preparations shall be a priority in the months and years to come, generally at the expense of average people’s wellbeing. Probably, in rich Nordic countries the message could work as a “unifying” factor, but hardly in their less “favorable” three Baltic States.

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