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© 1986 till today - is an invitation to freely reprint, repost and disseminate any article provided you clearly acknowledge the source and make a link to the original article here.

Examples of recent critical articles

Jan Oberg in Counterpunch 2014
Sweden, No Longer a Force for Good?

The same article in Swedish
Sverige - inte längre en aktör för en bättre värld

Erni & Ola Friholt, TFF Associates, the Peace Movement at Orust, Sweden 2017
Försvarsministern, ÖB och informationen


Since the mid-1980s Sweden has undergone fundamental changes in its foreign and security policies, yet has managed - to a large extent - to preserve what is beyond a doubt an outdated image of itself abroad.

This outdated image is that of a country that is "socialist", non-aligned, neutral; gives priority to the UN, international law, nuclear and conventional disarmament; ranks high as a donor of development aid and is open to receiving people in need from all over the world.

The Swedish Royal Guard walking home at sunset

Other features of this now outdated image include that of a land that shows strong solidarity with small countries that are harassed by bigger states, and - domestically - is socially innovative, "progressive" - even futuristic, as well as being a champion of socio-economic equality.

Sweden used to be a country with quite an innovative foreign policy based on independent analyses resulting from commissioned research. It stood up against abuses of power and breaches of international law, even when this meant paying a political price, as was the case vis à vis the US during the Vietnam War.

Due to the changes that have occurred over more than two decades now, Sweden could more aptly be labelled as de-facto NATO-allied.

According to many Realpolitik experts, Sweden is now so close that it will, sooner rather than later, be more logical to be "married" than continue to be just "engaged."

Having said that, even during the formal neutrality era, there was never any doubt that Sweden belonged in the Western camp, so to speak, and distanced itself clearly from the Warsaw Pact nations.

Sweden's military planning, arms acquisitions, arms industry, training, infrastructure and installations all point in the direction of cooperation with the US/NATO part and in no way with Russia.

Russophobia is a widespread phenomenon in Sweden, even more so than in many NATO member states such as, say, Denmark. It pertains to the political circles, the media and the people.

Given this propaganda-like effort by many, there is still no majority for a full membership in NATO among the people. NATO membership is considered problematic because Sweden already in the 1960s decided to not acquire nuclear weapons and would have nothing to do with them.

On the contrary, nuclear disarmament and eventual abolition has been a traditional cornerstone of Swedish foreign and security policy.

In 2016 Sweden signed a Host Nation Support agreement with the US which enables it to receive US troops and weapons if the two countries so agree in a pre-war crisis situation. This agreement does not even mention nuclear weapons.

It goes without saying that whether or not Sweden becomes a full NATO member, the US/NATO side will certainly come to 'help' it in a pre-war crisis - not for the sake of Sweden but because this very long country is of considerable strategic importance to the West.

Bull missile...

Sweden officially abandoned its neutrality stance when in 2000 the then PM Goran Persson stated to the Financial Times that neutrality was no longer a relevant concept for Sweden.

While it does not, in principle, ignore the UN or international law, it gave its political support to the US/NATO interventions in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and participated militarily (albeit not in a bombing role) in the war on Libya.

Furthermore, it gave its full and unconditional support to the US "war on terror" from 2001.

Strikingly, while it has been or is involved in places such as Kosovo and Afghanistan under US/NATO command, it no longer has a single soldier wearing the UN Blue Helmet.

The important UN goal of general and complete nuclear disarmament is no longer a high-profile issue for Sweden. In contrast to earlier times, Sweden also no longer has a disarmament ambassador.

On the one hand, the Swedish government is active in making proposals in the nuclear arena; for example, it took a leading role in the New Agenda Coalition efforts vis Ă  vis the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Foreign minister Carl Bildt signed the Global Zero's demands to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. Likewise, the Swedish government stood behind the Hans Blix-led Commission on Weapons of Terror.

On the other hand, when it comes to consistently actualizing and pushing its proposals towards concrete implementation, it is obvious that the Swedish Foreign Ministry submits to the general ethos of pro-nuclear policies of the nuclear nations.

Former Prime Minister, Olof Palme, in his international Commission back in the mid-1980s, coined the term 'common security', which served as a fundamentally important wedge in the old East-West European Cold War structure.

With its systematic, incremental integration into NATO and EU structures, Sweden has abandoned that type of thinking. It is simply impossible to find any Swedish politician who could make pioneering initiatives of similar importance today.

One feature has not changed, however. Sweden remains one of the largest arms exporters in the world measured per capita.

There are probably no important violent conflicts in the world to which Swedish weapons and ammunition have not found their ways. This is all the stranger given that Sweden has a law prohibiting weapons and ammunition exports to countries that are, or look likely to become, involved in armed conflict.

To circumvent this legislation, all exports are by licenses granted as exceptions by a government board. Immediately after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, parliament decided to continue the military co-operation and exports to the US. 

These changes over the years have been spearheaded by the Social Democratic party and are in contravention of the Swedish political credo of the past, namely that the security and foreign policies of the country should be firmly anchored in public debate and understanding.

With considerable skill, politicians have avoided a serious and broad citizens-based political debate about these developments. It is reasonable to talk about a furtive, or "stealth," integration into US/NATO structures and policies.

Therefore, the policy domains of defence, security, foreign policy and peace are issues of democracy too: Shall tiny elites in and around Stockholm decide what is best for the people - or shall the people be allowed to play the most important part?

In conclusion, a small world actor for peace and justice has abandoned its role and principles. It has sought integration into larger structures and has left its creative, quite unique, role to history's archives.

Once a pride of Sweden

TFF remains engaged in these issues as it has since its inception in 1986 - but certainly not because the foundation's headquarter is situated in the university town of Lund in its very southern part.

You will not find a section exclusively devoted to Sweden on the homepage or the blog. But everything written about Sweden's policies 2012-2017 can be found on the TFF Associates & Themes Blog here.