Hem > Sveriges försvar, Utrikespolitik > Det innebär inga fördelar för oss om USA och Nato flyger över Sverige i fred såväl som krigstider. Det vore en kränkning av vår suveränitet, och inget tecken på respekt precis!

Det innebär inga fördelar för oss om USA och Nato flyger över Sverige i fred såväl som krigstider. Det vore en kränkning av vår suveränitet, och inget tecken på respekt precis!


Why the states of the Baltic are wrong to feel blue

Obama has dramatically improved security forPoland and the Baltic states. So why do they feel sidelined?

The Riga Security Conference is Latvia’s big annual shindig: this year’s guest list included the three Baltic presidents, plus Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland and his defence minister, Bogdan Klich, as well as the foreign minister of Georgia and (sadly not on the same panel) Mikhail Margelov, a heavyweight Russian politician. Plus plenty of think-tankers, media and government people from around the region.

The discussions were lively. But enthusiasm for theUnited States was conspicuously absent; so were Americans. Just one mid-ranking official (from theState Department) had crossed the Atlantic: nobody came from the Pentagon or the National Security Council. Mutterings of abandonment echoed round the conference. Some blame the Russia-first approach of the ‘re-set’; others point to the US’s huge and distracting economic problems. But the ex-captive nations, once the US’s most cherished allies in Europe, now no longer feel that they count for much.

I think such sentiments are ill-founded and dangerously mistaken. It is true that the Obama administration habitually inflicts gaffes, snubs and mis-steps on its allies. Its officials are sometimes rather unimpressive and shamefully careless in their choice of words. ‘Allies’ and ‘partners’ are not the same thing, for example, however trendy it may be to elide the difference.

But compared with what? The Bush administrationwas hardly a halcyon era of silver-tongued happy talk. The Obama administration is ending unpopular foreign wars, not starting them. It does not arm-twist allies to torture people secretly, only to then leak details of the dirty work to the media.

On issues that matter hugely to the Poles, Balts and others, the Obama administration is doing a good job – and in some respects a better one than its predecessors. Until 2008, the US blocked the extension of full NATO contingency planning to the alliance’s new members: as Russia was not a threat, it was pointless (and provocative) to plan against it, the argument went. NATO’s military footprint in the Baltics and Poland was minimal: a rotating squadron of warplanes in Lithuania; a half-built conference centre in Warsaw.

Now that has changed, dramatically. NATO has changed its threat assessment (not before time) to include the potential danger of a future Russian regime trying something silly. (Russia’s Zapad-09 and Ladoga exercises last year, which practised invading and occupying the Baltic states, and concluded with a dummy nuclear attack on Warsaw, made that shift well overdue.) NATO is now finalising contingency plans for the Baltic (involving big land reinforcement via Poland, an American carrier battle group in the North Atlantic, and some use of Swedish airspace). Good: making such plans reduces the likelihood of their being needed.

Moreover, the US has upped its military presence in the Baltic, with a series of major exercises this year, including a marine amphibious landing in Estonia, big land and special forces drills, an air refuelling exercise and (rumour has it) a lot more happening behind the scenes. Nothing like that would have happened under the Bush administration. In other words, the most vulnerable members of NATO (Poland and the three Baltic countries) have never been safer. The paper security guarantee of the alliance’s Article 5 is now backed up by the real thing.

It is possible to criticise America’s ‘re-set’ of relations with Russia for other reasons (such as a shift away from hard talk on human rights, which in some eyes amounts to a betrayal of Russia’s democrats). But for the Baltic states and Poland, the results have been good and they are oddly ungrateful for it. Sounding plaintive, paranoid, needy, nostalgic, negative and niggling is not the way to enthuse a hard-pressed ally who has never been more important.

The writer is central and eastern Europe correspondent of The Economist.

Jag vet inte mycket om vår luftförsvarsförmåga, men jag vet att den är relativt god i jämförelse med våra grannländers. Men så har vi större ytor och längre kust också. Jag anser att vi inte skall stillatigande se på när USA använder vårt luftrum för sina egna syften, om de nu verkligen kommer att våga sig på det alltså! Som jag förstår det så har vi förmåga att kontrollera vårt luftrum, än så länge. Det innebär inga fördelar för oss om USA och Nato flyger över Sverige i fred såväl som krigstider. Det vore en kränkning av vår suveränitet, och inget tecken på respekt precis!

Roger Klang, Lund Scaniae Sverige, den 17/9/2010 ”Alla vägar bär till Lund”

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