Sweden's Military Madness
June 14, 2018
David Swanson / World BEYOND War & The Guardian & CNN
The government of Sweden has reinstated the military draft and sent a war propaganda brochure to all Swedes promoting fear, Russophobia, and warlike thinking. the militarist threat from tiny Sweden hardly compares with that of the Pentagon. While Sweden is fifth in dealing weaponry to poor countries and ninth in dealing weaponry to all countries, we all know who's first. Sweden is, in fact, a customer for US weapons sales.
Sweden's Military Madness
David Swanson / World BEYOND War
(June 13, 2018) -- The government of Sweden has reinstated the military draft and sent a war propaganda brochure to all Swedes promoting fear, Russophobia, and warlike thinking.
While my last name comes from Sweden, I'm writing this in the United States and will no doubt be obliged to acknowledge that the militarist threat from tiny Sweden hardly compares with that of the Pentagon. While Sweden is fifth in dealing weaponry to poor countries and ninth in dealing weaponry to all countries, we all know who's first.
Sweden is, in fact, a customer for US weapons sales, although its military spending does not approach that of the United States even considered per capita. While Sweden has 29 troops in Afghanistan, it's hard to imagine they are doing the bulk of the damage. And while Sweden actively participates in NATO wars, trainings, and propaganda, it's still not technically a member.
But the United States, despite its primary role in the creation of the new Cold War, and its leading role in militarism worldwide, can now look to Sweden for some of the most disastrous potential steps forward.
The United States does not have a draft, and while it does have cable news, presidential tweets, and Congressional resolutions, it does not yet have a slick brochure instructing everyone in proper war conduct. That peaceful progressive Sweden has such a thing may provide something of a comfort and a hopeful path forward for war profiteers everywhere as they watch weapons stocks plummet in the wake of the Singapore summit.
There is a movement among Democrats in Washington, including many of the same Congress Members right now denouncing any movement toward peace in Korea, to require 18-year-old women to join men in registering for a possible draft. Contrary to liberal belief this is not a progressive reform. Contrary even to the beliefs of US peace activists, a draft is a step toward war, not away from it.
As we all have a stake in Japan maintaining Article 9, and in the position toward peace and war of every government on earth, we all should be alert to the dangers found in Sweden's brochure, "If Crisis or War Comes."
Of course, war doesn't just come. War hasn't come at all to wealthy well-armed countries since World War II. They have taken it to the poor countries of the world, often generating support back home through promoting the fear that war might "come" or through equating smaller-scale crimes with war.
Tragically, the actual wars have generated the smaller-scale terrorism used to justify preparations for more wars. Terrorism has predictably increased during the war on terrorism (as measured by the Global Terrorism Index). 99.5% of terrorist attacks occur in countries engaged in wars and/or engaged in abuses such as imprisonment without trial, torture, or lawless killing.
The highest rates of terrorism are in "liberated" and "democratized" Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorist groups responsible for the most terrorism (that is, non-state, politically motivated violence) around the world have grown out of US-led wars against terrorism.
Those wars themselves have left numerous just-retired top US government officials and even a few US government reports describing military violence as counterproductive, as creating more enemies than are killed.
According to the Peace Science Digest:
"Deployment of troops to another country increases the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. Weapons exports to another country increase the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist's home country."
Does Sweden's how-to guide recommend organizing lots of Swedes to lobby the government to stop dealing weapons, get its troops out of Afghanistan, shun NATO, join the new treaty banning nuclear weapons, or provide more aid abroad? These are, in fact, steps that ordinary people can take to deal with war. They are nowhere to be seen in "If Crisis or War Comes."
On the contrary, this helpful brochure warns people to avoid large groups -- precisely what they should be forming to nonviolently insist on peaceful policies. In fact, this cutting-edge war advertisement lists alongside war, as something to be "resisted" (apparently in the same general militarized manner) not only terror attacks, and not only cyber attacks (so that war is justified by a claim that someone hacked a computer), but also "attempts to influence Sweden's decision makers or inhabitants" (so that this essay is itself grounds for war). The same brochure also announces the power to erase civil rights by declaring martial law.
"If Crisis or War Comes" speaks of military action as "defense" despite its counterproductive history in defending people, and depicts "civil defense" as the responsibility to "support the Armed Forces."
Nowhere is there a word about unarmed civilian defense, about non-cooperation, and the tools and abilities of nonviolent resistance to tyranny, or about the superior record of success that nonviolent campaigns have over violent ones. Instead, without ever naming Russia, the Swedish brochure frames "resistance" as a violent but heroic and to-the-death struggle against the foreign evil led by the nefarious Vladimir Putin.
The chief result of this is surely the promotion of fear, which damages the ability to think clearly. Another result is that like-minded war promoters in the United States can point to Swedish talk of the "Resistance" as World War II-like glory. The US State Department's spokesperson this week, after all, described D-Day as a moment of great unity between the United States and Germany.
The number of people in the United States who know that the Soviet Union was its ally back then would probably fit on a small island off Stockholm. "If Crisis or War Comes" should heed its own Trumpian warning regarding fake news. It is based on a belief in a flood of lies and distortions about Russia that are not given substance by their size and frequency. "Is this factual information or opinion?" the Swedish government asks us to consider. That's good advice.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook
Sweden Distributes 'Be Prepared for War' Leaflet to All 4.8 Million Homes
Defence pamphlet shows how population
can prepare in event of attack and
contribute to country's 'total defense'
Jon Henley / The Guardian
(May 21, 2018) -- The Swedish government has begun sending all 4.8 million of the country's households a public information leaflet telling the population, for the first time in more than half a century, what to do in the event of a war.
Om krisen eller kriget kommer (If crisis or war comes) explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water and heat, what warning signals mean, where to find bomb shelters and how to contribute to Sweden's "total defence".
The 20-page pamphlet, illustrated with pictures of sirens, warplanes and families fleeing their homes, also prepares the population for dangers such as cyber and terror attacks and climate change, and includes a page on identifying fake news.
"Although Sweden is safer than many other countries, there are still threats to our security and independence," the brochure says. "If you are prepared, you are contributing to improving the ability of the country to cope with a major strain."
Similar leaflets were first distributed in neutral Sweden in 1943, at the height of the second world war. Updates were issued regularly to the general public until 1961, and then to local and national government officials until 1991.
"Society is vulnerable, so we need to prepare ourselves as individuals," said Dan Eliasson of the Swedish civil contingencies agency, which is in charge of the project. "There's also an information deficit in terms of concrete advice, which we aim to provide."
The publication comes as the debate on security -- and the possibility of joining NATO -- has intensified in Sweden in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and recent incursions into Swedish airspace and territorial waters by Russian planes and submarines.
The country has begun reversing military spending cuts and last year staged its biggest military exercises in nearly a quarter of a century, as well as voting to reintroduce conscription and unveiling joint plans with Denmark to counter Russian cyber-attacks and disinformation.
The leaflet advises people to think about how to cope if there was no heating, food became difficult to buy, prepare and store, there was no water in the taps or toilet, and cash machines, mobile phones and the internet stopped working.
It advises checking the source of all information, warning that "states and organisations are already trying to influence our values and how we act ... and reduce reduce our resilience and willingness to defend ourselves".
A detailed page of "home preparedness tips" advises the population to stock up on water bottles, warm clothing and sleeping bags, and "non-perishable food that can be prepared quickly, requires little water or can be eaten without preparation".
In the event of armed conflict, it says, "everyone is obliged to contribute and everyone is needed" for Sweden's "total defence": anyone between 16 and 70 "can be called to assist in the event of the threat of war and war".
Sweden has not been at war with another country for more than 200 years. If it is attacked, the leaflet says, "we will never give up. All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false."
Sweden To Send War Pamphlet to 4.8 Million Households
Emiko Jozuka, James Masters and Sebastian Shukla / CNN
(May 22, 2018) -- It's hard to predict when war will break out, but Sweden wants to make sure that it's populace is always prepared for the worst.
The Swedish government is reissuing an instructional war pamphlet to all 4.8 million households in the country, informing them for the first time in more than 30 years on the perils of war.
The brochure, titled "Om krisen eller kriget kommer" (If crisis or war comes),"was compiled by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and instructs civilians on what to do if "their everyday life was turned upside down."
The brochure provides information on everything from how to identify fake news and prepare against extreme weather conditions to what to do in the event of terror attacks and military conflicts.
The 20-page pamphlet, featuring illustrations of soldiers in the field, people fleeing disaster zones and cybersecurity teams at their computers, is an update on a version first produced during the Second World War and last released in the 1980s.
"We all have a responsibility for our country's safety and preparedness, so it's important for everyone to also have knowledge on how we can contribute if something serious occurs," MSB General Director Dan Eliasson said in a statement, according to the Swedish website The Local. "Sweden is safer than many other countries but threats exist."
Dan Eliasson, head of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, is pictured during a press conference on the new brochure "If Crisis or War Comes", in Stockholm, on May 21, 2018.
Sweden remained a neutral country during the World War II and has not been at war for 200 years. But the pamphlet warns the populace not to become complacent.
"If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up. All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false," the pamphlet says in a statement highlighted by a red background.
The pamphlet is prompted partly by the "security situation in our neighborhood," meaning the Baltic area, a Civil Contingencies Agency spokesman told CNN in January 2018.
The pamphlet's republication comes as the security debate on whether Sweden will join NATO has intensified following alleged Russian violations of Swedish airspace and territorial waters. Sweden is not a member of NATO, but it has contributed to NATO-led operations and enjoys bilateral ties with the alliance through the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
Sweden has been investing heavily in its defense strategy across the country, reintroducing conscription and also positioning troops on the strategically important island of Gotland.
The country suspended conscription in 2010 and instead adopted a recruitment system which relied on volunteers. But it changed tack in March 2017, announcing conscription would return in 2018.
The decision to boost defense spending by $720 million over five years was taken in February 2015 -- but Sweden is lacking suitable numbers for its defense forces.
According to government figures provided in March, the armed forces were 1,000 troops short in terms of full-time squad leaders, solders and sailors.
The plan aims to ensure there are 6,000 full-time members serving with 10,000 available on a part-time basis.
In May 2017 Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told CNN: "The Russian regime has showed they are ready to use military powers to fulfill political goals."
The pamphlets will be distributed in 13 different languages between May 28 and June 2 during Sweden's Emergency Preparedness Week.
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