Publicerad: 2010-06-06 22:06, Uppdaterad: 2011-11-02 16:11
De rödgrönas krav på att USA ska dra tillbaka alla baser avslöjar tyvärr att Sverige inte är moget för den större solidaritet som i slutändan säkrar svenskarnas frihet och demokrati. Det skriver Daniel Hamilton, chef för Center for Transatlantic Relations på Johns Hopkins University, USA, exklusivt för Newsmill.
Daniel Hamilton directs the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. and has served as a senior official in the U.S. State Department responsible for U.S. relations with the Nordic and Baltic countries.
Sweden's Social Democrats have teamed up with the Greens and the Left to produce a document outlining their foreign policy priorities should they win the fall elections. Much of the document reads as one might imagine. But then one comes across a stunner of a sentence: "A red-green government will demand that the U.S. dismantle its nuclear weapons and military bases outside its borders."
I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. This is, at the very least, quite an odd statement for Swedish Social Democrats to make, given their strong position -- and actions -- in the past in support of a vibrant transatlantic link and Swedish-American cooperation on a range of crucial foreign and security policy issues. Frankly, it is also a strange position for the Swedish Greens to make, given that in recent times they had moved away from approaches that had isolated them even from Greens in other parts of Europe.
It is also dismaying to this American, a friend of Sweden who has spent considerable time working closely with Swedish colleagues to advance peace and prosperity across the European continent and beyond, and who values Sweden's important contributions to international security.
One might dismiss this Social Democratic reversal as pure electoral maneuvering. Yet surely it is appropriate for Swedish voters -- and for that matter, Sweden's friends -- to ask themselves what exactly is meant by this statement, especially its combative tone. Let me get this right: a red-green government will "demand" U.S. action, rather than "work with" an American President who is already reducing the U.S. military's global footprint and just received the Nobel Peace Prize for his call for a world without nuclear weapons? What an odd, embarrassing thing to say.
It reminds me of an incident last week in the United States, when Barack Obama was heckled by a gay rights activist as he was trying to give a talk. Obama finally stopped his speech and responded to the heckler. "Why don't you read the newspapers," Obama said with some exasperation. "Perhaps you haven't noticed that we're trying to do exactly what you are heckling me about."
Of course, the U.S. is not going to dismantle its military bases and nuclear weapons anytime soon. In today's world there are still good reasons for both. But successive U.S. administrations have acted to reduce and realign the U.S. military footprint around the world. And the Obama Administration has made some progress in linking negotiated reductions in U.S. nuclear arsenals to the need for a stronger non-proliferation regime.
On the nuclear front, Obama just signed the New START treaty further reducing U.S and Russian warheads and delivery vehicles. He sponsored the first Nuclear Summit with 40 heads of government to generate greater consensus and commitments on issues of nuclear safety. He re-engaged the U.S. in efforts to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He committed the U.S. to support efforts leading to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. He broke with outdated Cold War nuclear secrecy and disclosed the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, putting significant pressure on other nuclear weapon states to reciprocate. He has offered security assurances to states who comply with non-proliferation commitments. In short, he has set forth a series of practical steps that could in fact lead to a world without nuclear weapons. It is slow going. It is not a goal the U.S. can achieve alone. Nonetheless, over the past decade the U.S. has reduced its nuclear stockpile by more than half, and by 2012 the U.S nuclear arsenal will be at levels not seen in more than 50 years, in the early days of the nuclear age.
In a number of world regions, however, the U.S. nuclear deterrent remains critical to regional stability and is desired by U.S. partners. In some cases, unilateral or precipitate withdrawal or reductions of U.S. nuclear forces could unnerve U.S. allies -- witness the current debate within NATO about withdrawal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons -- and could lead to potentially destabilizing conventional arms build-ups. Without a strong and verifiable non-proliferation regime, unilateral U.S. nuclear build-downs in some regions of the world could in fact lead to overall nuclear build-ups. Nonetheless, there is some progress in ensuring that arsenal reductions by nuclear powers are accompanied by commensurate efforts to prevent additional nuclear weapons proliferation. It would seem that Swedish efforts would be best served by joining such efforts, rather than by heckling the U.S. from the sidelines or singling out the U.S. as the source of all evil.
Similar issues are at stake with regard to U.S. military bases abroad. Read the newspapers lately? Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has cut in half its military force posture at bases and installations around the world. Before the Cold War ended, the U.S. launched the Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) process to reduce or readjust U.S. military bases at home and abroad. More than 100 bases have been closed or realigned by these reviews, and scores more are slated for closure.
U.S. forces in Europe have been cut by 75%, from 375,00 during the Cold War to less than 80,000 today and to less than 60,00 by 2015. Most cycle in and out of tours in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. forces in Germany are a fraction of what they used to be, and most U.S. military officials would reduce them even further -- except that successive German governments, including those of the red-green variety, have pleaded for them to remain.
Moreover, during the 1990s the U.S. was on course to reduce its military presence in Europe further and faster, only to find that Europe was incapable of stopping mass killings and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Since the end of the Bosnian conflict the U.S. presence there has given way to an EU presence. In Kosovo, the small U.S. contingent of forces remaining is the only credible element of reassurance to the Kosovars, who are still understandably nervous about Serb intentions and unconvinced that EU member states, many of whom still refuse to recognize Kosovo's independence, will support them. Swedish "demands" that the U.S. "dismantle" its presence only add to Balkan turbulence and diminish Swedish and EU credibility.
In many parts of Europe there is worry about too few, not too many, U.S. soldiers. Americans would be the first to welcome those soldiers home, knowing that Europeans were able to take care of their own civil wars. Unfortunately, even recent European history has shown that this Europe is not reality today. Moreover, U.S. forward deployments enable U.S. and allied forces to improve their ability to operate together. The less opportunity U.S. forces have to operate with other partner forces, the more likely they are to operate alone, thus reinforcing unilateral tendencies that Swedes of all color like to criticize.
The U.S. withdrew completely from the Philippines in 1992. The U.S. withdrew completely from Iceland in 2006 -- over the objections of the Icelanders themselves. I helped negotiate issues related to the U.S. withdrawal of forces from Iceland, in the face of Icelandic protests, and I can assure you that the Icelanders are not happy that the U.S. is gone.
Many Americans would agree that the U.S. military presence around the world is still too big. Iraq and Afghanistan are of course the leading examples. Yet under Obama the U.S. is on schedule to withdraw its military forces in Iraq and to begin downsizing its military presence in Afghanistan in 2011. "Demanding" U.S. actions that the U.S. is in fact already taking is not only empty rhetoric, it makes Sweden look silly.
The U.S. has reduced its overall military footprint. Yet in some cases U.S. forward deployments remain essential to reassuring allies and deterring aggression. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at perhaps their highest levels since Cold War days, precipitated most recently by an unprovoked North Korean attack on a South Korean ship. For decades the U.S. military presence and nuclear deterrent have reassured South Koreans -- and others throughout Asia -- while forestalling any South Korean ambitions to develop nuclear weapons themselves, despite North Korean provocations. In such a situation, "dismantling" the U.S. military presence and its nuclear commitments to South Korea would destabilize the Korean Peninsula overnight. And yet, even while maintaining its commitment to South Korean defense, the U.S. military has reduced and realigned its presence there in recent years to better address the security situation.
Not only has U.S. downsized the number of bases overseas, it has converted many from large installations to small, bare-bones facilities, some of which are not even occupied on a full time basis and yet which could provide initial capabilities for timely response to crises and unanticipated humanitarian disasters. Scores of host nations have in fact asked the U.S. for such contingency arrangements. Sometimes they can be useful, for instance when access procedures at an air base in Dakar, Senegal enabled the U.S. Air Force to evacuate American civilians and those from other countries, including Europe, from Liberia in 2003. Such facilities have enabled quick-reaction forces from the U.S. and other partner nations to respond to earthquakes in Iran and Pakistan and tsunami devastation and landslides in Asia. Swedish citizens have been beneficiaries of such actions.
Finally, it is interesting to note that the Red-Green "demand" is only directed at the United States. It recalls Obama's second response to his heckler last week: "Why don't you go and heckle someone who doesn't agree with you, instead of following me around?" In its zeal to single out the United States, the red-green alliance is noticeably silent about the fact that, in violation of international law, Moscow has established military bases in the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The red-green statement is also noticeably silent about the 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons Moscow still has stationed within its European territory -- about 10 times the equivalent U.S. arsenal -- despite earlier pledges by Kremlin leaders to reduce or eliminate them. No word about either of these issues from the reds and the greens, no "demand," not even the most polite suggestion that the Kremlin might want to reconsider such actions.
When asked about this omission, Social Democrats have responded that they don't push Russia on these points because the main issue with Moscow is respect for human rights and press freedoms. Where is the logic in that? Is it then the Social Democratic position that countries that disregard human rights and trample on press freedoms shouldn't reduce their nuclear weapons or military bases established in violation of international law? It's just mind-boggling.
So why does this political alliance "demand" such steps only from the U.S.? Is it simple ignorance and failure to keep pace with world events -- not exactly signs of "governability" -- ? Or is it willful misrepresentation -- hoping to garner a few more votes by positing an American bogey as the source of the world's ills, without mentioning other countries or issues that might warrant equal "demands," or advancing any practical steps that could get us from the realities of today's world to a better future?
Sadly, whatever the motivation, the statement betrays a free-rider mentality that refuses to face the reality that Sweden is part of a larger community of solidarity, and that Sweden's well-being and the freedoms and security of its citizens depend on this solidarity -- the kind of solidarity in which you can count on us and we can count on you. Accepting that hard work will be necessary to build this type of solidarity is a first step toward making it happen. Unfortunately, Sweden's Left has stepped away from that challenge, and stepped back from its own best traditions.