Sweden: Defense Chiefs Make Controversial War Remarks

    Sweden: Defense Chiefs Make Controversial War Remarks
    Photo: Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Image News via Getty Images (Sept. 08, 2023)

    The Facts

    • Sweden's Civil Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin and its military chief General Micael Byden have warned of a coming war within the context of the country's path to NATO ascension and tensions with Russia. The comments were also critiqued over concerns of alarmism.

    • Referring to Sweden's aspirations to join NATO and amid the threat of Russian aggression, Bohlin urged Swedes last weekend to join voluntary defense organizations. He warned that Sweden's 210 years of peace could potentially come to an end.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    These dire comments reflect alarming rhetoric in an attempt to ramp up Sweden's military complex. Ratcheting up an irrational fear of Russia may help Sweden feel more important to NATO than it actually is. Such irresponsible comments cause angst and confusion domestically and are not helpful on the geopolitical stage, either. Sweden's military establishment should be more careful about how it conveys its threat assessments to the public.

    Narrative B

    The world didn't pay enough attention when Russia attacked Georgia and annexed Crimea. The same can be seen in the lead-up to the Ukraine war — Putin himself disingenuously dismissed the suggestion. Sweden's officials have learned the right lessons. Now may not be the Scandinavian nation's moment to gloat over 200 years of peace. These comments speak to the need for a responsible Swedish military posture in light of the path to NATO ascension and a growing threat from the Kremlin.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 97.5% chance that Sweden will join NATO before 2025, according to the Metaculus forecasting community.

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