An Expansion of the Alliance: Sweden joins NATO

NATO members. Wikipedia

After nearly two years of negotiations, the final obstacle to Sweden’s accession to the NATO alliance was removed – in the form of Hungarian President Viktor Orban, who has so far suspended his support in protest of Swedish involvement in Hungary’s social and domestic affairs, to his claim. The country is expected to complete the formal accession process to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the coming weeks.

NATO (North Atlantic Alliance) is a military-defensive alliance that has had a great influence on the geopolitical agenda since its inception in the early Cold War (1949) to this day. The alliance is an alliance for military cooperation and defence – when an attack on one ally requires all other members to join the military effort to defend it (article 5). The alliance is the most official expression of the ‘West’ – the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany – in the bustle of other strategic allies, such as Turkey.

So far, Sweden has refrained from joining the alliance due to its neutral policy. Sweden is currently the country with the longest continuum of neutrality (yes, more than Switzerland), and fought for the last time against Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. What changed now? In a word, Russia; in two words, Ukraine Invasion; in three words, The renewed global polarization.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine expressed greater boldness by Russia and contempt for its neighbouring borders; at the same time, it marked the beginning of an appeal against the US-led world order for several decades. This led to the NATO alliance of countries that had maintained (relatively) good relations with Russia, such as Sweden and Finland (which has a thousand-kilometer border with Russia). Now, NATO has absolute dominance in Scandinavia.

What is Israel’s place in this story? Israel will likely not be able to join the alliance, both because of its conflicts with some of its countries, and also because Israel is already at war – so Israel joining will inevitably lead to the joining of the other states in the war alongside it, a development in which most of them are certainly not interested (and that is why Ukraine, for example, is not attached to the alliance). Nevertheless, Israel maintains close diplomatic and military relations with the alliance and is defined by it as a “Major non-NATO ally”. The wars in Ukraine and Gaza reflect the global chanfe, and Israel must decide where it wants to stand in relation to the process.

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