Sweden and Finland Entering NATO

Often the dynamics of war lead to results that are diametrically opposed to the objectives pursued by the contenders; the conflict in Ukraine, instigated by the Russian Federation mainly to hinder NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe, has in fact accelerated the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance in an extremely important region from a geopolitical point of view, Northern Europe. On the other hand, the ongoing war of "attrition", thanks to the fundamental Western – primarily US – support for Ukraine, risks "handing over" an extremely weakened Russia into the hands of China.

Obviously it is not so much the immediate danger of an invasion that prompted Sweden and Finland to ask for admission to NATO (the difficulties encountered in Ukraine certainly do not allow the Russian army to open a new front), as the assessment that Moscow wants to open a new political phase, aimed at rebuilding its own sphere of influence and reaffirming its own role of primary importance in the international arena (a role largely lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union).

Both Sweden and Finland, although formally "neutral", have collaborated militarily with NATO since the early 1990s. They have participated, for example, in "peacekeeping" missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan and have taken part in the "Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process" (a programme that NATO operates for non-member countries, with whom they collaborate, in order to share the development of similar military structures).

This collaborative relationship, in the current geopolitical scenario, is however no longer perceived as a sufficient guarantee of military security; the priorities of the United States are changing (they are increasingly engaged in the Indo-Pacific region, in an attempt to contain the "Chinese giant") and Europe is losing the strategic importance it once had during the Cold War.

In this sense, Ukraine, although recently entering the Western orbit, has not received any direct military support from the United States, which preferred to fight this war by proxy ("until the last Ukrainian", some say, with macabre irony).

Membership of NATO, whose Article 5 commits all members to intervene in the event of aggression against a member country, was therefore considered the most appropriate option to get military insurance in the current geopolitical context.

The full entry of Sweden and Finland obviously moves NATO’s northern encirclement of Russia further east. In fact, one of the main objectives that Moscow set for itself at the beginning of the present conflict was the creation of a "neutral" zone that would keep the Atlantic Alliance at arms length from its "doorstep". Now, even assuming that Russia achieves an overwhelming victory in Ukraine – a result that is far from certain – thus reducing NATO pressure on Russia’s south-eastern front, it would be counterbalanced by NATO’s advance in the north-east.

Furthermore, this enlargement of the Alliance, puts the Baltic area almost entirely under NATO control, with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad encircled by land and sea.

The strengthening of NATO in the north could also change the geopolitical balances in the Arctic region. The presence of hydrocarbon and mineral deposits has made it an area of increasing interest to the major economic powers whilst the progressive melting of the ice, due to climate change, is also facilitating the opening of maritime routes.(1) A Scandinavia now united under NATO's defensive umbrella could determine a further acceleration of the militarization process already underway in the area (Russia, in this sense, has expressed "concern" for the recent military exercises, held in March of this year in northern Norway, of NATO forces, with the participation of Swedish and Finnish troops).

It is therefore very likely that the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance could lead, in the medium term, to an accentuation of frictions and tensions between the opposing imperialist fronts.

Those who have followed our press for some time know our view on what, using Marxist analysis, constitutes the fundamental and unavoidable contradiction of the capitalist mode of production, namely the tendential fall in the rate of profit (i.e. the decreasing ratio between surplus value produced and the total advanced capital); the expression of this contradiction, in addition to having direct repercussions in the economic world (think of the tumultuous growth of financial speculation – that is, the spasmodic search for remuneration of capital that does not find sufficient opportunities for valorisation in the productive sphere) also inevitably conditions domestic policies (shrinking of the "welfare state", attacks on the world of work, etc.) and international relations.(2)

The ongoing inter-imperialist clash is therefore not a passing, accidental phenomenon (perhaps seen as the result of one autocrat’s crazy choice), but is the result of the current crisis that capitalism has been experiencing for decades on an international level; the aggressiveness of the various powers (to obtain control of raw materials, energy resources, markets, etc.) is therefore destined to increase with the deepening of the crisis itself.

Taking sides with one of the two contenders (in the name of the "right of nations to self-determination", or the defence of "sacred borders", etc.) mystifies the very nature of the conflict, without questioning in the slightest the economic and social context which constitutes the very foundation of political power and its various expressions. To pretend that under capitalism (in particular in the imperialist phase we are going through) international relations are not based on the logic of power and that this logic is not correlated to the needs of capital accumulation, is to ignore the concrete foundations of the problem; to oppose war it is first of all necessary to oppose capitalism, its policies of hegemony or alleged defence, its state, its institutions ("the enemy is at home"), and not abstractly rejecting all forms of violence.

The war in Russia is accelerating the recomposition of imperialist alliances under the impulse of the economic crisis; outbreaks of class struggle may soon reappear on the international scene, but they would soon be destined to turn into sterile revolts in the absence of a communist party that knows how to channel them along the revolutionary path. The reconstruction of a political vanguard of the international proletariat therefore represents a priority for all those who oppose the imperialist carnage, for the construction of a new order without exploitation, borders and wars, a communist world.

Battaglia Comunista


(1) For more on this see leftcom.org

(2) To deepen the theme of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, we recommend "Il capitalismo è crisi. Considerazione e verifiche sulla caduta del saggio medio di profitto" by Fabio Damen, Edizoni Prometeo. Various parts of it have already been translated into English and can be found on our site but a useful start can be found here leftcom.org

Friday, September 9, 2022