Broadened security concepts must be taken seriously

That climate change and IT vulnerability are real security threats to Sweden has long been taken for granted. But the concrete security and defense policy is in practice still purely military. That is the opinion of Anders Melbourn, journalist and political scientist.

For almost 25 years, the Swedish Armed Forces has been shaken by dramatically changed conditions. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union was dissolved, the conditions for Swedish security policy became completely different. The threat of a major European war and an invasion of Swedish territory was virtually gone.

In defense preparations and security policy analyzes, defense and security threats have been reformulated. Climate deterioration and other environmental degradation, energy dependencies, pandemics, disrupted IT communications and the vulnerability of modern social infrastructure in general and cross-border organized crime are mentioned among the new major threats. Since the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, international terrorism has been seen as the decisive threat of violence.

But - apart from terrorism - the new security policy threats have not been given a practical place in defense policy. The new security threats remain in the background analyzes, but no one seems to want or be able to formulate defense efforts against these threats that could concretely be identified as security policy and priced in a defense budget. We have not yet received an overall new security policy where different threats are weighed and valued against each other.

On the other hand, the Swedish Armed Forces has adapted remarkably quickly to the changing military conditions. The traditional invasion defense began to be phased out as early as the 1990s, and the armed forces have been transformed in order to, above all, contribute to international efforts against terrorist groups and in distant conflicts that could spread further to the immediate area.

Judging by the reports from the recently concluded national conference with People and Defense in Sälen, the same politician who requested this extensive defense reorganization now puts the defense leadership under pressure to make another turn, now back to a more traditional territorial defense at home due to growing ambitions from a increasingly authoritarian Russia. It coincides with the fact that military international efforts are being questioned more and more. They have a hard time showing positive results and the United States seems increasingly reluctant to enter into new international commitments.

But what we need above all right now is not another change of course in the purely military defense planning. It is high time to finally weigh in on the broader security policy threats that we have so beautifully presented over the years and give them a place in defense policy. In order to be able to seriously withstand the violent conflict threats, it is as high time to consider diplomatic salutations about conflict prevention, trust-building and peace-building that Sweden is still associated with in its best moments. It is a security policy that today is otherwise mostly associated with development cooperation and development aid policy.

Not all defense is military.


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