NATO option for Sweden, EU cyber strategy and armed drones
It is interesting that while the former US President Trump declared NATO „obsolete“ and Macron declared it „brain dead“. a working group under the leadership of former German defense minister Thomas de Maizierre and the US American Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from October 2017 until February 2019 wrote a NATO report 2030 and want to lead the often said to be dead NATO to new shores. At this moment parliamentary majorities in Sweden increasingly condense to a NATO membership option. At least this option is no longer a taboo. Putin has apparently done a good job. now not even the neutrality-obsessed Swedes trust Russia anymore. What a change since the time of Olaf Palme. Apparently not even the Soviets managed to do that. A tendency for Sweden to join NATO would tend to strengthen its eastward orientation against Russia compared to Macron’s more southward orientation.
“For Sweden, joining NATO is no longer a taboo
Sweden’s traditional policy of neutrality is no longer sacrosanct: such a step becomes possible when the right-wing Sweden Democrats join the bourgeois parties who want to discuss joining NATO. For more than 200 years, Sweden, previously a fairly belligerent kingdom, has pursued a course of security policy neutrality. Like Switzerland, Sweden is heavily integrated into Western European structures; even more closely because of his accession to the EU in 1995 and several partnership agreements with NATO. But actually joining the alliance, of which the neighbors Denmark and Norway have long been members, was never up for discussion. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and instigated the separatist war in eastern Ukraine, the topic began to emerge more often in the political debate. But even having an official discussion about whether joining NATO should be considered at all did not find its way into parliament’s agenda for a long time.
Option does not mean joining
But that has now changed. This week the parliamentary committee for foreign and security policy decided to entrust the government with the preparation of the so-called NATO option. That is not yet a concrete reason for joining. Rather, figuratively speaking, it is about opening the door a little so that you can enter quickly should the need arise. Although the decision of the parliamentary committee does not change anything in terms of security policy, it is still a remarkable political shift. This was made possible by the party of the right-wing national Sweden Democrats, which make up the third largest parliamentary group after social democrats and moderates (conservatives). Since the Sweden Democrats recently supported the NATO option, there has been a majority in the Reichstag, consisting of moderates, Christian democrats, centrists, liberals and Sweden democrats. The ruling Social Democrats and the Greens as well as the Left Party are against any movement on the question of NATO membership. „
A former NATO general classified this as follows:
“Sweden: in fact it looks like this – BUT: from my conversations I keep hearing: only WITH Finland. Good point. I think we shouldn’t be pushing them. Both are in the boat anyway via the EU treaty. From a purely military-operational point of view, it doesn’t make much difference for us – but it does for both countries. „
The second news that is interesting in terms of security policy is that the EU is now planning to set up a cyber unit that will defend against cyber attacks by foreign states against critical infrastructures, while counter-attacks are not excluded and discussed:
„EU cyber strategy:“ We have to arm ourselves for this new war „
Attackers are increasingly targeting critical infrastructures such as power grids and healthcare. The EU Commission now wants to counter this – and considers counterattacks to be legitimate.
The EU Commission wants to counter cyber attacks more resolutely and also considers offensive means to be legitimate. “The time of innocence is over. We know that we are a target and are now building the ability to withstand and respond to it, „said Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who is responsible for security, when presenting a new strategy for cybersecurity on Wednesday. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: „We have to arm ourselves for this new war.“ He did not want to comment on possible counter-attacks. That is confidential and a matter for the member states. “They’re working hard on it,” added the Frenchman.
The strategy paper states that the EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell will work with the Commission on a position on “cyber deterrence”. In particular, he will provide guidance on “how attacks can be repulsed that have the greatest impact because they affect our critical infrastructure, democratic institutions and processes”. It is about how the EU can use political, economic, diplomatic, legal and strategic communication tools “to counter attacks. There is no explicit mention of direct retaliation for attacks; Borrell avoided a question about it. But the term “deterrent” and the remarks made by the other commissioners indicated that so-called “hackbacks” could no longer be ruled out.
Last year the EU recorded almost 450 attacks on critical infrastructure, i.e. systems that are vital to a society. This includes energy and transport networks as well as health care. „
It remains to be seen whether the cyber unit has a more civil or military character and whether it will be embedded in the European pillar of NATO or transformed into a „Cyber Command“ comparable to the US. The next thing that remains is a Space Command against space attacks and to protect Gallileo and other critical European infrastructures in space.
While the NATO option for Sweden and the EU cyber strategy in Germany remains almost unnoticed, the drones and their possible armament are once again the big upset in politics and the media:
“The planned acquisition of armed drones has led to a dispute and a resignation in the SPD parliamentary group. The parliamentary group agreed on Tuesday not to agree to the armament of drones for the German armed forces desired by the CDU-led Ministry of Defense, as the SPD defense expert Fritz Felgentreu announced. He resigned from his position as defense policy spokesman for the parliamentary group in protest because he had “different views”. The defense expert Felgentreu supports the purchase of armed drones;
The SPD party chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans and the parliamentary group chairman Rolf Mützenich do not yet want to approve the acquisition and have announced that further discussion is required. The parliamentary group followed this view of the top SPD politicians on Tuesday and wanted to continue to discuss the drone armament „openly and publicly“, Felgentreu wrote on Twitter. He respects this, „but the decision also presents me with a dilemma.“ (…) According to information from the „Funke newspapers“, the SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich backed Walter-Borjan’s position on Tuesday in the parliamentary group meeting. Mützenich argued that the „detailed and broad debate“ required in the coalition agreement about the controversial armaments project has not yet taken place. Mützenich said that „armed and unarmed drones could give soldiers on duty further protection.“ However, it is also known from practice that armed drones can quickly lower the inhibition threshold for military violence. This must be discussed in depth. „
Recently there has been talk of a paradigm shift and the age of drones has been proclaimed. The war in the Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia is proclaimed as the Pearl Harbor moment of a paradigm shift in which the drone is the central war weapon of the future and the associated strategy development. One could also speak of a drone fetish. An eloquent example of this is the contribution by Glen Rocess: “The World Has Just Witnessed A“ Pearl Harbor Moment ”In Armenia How warfare has just changed forever. Again. “Firstly, the drone attack on the Saudiarabian oil field has already shown the new meaning of this weapon, but in the future there will not be THE decisive weapon, but rather how intelligent you can use conventional weapons, drones, ‚mininukes, EMPs, cyber-und spacewweapons including Airseabattle or Airlandbattle weapons. The paradigm shift is more about the extent to which there is a new military strategy that integrates all these weapon systems and can use them flexibly in the event of war. The age of the linear, one-dimensional and bipolar escalation ladders of Hermann Kahn is finally over.
In terms of structure alone, the new security policy constellation of the „Second Nuclear Age“ referred to in the CSBA study is more unstable, more complex and more difficult to overlook and to react to possible attacks, and the reaction time is also decreasing in some areas.The Second Nuclear Age is much more unstable, dynamic and unpredictable for a deterrence and has no “one-fits-all”-approach, but has to include new factors and drivers as global strike potentials, mininukes, precision strike weapons, cyberwar, space weapons,missile defense, haystack attacks , stealth weapons, nano weapons, automized masses of drones, hypersonic weapons, Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP/ an EMP weapon without a nuclear blast and fallout), multipolar and not bipolar nuclear competition and the tendency towards much more trigger-alert constellations as well as new analyses about the rationality of decision-makers.Till now no strategy integrates all these new parameters as a new framework for a Second Nuclear Age, its escalation ladder and future wars. The study even thinks about the idea if the term Second Nuclear Age is sufficent or if there is already the dawn of a Third Nuclear Age due to the appearance of new weapon systems.
Still, war remains a political decision. Politicians and their associated interest groups decide whether a war will be waged, what goals and strategy will be pursued. Although the course of the war and the reaction to aggression are increasingly automated by the weapon systems and their algorithms, the reaction time shortened and reduced and the nervousness increased, the decision to go to war is, first of all, a political decision. The danger lies rather in the much-quoted miscalculations and misperceptions, whereby the reaction time is also shortened. Drones are still easily identifiable weapon systems. Attacks with drones can be physically assigned to an aggressor state. Cyber attacks are much more dangerous and the defense case is more difficult to declare. It is much more difficult to find out whether a blackout is due to a technological error or a targeted cyber attack, especially from whom it originated, and also has more consequences than a swarm drone attack.
But the discussion has now got bogged down around the drone fetish and its possible armament. Obama has already been branded and condemned as a drone killer by pacifist spirits, while the conventional use of weapons and wars in Lybia and Syria or Iraq never received such attention – maybe Asad’s barrel bombs or chemical weapons. Drones for enemy reconnaissance, which then pass their data on to the air force for further bombing and warfare, would be more desirable and legitimate in the SPD’s view. But the drones are not allowed to be armed themselves, as this would lower the inhibition threshold. In the case of a tornado or F15 bombardment, the situation is different: the pilot who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with his B-29 was then probably a very empathetic person compared to the devil’s tool, the drone.
Especially since the SPD does not rule out any wars and the Greens are always keen on humanitarian wars and there was no criticism of the associated drone operations during the anti-IS war against the Islamic State, conservative security politicians are wondering what this whole mummery and chickenhouse chatter is about. When waging war, one needs the appropriate armament and one has to wage war intelligently. According to the SPD logic, one could also send tanks into the battlefield without ammunition and cannon barrels, or let the air force fly without rockets and bombs, ideally still firing ecologically correct and unleaded. Maybe the SPD also thinks that if a drone has no weapons, you won’t get embarrassed about being able to use them. But on the one hand, you also can use an armed drone for surveillance because firing the weapons is a political decision and not of the weapon itself. Or the drones make the surveillance and the Tornadoes or F 15 bombs do the job – less precisely and promptly, perhaps with even more civilian casualties and so-called collateral damage.
Perhaps one can then maintain the old division of labor that the Germans only build wells, educate and train other armies, while the USA and the French do the dirty work. Ultimately, it is also a matter of deciding whether you want a robust mandate for the military mission or not, although this is not just a question of armed drones. As a peace party, the SPD would like to compete with the left, signal orientation in the direction of a red-red-green coalition, as conservatives and militaries suspect more motives of domestic policy and apparently unarmed drones for the SPD already mean world peace. But for now, it’s all about an open-ended discussion and it wouldn’t be the first time that the SPD flashes the left and pacifistic light and then turns right and becomes „bellicose“.