In recent years, news stories have regularly appeared in US media explaining how America is no longer the “best country in the world.” No matter the exact criteria for that title—usually having to do with some sociological survey of “happiness” among the citizenry—the trio of (in no particular order) Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are invariably at the top of the list. The happiness-producing “Nordic Model” is based on high taxes, free nationally administered health care, universal access to generous social welfare programs, fully paid maternity leave, and free college tuition.
No mention is ever made of some countervailing trends. For example, since Sweden officially adopted multiculturalism as its national ideal in 1975, violent crime has risen over 300 percent, while the incidence of rape as increased an amazing 1,472 percent. At present, approximately 190,000 immigrants, the vast majority of them Muslim, are arriving in Sweden every year. Out of a total population of 9.7 million, nearly 2.1 million are presently foreign born. If immigration rates continue, ethnic-Swedes will become a minority in their own country within 15 years. The already swamped social welfare system will require tax raises of two percent per year to be able to continue to function at present levels. Meanwhile, immigrant demonstrations and riots have become common in Sweden’s large cities and towns.
At the same time, since the end of the Cold War, the defense budgets of the Scandinavian nations have been heavily cut. To cite Sweden again, late in 2013, their military’s supreme headquarters issued a warning stating “Sweden can, at best…defend itself in one place, for one week.” After the end of the Cold War, the overwhelming popular consensus in Scandinavia was no European nation would ever attack another European nation. Across the region, militaries were slashed by an overall average of 50 percent, both in terms of budgets and personnel.
The consensus in an everlasting European peace began to fall apart in 2008 when the Russians invaded Georgia. It effectively came to an end when the Ukrainian crisis began in 2014. The necessary rebuilding of Scandinavian militaries has finally begun, but only just. Military neglect, combined with the current immigrant situation has the potential for disaster. Though no important faction within militant Islam is friendly to Putin’s Russia, small groups of would-be Jihadis could certainly move to temporarily act in a limited war begun by the Russians. It’s therefore almost a certainty any Baltic crisis would begin with an internal combat front as well as an external one.
This blog is part of a modular analysis regarding the potential for conflict in the Baltic region by Ty Bomba. You can read more of the analysis in the article “Prospects for War in the Baltic” in the future Modern War issue #26 and join the conversation on Facebook!