Defence For Citizens of the World


Recently, Johan Lönnroth, Swedish MP and deputy leader of the Vänster (Left) Party, was invited to give a speech at a lunch for NATO ambassadors in Stockholm. The invitation was no doubt prompted by the fact that Vänster, as well as being per capita the third biggest communist or ex-communist party in the world, now commands around 15% of the Swedish electorate’s support, and is the country’s second biggest party. It holds the balance of power in Parliament, and by means of a negotiated agreement covering specific policy areas, maintains the social democratic government in power without joining it.  Below is the text of Johan Lönnroth’s speech.

In his masterpiece  Warmasterpiece War and Peace Leo Tolstoy describes two ways of thinking in military matters. There are the theorists of the art of war, the Prussian and Austrian generals. They believed in a science of war and that the victor was he who best could make the theories work in practice. The other way of thinking is represented by the old general Kutosov. He reads French novels in order to learn the thinking of his enemy, and walks, in his shaggy coat, among the soldiers before the battle and listens to what they say while the theorists sit in their glittering uniforms in the command tent pointing on at maps.

War and Peace was the first novel I read and Kutosov was my first idol. But in spite of that I was nearly caught up in the role of the Austrian generals. It was in the 1960ies, I was a young mathematician and Rand Corporation, operation analysis and mathematical methods in social sciences were in fashion. I was asked to give a lecture for high military officials on Lewis F. RichardssonsRichardson's model of an arms race. The model was formed by differential equations describing the reactions of two enemy states to their opponents' armament behaviour. The model exploded in war if the product of the two coefficients measuring the strength of those reactions was larger than the moderating effect of the amount of arms already owned by themselves them.

I am now pretty sure that these kinds of abstract models have just as little to do with reality as the theories of the Austrian generals in the novel War and Peace. I have also since then reached the conclusion that it is unsound to locate research about military matters in separate institutes or schools. Defence and military systems are parts of the society as a whole and should be studied as such and in close contact with the young generations of students, be they women or men, military hawks or pacifists.

Before going over to the subject of political matters of today, I would like to return once more to the two ways of thinking in military matters not only described in the novel War and Peace, but also existing within different ideologies. In “my own corner” we have the tradition of so -called scientific socialism, which refers to great thinkers like Marx, Lenin or Mao Tse Tung, who once and for all pointed out the right way to get out of capitalism and, via socialism, into communism. The task of the revolutionary movement, according to this tradition, is to build a disciplined movement keeping in step towards the goal.

The other leftist tradition is more in line with Kutosov´s attitude. Rosa Luxemburg is perhaps the most brilliant advocate for this way of thinking. She attacked Lenin’s view on democrazydemocracy and on the party, his ”soulless army”, and his '”Jacobinian” demand for obedianceobedience of majority decisions. She also rejected war as a solution to political problems, since war would just lead to disaster for both the classes. She praised the spontanousspontaneous actions of the masses. Before the outbreak of the First World War she had a naïve and idealistic belief that the working class would refuse to participate in the war for the nation. In her book on the Russian Rrevolution, written in prison in 1918, she warned Lenin and TrotskiTrotsky that they would never be able to build socialism behind walls against a hostile world. If they tried they would be forced to restrict democracy and in doing so suffocate socialism.

In official Soviet history writing, it was evident that Lenin was right and Luxemburg was wrong. But now we know that it was just the reverse. It is possible that during war, and perhaps during the reconstruction work after war, Leninist centralism and Stalinist patriotism, in combination with terror against dissidents, could hold a society together. But in the long run, the result would be passivity and stagnation. One will never be able to hold a society together with violence for a longer period. This is true for Germany during Hitler, South Africa during apartheid as well as for China or Vietnam during colonial rule.

I do not believe in eternal laws of history, but I believe the old proverb “that he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword” to be true. Violence leads to violence. The terror during the Pol Pot regime would never have been possible without the massive US bombing along the trail of the Ho Chi Minh. Saddam Hussein´s attack on Kuwait was a logical plagiarism of colonialist policies, where the Western western powers never hesitated to support – also with military power – he who best served the interests of the big oil companies.

A thesis was for a while put forward, that the armaments of the US during the Reagan government, and especially Star Wars, forced Soviet leaders to increase military spending and that this was the main reason for the collapse of the Soviet economy. I do not believe in this explanation. The main factor was rather the inability of centralizedcentralised planning to meet the demand for flexibility of the new kind of productive forces needed,needed, especially new information technologies. The result of the arms race is rather the slow progress of building democratic institutions in Russia and other former Soviet republics. This according to the same dialectical logic that, the harder the persecution of communists in the west, the more difficult for the former communist parties to transform themselves into modern, democratic parties of the Left.

Anyway, whatever you think about that, I hope we can agree on the fact that the collapse of the Soviet bloc makes it necessary to rethink old perspectives and old policies. This is true for the members of NatoNato ATO as well as for the Left Party of Sweden. But it is not easy to get rid of old paradigms. I do not want to be unfair, but my impression is that military establishments such as NatoNATO or the Swedish Ministry of Defence are more conservative than we are. One reason for this is that a crisis leads to renewal. In spite of the fact that the Swedish Left Party, formerly the Left Party of Communists, was aeuro euro-ccommunist party which had criticizedcriticised Moscow’s policies since the 1960s-ies, we underwent a deeper ideological crisis when the Berlin  wall fell than we understood ourselves. The rseultresult was an opennessopenness for new ideas. But most military people of the wwest thought that the collapse of the Easterneastern bloc showed only that they were right and that there was no need for new ideas.

So what has happened since 1989? The Spanish author Manuel Castells describes in his colossal work about the Information Age, the disappearance of the old systems and how the combination of the mutually influential forces of new information technologies and growing global financial markets have shaped new patterns of power and human relations. The old dominant polarisation between Westwest and Easteast has now been replaced by a new dominant polarisation between rich and poor. Some hundred billionairsbillionaires own more than the total sum of Gross Domestic Products in countries with half of the population of the Earth. Castells talks about small islands of power, wealth, high technical skill and knowledge and their counterpart, the black holes of poverty, powerlessness and ignorance. The polarisation is not only between continents, nations and regions but also between districts in the big cities.

In those black holes global gangsterism and terrorism have their roots. Certainly there are also religious and ethnical discords, but those are more the results of than causes of differences in wealth, power and knowledge. Had the income differences between the southern and northern parts of former Yugoslavia not been so large, the historical hatred between ethnical and religious groups would probably not have taken such terrible forms as it did. Had the small enclaves of west-oriented islands of petropetrol- dollar wealth not burnt the eyes of their poor neighbours, who had to work so hard for their daily bread, the mullasmullahs of Iran or the Talibans of Afghanistan would not so easily had come into power.

I will now take the liberty of assuming that you, in its broad outline, can accept this sketchy picture of the world of today. By which what kind of political strategy do we then best reconcile those differences? Only extreme nostalgics and nationalists believe that a strategy can only be built within the borders of the national state. Instead we must have parallell parallel strategies on a local, regional, national and internationelinternational level. And I am convinced that almost every Swede and all political parties here believe that we need co-operation on both a European and a global level.

But we have different opinions on the order of priorities. The dominant tendency today seems to be that we should build a European identity within the border of the European Union. In military matters a majority is also for a more or less intimate co-operation with NatoNATO and an even bigger majority is for co-operation within Partnership Forfor Peace. First of all, the argument goes,  we should use the EU and NatoNATO to solve our problems within Europe. If we feel secure here, we could also engage ourselves on the global level in different peace keeping missions of the United Nations in other parts of the world.

We who belong to the Left want to give nnumberumber one priority to global co-operation. We also want to have broad co-operation in Europe, where also Russia and other nations outside the EU are included. But it must be an open Europe. Our political opponents try to attack us on the ground that we are negative towards EU membership and at the same time positive about the enlargement of the EU to the east.  But if the EU is transformed into an open, democratic form of co-operation for the whole of Europe our negative attitude to the EU will of courcecourse disappear.

The EU must not be a military and trade bloc, which together with – and in competition with – the United States is seen as a neocolonialneo-colonial exploiter and world police. You might think that I am trying to exhort a ghoast from the past. But it is a fact that the EU and the United States attract many of the best brains from the rest of the world. And even if many of them sooner or later return home, most of their productive effort is performed here. And our companies take out patents on things that are regarded as common knowledge in poorer countries. And the US have not only imported brainpower, large amounts of capital is also sucked in to compensate for the huge deficits in the balance of payments. Some of this money comes from the richest part of the population in the poorest countries.

I am not claiming, as the simplistic theorists of the so called School of Dependence once did, that the European and North American capitalism have exploitation of the poorer parts of the world as a dominant source of economic growth. The endogenous growth of productive forces and production conditions – some of it exported to poorer countries – has been much more important. But I maintain that during colonialism, neo-cononialism colonialism - and today the import of money and human capital - have been one important factor behind the successes in the islands of wealth of Europe and North America.

I also maintain that we must hold this perspective of uneven relations of power alive if we shall understand what must be done to create conditions for peace. If it makes it easier for Youyou to accept what I have just said, I would like to repeat to You you the kind of selfcriticismself-criticism that my party, as a former communist party already has made to the Swedish people: We had a naïve view of the communist party dictatorship. Because of their support for anticolonialist liberation struggle, we looked the other way when I came to the internal oppression under communism.

  But I want you, who want us to join the club of the strong, the rich and the civilizedcivilised of the EU and NATONATO, to make a mental effort: Try to understand that the distrust we in the Left felt for the superiority complex and the “big brother” kind of behaviour –a distrust we share with many in Asia, Africa and Latin America – was legitimate and is legitimate.

It was only a century ago that colonialism reached its peak. And it was only seventy years ago that the manual for Swedish soldiers said that the mixing of blood with an inferior race is one of the biggest dangers for a superior race in the permanent struggle between nations. And it was less than fifty years ago that the US government thought that it was within its rights to overthrow governments elected by the people in Iran and Guatemala. And an even shorter time has passed since the US and several EU nations actively supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. Why should people who still remember this history now suddenly see the military forces of the EU and the US as the only defenders of peace?

Both I and the Left Party want Swedish defence to be a defence for the citizens of the world, strongly rooted and integrated in a democratic and more efficient system of the United Nations. I admit that such an integration and such a transformation of the UN is much more complicated and full of contradictions than is co-operation within the EU or with NATONATO. But only a global system can secure peace. children

So, what are the consequences of this Leftistleftist perspective for Swedish defence and security policies? Since I was asked to speak at a conference in Sälen in January and then now here today, I have tried to educate myself a little in this field, in which I am basically an amateur. Among other things I have read a pamfletpamphlet Revolution i det svenska försvaretRevolution in Swedish Defence by Michael Moore, who is an advisor to the Swedish minister of defence. The pampfletpamphlet caught my attention, not only because of its content, but also because of what I thought to be Moore´s boldness in using the word Revolution. I later understood that he had borrowed the concept from the concept the Revolution in Military Affairs, used in the USA and in NatoNatoATO.

Moore´s pamfletpamphlet is about the military-political consequences of the civil revolution of the society, the one I described earlier with reference to Manuel Castells. The Revolution in Military Affairs is mainly about the new leadership and information system whichsystem, which had their breakthrough during the Gulf War. I lack the knowledge to judge this new way of thinking from a military-technical perspective, but it seems likely that whoever wishes to win a future war has to accomplish something like the revolution described by Moore. Moore is probably also correct when he argues the necessity to incorporate these new and rapid communication systems into the organizationorganisation of defence. These new systems require horisontalhorizontal networks rather than the old kind of hierarchies, and it is necessary to open up defence to a wider recruitment.

But when Moore tries to fit his revolution into a broader social perspective I do not agree with what he says. IYes, it is easy to agree on the strategic significance of a correct  comceptionconception of the surrounding societyso called Dominant Battlespace Awareness, if I understand the concept. But when But I am not sure we mean the same thing by that. Moore holds up the US-led coalition`s war against Iraq as a successful example of such a superior conceptionawareness, I have difficulties following him. But Saddam Hussein is still there, and that what happened to the shiaShia-Mmuslims in the south of Iraq who tried to rebel against the regime hardly indicated a superior knowledge of whatow Iraq looked like internally. Or should one assume that George Bush and the command of the military operations were so cynical that they knew what was going to happen and did not care? The new attacks on Iraq some days ago are in my opinion also signs of failure.

When NATO carried out operations in Bosnia and then Kosovo the revolutionary concept had further developed, but in his pamfletpamphlet Moore writes that the handling of these conflicts showed flaws. He does not say what kind of flaws. I guess it may have been fatal mistakes regarding bomb targets. But I believe that the most important mistakes were made during the decision-making process preceding the bombings. On the surface itIt may appear like the strategy was successful now that Milosevic has fallen. But the terror and the contra terror are still there. I think we have to wait and see for a while before an evaluation can be made. The global negative consequences of NatoNATO thinking itself having the right to intervene in Kosovo in violation with the principles of the UN charter haveare more long-term in their  effects.

The Left Party is positive towards idea of Sweden being part of a collective security system. But it is necessary for the UN to develop decision-making processes that make it possible for the UN to intervene against nation states when clearly defined bounds regarding crimes against human rights have been transgressed. A reformed and stronger system of the UN needs a strong and global support. This work is made more difficult if one part of the UN, whether it is a member of NATONATO, the EU or a constellation of China, Iran or Russia, consider itself to have the right to define these bounds. One bloc of power can not build a global and stable security system on its own.

When building such new decision-making processes, nations that have been neutral in war and not members of any military alliances could play an important part. Lately a contest has broken out with the aim of disparaging the Swedish policy of neutrality. But those who believe that secret agreements of co-operation in case of war have turned the Swedish neutrality into a ”paper tiger” have missed the point. The Swedish government has with full force been able to attacattack both the US warfare in Vietnam and the Soviet invasion into TjeckoslovakiaCzechoslovakia. Considering the reactions of the twoboth the superpowers, they obviously took this seriously.

Even if Sweden, as a member of the EU, has now have lost some of its credibility as a neutral country; Swedes are still welcome as peace-keepingpeacekeeping troops and in various missions in the UN system. If the US, during president Bush, reduces its military forces in Europe, then this would be a reason for us to intensify our efforts to strenghtenstrengthen the role of the UN in European crisis management, not a reason to further  more subordinate ourselves to the EU. And the stronger part the UN plays, the more important the Swedish policy of neutrality and non-alignment becomes.

The Left Party is positive to a fundamental transformation of the Swedish defence,; Youyou may call it a revolutionary transformation. The Left Party is of the opinion that in a long-term perspective, a civil service obligation should replace todaystoday's total defence obligation. At a national level it would mean securing Sweden´sSweden's independeceindependence. . And more of our resources for defence should go At an international level it would meanto participating in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions based on decisions made by the UN. It is good that the Swedish government speaks about the importance of civilian efforts for the force whichforce, which is now beeingbeing organizedorganised by the EU and about the importance of a co-operation with the UN. But we would like to see a clearer stand against those who speak about the importance this force has for increasing the power of the EU, and against those who believe that a co-operation with NATONATO is more important than a co-operation with the UN.

The Left Party would like to see a Swedish defence for all citizens of the world, not only for Europeans. We would also like to see a compulsory military service for both women and men. Equality before the law also in this area should be a matter of course. Only with compulsory military service for women would the defence tasks gain support from Swedish citizens. I can understand the scepticism many women feel about being forced into the military system of today. Sexual harassment is very common in the defensive forces. But this is not about women entering the military system of today, but about transforming and rebuilding the system so that women and men will be able to work within it on equal terms.

The Swedish government has actually, in an official letter to the Parliament, already put the rhetorical questions to itself if; would Would it not be a waste to not to make use of half of Sweden´sSweden's  reserve of talent? Would it not be developing for the female role to take responsibility for the society as much as men do? I would like to remind You you of the final document from the UN women's conference in Beijing where it says that: ”If women shall be able to play an equal part in creating and preserving peace, they must be given more political and economical power and be sufficiently represented on all levels where decisions are made.”

Maybe most important is to involve women in international work. A majority of refugees in the world of today are women and children. They often have traumatic experiences connected with military actions. Many of these women have been raped and abused. The international tasks of the Swedish defence entailstasks of the Swedish defence entail among other things to be in contact with those affected. This contact could be facilitated if more women were part of the international task forces. But our arguments for a compulsory military service for women are not based on any the opionionopinion that women would be more suited for certain tasks than men. For us, the basic argument is equality before the law and an equal responsibility for the society for all.

We white men, who hold the power in the world´sworld's most powerful military machines, may strive to be good democratic men, world champions of new communication systems, aware of the environment, advocates for equality and feminists, but we will never be able to create peace on earth as long as the black holes of poverty, male power and fanaticism still exist. The human worth stands above the interests of both nations and military alliances. Only if the power and the material welfare are reasonably equally divided in the world and between women and men will there be lasting peace. Only citizens of the world can secure world peace.