"What is the hegemonic threat potential of a great power across a continent that cannot provide air cover to its massacred battalions over a pontoon bridge, much less total air supremacy over a theatre of war?"
- Finland and Sweden are following their own interests in Europe. The United States (US) must follow her own interests and reject their addition to NATO.
- A realistic threat assessment would recognize Russia’s depleted force structure and demonstrable inability to threaten Europe as a hegemon in any meaningful way in the foreseeable future. Europe, on the other hand, can balance Russia on its own, if it so wishes, as evident from recent trends.
- US policy should encourage Europeans to shoulder the majority of the security burden in Europe and look to address emerging strategic rivalries elsewhere, especially in the Indo-Pacific.
- At a time of inflation and economic downturn, domestic turmoil, a southern border crisis, and the rise of an adversarial China, additional security commitments in a theatre of low strategic priority, is imprudent and irresponsible.
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the geopolitical considerations of several European nations are changing. Finland and Sweden are now accelerating a transition away from their historic neutrality by attempting to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is the historic alliance of thirty nations that served as a bulwark against the Soviet Union until the latter’s demise, and its founding treaty includes Article 5, which commits each alliance member to the defense of any other member that is attacked. As a result, the decision on whether to expand NATO to Finland and Sweden must take into account a fundamental consideration: is it in America’s interest to bind itself into a commitment to go to war with a nuclear power over the structural integrity of these two nations? Should the American people be willing to send their servicemen and women for such a national security interest?
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement citing the Russian threat of invasion. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”1The very same day, The Times of London reported (albeit, per Ukrainian military sources) that the Russians lost an entire battalion with over 50 vehicles, and “as many as 73 T-72 and T-80 tanks, BMP armoured fighting vehicles, armoured tractors, a tugboat and other equipment were destroyed,” and that around 1,000 to 1,500 soldiers were killed, while crossing a tactical bridge in Eastern Ukraine, arguably near Russian strongholds.2