The National Interest: The United States is the real winner after Türkiye’s approval for Sweden’s accession to NATO


Researcher Dominick Sansone, wrote in a report published by the National Interest magazine that in a somewhat surprising move, Türkiye has decided to support Sweden’s bid to join NATO, and the imminent membership will make Stockholm the 32nd country to join the alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on the tenth of this month that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had abandoned or at least set aside his previous reservations and agreed to present the protocol of Sweden’s accession to the Turkish Grand National Assembly as soon as possible and to work closely with the association to ensure authentication.

Sansone explained in his report that many didn’t expect this news, especially taking into account the fact that just hours before that, Erdoğan demanded Türkiye’s acceptance of European Union membership as a precondition for Ankara’s support for Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Stockholm’s initial application to join the alliance was submitted in May 2022 in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

However, Ankara has been reluctant to support the Scandinavian state’s request due to its perceived failure to crack down on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara classified it as Terrorist organization.

Sweden has some of the most generous asylum laws in the European Union and has accepted millions of refugees over the past several decades, including many Kurds.

Ankara claims some of these people have links to the PKK and are therefore operating out of Sweden to plot attacks and sow political chaos in Türkiye.

Erdoğan also criticized Sweden’s refusal to strongly condemn the nationalist demonstrations during which the Qur’an was burned.

However, it seems that many obstacles were removed after Stoltenberg met with both Erdoğan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christson on the tenth of this month.

There were no subsequent announcements regarding Türkiye’s desire to join the European Union.

Sansone added, it appears that the other factor influencing Ankara’s decision to block Sweden’s bid – the desire to secure a deal to acquire F16 fighter jets from the United States in exchange for promises that they wouldn’t be used to threaten Greece – played a larger role.

US President Joe Biden’s administration is working on a four-country deal that will pave the way for the sale of the F16s, so progress on that front was almost certainly used as leverage to get Türkiye to agree to Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Geopolitical bargaining should not be surprising and is simply a reaffirmation of the age-old wisdom that nothing can be obtained for free.

Most importantly, Sweden’s imminent membership is evidence of the growing commitment to collective security that has spread across Europe following Russia’s invasion.

By joining NATO, Sweden brings with it a population of ten million and a GDP of more than $500 billion, and recently committed to increasing its defense spending to at least 2% (a standard that every NATO member is supposed to apply).

Unfortunately, Sansone continued, this fact won’t have any effect on encouraging the United States to break away from Europe and support the creation of a more independent security framework for the latter.

The collective gross domestic product of NATO, excluding the United States, is currently $20.1 trillion, compared to $1.6 trillion for Russia.

The population of these countries is 585 million (compared to Russia’s 160 million, which makes the latter a small number for them).

Although another economically developed member state has joined the transatlantic alliance, Sweden’s additional input is just a drop in NATO’s already vast sea of ​​resources.

The rationale for an independent Europe has existed since 1991, but the political will to reduce the vastly bloated US defense role on the continent is as sorely lacking in Washington as in Berlin or Brussels.

US military spending is currently about $800 billion, compared to $300 billion spent by NATO without the United States.

Türkiye remains by far the largest contributor to the spending and resource portion of NATO, excluding the United States.

Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S400 surface-to-air missile system was a great contempt for Washington, and this resulted in the imposition of sanctions on Türkiye.

There is no doubt that the prospect of membership in the European Union is a strong economic incentive for Türkiye, but returning to the arms of the United States and winning its support may also have played a role.

Shortly after Türkiye agreed to Sweden’s accession, the Biden administration announced the completion of the F16 deal – in addition to US support for Ankara’s military modernization efforts.

No one, including those in circles of power, tries to hide the role of US defense sales in dictating broader transatlantic policy.

Moral qualms aside, there is nothing mystical about Washington selling weapons for the purpose of exercising geopolitical influence; However, it’s important to be aware of this dynamic approach if one is to understand international developments in their entirety.

There can be no doubt about the reality of the US role that dominates the European security environment.

However, the unfolding events indicate that Washington is the real winner, both economically and ideologically.

From the outskirts of the Scandinavian countries with the North Pole, through the heart of the continent and even the outskirts of Turkish Anatolia, there is an influx of new commitments to defend the principle of national sovereignty.

The conquest of Ukraine certainly brought the European continent closer together; it also cemented US control over this increasingly nugget.

Whether or not this has any real benefit to US citizens is, of course, another matter entirely.

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