Seeking concessions to support Finland and Sweden joining NATO has done damage to Turkey’s standing in Europe and its long-term security interests.
As the deadly Russia-Ukraine conflict moves to new phases, the U.S., its allies, and partners must heed critical and emerging insights from this hot war. After more than one hundred days of high-intensity conflict, some clear and compelling initial insights for the U.S. and Allied Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) are emerging. The effectiveness of IAMD systems in countering both missiles and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have been critical elements in this conflict–with a continued evolution in competition between fires and the defender. A clear understanding of these dynamics and the key lessons they provide will be vital for the U.S. and its allies to mitigate capability and capacity shortfalls while enhancing and revising operational approaches in Europe, the Indo-Pacific, and elsewhere around the globe. These are initial insights and preliminary lessons learned, developed using open-source information, so additional insights and revisions are expected later, with the benefit of in-depth evaluation(s) and more complete data.
Each year, the U.S. defense community devotes considerable attention to individual weapons. Since 2021, for example, congressional proceedings have mentioned the F-35 aircraft more than 420 times, including in speeches and reports discussing its flight performance, economic implications, and more. The time spent appraising specific platforms is understandable given the huge investments and cutthroat politics surrounding these projects, not to mention that the budget boils everything down to line items. Yet this extensive attention is misplaced.
“We believe that the people of this country have a right … to find out why a nation with our vastly superior scientific, economic, and military potential is being at the very least equaled and perhaps surpassed by a country that less than two decades ago couldn’t even play in the same scientific ballpark. They also have the right to make decisions as to whether they want their government to maintain our current leadership of the free world regardless of the cost in dollars and sweat.”
These words, written in aftermath of the United States’ strategic surprise from Sputnik, ring true again today. Facing growing scientific and technical competition, Congress and President Eisenhower enacted the 1958 National Defense Education Act, increasing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) talent to invigorate American competitiveness and win the Cold War. Today, we face a similar problem in key technical fields that underpin both military and economic competitiveness.
There is no single, unilateral action that will restore American dominance in technology. Progress requires both aggressively attracting the world’s talent to the United States and cultivating our own domestic talent. The United States may buy time in the immediate and near-term through much-needed immigration reform, while parallel educational reforms – driven by realigned incentives – take hold. We support liberal education and immigration policies for illiberal reasons: We want to win the long-term strategic competition with China.
The winds of both politics and history are blowing in the right direction, as Congress is set to debate bills on competition and talent. Among other things, the proposed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) would remove green-card limits for those with STEM degrees. To date, legislative efforts to increase STEM participation have been mixed. Some members of Congress have pushed to increase S&T funding, but without clear outcomes. One recent proposal would have granted $100B over five years to the National Science Foundation, including an expanded focus on applied research, but was subsequently watered down.
Instead, we propose that Congress take a multi-pronged approach, using existing pipelines and programs, which will afford much better long-term results for America.
Eric and Eliot welcome Guardian columnist and Spectator blogger Nick Cohen (no relation to Eliot) and author of the several books including What’s Left? They discuss the impact of Putin’s war on Ukraine on European politics, the role of anti-Communism and anti-Fascism in post-war Europe, the transformation of the Labour Party under Keir Starmer, why Russian money in London was unable to purchase durable policy outcomes from the Conservative government under Boris Johnson, the prospects for democratic politics, and the likely outcome of the war in Ukraine.
Finland and Sweden are on the verge of seeking membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a historic shift for two traditionally non-aligned countries and a major expansion of the Western alliance as war wages in Europe.
On Thursday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin strongly backed Finland’s NATO membership. “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” they said in a joint statement. “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.”
What happens in Helsinki is being closely watched in Stockholm. Sweden’s parliament issued a report Friday that said joining NATO would “raise the threshold” for military conflict. Sweden’s ruling party, the Social Democrats, are having internal debates about reversing their long-held stance opposing NATO membership, paving the way for Sweden to make its NATO aspirations known within the coming days. Finland moved first, but the two are closely coordinating, and will likely apply for NATO membership in tandem.
This is a dramatic turn for two countries that have defined their geopolitical identities around nonalignment — Finland, for decades, and Sweden for two centuries. It will bring close partners into alliance, strengthening NATO’s presence in Northern Europe and putting more pressure on Russia’s borders. After resisting NATO membership for so long, it is a signal from Finland and Sweden they are united alongside Europe, the United States, and its allies during a crisis moment for the continent.
“This is pretty monumental,” said Katherine Kjellström Elgin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “It’s a fundamental change to the European alliance structure.”