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Topic

The US Ought to Support NATO Expansion to Sweden and Finland

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Waiting for the contender's second argument.

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Resolution: "The US ought to support Sweden and Finland's entry into NATO."

Burden of proof is shared.

Round 1
Pro
Recently, Sweden and Finland indicated their intent to join NATO. The question before us: should the United States support their entry? I answer in the affirmative, and to convince voters of my position, I will proceed as follows:

First, I will outline the objectives at stake, which include the strategic orientation of Europe and the preservation of global security arrangements. Then, I will demonstrate how Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession - or lack thereof - would help or harm pursuit of the previously listed objectives.

THE STAKES

Here I list the objectives at stake with the accession question. These are the strategic orientation of Europe and the durability of security arrangements across the globe.

The Future of Europe

The United States ought to prefer a Europe that is united, prosperous, and secure over a Europe that is beset by illiberalism and autocracy, hampered by economic division, and threatened by political and military division. Whether Europe tends toward the former or the latter will determine its value as a partner to the US.

At present, the nations of Europe united under the EU constitute nearly $20 trillion in nominal GDP, ranking 3rd globally, close behind China and the United States. Consequently, a united Europe has immense standard-setting powers that stretch far beyond their borders. This power to “unilaterally regulate global markets” is often called the “Brussels Effect,” after the European Union’s capital.

Considering the United States faces an era of Great Power Competition, one which pits democracies against authoritarian powers like Russia and China, the US ought to prefer that Europe remain capable of this “Brussels Effect” and that it be used in partnership with US objectives. To date, the EU has done this, leveraging its behemoth economy to defend human rights, punish territorial aggression, and repudiate Chinese authoritarianism.

If the US and EU stood together as prosperous and dedicated defenders of democracy, their combined economic might would greatly surpass that of China and Russia. This would constitute a critical advantage in the Great Power Competition between democracy and autocracy, and thus it should come as no surprise that China fears a united West. This advantage can only be secured, however, if Europe remains united, prosperous, and secure. As I will show in this opening argument, NATO accession will play an important role in defending this objective.

Global Security Order

The post-war security order has been defined by collective defense treaties and US leadership. Prominent security arrangements include US commitment to NATO, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and most of South America. Taken altogether, these agreements essentially commit the US to security and stability in most of the world’s critical regions. These defense commitments have given the world 70 years without the great power wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In close tandem with mutual defense agreements, a key fixture of US global security posture has been nuclear non-proliferation. By guaranteeing the survival of its treaty allies, the US reduces incentives to develop nuclear weapons programs. Thanks to these security commitments, today only 9 countries possess a total of 3,700 active nuclear weapons, a figure much reduced from the 1986 zenith of over 70,000.

For both regional security architectures and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the credibility of US commitment to defense of its allies is critical. If the United States’ allies and enemies begin to doubt its security guarantees, destabilizing wars and nuclear proliferation are likely to fill the power vacuum. In the coming argument, I will demonstrate how NATO accession will influence perceptions of US security credibility.

THE IMPACT OF NATO ACCESSION

In the previous section, I outlined two broad objectives at stake: Europe’s strategic orientation and the stability of global security arrangements. In this section, I will connect those objectives to the question of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.

Europe’s Strategic Orientation

(a) NATO and the Health of the European Project

NATO, a military alliance of unprecedented force integration, has defended its members for over 70 years. Guarded by a several-dozen country military alliance, the nations of Europe have been free to develop a similarly unprecedented degree of political integration, creating binding supranational organizations that govern Europe and tie its member nations together, preventing the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries. Put simply, NATO is the shield behind which Europe can flourish. Since the US ought to prefer a prosperous and united Europe, it also ought to prefer a stronger NATO.

This brings us to Sweden and Finland. Their accession to NATO would indisputably improve NATO’s already substantial military capabilities:

“Finland maintains an army with very substantial reserves, and Sweden has strong air and naval forces, particularly submarine forces. With Sweden’s advanced Gripen fighters added to the F35s now ordered or under delivery to Norway, Denmark, and Finland, more than 250 highly modern fighters will be available in the region as a whole. Operated together, they will be a substantial force.” (Foreign Affairs)
Not only will the balance of military forces “strengthen deterrence and make conflict [in the region] less likely,” but Sweden and Finland’s long histories of treading carefully on the Russian border implies the improved correlation of forces would not threaten Russian nuclear second-strike forces, a crucial consideration for preventing unwanted war.

Given the value of Sweden and Finland to NATO, and by extension, the peace and unity of Europe, and given the importance of Europe’s future to US competition with Russia and China, the US ought to welcome NATO’s two newest applicants.

(b) The Russian Threat

If a successful NATO protects a peaceful and united Europe, a successful Russia achieves the opposite. Among Russian goals in Europe include weakening “the European Union and NATO, which it believes act as checks on Russian power.” As we have seen on multiple occasions, from the 2008 invasion of Georgia, to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, to the present-day war in Ukraine, Russia is willing to use force to strengthen its sphere of influence at the expense of NATO and the EU. In addition to brute force, Russian misinformation campaigns in Europe have been identified as a critical threat to European unity. Whereas the United States wants to see a united, prosperous Europe, Russia would rather see its Western neighbors weak and divided.

If the US wants to deter Russia from future aggressive acts that threaten Europe’s future, it must impose significant costs for the invasion of Ukraine. Given that preventing NATO enlargement was one of several reasons behind the invasion of Ukraine, and given Nordic accession is a “nightmare scenario” for Putin, granting Sweden and Finland entry into NATO would impose a steep cost on Russia, serving the goal of deterrence. The less likely Russia is to disrupt the European order, the brighter Europe’s future, and, by extension, the odds of US success in an era of Great Power Competition between democracies and autocracies.

Global Security Arrangements

The strength of the global security order - both its regional security regimes and nuclear non-proliferation regimes - depends on the United States to act as a guarantor. With dozens of countries counting on US defense to ensure their survival, and the entire world expecting the US to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it matters a great deal whether US promises are deemed credible.

With respect to the question of NATO accession for Sweden and Finland, US willingness to support their entry would demonstrate American resolve to resist Russian aggression in Europe. By demonstrating this resolve, and by taking on new defense treaty allies, the US would signal to its allies and enemies across the globe that it will stand by its security commitments.

On the other hand, if the United States was to oppose Nordic accession, the opposite signal would be sent. If, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US refused to defend Sweden and Finland, observers could rightfully conclude that the US was afraid of further Russian aggression and was unwilling to commit itself to the defense of additional European countries.

Given the immense value of the US-backed global security order, any actions that enhance US credibility to that order should be preferred over actions that diminish US credibility. Therefore, if Sweden and Finland seek admission to NATO, the US ought to support their entry.

CONCLUSION

In this opening round, I outlined two objectives at stake and demonstrated how US support for Nordic accession would further said objectives.

The first objective was the strategic orientation of Europe. The brightness of Europe’s future will determine Europe’s viability as a US partner in the era of Great Power Competition between democracies and autocracies. By supporting Nordic accession, the US will strengthen NATO and deter further Russian aggression, both of which contribute to a prosperous, united, democratic Europe.

The second objective was defense of the global security order. In several critical regions, US commitment to defense of its treaty allies is instrumental in maintaining regional stability. For similar reasons, US commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation regime has seen a vast reduction in global stockpiles and a minimization of nuclear-armed states. The continuing success of these arrangements depends on the belief of American allies and enemies that the US will follow through on its commitments. By demonstrating resolve in Europe via supporting Nordic accession, the US can reinforce perceptions of its credibility.

For these reasons, it is affirmed: the US ought to support Sweden and Finland’s entry to NATO.

Con
     I would like to thank Jeff_Goldblum for furnishing the resolution “The U.S. ought to support Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO.”

It is my contention that the U.S. view on Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO has multiple robust foundations for a morally grounded rejection of the

premise, which includes the immoral political and military actions by the U.S. and NATO itself.


                                                                                                                  Are the Member Nations of NATO peace-loving?

     My opponent stated that NATO “commitments have given the world 70 years without the great power wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries.”

     This is incorrect. The last 70 years have been saturated with war and strife and the nations that endured this hell were strategically paced toward war and

instability by those Great Powers that my opponent claims are peace-loving. [1] Perhaps Russia and America are not in a direct kinetic war with each other, but

their vassal states are (and the former is becoming an increasing reality due to the invasion of Ukraine). In fact, I am surprised that my opponent would furnish the

resolution against  the backdrop of an escalating Russia/China/NATO sponsored, nuclear, global war.


     The implementation of proxy wars to settle political disputes between nuclear powers has produced immense human suffering and the roles that NATO nations

played in igniting hostilities and creating that human suffering are indisputable. (This includes military actions by the United States, Germany, Greece, the UK,

Turkey, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Norway, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Montenegro, Luxemburg, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Iceland,

Hungary, France, Estonia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Croatia, Canada, Bulgaria, Belgium and Albania) [2]

     If NATO was sincere in it's desire to prevent war, it's focus would be on the prevention of regional conflict, since every global war started as a regional conflict

that spun out of control. Consider:

  •  The great power wars all began as regional conflicts and arguably were caused by the political influence of “Great Powers” using vassal states as chess

    pieces, which is a game NATO still plays today. [3]

  • World War 1 began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which led to the July Crisis, and eventually caused the entire European

    theatre to get involved. A regional conflict that ignited global war. [4]

  • World War 2 began when Hitler invaded Poland, sparking France and the UK to declare war two days later. As with the Great War, the 2nd World War

    began as a regional conflict and expanded to consume the world. [5]

  • The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a regional conflict, sparked by a power struggle between the United States and Russia. The U.S. wants Ukraine to be

    a vassal state of the West, while Russia wants the Balkan states to remain unaffiliated with NATO in order to maintain a cultural, political and military

    buffer zone between Europe and Russia. This began as a regional conflict and now involves the whole of NATO, the UN, and thousands of internationally

    conscripted soldiers. [6]

  • Simultaneously, China is escalating its desire to invade Taiwan, which is (again) a regional conflict started by NATO. Taiwan was the de facto seat of

    power in China, until the Carter administration recognized the opposition government and legitimized, what we know today as, the CCP(Chinese

    Communist Party). Another political blunder by a NATO member which has the potential of igniting global war, likely a nuclear war. [7]

     Instead of preventing regional instability, NATO members actively participate in proxy wars to establish dominance over other non-NATO members. This kind of

ruthless political maneuvering has resulted in U.S. and NATO sponsored atrocities, and a body count that few in the West have ever considered, because the

political establishment and the media apparatus shield the public from the brutal truth. The U.S. military industrial complex, and it's NATO allies are true

monsters. 
 
 
                                                                                                                                                                   The Burden

  1. If NATO is designed to prevent war, its primary role should include the prevention of regional conflicts, considering that World War 1, World War 2

    and the current escalation of global war started as regional conflicts. By any level of analysis, the current Ukraine invasion by Russia was sparked by

    NATO’s advancement toward the Russian border, when it sought to eliminate the neutrality of the Balkan states. The impending Chinese invasion of

    Taiwan is also the result of short-sighted political maneuvering by NATO members, who failed to predict (or did not care about) the inevitable destruction

    of Taiwan’s government and subjugation of its people.

  2. NATO is morally obligated to prevent its member nations from starting regional conflicts, even if the offending member state is the primary donor of

    funding and military equipment to the NATO alliance. The U.S. has still not been held accountable for starting the middle-eastern wars and toppling the

    government of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan on false pretenses. In fact, NATO participated. 

  3. NATO should not be advancing its borders and encroaching on the territory of non-member nations. NATO cried ‘foul’ when China expanded into

    the South China Sea, built militarized islands and began harassing shipping lanes. Simultaneously, NATO is expanding its influence into the Balkan states

    and inching its military and political influence right up to Russia’s doorstep. Clearly, NATO is playing the same games as China and Russia, and the

    prevention of war is clearly not its goal. A sober observation of the political reality would indicate that NATO is simply a vehicle to achieve the expansion

    of power and influence by, what President Joe Biden recently called, the Liberal International Order.

  4. NATO should not exist, and going a step further, the United Nations should be dissolved also. The evidence for this is their repeated violations of

    their stated goals, a history replete with political and military failures, a body count which rivals any of the historic massacres in the world, and the clear

    evidence that NATO is actively and openly working to advance the political ambitions of the American political establishment (both Democrat and

    Republican alike).

  5. The solution is American Isolationism, Nationalism and a robust national defense. Isolationism does not mean non-participation in global trade or

    international politics. It means that we do not obligate ourselves to fight the wars of other nations. It means that our political elite to not get to obligate

    the children of this nation to fight and pay for their globalist ambitions. The rock band System of a Down put it thusly:" Why do they always send the

    poor?" (Have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81YXO3sj-U4 ) Nationalism has been hijacked by the culture to infer some kind of racial

    supremacy. Nationalism simply means to place the need of the nation first. Americans need jobs, access to healthcare (including social programs),

    energy independence (green or otherwise), a robust national stockpile of emergency resources (Example: The U.S. only has one insulin manufacturer.

    That's a disaster if the global supply chain breaks down due to global war.)
 
 
[1] Man, C. (2021, April11). List of US wars and interventions since WW2. List of US Wars and Interventions Since WW2. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://californiaman.substack.com/p/list-of-us-wars-and-interventions
[2] NATO. (n.d.). Member countries. NATO. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/nato_countries.htm
[3] Nardelli, A. (2022). U.S. Dangles Offer to Russia on Missile Checks at Key NATO Bases. Bloomberg.com. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-01/u-s-dangles-offer-to-russia-on-missile-checks-at-key-bases
[4]  Library of Congress. (n.d.). Timeline(1914 - 1921)  :  A world at war  :  articles and essays :  stars and stripes: The american soldiers' newspaper of World WarI, 1918-1919  :  digital collections  :  library of Congress. The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.loc.gov/collections/stars-and-stripes/articles-and-essays/a-world-at-war/timeline-1914-1921/
[5] World War 2 Foundation.(2022, January 2). Timeline of WWII. WWII Foundation. Retrieved June 20,2022, from https://wwiifoundation.org/timeline-of-wwii/
[6] Briggs, W. (2022,January 26). The US role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Green Left. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/us-role-russia-ukraine-conflict
[7] Glass, A. (2018). U.S.recognizes Communist China, Dec. 15, 1978. POLITICO. Retrieved June 20,2022, from https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/15/us-recognizes-communist-china-dec-15-1978-1060168





Round 2
Pro
My opponent has identified moral objections with NATO, contending the US should therefore not support Nordic accession. In this round, I will address these objections, both on their own merits and as they relate to my first round argument. I will also highlight several areas where my opponent deploys half-truths and misleading sources. Taken together, these points will affirm a vote for Pro.

(1) NATO Bad (?)

My opponent begins their argument as follows:

“The U.S. view on Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO has multiple robust foundations for a morally grounded rejection of the premise, which includes the immoral political and military actions by the U.S. and NATO itself.”
To defend this contention, my opponent claims that NATO, an organization ostensibly dedicated to peace and security, has in fact instigated many regional conflicts. 3 examples are offered: Ukraine, Taiwan, and Middle East conflicts (including Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan).

(a) Ukraine

In service to his claim that NATO is a vehicle for aggression and war, my opponent argues that it was the West, and not Russia, that really caused the war in Ukraine. By “encroaching” on Russian territory, NATO’s expansion eastward mirrored Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and motivated Russia to act forcefully.

This argument is faulty on both counts. NATO’s expansion eastward is not analogous to China’s illegal acts in the South China Sea, with the key difference being consent. NATO admits new members only if (a) the prospective member has asked to join, and (b) all current NATO members vote in favor. Describing NATO’s eastward drive as “a vehicle to achieve the expansion of power and influence” implies a sort of conquest-minded modus operandi that NATO simply does not have. Far from forcing itself on Eastern Europe, NATO’s expansion was sought after. Not only did this expansion occur with broad consent, significant diplomatic efforts were undertaken to ensure peaceful cooperation between NATO and Russia. Indeed, as Dr. Robert Kagan assesses: “Russians have objectively enjoyed greater security than at any time in recent memory.”

Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, meanwhile, has done little to help its long-standing lack of meaningful allies.

More important than false analogies, however, is the question: if NATO had not expanded membership eastward, would Russian foreign policy be as aggressive as it is today?

In short, yes. Russian aims in Eastern Europe would be the same because Eastern Europe’s desire to flee Russia’s sphere of influence would exist regardless of NATO’s appetite for expansion.

Even if the United States had rejected their pleas to join NATO…  the former Soviet satellites would have continued to resist Moscow’s attempts to corral them back into its sphere of interest...” (Foreign Affairs) (emphasis added)”
Putin’s vision for a reconstituted Russian Empire required, from the beginning, a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, a non-democratic and non-Western-leaning series of buffer states loyal to Moscow. He has always held this goal, regardless of whether the West ‘acted aggressively’ or not (contrary to my opponent’s representation, NATO has made many attempts at cooperation with Russia - only to have those initiatives sour in the face of Russian aggression). So, even if NATO had not expanded eastward, Eastern European countries, like Poland and Ukraine, would still resist Russia’s influence, and Russia would still take forceful measures to impose it.

This war did not start because the West was power hungry and intruded where it shouldn’t have. The war occurred because Russia insists on having a sphere of influence over countries that are adamantly opposed to Moscow’s rule. Rather than peacefully integrate with the West, as Germany and Japan have, Putin’s Russia chose conflict. The only question was on what terms Europe would meet the threat: united under NATO, or passive and divided out of fear of ‘provoking’ Putin.

(b) Taiwan

To say US recognition of Beijing is what caused today’s standoff over Taiwan is ahistorical. It would be far more accurate to say that Beijing’s insistence that the island be brought under CCP control, coupled with US assurances to the contrary (as indicated in my opponent’s source on the subject), and Taiwanese opposition to reunification has led to the standoff.

Moreover, the case of Taiwan is not particularly relevant to NATO. Even though US policy of deliberate ambiguity has maintained the peaceful status quo in the strait for decades, let’s assume it were true that the US was harming the cause of peace in Taiwan. NATO’s objective is the collective defense of its members, embodied primarily in its Article 5 commitment “an attack on one is an attack on all.” Taiwan is not a member of NATO, therefore, any attacks on Taiwan are not immediately relevant to NATO or this debate.


(2) Questionable Relevance

One of the central pillars of my opening argument was that a strong, united, and prosperous Europe will be essential in the 21st century’s Great Power Competition between democracies and autocracies. I identified NATO as a key instrument in ensuring this outcome. I said:
“NATO is the shield behind which Europe can flourish. Since the US ought to prefer a prosperous and united Europe, it also ought to prefer a stronger NATO.” (emphasis added)
I then went on to argue that Nordic accession would strengthen NATO, thus enhancing its ability to act as “the shield.”

My opponent’s points do not negate this argument. Continuing with Taiwan: my opponent asserts (incorrectly) that the US instigated a regional conflict there. Even if this were true, would it change the fact that a stronger NATO makes for a stronger Europe, which the US ought to prefer in light of Great Power Competition between democracies and autocracies? Does it change the fact that since NATO’s founding, there has been a sudden decline in European wars, and no serious attacks on NATO members, save for 9/11, which was perpetrated by non-state actors?

Both things can be true. It can be true (although it’s not) that the US started a regional conflict over Taiwan and that a stronger NATO is good for Europe.

Similarly, when my opponent raises complaints about NATO conduct in the Middle East, I ask: how does that negate my argument? My claims concern NATO’s beneficial effects on Europe, not the Middle East.

While my opponent may be waiting for his 2nd round to directly counter my opening argument, it is worth noting that as things stand now, Con has advanced an argument that does not negate my case.

(3) A Collection of Half-Truths

Ordinarily I wouldn’t do this, but my opponent’s R1 contains so many misleading sources and half-truths that I feel it necessary to highlight the most egregious cases. The point of this is to caution readers against an uncritical reading of Con’s arguments.

In several instances, Con makes a claim and ends with a source, but the source really only establishes a portion of the preceding claim. For example:

“The implementation of proxy wars to settle political disputes between nuclear powers has produced immense human suffering and the roles that NATO nations played in igniting hostilities and creating that human suffering are indisputable. (This includes military actions by the United States, Germany, Greece … and Albania) [2]” (emphasis added)
If one were to take this at face value, they’d likely assume the source provides a list of conflicts, their corresponding death tolls, and NATO involvement. In fact, the source just provides a list of NATO members.

My opponent mixes claims that I would rate as true with claims I would rate as half-true or not true. By delivering them together, he attempts to confer the legitimacy of one claim to its companions.

“The U.S. has still not been held accountable for starting the middle-eastern wars and toppling the government of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan on false pretenses. In fact, NATO participated.” (emphasis added)
Here my opponent asserts that the conflicts in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan were waged under false pretenses and with NATO participation. This is only partially true in some cases.

In Iraq, it is true the war was fought under false pretenses - it was claimed that Iraq had WMDs when it did not. However, NATO did not participate. In fact, many NATO members, such as France and Germany, opposed the war.

And while NATO did participate in Libya and Afghanistan, neither of those conflicts were fought under false pretenses. NATO intervened in Libya under UN Security Council authorization for the purpose of preventing massacre of civilians, which it did. The US invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban government refused to hand over known Al-Qaeda leaders in its territory. While one may dispute the wisdom of this decision, or the decision to intervene in Libya, these wars were not based on lies.

Again, the point of this section was to encourage readers to be cautious with Con’s claims, not to fact-check for the sake of it.

Summary

In his first round, Con argued that the US ought to reject Nordic accession on moral grounds, claiming that regional conflicts such as Ukraine, Taiwan, and several in the Middle East demonstrate NATO’s betrayal of its commitment to peace.

My rebuttal to this argument came from two directions. First, I explained that the war in Ukraine and the standoff over Taiwan cannot be blamed on NATO. Second, I questioned the relevance of some of Con’s cases, pointing out that Taiwan isn’t a member of NATO and that gAsia and the Middle East are not the regions my argument is concerned with.

Finally, I pointed out several concerning instances of my opponent mis-using sources and engaging in half-truths, therefore asking that voters use caution when assessing his claims.

Accordingly, I believe the resolution is upheld. My opening case is entirely unaddressed, I have countered Con’s opening, and serious deficiencies in my opponent’s claims have been exposed. Vote Pro.
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