During the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid, the members of the transatlantic alliance will decide about admitting Sweden and Finland.
Is this in the interest of the United States? Some say it is not. But it tends to be the same neo-isolationist, national conservative voices that question our presence in Europe in general and prefer Russia over Ukraine in particular.
However, America's salubrious presence has kept the Old Continent at peace since 1945. The price of disengagement in gold and blood would be greater than the price of continued engagement, for leaving would necessitate our returning when things in Europe inevitably blow up during our deleterious absence.
Thus, admitting Sweden and Finland makes eminent sense: the more the merrier, provided that the new entrants carry their weight and pay their way, instead of relying on American soldiers alone to die for them and for American taxpayers to foot the bill.
In other words, if Sweden and Finland keep their promise to be more like Great Britain and Poland than Germany and France, then they will be a strategic asset.
Good news is that the Swedes and the Finns are ready to die for their countries. Meanwhile, Russia has issued numerous threats backed by hostile moves.
So far the Kremlin has threatened both with a nuclear war. Further, it cut off energy and electricity supply to Finland as well as its presented territorial claims to the Finns, who, in turn, withdrew from nuclear power plant cooperation with Russia.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin put a good face to a bad game and — in an exemplary display of a deception tactic — claimed publicly that the joining of NATO by the Nordic state was not a big deal.
Throughout the Finns and the Swedes have not budged. They still want in.
However, the question of the admission of the Nordics is not a shoo-in situation. The decision must be unanimous. But there has been some dissent.
Turkey has been the most vociferous opponent of allowing in the two Scandinavian nations.
Both have Kurdish diasporas. Sweden's Kurd emigrants, in particular, have been outspokenly anti-Turkish. Some allegedly have ties to Kurdish fighters and terrorists back home.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demands not just a halt to such Kurdish émigré activities, but also requests that Sweden hand over the offenders to Ankara.
Both Sweden and Finland refuse to budge. They stress that they already thwart Kurdish (and other) extremists on their soil. But most emigrants exercise their constitutional right to free speech and free assembly, which is the Nordic way.
Turkey disagrees for its Islamist government has increasingly diverged from Western norms and standards that Ankara once proudly aspired to. It got to the point where a section of American public opinion, in particular allies of Israel, would like to see the Turks expelled from NATO.
Most likely it will not come to that, or at least not yet. A question arises: Will Erdoğan "graciously" allow himself to be tempted with more American assistance, and will he give his consent?
There are also others who have spotted an opportunity to score a few points domestically over the latest round of NATO's expansion. For example, Croatia demands that the Croat minority rights be guaranteed in Bosnia as a pre-condition to agreeing to Sweden and Finland's accession.
Others have not been too effusive and it is expected that most, under Germany's example, will welcome the new Nordic additions. However, there may be a few surprises.
Hungary, in particular, has been enigmatic. It may yet spring a surprise on us. Since it may be argued that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a favorite "target" of U.S. President Joe Biden, perhaps we should not take Budapest's consent to the Nordic NATO expansion for granted. One can't continuously bash the Magyars and expect them to sign off automatically on any of the White House's initiatives.
Also, Biden should not expect to be able to isolate Hungary on this point. Just recently the Italians have joined the Hungarians in calling for peace in Ukraine, as opposed to further military escalation of the conflict. Budapest has been less than enthusiastic about economic sanctions against Russia, and the same goes for Rome and other Western European countries.
Washington should be thus prepared for a hardball game at the upcoming NATO summit. Moscow will certainly take note of our unity.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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