In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s continued expansionist aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, Sweden — one of the world’s most peaceful and stable countries — is reinstituting military conscription. From NPR:
Amid escalating anxieties over recent Russian activities, Sweden has approved a plan to reinstitute military conscription beginning next year. The draft, which will pull from both young men and women, will be Sweden’s first since 2010, when the country discontinued compulsory service.
The country expects to call up at least 4,000 young people per year for military training, in a bid to erase its deficits in recruitment since the draft ended. The government says it has been recruiting about 2,500 people for military service annually, about 1,500 fewer than it says it needs….
“We have a Russian annexation of Crimea, we have the aggression in Ukraine, we have more exercise activities in our neighborhood. So we have decided to build a stronger national defense,” Hultqvist told Reuters. “The decision to activate conscription is part of that.”
Expect to see much, much more of this around the world as global politics takes a dark turn under the leadership of Vladmir Putin and Donald Trump. With two violent minded narcissists in charge of the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles, smaller nations and political alliances will be looking to boost defense funding as a way of protecting themselves against the aggressive policies of Russia and the United States. The European Union almost immediately announced plans for a dramatic increase in military spending after the election of Donald Trump, knowing full well that the United States would take on a far more isolationist, self interested role in global politics.
This of course makes the world a far, far more dangerous place. After World War II and the end of the Cold War, the global community has worked diligently to reduce military tensions by creating more trade, closer political alliances and unions, and developed protocols to carefully dismantle nuclear arsenals. While the world is still a dangerous place, it is dramatically less so than it was 30 years ago, and radically less so than it was 75 years ago. This can, and is being undone in remarkably rapid fashion.
Both Trump and Putin have made it abundantly clear that they aim to drastically increase their nuclear arsenals. There are of course no reasons to expand what is already the combined power to blow the planet off its axis several times over, but then this isn’t the point. Trump and Putin are boosting military spending for the same reason every other tinpot dictator has throughout history — to increase their personal power, intimidate other nations, and distract their citizens from their complete lack of meaningful leadership.
If allowed to go unchecked, we could be entering extremely dangerous territory as a species. With Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon’s stated aim of going to war with China and the Islamic world in the coming years, and Putin’s increasingly belligerent behavior towards NATO countries, the potential for catastrophe is increasing by the week.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.