Europe’s left abandons pacifism

Oliver Hartwich writes:

Finland and Sweden intending to join Nato is not just a radical departure from decades of Nordic foreign policy, it also shows how the invasion of Ukraine has altered the political landscape in Europe – not just in Scandinavia.

There was a time when many left-leaning politicians in Europe viewed everything related to defence and security alliances with suspicion. Their anti-militarism and pacifism then sometimes merged with a broader anti-American sentiment, especially under Presidents such as George W Bush and Donald Trump.

Putin’s war has changed such pacifist reflexes.

Perhaps it is no surprise the European left has exhibited a greater resolve and clarity towards Ukraine than many right-wing politicians. That is because many on the progressive side of politics see the brutal aggression against a peaceful, democratic country as what it is: a moral issue, not a matter.

The PM of Finland is a 36 year old woman heads up the leftwing SDP. The PM of Sweden is a 55 year old woman who heads up their leftwing SDP. Both are leading their countries into NATO.

With Sweden and Finland joining, all Nordic countries will soon be Nato members (Denmark, and Iceland were founding members in 1949). It is a significant shift, happening at a time when all five countries are led by centre-left parties.

These Nordic developments are historic, but the changes on the left of the German political spectrum are perhaps even more striking. In Germany, it is the Greens are most in favour of Nato and defence spending these days.

I so wish the NZ Greens were more like the German Greens.

The Greens are one of three coalition partners in the government of Germany. Former female co- Annalena Baerbock is the foreign minister, while her male counterpart, Robert Habeck, is the economy and energy minister. Following the invasion of Ukraine, their ministries have become crucial, and Baerbock and Habeck are prominent in the German government.

Habeck publicly advocated sending arms to Ukraine almost a year before the war. He is now fast-tracking any applications for weapons deliveries as a minister. At the same time, he is managing a transition away from Germany’s reliance on Russian energy.

Baerbock, meanwhile, has visited Ukraine several times since becoming foreign minister late last year. She is also the first German cabinet minister to visit Ukraine during the war, while the social democrat chancellor, Olaf Scholz, appears timid and indecisive.

Since the Greens’ roots are in pacifism, their transformation into a party at ease with military engagement is all the more remarkable.

The German Greens are mature enough to realise that when the world changes, their stance needs to change. Brazvo.

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