Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Former President Ronald Regan said, “Strength is the most persuasive argument we have to convince our adversaries to negotiate seriously and to cease bullying other nations.” One of the ways we show strength is by solidifying our alliances with other countries with similar world objectives. With my support, the Senate recently overwhelmingly ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by a vote 95-1-1, enabling these two countries to become NATO members. This is an important step in reinforcing our countries’ alliances and countering Russian aggression, including the invasion of Ukraine, and other international threats.
On May 18, 2022, Finland and Sweden applied concurrently to become NATO members. The membership process involves several rounds of discussions between the aspiring member and NATO representatives. Each NATO ally must ratify the prospective member’s accession protocols according to its own political processes, after which the NATO Secretary General officially invites the nation to join NATO. Other NATO allies, including Canada, Norway, Poland and Germany have already ratified the NATO memberships of Sweden and Finland.
NATO was formed in the aftermath of World War II to preserve peace in Europe and protect democratic nations from potential attacks by the Soviet Union. The addition of Sweden and Finland will grow NATO to 32 countries in Europe and North America that coordinate forces, development of defense capabilities and security efforts in the transatlantic region. Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO memberships are expected to contribute to the security of this important alliance.
In May, I joined a group of 82 total senators, including fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho and Republican Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch, in urging President Biden to expedite the executive branch’s process to advance Sweden and Finland’s applications for NATO membership and pledging to work with the Administration to ensure swift ratification of the Washington Treaty. We wrote, “As our NATO allies rallied to support the United States after September 11, 2001, we stand ready to assist them now as they face increasing acts of aggression from Putin’s Russia and its proxies. . . . The transatlantic alliance has never been more crucial to global security and stability. The addition of these two important allies to NATO will ensure the alliance’s resilience and readiness, and we look forward to welcoming Sweden and Finland to NATO.”
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) pointed out in a speech before the Senate that, “Both countries already participate in NATO and American-led missions. Finland already meets NATO’s 2% spending target, and Sweden is making significant investments in modernizing its military. Even with the capabilities these militaries already have, they will bring real meaningful, interoperable military capabilities into the alliance on Day One and improve burden-sharing across the alliance.”
In this evolving security landscape, effectively countering U.S. enemies will take a deliberative and collaborative response. It is crucial that the U.S. not allow Russian aggression to go unchecked, both for our security and the security of our allies. Vladimir Putin’s horrific aggression toward the people of Ukraine threatens regional and international security. I continue to maintain that our respect for the extraordinary resolve, resourcefulness and determination of the Ukrainian people must be backed by strong American policies.
As we continue to work to crush any underpinnings of Putin’s awful agenda, the inclusion of Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance will improve our individual and collective security. I will continue to advocate for foreign policies that protect the security and sovereignty of the U.S. and its allies while also protecting our country from unnecessary and dangerous engagements.
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