One of the things that is totally wild about major disasters is how quickly they change the world in ways that no one would have expected.
For example, the pandemic has basically made working from home and to-go cocktails the norm in the USA. Who was betting on that in 2019?
And in pop-culture, EDM bands like the Chainsmokers released music that was so terrible that people actually started thinking that mumble rappers, like Post Malone, were good by comparison. Again, a shocking development.
Now, in 2022, with a war in Ukraine, another outcome is on the horizon that no one predicted: that historically neutral powers Sweden and Finland are acting like they want to join the NATO military alliance.
There are two bets on this prospect, one for full admission:
And one for whether or not Sweden or Finland begin the application process:
WHY SWEDEN & FINLAND JOINING NATO IS SHOCKING
Early on in its history, Sweden was basically the military equivalent of one of Sarah Palin’s extended family members: drunk Nordic bumpkins who would snowmobile into any brawl in Europe just for fun.
Pick any significant Swede before the 1800s and he is probably famous for taking an army full of bad asses down into Europe and whipping the sissy Prussians, Russians, and French.
But ever since the time of Napoleon, the Swedes have laid low. Basically, they got woke to the fact that they were better off not antagonizing the larger powers all around them and instead went about influencing history by exporting meatballs, Ace of Base songs, and cheap furniture.
…And instead of creating ammunition for guns, they provided hot fire to boy bands.
Long story short, it’s been 200+ years since Sweden has been in an active military alliance. They even sat-out the World Wars.
Finland’s story is similar. Since it shares a border with Russia — one that Russians have been 100% happy to cross with their army several times in history — the Fins have a longstanding policy of neutrality to avoid getting smoked in someone else’s war that happens on their soil.
Both of these long-standing trends now appear to be changing.
WHY THIS IS CHANGING
The Fake News Media (FNM) has been reporting huge swings in European sentiment when it comes to defense & security. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised to double his nation’s defense budget (apparently they will have to divert funds away from making strudel), as are other countries like Denmark.
And in Sweden and Finland, public polls show majority support for joining NATO. This is a big deal due to the fact that only cranks wanted to do this just a few years ago.
Basically, your average Joe in Scandinavia has noticed that despite getting absolutely smoked by Russia, NATO has sent exactly 0 soldiers to rescue Ukraine. They’re definitely wondering if the same fate awaits them should they continue to be neutral.
Both governments are currently reviewing their options with NATO.
BUT ULTIMATELY, IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT NO ONE IS JOINING NATO THIS YEAR
The best way to understand Swedish and Finnish geopolitics is to imagine what a smoking hot model from Helsinki and/or Stockholm would do to her jealous suitors, and then replicate that on the global stage.
Mostly, this means playing them off against each other. To the west is Baby Daddy (NATO) and to the East is Fuckboi (Putin).
Everyone knows that Sweden & Finland are loyal to their Baby Daddy but these two dimes show Fuckboi just enough skin for him to think they will give it up one day.
Basically, the threat of joining NATO is enough to string Putin along so that he keeps buying them shiny things and leaves them alone on the weekend.
But in reality, Sweden & Finland are already married to NATO, they just are not wearing a ring. Both nations are EU members and their militaries are built to be interoperable with ours, which is one of the largest obstacles for new NATO members to clear.
That means that they’ve completed a lot of the hard work required to join NATO, and would theoretically only have to complete the bureaucratic application process.
Speaking of which…
HOW BUREAUCRATS MAKE THIS BET A DUNKER
First, experts on European security consistently argue that Sweden and Finland represent an unofficial security block in Europe. As neutral powers located near Russia, they tend to make decisions in concert with one-another so that neither Baby Daddy nor Fuckboi get a one-over on them, or divide one from the other.
This tells us that both nations would likely join NATO at the same time. And even in a tense environment like the one in Ukraine, forging a strong national consensus to ditch centuries of military neutrality takes a while – especially when 2 countries would have to do this at the same time.
Publicly available statements from each nation’s government confirm this. They’re generally non-committal and carry the tone of Nancy Pelosi telling activists she’ll “study” something that she in no way intends to call up for a vote.
Second, joining NATO is more like rushing a fraternity than signing-up for a gym.
Sure, Swedes and Fins look like they belong in this house, but they still have to go through the full process of glad-handing their would-be brothers and receiving a UNANIMOUS bid by all current members.
Let me repeat that: NATO countries must unanimously invite them to join, and I 100% guarantee you that there is not a unanimous belief that enlarging NATO will be helpful when it comes to de-escalating the war in Ukraine. Full stop.
Furthermore, for those of you who are inclined to bet that any nation joins NATO by year’s end, you also need to realize that every NATO state has to ratify their addition domestically. So ⅔ of the US Senate would need to approve of modifying the Washington Treaty. Multiply that across 29 other nations and you’ll see that this is a lengthy process.
The most recent additions (Macedonia, Montenegro) took about 18 months. We did say that Sweden and Finland have “the right look” for the NATO frathouse… and that probably matters here to the extent that it would reduce the application period by a significant amount. Maybe to 6-12 months.
Still, a lot of time for a bet that ends in January 2023.
Third, as Ukraine has learned the hard way, nations that share a border with Russian and that want to join NATO… but haven’t yet… have a big, fat bullseye on their back. There is only so much you can do to accelerate a process that requires unanimous approval, so both nations would have to be comfortable being exposed to attack for months at least.
Lastly, a shrewd diplomat might conclude that Russia will actually be significantly weaker from its foolish war in Ukraine. What risk does a country with a depleted treasury and humiliated army really pose?
Ergo, why burn their NATO ace now, while Putin’s Russia licks its wounds?
2 BETS, 1 CONCLUSION
On the question of whether or not NATO accepts a new member by the end of the year, it’s obvious that NO should be even more heavily favored than it already is.
It’s March already and that is close to what this forecaster thinks is the absolute limit for NATO expansion in 2022. This should be 95/5 for NO and is a bigger lock to hit than a Max Martin pop song.
The question of whether or not Sweden or Finland will receive a NATO invite this year (i.e., begin the application process) looks less obvious, but don’t be distracted. It’s time to go berserk betting NO.
In the words of sweet pop-culture sensation Ace of Base… when it comes to the NATO alliance, there is no proof that All That She Wants is Another Baby – at least while a hot war is happening.
Public opinion in Sweden & Finland might have seen the Sign but don’t expect these Happy Nations to turn around generations of defense policy overnight.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this: NATO expansions usually follow summits, where heads of state make meaty choices like who to invite into the club. The next such summit is scheduled for March 24, and there is no guarantee that there will be another one for potentially years.
If NATO does not extend an invite following this meeting (it won’t), then expect the odds to adjust in NOs favor. My personal belief is that there will be at least one more NATO summit this year to discuss the war in Ukraine, but given all of the above, I highly doubt there will be internal consensus in either Sweden, Finland, or NATO to move the ball farther.
The true price for Sweden/Finland receiving a NATO invite should be closer to 20%.
I’m buying NO in both markets.