Mysterious objects prowl in Sweden's coastal waters. A spy scandal shakes Norway. NATO's clouded future threatens to upset the sensitive "Nordic balance" and the region's future security. THE NORDIC world made up of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland comprises, what has often been called the "quiet corner" of Europe.
This corner, however, is very much in the news these days and for good reason.
Earlier this year, the Swedish out trapped a suspected foreign submarine near its top-secret Karlskrona naval base. The incident recalled the time in October 1981 when the Soviet nuclear-armed submarine the U-137 ran aground in the same general area.
This time, however, "frogmen like persons," according to the Swedish government, set foot on the island of Almoe and were driven off by the Swedish army using machine guns and hand grenades.
The action marked the first time since the Russo-Swedish war of 1809 that live ammunition was fired at foreign soldiers encroaching on Swedish soil.
Hundreds of Secret Probings The latest incident brought to a head a decade of almost continual foreign submarine infringements in Swedish territorial waters, with, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph, "well over 300 reports, sightings and confirmed episodes in the past three years."
An official Swedish military report summarized the government's growing concern: "The relatively harmless intrusions of outer territorial waters of the 1960s have now been taken over by deep penetration of our inner coastal waters and often in areas of vital importance for our general defense."
Particularly disturbing was a Swedish parliamentary report that described how X-ray tracings had shown "manned midget submarines with a bottom crawling capacity" had, in September 1982, crept along the bottom of a waterway that leads right through the middle of Stockholm, the capital. One minisub audaciously crawled to within a mile of King Carl XVI Gustaf's palace!
The intruding submarines are widely believed to be mapping the entrances to military bases along the coastline of neutral Sweden for use in the event of a generalized war in Europe. They are also presumed to be seeking potential hiding places.
Scandal Rocks Norway In neighboring Norway, the big story has been not so much unwanted submarines though they are frequently spotted inside the country's many deep fjords but a spy scandal, the consequences of which could be far-reaching.
Last January, Arne Treholt, Chief of Information at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, was arrested just as he was attempting to leave Oslo's Fornebu Airport, his briefcase full of classified documents. He admitted to Norwegian security police that he had intended to fly to Vienna, Austria, where he was to meet his contact man, a Soviet KG B officer.
The 42-year-old Mr. Treholt confessed after his arrest that he had been passing along secret documents for several years.
The revelation rocked the NATO high command in Brussels and stunned the Norwegian government. The accused spy was a popular, rising star in the opposition Labor Party and had been touted as a future candidate for foreign minister.
In his various responsibilities down through the years, Mr. Trehoi t had had access to secret NATO and Norwegian defense materials. Said one Foreign Ministry official: "We are truly shocked by the discovery. His position enabled him to see a wide variety of classified material."
It is possible that, since Norwegian intelligence had suspicions about Treholt for some time, they may have purposely screened material accessible to him.
Still, even though the details supplied to the public by Norwegian authorities at the time of this writing are incomplete, some Norwegians were already labeling the accused official "the worst traitor since Quisling" a reference to Norway's defense minister in the 1930s, Vidkun Quisling, who proclaimed himself Norway's Forer (Fuehrer) during the 1940-45 Nazi occupation.
Strategic Region The submarine prowlings coupled with the alarming spy scandal emphasize once again that the Nordic countries comprise a prime geostrategic region of the world. They are far from being distant outposts of world affairs.
This fact was made evident during World War II. On April 9, 1940, Nazi Germany launched a full-scale preemptive blitzkrieg invasion of Norway, at the same time occupying Denmark. Norway's critical maritime position facing the North Atlantic Ocean on the west and Denmark's location at the entrance to the Baltic Sea made them prime targets. (Sweden managed to remain neutral during the war.)
Just how important Norway was to the German cause was illustrated by the fact that the Germans kept a garrison force of more than 400,000 troops there during the war.
After World War II, Norway, in particular, assumed even greater strategic value. Norway, according to Johan J0rgen Holst of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, "was in fact catapulted rather abruptly into a pivotal area as the Cold War enveloped East-West relations."
Mr. Holst talked with me in his office in Oslo only three days after the spy story broke.
Due to a remote border change which had taken effect in the Arctic region near the end of World War II, Norway found herself to be a front-line state. A narrow strip of Finland, the Petsamo district, which had previously separated the northeastern extreme limit of Norway from the Soviet Union, was absorbed into the U.S.S.R. (Norway, incidentally, stretching over the very top of the European continent, reaches farther east than Istanbul, Turkey.)
Suddenly Norway was confronted with a 120-mile-long common border with a superpower that, according to Mr. Holst, "is geographically close but ideologically distant from Nordic Europe."
This meant that Norway's most remote and least populated county Finnmark was to be a neighbor to the Soviet Union's "Kola Military District," the area around Murmansk, the U.S.S.R.'s only year round ice free port.
The Soviets today have an extraordinary concentration of forces in this region: at least 16 military airstrips with 300 war planes, plus port facilities for 230 surface ships and 200 submarines, many of these having nuclear missiles targeted on North American sites.
According to one estimate, the Kola Peninsula comprises the densest concentration of military power in all human history! An American official called the region "the most valuable piece of real estate on earth."
Postwar Debate National security was a matter of intense debate in the various Nordic states in the immediate postwar years.
In the end, the Scandinavian countries, despite their cultural affinities, made their policy choices on the basis of two primary considerations geography and their own individual experiences during World War II.
For a while Norway used her membership in the United Nations in order to try to act as a bridge-builder in overcoming differences between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. But as the world's ideological gap continued to widen, it became obvious that security provided by the United Nations was as illusory as that offered by the old League of Nations.
Next, the formation of a joint Scandinavian defense league was explored at the initiative of neighboring Sweden. It was soon obvious, however, that Norway, Sweden and Denmark all held divergent views, especially Sweden and Norway.
The Swedes, neutral since 1814, wanted a neutralized nonaligned Nordic defense system, whereas the Norwegians believed that a Scandinavian league by itself simply would not have the required deterrent effect, since it would lack assurances of Western, especially American and British, support. The Scandinavian defense league idea thus went nowhere.
Norway joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a charter member on April 4, 1949. Iceland, on Scandinavia's western flank, also joined NATO, while on the eastern edge of the Nordic world, Finland maintained an armed, neutral position, tied to the security needs of the Soviet Union through the 1948 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.
Under terms of this treaty, Finland is obliged to fight only on its own territory and only in self-defense, and only then in the event that "Finland or the Soviet Union through Finnish territory" were to be attacked "by Germany or any state allied by the latter."
The treaty forbids Finland to join any Western military bloc such as NATO.
Preserving the "Nordic Balance" Norway, because of the sensitive relations with its powerful neighbor to the extreme northeast, has placed several self-imposed limits on its NATO ties, all with the understanding of its NATO allies as well as its Nordic neighbors.
The most important limit is that no foreign troops can be based in Norway as long as the country is not attacked or threatened.
However, the no-base policy does not prevent periodic and regular allied maneuvers in and around Norway. In fact, this spring a huge exercise called "Teamwork 84/Avalanche Express" was held, involving about 40,000 Western military personnel from eight nations.
Other provisions permit the prestocking of allied equipment, fuel and ammunition, plus the installation and operation of jointly financed airfields, harbor bases and telecommunication links all under Norwegian control.
As further reassurances to the Soviets that Norway's membership in NATO was purely defensive in nature, the government in Oslo early on declared that nuclear warheads would not be deployed on Norwegian soil in peacetime.
Denmark, too, unilaterally assumed similar "confidence-building" constraints.
Why were these measures taken? To preserve the sensitive "Nordic balance" that had emerged after the war, which had helped preserve the independence and freedom of all the Nordic countries.
As a result, Finland was not brought under Soviet control, unlike Eastern European nations bordering the U.S.S.R. Norway and Denmark joined the Atlantic Alliance, but at a lower level of military commitment.
In 1954, Norway's Foreign Minister Halvard Lange provided a succinct definition of this Nordic balance. Norway had refused to allow foreign bases on its territory, he said, because "the stationing of allied units on the Scandinavian peninsula might provoke increasing Soviet pressure on Finland, and possibly Russian occupation of Finnish bases near the Norwegian and Swedish borders, a development which would not only seriously impair the strategic position of both Norway and Sweden, but also cause a serious deterioration of the international situation in general."
Similar considerations operated to keep Sweden out of NATO altogether. In early 1949, the Swedish government concluded that if Sweden and Norway both joined NATO, the Soviet Union might feel compelled to react by moving its line of defense farther west, making further demands upon Finland. Such a development would not only pose a grave threat to Finnish security and independence, but it would also offset, at best, whatever advantages Sweden might gain by joining the alliance.
The success of the Swedish policy was made manifest in 1955 when the Soviet Union unexpectedly decided to terminate its 50-year lease on its naval base at Porkkala, Finland.
The balance was working.
Still, in NATO circles, neutral but well-armed Sweden has always been generally regarded as a silent partner, bound by its own national interest to fight on the side of the West in any future general European conflict. Sweden's minister of defense was criticized in some circles (including, of course, in the Kremlin) for stating publicly in 1981: "Even if we consider ourselves to be neutral, we know where we belong."
Ties to Britain, America The Nordic peoples have always felt a sense of kinship among themselves, reinforced by bonds of language, religion and similar outlooks toward society.
In the Winter 1984 edition of the U.S. journal Daedalus, Patricia Bliss McFate, president of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, writes:
"What then holds the [Nordic] countries together? ... Trust and kinship.... The countries are a family that grew up together, sharing experiences and beliefs. Now they live apart, but they are still siblings. And, although they tease one another, and occasionally quarrel bitterly, they won't fight."
The ties between the Nordic world and the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain and North America are also deep. They go way beyond the alliance structures of today and are cemented by bonds of blood as well as common values. Norway is a case in point.
"Norway," according to Mr. Holst, "is a country with its back to Europe and facing the Atlantic. Her security policy orientation has been maritime and Anglo-Saxon."
Historically, good relations with Britain and the Royal Navy have long been paramount to Norway's security.
These ties were further strengthened during World War II when King Hilakon VII fled to London, establishing his government in exile there. Norway's extensive worldwide maritime fleet was placed at the disposal of the allied cause.
Ties to the United States have, until recently, also been strong, helped by the fact that there are more Americans of Norwegian blood living today than there are Norwegians.
However, the "umbilical cord" to America, as U.S. Ambassador to Norway Mark E. Austad said last year in a speech in Los Angeles, "is thinner than in the past. Leftists have downgraded the natural U.S. Norway bond."
In fact, Norway's espionage affair provides a penetrating look into the generation that first came to political awareness in Scandinavia, as elsewhere in Europe, in the 1960s. Mr. Treholt had been an outspoken Critic of NATO In the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Strategic Thinking In the booklet The Nuclear North Atlantic. British author (and antinuclear activist) E.P. Thompson, describes Norway's strategic position in this manner: "In NATO's strategic thinking, the Soviet Navy is waiting to press through 'the gate' between Norway and Iceland while Soviet Backfire bombers might slip through the same 'gate,' pass down to the west of Scotland and Ireland, and then turn sharp left and strike at 'Western Europe through the 'back door.' "
Other experts expand this vital stretch of North Atlantic expanse, patrolled partly by Norway, to include an area all the way to Greenland. They call passageways through this sector the "Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap," or the "GI-UK gap." NATO forces maintain antisubmarine warfare barriers in the gap, patrolled on the western flank from U.S. bases in Iceland and Greenland.
Thus the Soviet Union is partially bottled up at its only ice-free port. And together, Norway, Denmark and Sweden are situated at the entrance to the Baltic Sea, a matter of concern for the large Soviet fleet at Leningrad.
(The Soviet blue-water navy has only two other exits, both of them subject to limitations as well. The nation of Turkey controls the Dardanelles, the "chokepoint" for the U.S.S.R.'s Black Sea navy, whereas distance and the weather limit Soviet operations in the Far East at Vladivostok.)
Searching for Security Since World War II, Norway and Denmark have abandoned neutrality and placed their reliance upon the NATO alliance. In turn, the independence of both Sweden and Finland relies to a great deal upon maintenance of the sensitive Nordic balance.
It is for this reason that all the loose talk today of Europe and America going their separate ways is a disturbing element to Nordic defense planners. Is NATO on its last legs, as some feel?
"Norway," notes Johan Jorgen Holst, "is likely to be the last party to leave the bridge in the event that NATO should capsize on her voyage through the next decade. The dissolution of NATO would cause the Nordic pattern to crumble as well."
Instead of existing in a finely balanced relationship, these small countries of Northwestern Europe could come under increased pressure from both the East and from a soon-coming revived Roman Empire in continental Europe. Their future peace, security and independence would be in serious jeopardy.
It is time to directly warn the people living in the "quiet corner of Europe" of events to unfold in Bible prophecy that will drastically affect their lives.
The destinies of the Nordic countries are intimately inter-twined with the fates of the British and American peoples. Yet few individuals have stopped to ask: Why have the Anglo-Saxon peoples and the smaller nations of Northwestern Europe risen to such prominent positions in world affairs in the past two centuries? What has been the true source of their unprecedented prosperity? Why have these great seafaring nations together controlled at one time nearly all the vital seagates in the world?
For the answer to these questions and for a clear picture of what is to occur, read our free book The United States And Britain In Prophecy.