External comments: This is a debate article. Analysis and position are the writer’s own.
The debate on Norwegian EU membership has, with good reason, been given new life in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Insights from research on democracy and conflict give the Yes side a strong argument.
One can based on research, claims that parties that are against the EU contribute to reduced security in Norway and a less democratic and more violent planet.
There are two aspects in particular that stand out. The first is about the EU’s ability to ensure European, including Norwegian, security through supranational cooperation.
The European The co-operation was initially seen as a way to get Germany and France to make peace through increased trade and co-operation. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for contributing to peace, democracy and human rights in Europe for 60 years.
Precisely democracy and cooperation are what is needed to create a lasting peace. One of the clearest research findings in the field of democracy and conflict is that democracy rarely goes to war, at least not against other democracies. Democracy breeds norms for peaceful problem-solving, shares political power over several actors, and holds leaders accountable for political decisions. Economic cooperation and membership in international organizations also reduce the risk of war.
He rules Russia as a “personal dictatorship”, a term that depicts a regime where the leader has gathered most of the power in his own hands and surrounds himself with people who do not want or dare to oppose him. Such a regime lacks institutional mechanisms that prevent the leader from putting little-thought-out ideas into practice.
For leaders like Putin is democracy is a threat that must be defeated. A democratic Ukraine prevents strong Russian influence, especially if the country turns to the EU. It was precisely Russian pressure against closer cooperation with the EU that led to the then Ukrainian President Yanukovych being thrown out in the protests on Maidan Square in 2013.
In addition, can demands for democracy take root in the Russian people when it turns out that the neighboring people tend to choose their own tenants. Democracy research shows that freedom is contagious across national borders.
The Ukraine war and authoritarian forces on the rise globally are therefore weighty arguments for strengthening Norwegian cooperation with the EU. There is every reason to expect that a less democratic value indicates a more violent planet, and Norway is a small state that needs allies who defend the democratic values on which our society is built. The EU has been at the forefront of these values for over 70 years.
In addition to Fronting democracy and cooperation, the EU is working to meet today’s complex security threats such as pandemics, climate change, and digital warfare. The new strategic compass which was adopted in March, outlines an ambitious security policy in which the EU aims, among other things, to establish a military force of 5,000 soldiers that can be quickly mobilized when crises arise.
The second central argument for Norwegian EU membership is about the United States’ development.
Democracy at our most powerful ally and security guarantor has faltered severely since Trump came to power in 2016. Several years of attacks on dissidents and democratic institutions culminated in an attempted coup after Trump’s election defeat in 2020. A majority of Republican voters apparently believe that the election was rigged.
Trump is strong in the Republican Party and is planning a comeback as president in 2024. This means that a new attack on American democracy is imminent. One can hope that the ongoing process has seen an end to the comeback, but there is little in the history of Trump that suggests that. It is not inconceivable that he will become president again after the election in two years.
It will have major consequences for Norway’s security. Trump is impulsive, and it is difficult to predict what he can come up with, something that research has shown that in itself increases the danger of war. In addition, he has truga with pulling the country out of NATO.
There are many indications that his advisers managed to persuade him to remain a member in his first term. But after a period in the White House, Trump has learned. In any other term as president, there is reason to believe that he will only appoint dedicated “Yes men”. Then the risk of dangerous decisions will increase.
Although Trump should not come to power in 2024, so has Republicans embraced authoritarian populism. There are therefore good reasons to believe that future presidential candidates will have a similar worldview.
Chances are that The United States withdrawing from NATO is not large, but the consequences will be so enormous that the scenario should be discussed. The organization will hardly survive, and then the EU is the natural security policy alternative for Norway.
One should not exclusively emphasize the security perspective in the EU debate, but Putin’s brutal war of aggression and the Republicans in the United States say flirting with autocratic forces are compelling reasons for the Yes side.