March 10, 2023
Societal Security and Total Defense: The Swedish Way
Sweden has recovered from several severe security challenges over the past two decades. In 2004 more than 500 Swedish citizens died in the Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia. During the suddenly escalating Lebanon conflict of 2006, more than 8,000 citizens were hastily, but successfully, evacuated out of harm’s way. Days before Christmas 2010, the first suicide bomber in the Nordic region, luckily prematurely, exploded his bomb near a crowded shopping street in the city center of Stockholm. Sweden’s neighbor Norway experienced a terrible mass murder in July 2011 undertaken by a solo terrorist. In April 2017, terror struck with deadly force in the shopping area of the city center of Stockholm. Dramatic forest fires rampaged in the summers of 2014 and 2018. In the fall of 2015, a massive flow of migrants poured into the country, with major immediate effects and long-term consequences for Swedish society. Most recently, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020, became a stress test of endurance and societal resilience for the Swedish population. Compared with the other Nordic states Sweden has suffered much higher rates of infections, and it has seen more than 14,000 deaths, putting into question the Swedish strategy for managing this public health disaster.