By Johan Galtung
Jondal, Hardangerakademiet, Norway, August 1, 2016
The Hardanger Academy is focused on the three UN concerns, peace-development-environment. This year’s symposium was brilliantly opened by Vandana Shiva, a gift to the world from India. She encompassed all three themes with deep insights; holistic and very dialectic in her approach, with forces and counter-forces in all her proposed solutions; with her optimistic activism and engagement. The media missed a golden opportunity to tell the Norwegian public.
She was imported for a week from India, and met with dedicated counterparts and groups in Norway. They are not very visible in public space either; but the Hardanger Academy will try to change that.
What is in public space in Norway?
A mirror image of US public space. If the US media say that Russian hacking was behind the enormous WikiLeaks revelations from the Democratic National Committee computer, so do the Norwegian media. If US media do not tell the content, so do the Norwegian media. The general rhetoric of the Clinton-Trump controversy is slavishly imitated, including the idea that Trump is an agent for Putin, and the silence about Clinton’s massive killing as Secretary of State. The behavior one would expect from a compliant client country. But there is more to it.
What is the basic concern of the Norwegian media?
Lifestyle, in short, for good–live graciously, in comfort–and for bad, the many breakdowns, suicides-homicides, divorces, alcoholism. The politics of everyday, personal, life. That in itself is welcome, however, not as a veil draped over national and global politics.
How about Norwegian artists?
With a few exceptions, they are on that line, intensely focused on personal life, often their own, in the smallest detail. No artists write about Norwegian military snipers killing massively in Afghanistan, and the air force by bombing in Libya for the USA–some even presented as useful training exercises.
At the same time Norwegian peace policy by a self-designated peace state–in Palestine-Israel, in Sri Lanka–coming to nothing or worse: Israeli genocide in Gaza, massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Again presented as useful training by the leader, Erik Solheim.
Sheer incompetence? No doubt an element. Norwegian killing in Afghanistan, by sniping, has been criticized by an official committee headed by Björn Tore Godal, former foreign and defense secretary. Conclusion from Norwegian participation 2001-2014: Taliban is stronger than any time since 2001, and the only goal that has been obtained is “to show solidarity and offer support to USA, and to contribute to secure the relevance of NATO”. More open debate, demands Godal.
Those may have been the ends, and Afghanistan only the means.
The general growth in Norwegian armament, maybe the highest after USA, is on the basis of Norwegian foreign policy: the millennium old fear of Russia since Vikings attacked: “Only USA can protect us if they come”. Not only more arms but also more offensive arms, “to deter” as they all say, only that from the other side it might be interpreted as “to attack”.
At the same time, local-based militia-defense in Norway is cut out in favor of “expedition defense”, meaning joining USA anywhere; referred to as “security”.
There is massive critique inside the military, even if to a large extent silenced. The general idea is clear: if the elites really believed the “Russians are coming”, much more defense of Norwegian territory would have been the answer. But it is almost absent.
Why such a foreign-military-security policy?
Because it relates to USA, not Russia. The Voice spoken is His Master’s. Solid clientelism. But there is an additional, darker, interpretation.
Not that they – the policy elites – do not know that USA intervenes and organizes coups, invades, snipes, bombs all over. But compliance may secure Norway against the same fate: USA invading Norway.
Look at Dimitry Orlov, “The Power of ‘Nyet’. The US Decides What It Wants Russia To Do. Russia Says ‘Nyet’.” Cluborlov 26 July 2016:
“The way things are supposed to work on this planet is like this. The US power structures, public and private, decide what the rest of the world is supposed to do. They communicate their wishes through official and unofficial channels, expecting automatic cooperation. If cooperation is not immediately forthcoming, they apply political, economic and financial pressure. If that still doesn’t produce the intended effect, they attempt a regime change through a color revolution or a military coup, or organize and finance an insurgency leading to terrorist attacks and civil war in the recalcitrant nation. If that still doesn’t work they bomb the nation back to the stone age. This is the way it worked in the 1990s and the 2000s, but as of late, a new dynamic has emerged.”
How can Russia do that? Because it has a weapon that deters even the USA–the reason that they hate proliferation. North Korea can do the same as Russia; they also have nuclear bombs and delivery system.
Not strange, given this reality, that the USA hates Russia even more, and simplifies life for itself by narrowing Russian reality to one person, Putin, who is then demonized the way Orwell describes in 1984. That book is about efforts to construct irreversible societies; “all animals are equal” is often quoted from Animal Farm, good, but less important. The title should have been 1985, the year Thatcher-Reagan tried to construct an irreversible world, an Anglo-American capitalist order.
That “order” is very well described by Orlov above. The key point is an empirically well-founded fear of the USA, based on what the USA is doing. However, never say so openly lest the same fate should visit yourself. A conspiracy, yes; paranoia, no. Realism.
Does it matter whether Norway complies out of trust, out of fear, or–most likely–out of both? It does. If out of friendship, Norway may assist US imperialism all the way down, and get ever more enemies. Fear may serve as an excuse. And motivate Norway to drop its paranoid relation to Russia in favor of non-military cooperation; the threat of a Russian invasion should not be used as a US pretext for the same.
As it stands now, either of them invading Norway to preempt the other is a likely scenario. England and Germany did, in 1940. Security?
Originally published at Transcend Media Service, TMS, here.