First we find that the US Embassy in Oslo for years have been requiting retired police officers to spy on Norwegian citizens, without anyone knowing anything about it, and now we find that the former ambassador to Norway, Benson Whitney, more or less have buried the Norwegian proposals for a future military strategy in the Nordic region. Mr. Whitney right out ridiculed the plans for a renewed Nordic military strategy put forward by former Norwegian foreign minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg, newly leaked documents by WikiLeaks show. The Norwegians are generally very tolerant people, there is a limit.
“The proposals are dreams in polar fog, but may be useful for keeping an eye on polar bears and Russians-”
The US ambassadors irrelevant remarks came after the 74-year-old Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 put forward 13 ideas for military co-operation. including a NATO-style mutual defense pact among the Nordic countries. Mr. Stoltenberg, highly respected among international politicians, spent several years working on the proposals. But as a result of Mr. Whitney’s mockery, the leaders of the Nordic and Baltic countries has very little to debate when the meet with the UK prime minister next week to discuss the topic.
Of the 13 proposals, the US ambassador predicted the Nordic mutual defense plan as the most unlikely.
“Officials including the PM’s foreign policy adviser and the foreign ministry’s political director have privately indicated to us that there is little or no interest in a Nordic solidarity declaration within the Government of Norway,” he reportedly said.
(Despite the fact the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, is Thorvald Stoltenberg’s son.)
On joint surveillance flights in Icelandic airspace, he added: “Surprisingly, Norwegian officials have been very critical of this proposal … expressing strong dislike for this item.”
The former US ambassador seem to know a helluva lot more about what’s going on inside the Norwegian government than most Norwegians do!
On diplomatic and consular co-operation, Mr Whitney said: “Co-operation between foreign services is much more difficult and will likely be limited to countries where none of the Nordics have representation now.”
However, in his concluding remarks, Whitney said: “Joint Nordic transport capabilities, medical teams, amphibious units, a stabilization task force and maritime awareness could be important contributions to UN, NATO or US missions.”
(Well, I assume it was the Norwegian military who provided him with transport back to the USA…)
The Swedish Connection
A separate cable, also release Thursday, illustrate the close connection between the US and Sweden at the time WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange was arrested in Stockholm on rape charges.
In the cable, dated July 2009, Swedish diplomat Jonas Wendel told the US charge d’affaires in Stockholm, Robert J. Silverman, about sensitive issues in an upcoming EU foreign ministers meeting.
Mr Wendel spoke in detail about the position of fellow US ally Britain on Iran sanctions, but maintained some discretion.
Speaking of whether or not the EU will use tough language against Russia, he said the move is being opposed by the “usual members,” but did not name them.
The Wendel dispatch comes after Swedish diplomat Johan Frisell in 2008, in a previously leaked US cable, dished up painful details on internal EU divisions on the Georgia-Russia war.
This revelation raised some eyebrows among some senior EU officials because internal EU debates are supposed to be kept secret.
Mr. Wendel indicated that EU countries are capable of sticking together in times of crisis.
Today we may see the ironic in these statements.
Commenting on whether EU states might withdraw their ambassadors from Iran after it detained a British embassy worker, the cable said: “Solidarity among EU members is strong, and if the discussion is emotionally charged, then the ministers might agree to a withdrawal.”
And Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, in a dispatch dated December 2009 and published in December 2010, gave a partly upbeat opinion on the newly-minted EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.
Mr Bildt said that he “knew and liked” Ms Ashton. He describe her as a “street fighter” with a disciplined mind for bureaucratic battles, competent and intelligent, but says she has “no foreign affairs knowledge.”
This is even more entertaining than the British tabloids. Thank you, Mr. Assange!
About the links:
Since I’m not sure how long the cables will be online, I’ve made transcripts of the text files and uploaded them a few other places.
At the moment, you’ll find them here:
- Norway says it knew about US embassy ‘spying’ (alternet.org)
- Sweden launches criminal investigation of U.S. intelligence activities (cnn.com)
- Iceland launches probe into US surveillance (sfgate.com)