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Fame or Shame? Norway, new US bases and the Nobel Peace Prize

US Marines participating in the Cold Response 2016 exercise (Torbjørn Kjosvold/Norwegian Armed Forces)

Fredrik S. Heffermehl

May 31, 2021

USS “Stoltenberg” – Norway, now the newest US aircraft carrier

Some years back Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg took wise steps to reduce confrontation with Russia through a Barents Council for civilian cooperation. This was in prolongation of a long Labour tradition initiated by the legendary prime minister Einar Gerhardsen, who started a policy of low tension with the neighbouring Soviet Union: No foreign bases, restraint with military exercises in the North, no nuclear weapons in Norway or our waters.

Last week Stoltenberg´s son, Jens Stoltenberg, now leader of NATO, dishonoured a high-level meeting for civilian corporation in the Arctic Council in Reykjavik by NATO holding a large navy manoeuvre in that part of the Atlantic. Many countries participated in the tension-building provocation, that has become standard Norwegian policy in later years. And – unbelievably – the Conservative-led cabinet of Erna Solberg, has retained the RAND corporation as a consultant on the future development of the Norwegian military.

The foreseeable results are now coming to light. The Norwegian government has just concluded treaties of an entirely new kind with the USA, providing for the transferal of control of parts of our territory to the US as bases for US military personnel and equipment, enjoying immunity and placed under US self-jurisdiction, and to permit the stationing of long-range bomber planes in mid-Norway, extensive military exercises, let submarines with nuclear weapons dock in the North, in the middle of Tromsoe harbour.

In spindoctorial Orwellian Newspeak, the ministers for foreign affairs (Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide) and the military (Frank Bakke-Jensen) declare that “Our policy on foreign bases remains unchanged”. A language displaying a so brazen disrespect for truth and facts means the end of democracy as we used to know it.

All this pretends to be necessary responses to an increasingly aggressive Russia. To any reasonably balanced observer, however, this is Western imperialism escalating tension in yet another chapter of Russia´s borders.

A rare dissenting voice, lieutenant colonel and professor at Norway’s defence college, Tormod Heier, warned against Norway becoming “a battlefield in a steadily more escalating rivalry between the superpowers.” He courageously warned against the lack of public or political debate.

The first publicity came only two weeks before the US bombers actually landed. That is dangerous; it has been a surprise move, not preceded by open democratic processes.

Politicians behind such policies are far from suited to manage the Nobel prize, established to promote global disarmament.

Defrocking the Nobel Peace Prize

It is an obvious truth: eternal arms races and wars cost astronomic sums and threaten us with extinction – if we think about it. So, why don´t we? My new book, Fame or Shame?, seeks to raise an urgently needed debate about militarism in Norway and the world:

• The aim of the Nobel prize was to liberate the world from weapons, warriors and wars. Nations must break loose from the vicious circle they remain locked in. Avoiding new wars could have created security and prosperity for all. “The world´s most prestigious prize” should have become its truly most important prize.

• Through unique research of the Nobel committee´s internal archives, the book shows that the awarders, always reluctant to challenge the military world order, have suppressed the very ideas that they were legally obliged to support.

• Presenting the 114 peacemakers who should have won – many from the global South – the book also presents a little-known history and vindicates a suppressed and besmirched political idea.

• A prize true to Nobel would alleviate all of the pressing problems facing humanity, the decaying environment, human rights, poverty, run-down infrastructure, democracy, the plight of women and children, water, housing . . . everywhere, every year.

The original Norwegian edition has now been thoroughly re-edited for an international public and foreign publishers, with easy-to-read tables. My study calls for a fundamentally different approach to enable disarmament and world peace, a piece of scholarship written for the lay reader, and with a potential to reach new supporters of a peace culture to replace the present culture of war.

The author

Fredrik Heffermehl
– is a lawyer and author, editor of The Nobel Peace Prize Watch and TFF Associate.

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Norway, US Bolster Russian Sub Watching With New Bases

Journal of Global Security Studies,
Spiralling toward a New Cold War in the North? The Effect of Mutual and Multifaceted Securitization

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