British Conservative government interference in Norway

This 31 December 2018 video says about itself:

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the shady and secretive UK propaganda outfits dubbed ‘The Integrity Initiative’ and ‘the Institute for Statecraft’, which have been working underground and out of sight, to smear Jeremy Corbyn and spread anti-Russian, pro-war propaganda through an massive “network of networks” consisting of journalists, politicians and society influencers.

The information war of lies driven by these clandestine UK ‘think tanks’ is funded by the UK government, as well as by prominent neocon donors, NATO, and even Facebook.

After the self-styled British ‘Integrity Initiative’, paid with millions of British taxpayers’ money by the Conservative government, smeared the Labour party opposition … and interfered in United States politics against Bernie Sanders … now this.

By Bjørn Halvorsen in Norway:

Integrity Initiative: UK interference in Norway

5 February 2019

Hacked Integrity Initiative (II) documents have exposed the scale of the UK’s anti-Russia foreign interference activities in northern Europe. Norway has been targeted, with the II operating a secret “cluster”, whose stated aim is to overturn the views of the Norwegian public that are deemed “soft” on Russia.

The Integrity Initiative is a network of UK military and intelligence operatives, academics and journalists spreading anti-Russia propaganda and fake news. It includes “specialist Army Reserve units” linking to “very senior civilian experts” including “hedge fund managers” and “senior bankers” who have volunteered as “patriots”. The group’s existence was made public by the Anonymous hacking collective in November.

Among a fourth trove of documents leaked by Anonymous last month is a memo by Chris Donnelly, who co-ordinates II’s activities from a basement office at 2 Temple Place in London. He details sinister operations in Norway, including psy-ops targeting the Norwegian public. The II is financed by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In August 2016, Donnelly visited Oslo and outlined the “current situation” in Norway: “The Norwegian public are generally inclined to be soft on Russia as a near neighbor in the North (where there is a tradition of freindship [sic] and a good working relationship). Although the public can be hard-nosed about Putin and Moscow’s policies, their scepticism of US/western politics can lead to their being less critical of Russia’s position at times.” This problematic public attitude to Russia was expressed in a 2017 Sentio poll, which found that 76 percent of north Norwegians think authorities should do more to improve Norway’s relationship with Russia.

The leaked memo included Donnelly’s packed itinerary. He attended meetings with Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice and Police officials. At a workshop on “Fighting the Information War” chaired by the Defence Research Institute’s Henning-Andre Sogaard, they discussed how “the project” could be “generated in Norway nationally, across Nordic states, and internationally. Building the cooperation between the classified and unclassified world, keeping in mind that one of the main targets is the hearts and minds of the public.”

The Anonymous leaks expose an anti-democratic conspiracy aimed at subverting public discourse and shifting the political climate in a right-wing militarist direction.

Despite evidence of such top-level intrigue, Norway’s mainstream media and political parties have been virtually silent on the matter. The online newspaper ABC Nyheter was alone in publishing an article, in which the named Norwegian cluster members denied involvement (echoing the response of those contacted in the UK). The Norwegian left-radical news blog, having probed more deeply, was able to establish the likely involvement of those named.

Such diplomatic silence contrasts markedly with the media frenzy that followed unsubstantiated allegations of Russian interference in Norway. In February 2017, Norway’s Police Security Services (PST) claimed Russia was behind an attempt to hack the Norwegian Labour Party, the Defence and Foreign ministries and the PST itself. Its allegations mirrored the FBI’s equally bogus claims of Russian hacking of the US Democratic National Committee. Norway’s biggest media outlets published the PST’s allegations without question, with screaming headlines about a “Russian Hacker Attack against Norway” (national broadcaster NRK).

The PST’s allegations fueled an ongoing media barrage. Just days before, Aftenposten, Norway’s largest circulation daily newspaper, was warning that “Russian hackers—with the support of the Kremlin—are in the process of influencing the major, important elections in Europe.”

The Integrity Initiative leaks follow last year’s “The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 3” report by the Atlantic Council, a US-backed partner to the II. The report alleged “Russian Influence in Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden” and denounced Kremlin “allies” among politicians, journalists and public servants. “[T]he Kremlin’s tentacles do not stop in Ukraine, Georgia, or East Central Europe”, the Atlantic Council claimed. “They reach far and deep in the core of western societies.” The report targeted three Norwegian parliamentary parties—the Socialist Left, the Red Party and the far-right Progress Party—whose representatives had questioned aspects of US/NATO policy or were insufficiently hostile to Russia.

Norway was a founding member of NATO in 1949, but it prohibited foreign troops from being stationed in the country. Norway’s post-war Labour governments cultivated an image of semi-neutrality, aligning with the United States during the Cold War, while eschewing overtly aggressive measures along its 106-kilometre north-eastern border with the Soviet Union. But the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 and the eruption of US military efforts to encircle and confront Russia produced a fundamental shift. Norway is integrating ever more openly with US-UK provocations against Russia:

In 2016, Norway announced 300 US marines would be stationed at Vaernes military base in central Norway. This number has since doubled.

In 2017, Norway announced plans to join the US-NATO Missile Defence System (MDS) aimed at Russia. A global network of missile launchers, control centres, radars, airbases and sea-based missiles, the MDS is at the centre of US-NATO plans for a “winnable” nuclear war.

In 2018, Norway hosted Exercise Trident Juncture, NATO’s biggest military exercise since the cold war, a display of force involving 40,000 soldiers and 10,000 vehicles.

Last year, Conservative Party Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s government cut all funding to peace organisations, while boosting its defence spending commitment to NATO. For this she was awarded a “Global Citizen Award” by the Atlantic Council. The opposition Labour Party has backed Norway’s militarist trajectory, criticising the government for not spending enough on defence. Norway is one of the highest per-capita defence spenders in the world.

The actions of Norway’s political establishment are sharply opposed to the anti-war views of the public. Fully 80 percent opposed the Iraq war, with mass protests in Oslo in February 2003 the largest ever held in the country. Public opposition saw Norway’s government refrain from openly supporting the invasion. But Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s Conservative Party government sent 150 troops in July 2003 as engineers and mine clearers operating under British command. A smaller number of Norwegian troops remained until 2006, and in 2015 Norway again sent troops as part of the international coalition “to counter ISIL”.

… The Labour Party has been the staunchest supporter of Norway’s military alliance with the US, exemplified by the seamless transition of its party leader of 12 years, Jens Stoltenberg, to become secretary general of NATO in 2014. …

The public’s well-founded “scepticism” in Norway towards “US/western politics” has nothing whatsoever to do with “Russian interference.” It is fueled by the bloody reality of US-led wars and regime change operations from North Africa to Ukraine. It is these sentiments that the UK’s Integrity Initiative and the CIA-backed Atlantic Council have targeted as their chief obstacle to securing Norway as a frontline state in the West’s offensive against Russia.


Squacco heron, first ever in Norway?

I fondly remember squacco herons from, eg, in the Gambia in Africa.

Breivik’s mass murder in Norway, new film

This 4 September 2018 video says about itself:

In 22 JULY, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, UNITED 93) tells the true story of the aftermath of Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack. On 22 July 2011, 77 people were killed when a far-right extremist detonated a car bomb in Oslo before carrying out a mass shooting at a leadership camp for teens. 22 JULY uses the lens of one survivor’s physical and emotional journey to portray the country’s path to healing and reconciliation.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Paul Greengrass’s 22 July: Neo-fascist mass murder in Norway

18 October 2018

Written, directed and produced by Paul Greengrass

The Netflix fiction feature 22 July, written, directed and produced by veteran British filmmaker Paul Greengrass, recreates the horrific massacre in Norway on July 22, 2011, during which 77 people were killed in a neo-fascist terrorist attack. The English-language movie features an all-Norwegian cast and crew.

Greengrass specializes in dramatizing traumatic episodes where masses of people undergo violent attack, either by government forces or terrorists. He is perhaps best known for his 2002 docudrama, Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shooting of 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators by British soldiers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Omagh (2004), a television film he co-produced and co-wrote, dealt with the 1998 bombing carried out in Northern Ireland by the Real Irish Republican Army, which killed 29 people.

Greengrass also directed The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a 1999 television film exposing police racism and brutality. More recently, he made United 93 (2006), focused on the commandeering of one of the planes during the 9/11 attack, and Captain Phillips (2013), about the Somali pirate hijacking of a US cargo ship. He was also at the helm for three of the five loosely anti-CIA Bourne series, as well as the tepid Green Zone (2010), about the Iraq War.

22 July is a graphic depiction of the 2011 butchery. The movie opens as neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) is building explosives in a remote Norwegian farm house. In a carefully planned assault, he detonates a powerful bomb in the vicinity of government buildings in the center of Oslo, the country’s capital. As officials move to protect Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth) from possible attack and security forces concentrate on the bombing, Breivik coldly moves on to a second and far greater slaughter.

The target is Utøya island 20 miles northwest of Oslo, where a summer camp run by the youth section of Norway’s ruling Labour Party is taking place. Among the scores of young people in attendance is Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), a well-spoken teenager from Svalbard in the country’s far north, who proudly describes his home town as a mecca of multiculturalism.

Posing and outfitted as a police officer, Breivik invades the island with an arsenal of firearms, mowing down groups of unsuspecting youth, leaving piles of corpses in his wake. “You will die today”, he screams, “Marxists, liberals, members of the elite.” During the terrifying ordeal, Viljar is severely wounded. By the time Breivik is arrested, around one hour later, his murderous rampage leaves 77 dead, 69 of them youth, and more than 200 injured.

Once in police custody, the terrorist feels empowered to demand “a complete ban on immigration”, explaining he is part of an army at war “to take back Europe.” He specifically requests the services of liberal attorney Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden), who, while despising his client’s politics, is obliged to provide him the best possible defense.

Meanwhile, Viljar, recovering from his devastating wounds, is pushing himself to extremes to develop the physical and emotional stamina needed to face his attacker as a witness for the prosecution. In this he is aided by his close friend Lara (Seda Witt), another survivor of the carnage and the daughter of refugees, who will also be a witness against Breivik.

Greengrass’s film is effectively, skillfully done, and the performances by the Norwegian actors are spot-on. The filmmaker and presumably everyone involved in the production of 22 July aim to sound the alarm about the rise of fascism. For this, they deserve congratulations. The re-emergence of the far right out of the conditions of capitalist crisis is one of the major political questions—and dangers—of our time, and few writers, directors and actors have treated it head-on.

Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Greengrass argued: “This unprecedented shift to the far right is occurring today. It’s right in front of our eyes. It’s a problem across Europe and across North America. … In 2011, that [Breivik’s outlook] would’ve been considered outrageous as a worldview. Today it’s entirely mainstream. His rhetoric, his worldview now, is mainstream. That shows you how dramatic and ongoing this shift to the right, toward nativism, nationalism and all the rest of it [is].

This is a critical point, and the director is clearly referring to the election of Donald Trump, as well as developments in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere.

That’s all to the good, but Greengrass is much weaker—in the film and in his public comments—on how the threat represented by diseased elements such as Breivik and, more importantly, the right-wing forces who incite and manipulate them, can be combated.

In an interview with the Washington Post, for example, Greengrass expressed the conviction that his movie clarifies the way forward “because it shows how democracy can be fought for in crisis. And what are the ways you do it? Through political leadership, through the rule of law, and ultimately through young people articulating the values that they want to live by.”

In other words, the social democratic government of Stoltenberg and the Norwegian ruling class are his model for eradicating fascism. But the problems in Norway and Europe did not disappear with Breivik’s conviction and incarceration.

Greengrass believes that people of good will need to be more vigilant in regard to these right-wing forces: “We’re going to have to listen. Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, … unless we’re not listening. … We’re going to have to listen to these voices and understand them, unwelcome though some of them may be, if we’re going to get out of this problem. And we’re going to have to contend with them, too. We’re going to have to beat them with better arguments.”

Extreme right-wing forces breed under conditions of economic and social decay and by the failure of the parties claiming to represent the working class to offer any way out of the situation.

Stoltenberg was the Labour Party prime minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2013 (before being appointed secretary general of NATO, the US-led military alliance). His government oversaw harsh attacks on the working class. It radically cut back the welfare state, privatized key public services and deliberately stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment. It was also implicated in the failure of the intelligence services to prevent Breivik’s murderous onslaught.

Today in Norway, the extreme-right Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member from 1997 to 2007, is part of a coalition government, able to come to power because of popular disillusionment with social democratic rule. The Labour Party, like social democratic parties everywhere, opened the door for the extreme right.

In 22 July, Breivik is largely treated as a delusional crank who most probably acted alone. There is a reference to his 1,500-page manifesto (which he published online and sent to over 1,000 contacts just hours before carrying out the massacre). His lawyer interviews a leading right-wing extremist who, during the trial, essentially disassociates himself from Breivik, despite Breivik’s professed allegiance to him.

The movie ends with Breivik successfully isolated and a healthy democracy intact.

But as the WSWS wrote on July 26, 2011, just a few days after the mass murder: “Information which emerged in the immediate aftermath of Breivik’s attacks revealed extensive ties with known extremist groups, including the English Defence League (EDL). Breivik attended meetings in Britain with leading members of this organisation, and also claimed to have been the founding member of a group calling itself the Knights Templar in 2002. Included in this group were right-wing nationalists from across Europe and a convicted terrorist from Germany.

“Breivik appears to have been well financed and well organised. He leased a farm north of Oslo two years ago. According to Reuters, the farm is near a military base housing the 2,000-strong Telemark battalion. He posted an entry on his Internet diary commenting on the proximity.

‘It’s quite ironic’, Breivik wrote, ‘being situated practically on top of the largest military base in the country. It would have saved me a lot of hassle if I could just ‘borrow’ a cup of sugar and 3kg of C4 (explosive) from my dear neighbour.’”

The makers of 22 July close their eyes to these sobering social facts and it weakens the impact of their well-intentioned film.

Utoya: surviving hell. MARIA DUARTE believes the singular focus on the resilience of the victims is both edifying and a blow to fascists.