By Jan Oberg*
It’s important that intellectuals criticise the policies of their native country and not only and politically correctly criticise that of others.
In the case of Danish foreign and security policy it is fairly easy to do so provided you are supported neither by that country’s state nor its corporations.
Denmark to be aggressor in Syria – too
On March 4, 2016 a large majority of Danish political parties agreed to send F16s and special forces to Syria. The decision is likely to soon be confirmed by the Danish parliament.
The most important decision any government can take is the one to go to war. But that sort of thing is now routine in H.C. Andersen’s anything but idyllic rogue state. When the Danish MPs decided that Denmark should bomb in Libya an MP told me that they did so on the basis of 1,5 A4 pages memo drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
So here Denmark is off again, this time to Syria.
It’s the 6th time – Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan 10/7 2001, Iraq occupation power 2003-2007 – under non-convicted war criminal prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen who was rewarded by an academic title in the U.S. and then kicked upwards to the post of NATO’s S-G and in which capacity he took responsibility (without any later regret later for that or Iraq) for the pulverisation of Libya way beyond the UN mandate; then a second time in 2014-15 in Iraq bombing against ISIS/Daesh. And now Syria.
All these wars have been exemplary political and moral fiascos – if not deliberate killing missions for strategic and naked power reasons.
In none of these conflicts has Denmark that boasts an active foreign policy taken any constructive initiatives of the type that is needed – mediation, consultation, negotiations, large-scale humanitarian aid, violence-prevention, reconciliation or presented any innovative thoughts, peace plans or similar.
In no case has it argued for a large international peace-keeping presence, e.g. UN and/or regional organisations with predominantly civilian elements. And in no case has it dared criticise U.S. foreign policy in even the mildest of words.
Denmark’s humanitarianism flies F16
Prime minister Løkke Rasmussen’s argument for aggression on Syria now is the same old pseudo-humanitarianism: Denmark has to fight hard ISIS which “recklessly terrorises and kills innocent men, women and children” and “we must never give op the struggle for peace and freedom” and “we have a responsibility to the world.” (Press statement)
If he isn’t aware of the fact that a quarter of a million in Syria have already died and that his Danish bombs and special forces will add to the killings, he is incompetent for his position.
Add to that that in October last year he stated that he did not have the imagination to see Danish boots on the ground. He must have known and used that particular expression to be sure that he did not promise it would never happen.
The same humanitarianism doesn’t exactly apply to refugees – here the PM thinks there has to be safe zones in Syria (only protected from the air by fighter planes, no UN on the ground). For a good decade Denmark has stood out as xeno- and Islamophobic and has just been giving itself an even worse international image by passing a law that permits authorities to steal refugees’ property if exceeding US$ 1500.
Add to that a delegation with foreign minister Kristian Jensen, other ministers, members of the Danish royal house and 43 Danish firms to Saudi Arabia a week ago – pretending to exert diplomatic pressure and talk human rights while begging for orders to the Danish industry – and Saudi Arabia a main problem in Syria and Yemen and now the 3rd largest military power on earth?
In short: In today’s Denmark, the political humanitarianism either flies F16 or it doesn’t exist anymore.
Why is this Syria decision so anti-intellectual? So delusional?
Because the only really important, decisive consideration is loyalty with the U.S. The request, like the others before, comes from Washington.
If Denmark could formulate and conduct an independent foreign policy, independent thinking – weighing in all factors, pro- et contra – would be a possibility. Sadly, ‘group think’ – or, rather, herd behaviour – dominates. Probably in practise about the same freedom Washington and Brussels that East Germany had from Moscow at the time.
It should be fairly easy to appreciate that:
a) bombings and military activities on the ground has not only not solved any problems, nor has it brought Syria closer to a solution,
b) that there are two coalition with 99 countries and there is Russia – all in favour of military means while all maintain that there is no military solution,
c) the war on terror so-called has been extremely counter-productive. In 2000 about 400 people were killed annually in political terror, today – according to the Global Terror Index – it takes 32.000 lives annually, and
d) behind almost every refugee stands an arm dealer and militarist politicians.
But it isn’t easy to see if you are a Danish politician. You have to be there and conduct an “active” foreign policy and struggle galantly “for peace and freedom”.
The agreement reached among the large political majority is also sending a message to UN mediator Staffan di Mistura and to the other parties that Denmark has no faith in the ceasefire that is in place, albeit for a limited period of time – since it will have its special boots on the ground and F16s in the air beginning this summer.
The consequences of this decision are as negative as they are predictable
– More deaths and destruction inside Syria.
– More bombings means more refugees to Europe – a strong factor in the dissolution tendencies of the European Union.
– More hatred against the West in general.
– Increased risk of terror in Europe, including against Denmark itself.
– It’s a high-risk mission in and of itself but the more so because Russia and NATO-countries are on different sides.
– Since the mission has no UN support, Denmark must take responsibility for further undermining international law and the normative framework of the UN;
– The more violence, the longer the road to a negotiated solution – because the fighting itself becomes an argument for more violence.
– Denmark has no exit strategy and, thus, may get drawn into Yemen or Libya.
– ISIS/Daesh want to get Europeans/NATO engaged on the ground, drag them in – because it mobilises more support for the Caliphate.
– Experts like Daniel Ellsberg are of the opinion that the U.S. will soon have to put boots on the ground – and that
– Syria could well be a new Vietnam.
There comes a time when one has to painfully recognise that one’s own elected politicians are injurious to the state and society and deliberately reduce the security of their citizens to please foreign interests – Masters. And with this decision, Prime Minister Løkke Rasmussen speaks His Masters Voice.
And – sadly – it is dawning upon people around the world that Denmark’s moral standing is now even smaller than its tiny spot on the globe.
March 4, 2016 is an important indicator of just that.
*Jan Oberg, Peace studies professor. PhD in sociology, peace and future researcher. Associate professor (Docent) at Lund University, thereafter visiting or guest professor at various universities.
Former director of the Lund University Peace Research Institute (LUPRI); former secretary-general of the Danish Peace Foundation; former member of the Danish government’s Committee on security and disarmament.
Visiting professor at ICU (1990-91) and Chuo Universities (1995) in Japan and visiting professor for three months at Nagoya University in 2004 and 2007 and four months in 2009 – at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.
Oberg has taught peace courses for more than 10 years at the European Peace University (EPU) in Schlaining, Austria and teaches MA courses twice a year at the World Peace Academy (WPA) in Basel, Switzerland.
Jan Oberg’s article was published in: TFF – Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. Go to Original. The author granted permission to Human Wrongs Watch to re-published his article.
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