Fame or Shame? Norway and the Nobel Peace Prize

Human Wrongs Watch

By Fredrik S. Heffermehl – TRANSCEND Media Service*

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


Fredrik S. Heffermehl

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 Labor tradition, initiated by the legendary Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen, who started a policy of low tension with the neighboring 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, now leader of NATO, dishonored a high-level meeting for civilian corporation in the Arctic Council in Reykjavik by NATO holding a large navy maneuver in that part of the Atlantic.

Many countries participated in the tension-building provocation that has become standard Norwegian policy in later years. Unbelievably, the Conservative-led cabinet of Erna Solberg, has retained the RAND corporation as 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 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 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 harbor. In spindoctorial Newspeak the ministers for foreign affairs (Søreide) and the military (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.[i] It is dangerous; it has been a surprise move, not preceded by open democratic processes. The politicians behind such policies are far from suited for managing 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 amounts 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 a 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 Norwegian original has now been thoroughly reedited for international public and foreign publishers, with easy-to-read tables.

This innovative 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.

P.S. 1:

In the massive lineup of Stakhanovite politicians doing their best to help the US vilify Russia, seconded by academics, journalists, and  most of civil society, there are a few beams of light.

One is Russia expert Julie Wilhelmsen of NUPI, another rare voice of sanity is lieutenant colonel and professor at Norway’s defense college, Tormod Heier. According to News in English (newsinenglish.nohe recently warned (https://www.newsinenglish.no/2021/03/01/new-us-bombers-sound-the-alarms/) against Norway becoming “a battlefield in a steadily more escalating rivalry between the superpowers.”

Moreover, he warned against the lack of public or political debate noting that the first publicity around US bombers in Norwegian airfields came only two weeks before the first four actually landed. It is dangerous. Once again the Cabinet took the population by surprise, avoiding an open democratic processes

P.S. 2:

Thanks to Antonio C.S. Rosa – Up to now the title was “Behind the medals”, il verso de la medaglia. The “Fame or Shame” title I found for this article suddenly struck me as the best thinkable title for my new book – see the presentation at https://booksfromnorway.com/books/2151-fame-or-shame




*Fredrik S. Heffermehl, cand. jur, LLM NYU, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environmentand ex-Vice President of the International Peace Bureau.

He is the author of The Nobel Peace Prize, What Nobel Really Wanted (Praeger, 2010 – expanded versions in Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish and [2014] Russian). fredpax@online.nohttp://www.nobelwill.org.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 May 2021. TMS: Fame or Shame? Norway and the Nobel Peace Prize

2021 Human Wrongs Watch

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