Theater of Cruelty

- Civilian lives can be lost

- A guarantee against civilian losses cannot be given, says Einar Steensnæs (KrF), which is open to Norwegian soldiers being sent to war. – Unacceptable to bomb civilians, answers Kristin Halvorsen (SV), and rejects that the UN Security Council has given the US blanket authorization.


Head of the Storting's Foreign Affairs Committee Einar Steensnæs and committee member Kristin Halvorsen deeply disagree with how Norway should respond to the terrorist attack against the United States last week.

While the SV leader reacts strongly to the perspectives prevailing in the other parties to the Storting, the KrF nestor's message about US support is very clear:

- We must resort to military action if we are to overcome the terrible forces that stand

behind the terrorist campaign in the United States. Resolutions and statements are not enough. We assume that the military actions are hitting the forces of evil.

- So civilians are not going to be bombed?

- It is of course impossible to guarantee that civilian lives are not lost, Steensnæs answers.

- The perspective on what works in the fight against terrorism is completely drowning. We need to be concerned about what works in the long run. SV is against a US action in Afghanistan, which could affect civilians and lead to a very dangerous situation in the world, says Halvorsen for his part.

- No blank power of attorney

On Wednesday night, the UN Security Council, in which Norway has been a member since the New Year, passed a resolution (1333) which, in plain text, requires the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to surrender Osama bin Laden, immediately and unconditionally. However, Kristin Halvorsen denies that this gives the United States blank authorization to attack Afghanistan.

- It is terribly important that a united world is behind the fight against terrorism and that the UN has control over what should happen in this context. But the Security Council's resolution is not a blank mandate to the United States. For example, I do not think that Russia and China will agree that it can be interpreted there, says the SV leader.

- I am surprised that there is an impression that both the NATO decision on Article 5 and the UN Security Resolution provide blank powers for attacks and military operations. Military actions against Afghanistan, with the loss of civilian lives and without knowing where Osama bin Laden is, will divide the world. It is a short-term mindset that can destabilize the world and increase terror, she adds, and rejects that Norway or NATO is at war due to the attack on the United States.

- War-like situation

However, Einar Steensnæs is not included in Halvorsen's thinking.

- Nobody wants new rounds of violence. But if we are to lay

that kind of fear is rooted, then we have lost. The Taliban government could have cooperated and delivered Osama bin Laden. But their statements about holy war show that they have not understood the seriousness. I will not contribute to speculation as to what types of actions Norway can accept or participate in. The important thing now is that we fully and completely commit ourselves according to paragraph 5 and stand together behind the United States. We rely on US ratings. Our common goal is to damage the enemy, and I assume that there will be a military action that affects the terrorists, says the Foreign Affairs Committee leader, who told VG this week that Norway should contribute to any military action if requested.

- The United States has said that they are at war, and I would call this a war-like situation. The reality is that one of our NATO allies has been attacked by an enemy who has shown no consideration. The terrorists' cynical attacks must be punished, and the situation requires unity and solidarity with the United States, Steensnæs states.

- Poverty creates terror

- The culprits must be found and punished. Terrorism is a threat to every country in the world, including Russia, China and the Arab world. But it is a fact that poverty and injustice are helping to create this type of terror. SV will do everything we can to bring about long-term international work to stop them, says Halvorsen.

She reassures those who doubt where the party is in this serious situation that it is a misconception that the SV supports the US and NATO in anything:

- I think most people have gradually seen what position we have taken: It is wrong that the United States has received blank authorization from NATO and the UN.

Halvorsen believes that a new discussion about the threat picture and reaction forms is needed.

- Norway is still building on old perceptions of invasion threats from the east. But what do we do if someone hijacks an oil tanker and drives it into one of our oil installations along Norway's long coast, she asks.

Yes to Norwegian soldiers

A very tight-lipped word Carl I. Hagen had the following to say to Ny Tid's attempt to get comments on where the Progress Party stands after the attack on the United States:

- Basically, we fully support the United States and the NATO decision. Otherwise, I have no comment, and refer to the discussions we had in the enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Hagen says.

The Foreign Affairs Committee's deputy chair Haakon Blankenborg (Ap) is more informative.

- Everyone agrees that the perpetrators of the terrorist attack must be brought out, and that those who huser the terrorists are also complicit. But which forms of military action I support is difficult to say until we know what will be discussed. There is reason to fear that civilian lives will be lost in any action, but diplomatic and military measures are required to catch the culprits. This is what it's all about, says Blankenborg.

He does not want to agree that Norway is at war as the situation is today, and believes that President George W. Bush uses the word "war" figuratively.

- But if NATO's Article 5 is triggered in a military action that Norway supports, then we are at war.

According to VG's report on Wednesday, key members of the Storting's expanded Foreign Affairs Committee confirm that the United States will receive a clear yes response if Norway is asked to send soldiers to the war on terrorists. The only exception among the parties is the SV, which says they are critical of Norwegian participation in a retaliatory campaign against the terrorists, the VG states.

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