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Do we need a new party on the left?

WEAPON SUPPORT / Former deputy leader of Rødt, Marielle Leraand, emphasizes that arms support to Ukraine is the exact opposite of the path to peace. She points out here that no one is sending weapons from the global south, and that the US and NATO are waging a deadly proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. So where can the opponents of today's militarism gather in party-political Norway?

The answer to the question of whether we need a new Norwegian political party has not been given. The very best is of course a large and broad left that fights against war. And especially in a situation that is moving dangerously in the direction of a new world war. The last year, however, has shown us how little willingness there has been in the parties that still consider themselves 'left' to say a clear no to arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Rødt has taken this very important position throughout this year of war, until quite recently, but it has been very quiet about this decision from party leader Bjørnar Moxnes, from others in the top party leadership and from Rødt's parliamentary representatives. Having 'a sleeping Bible verse' is of little use in the public eye – it does not give us information and analysis that can influence public opinion.


On the other hand, there has been one in the Norwegian media massiv NATO propaganda that supports one notion of this war – and which Rødt has not spoken out against. The party leader has rather, to the extent that he has actually said something publicly about this war, on the other hand, been like an echo of what comes from the Labor Party.

This is not the anti-war party I joined when SV failed at the national meeting in 2011 and advocated the bombing of Libya.

This works demobilizing for a potential peace movement and for party activists who see that this war is not primarily about a war of national liberation against the occupier Russia. Rødt's analyzes have been almost identical to what has come from all parties in this country, but without the explicit 'yes to arms'. It has therefore been very difficult to convince anyone that we are not also shall send weapons, when we send 'everything else', and this with Rødt's blessing. Red has also supported all the sanctions against Russia. Nor has there been any 'niceness' shown in how the rhetoric and analysis that the party has put forward has been part of the war propaganda we are exposed to day in and day out.

The Red party has therefore not been a dissenting voice, but rather contributed with verbal support for our 'western' side in this war. The massive hostility displayed by politicians here in Norway and other countries in the West also helps to rally the people of Russia in support of continued war.

Rødt's two new proposals

The decisive factor for me has nevertheless been Rødt's two concrete proposals now in February. One could perhaps have been happy that something 'finally' came from Rødt. But this joy was quickly blown away. Because what did Rødt have to offer? The first proposal from the party's side was to set up a special tribunal for crimes of aggression against Ukraine. A proposal that points to Russia and Putin as being responsible for something completely unique, and the like of which we have certainly not seen – therefore a separate 'tribunal' outside the International Criminal Court is needed.

This proposal was praised in the mainstream media. Of course. Finally, Rødt is on good terms with all the other parties. And maybe that was also part of the point? To become so tame and edible that the party can move towards government positions? The fact that at the same time the party is clearly distancing itself from the global left is probably not included in this accounting -the was clearly not that important.

Red fundamentally fails when it comes down to it.

The second proposal that came from Rødt is worse, and more decisive. On 6 February, Bjørnar Moxnes told Klassekampen: "Our adopted policy today is not to support Norwegian arms deliveries, but we have not advocated any arms embargo against Ukraine. We are in favor of the same amount being given as financial support that Ukraine can dispose of for humanitarian and military purposes, as they themselves wish."

This means that Red in practice already says yes to arms support. As long as the Ukrainian government self buys the weapons, of course. So what is the point of maintaining a decision to say no to arms support at the upcoming national meeting? You have to fight for this, but as I see it, this fight has no meaning whatsoever anymore. Because the party still believes that enormous sums should be pumped in as 'free funds' to the Ukrainian government, which this government can use completely freely to buy weapons for.

The main issue for me as long as this war has raged, and which has caused me to stay in Red, is that I thought a unequivocally no to arms support was rooted in the party. But I was wrong there. It thus appears that a no to arms support does not apply.

It is crucial that this has now come to light. It will therefore not have any significance whatsoever, the same as the Red national meeting 21.–23. April lands on of yes or no to arms support.

Rødt proposes an equally large pot – a whopping NOK 75 billion (equivalent to a Norwegian defense budget) – distributed over 5 years and believes that the Ukrainian government can use this as they wish. The party emphasizes in the press release that this also applies to the purchase of weapons.

This is not the anti-war party I joined when SV failed at the national meeting in 2011 and advocated bombing Libya. When we are now in a new war situation, and this time with nuclear powers on each side, there are no parties there to defend a clear message that arms support is the exact opposite of the path to peace.

The Global South

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Dialogue and peace negotiations are traced to the global south. Exclusively. No one from there is in favor of sending weapons, and no one is sending weapons from the global south either, be they right-wing or left-wing governments. SV and Rødt could also choose to direct the spotlight on peace negotiations and dialogue at the front. Instead, there has been a more robust and one-sided "We condemn Russia" from these parties. This contradicts statements from the global left – outside the West. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says that "this war could have been avoided". And this is a view that is pervasive on the global left.

This extremely important position nevertheless has no resonance in any party in Norway. It is perceived as extreme, as well as breaking a 'taboo', to point to other causal explanations for the war than that Russia and Putin exclusively have malicious and imperialistic ambitions.

«Dbefore the war could have been avoided.»

At the same time, the global south experiences it as complete hypocrisy that the USA and NATO are now shouting in a fistula and naming Russia as the big villain in the world. They cannot share this opinion – and why? The countries in the poorer parts of the world have seen all the subtle methods the West has used to plunder, divide, remove state leaders and oppress people and countries. They know the louse in the hallway. They see things that we in Norway and the West find so difficult to understand. But in other parts of the world this is part of history and people's daily living conditions.

The question is, to put it on the table: Have we noe party in Norway that can reflect this understanding and the positions that the majority in the world represent when the USA and NATO are now waging a deadly proxy war against Russia in Ukraine? The global south does not see this as a war of aggression against an "innocent" Ukraine. They consider it not as a legitimate position for any country in the world to demand membership in NATO. On the contrary, they see a stronger NATO as a threat to global peace.

A new party

So to the question of whether we need a new party: Do we today have any parties that function as a voice in the public and that can influence Norwegian public opinion away from the servile NATO understanding that reigns, and that time and time again get to stand unchallenged in the public?

Clay duck. From the Debate in No.

No, I mean we not have it. Rødt has now in practice abandoned its unequivocal no to arms support. And during the year that has passed, the party has shown that they contribute to the rhetoric that is now escalating this life-threatening war.

Therefore, we need a tool to tap into public opinion. We need a party that is able to say unequivocally no to support the weapon line and militarism that the USA and NATO have put their minds to. We need a voice of peace in the public, which lays mainweight on war resistance now when the war is at its most dangerous. It is between great powers and could develop into a new world war.

Is this party Red? My answer to this question is: No. Unfortunately.

I announced my transfer to Rødt in 2011 after the national meeting of SV's disastrous yes to Norway sending bombers to Libya. And 12 years later, I find myself in the situation that my party Red shows that it is fundamentally failing when it comes to this.

So a new party? My answer is: Yes, it is unfortunately necessary.

Marielle Leraand
Former deputy chairman of Rødt, and regular commentator in MODERN TIMES.

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