Theater of Cruelty

Tranquility, tranquility for fishing

Did Janne Haaland Matlary think she was with Tore Skoglund in Rorbua?


[norge in the world] Sea spray and intestines. Trade and peacemaking. What is relevant and not in the debate about Norway's role in the world? Janne Haaland Matlary responds by telling fish ropes and at the same time narrows the debate in a strange way.

Last week, the magazine also invited the debate to the headline "Does Norway play any role?" As the discussion swept over trade, one of the panelists, Janne Haaland Matlary, was asked to comment on Norway's sprawling trade policy, liberalist on

fish and protectionist in agriculture.

The answer was something like this: When she was secretary of state in the Central Government in the late 90s, Haaland Matlary hosted a bouquet of fine diplomatic wives from the continent, which she brought on a fishing trip, far offshore. It blew fresh, the sea spray stood. Haaland Matlary set his sea bones and quickly pulled some spawning cod up over the ripa. Then, while the fine ladies were watching, she cut off the head of the fish, popped the belly and shook out the viscera, then blood and squirted in all directions.

Haaland Matlary laughed at the audience, but I must admit that I did not fully understand the punch line. Should this be a joy at how rough international politics is – when the big and strong safeguard their national interests, the small fish must expect to get a knife in the stomach? Or had Haaland Matlary been wrong and thought she was with Tore Skoglund in Rorbua?

The debate on aid and peacemaking is about how much we should give to help DEM. The debate on trade policy, on the other hand, is about EVERYONE being subject to the same global player rules, everyone can potentially be trading partners, and thus may have conflicting interests. The rules of the game are dictated by us in the West, but now the developing countries are starting to

demanding changes in the global institutions, as Sten Inge Jørgensen describes in the recent book The West is losing its grip. He also sat in the panel with Ingrid Fiskaa, and the two had an interesting trade discussion, which incidentally is strongly related to a debate that has

gone here in Ny Tid in recent weeks, see page 35. The other two panelists, Jan Egeland and Janne Haaland Matlary, on the other hand, were not interested in drawing trade into the debate about Norway's role in the world.

What is the principled, normative argument for Norway's split position, where we are liberal on fish and protectionist on agriculture? These are national interests, and national interests "are given", said Haaland Matlary. Does this mean that national interests must be raised above, and out of, the debate about Norway's role in the world? Should Norway only be okay, if it does not go against our own interests, Haaland Matlary? Or is it simply more fun to tell fish stories?

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