Theater of Cruelty

Uncritical coverage of war industry

Ny Tid has interviewed Dagbladet's John Olav Egeland who believes the war industry is protected by the Norwegian media.


Norwegian foreign journalism is weakened according to Dagbladet commentator and longtime editor, John Olav Egeland. He recently wrote on Facebook about what he calls "the strong reluctance among politicians and the media when it comes to discussing the consequences of war and the war industry": "Of Norwegian journalists, none other than Erling Borgen goes into depth on the connection between war and war industry. Norway supplies weapons and other defense equipment to countries in the Middle East that are part of the so-called Yemen alliance – which is believed to have been used in the war in Yemen. It passes, but is undoubtedly contrary to the principles of Norwegian arms exports. There has been very little critical journalism about this ", he says to Ny Tid.

Recently NRK and Aftenposten interviewed NATO commander Jens Stoltenberg without asking a single critical question.

The example Afghanistan. In December, Egeland disseminated Ny Tid's front page article about Norwegian participation in Afghanistan on Facebook. WikiLeaks documents showed a hidden influence campaign in which the United States wanted to drag Norway deeper into the Afghanistan war. Egeland commented: "It takes an infinite amount of time to find the pieces that show the truth about Norway's war in Afghanistan. An important reason is that politicians hide decisions, processes and influence as best they can. And with good reason. The propaganda of the war has been based on false images of humanitarian results and the downplaying of corruption, the drug economy, the miserable security situation and the warfare itself. " The revelation in Ny Tid of a secret embassy meeting, and secret documents from the US embassy to, among others, the CIA and NSA about promoting disinformation in Norway – and that Norwegian ministers were obedient "ends" – were, however, met with total silence and concealed by all Norwegians national media. Even though it is actually Norway's longest war mission abroad.

KABUL, Afghanistan 2008:
Journalist in the newspaper, John Olav Egeland at work in Kabul in Afghanistan.
Photo: Heiko Junge / SCANPIX

The war profiteer Norway. Egeland believes the Norwegian media has helped to peace the war-industrial complex: “It's about a whole economic system. Economist Kalle Moene [at the University of Oslo] recently wrote about the negative market mechanisms of the war economy where tensions increase the demand for weapons. Our internationally significant war industry is somehow protected from critical eyes – a bit like Bofors is in Sweden. Criticism in today's debate climate is often labeled as 'conspiratorial' and thus taboo, no matter how much solid research and facts behind it. ”

So why is it written so little in Norwegian media?

"We have to look at it historically. During the Cold War, there was almost no foreign political opposition. Both the labor press, the bourgeois press and NRK made sure to cover such security policy issues. The silence lay like a wet woolen blanket all over. There was little transparency and high secrecy, just a few critical voices on the outskirts of the public. ”

But today, 28 years after the end of the Cold War?

"In Norway, unlike the United States, there is no tradition of critical journalism on defense and the weapons industry. But the book Peace nation Norway [by Kristoffer Egeberg] is one of the first important journalistic contributions. Here it is shown that a lot of security policy is about a good relationship with the US rather than their own security interests. Nor are many people writing critically about the wars in Libya and Afghanistan in Norway. One lacks insight, or political priority, to put it nicely. Political newspapers that are defense-friendly are not critical. "

Is your own newspaper Dagbladet critical enough?

"Our historical position is for Norwegian membership in NATO. I have never experienced any limitations in how defense policy is discussed, and I have both led and written in Dagbladet. "

But will it be prioritized high enough?

“I would like to see that it was given higher priority. It is also a matter of resources. But I see a growing interest in defense issues. The Nigeria boats were an example of Dagbladet's willingness to devote considerable resources to digging in such matters. ”

What about Dagbladet's coverage of the Libya war?

"In Dagbladet, we felt it should be intervened in line with the UN Security Council decision. But most of the Western public had wrong information and distorted access to information about what happened on the ground in Libya. Our security policy partners gave us non-voting information, which led to a standpoint on bombing. The politicians who made the decision to bomb after being informed by Støre on SMS acted on the same. "

The revelation to promote disinformation in Norway about Afghanistan was met with total silence and the mockery of all Norwegian national media.

Tributes to NATO-Jens. On Sunday 17 December, two days after Ny Tid spoke to Egeland, NRK and Aftenposten interviewed NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg once again, without asking a single critical question. Aftenposten's three full-page tribute had the telling headline "This week, the NATO countries have boasted unabashedly of Stoltenberg. He himself thinks the best years are coming now ».

In the article, none of the NATO commander's many claims were fact-checked and there was not a single independent factual disclosure that did not fit the neoconservative American agenda for an expansive NATO. The closest Aftenposten came to a "critical" question to Stoltenberg, was that Aftenposten apparently did not think NATO had expanded far enough into Russia's borders by temporarily failing to incorporate Georgia. In the same newspaper that Aftenposten praised Stoltenberg on the front and over three pages, the editorial was a harsh attack on the Council of Europe's Thorbjørn Jagland, who was accused of not being sufficiently aggressive in his approach to Russia.

Eirik Vold
Eirik Vold
Former freelancer in MODERN TIMES. Today political adviser in Red.

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