Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sweden, NATO and Assange

I start here the series on the historical and political background of Sweden in the context of the extradition of Julian Assange nominally petitioned by this country. In fact this event is only one piece, although vital, in the offensive to destroy Wikileaks. The series continue with the analysis "Facts contradict falsehoods in the Guardian and in Swedish media after extradition verdict". 

At the contrary of common belief, or what uninformed journalists have reported, Sweden is not a “neutral” country, geopolitically or militarily. Neither is the Swedish mainstream media, which is assigned to protect Swedish international interests. This is central to keep in mind about coming events in Sweden for Julian Assange.
by Marcello Ferrada-Noli, from Stockholm

Although the reasons explaining the international offensive aimed at the destruction of Wikileaks are, if not obvious, easy to understand (enough with analysing the vast impact of Wikileaks in the uprisings in Northern Africa, the metropolitan Occupy-actions, or as catalysis of the new emergent multicultural anti-war movement), the strategy of such contra offensive is complex and multidimensional. A variety of governments had to synchronise their resources to ultimately obtain the silence of Wikileaks. The smear campaign against Assange is one, but a vital piece in such strategy.

The protracted character [2] of the “legal” process initiated in Sweden against the Wikileaks founder - which is till is deprived of any charge – has served both as “attrition war” against Wikileaks as organization, and it had given time to prepare the legal case against Bradley Manning, now in the eve of a pretrial hearing.

Sweden, a devoted NATO vassal-country (is not "officially" in the alliance) is only one of the factors intervening in this operation.  And analysing the elements intervening inside Sweden, we find again a complex variety of forces.  The official stand of the government (in the context of its international policy and alliances) is only one of those elements. The powerful radical-feminist movement, with its own agenda, is another. This movement has openly declared they are using the Assange case as a “symbol” [3] for the political advancing of their own ideological positions. Namely, the further radicalization of the rape-legislation.

The mainstream media, and its own reasons to react against the potent competitive publishing/journalistic role of Wikileaks is yet another factor. In this last case, aggravated by the acute concentration of ownership that characterizes the media in Sweden.

In refuting erroneous stream media dispatches insisting in Sweden’s “only legal” stand in the Assange issue – I will prove anew that Sweden’s position in the case Assange is both politically motivated and politically implemented, particularly in the international domain.

The myth of Sweden’s neutrality

Picture above: Swedish troops in the NATO-commanded military occupation of Afghanistan already in 2005. The legend (in Swedish) says, "Swedish forces in Afghanistan can increase". And they certainly did! The troops still are there.

In the possible upcoming of a trial of Assange in Sweden, the world will again focus on Sweden and its juridical institutions, international alliances and allegiances. This is why mainstream journalists are already assigned to cover according to the “Swedish view”. It is a well-known fact that Swedish media traditionally covers Swedish international disputes by plainly repeating the official line without further question it.

Because of political reasons I have already explained (for instance, in "This is Why"), official Sweden has declared Assange and Wikileaks a national enemy.

One main argument used by some Anglo-Saxon journalists focused on Sweden’s campaign against Assange and Wikileaks is the notion of a pacific Sweden who is modern and above all neutral. An independent and neutral country such us Sweden would never run cases on behalf of superpower USA, it is suggested. For instance, Clarie Harvey article on the case Assange in the Daily Telegraph bases that assumption in that that Sweden is a “proudly independent nation that remained neutral even during World War II”.

Using also some material of my previous analyses published in these columns [4] [5], I examine here anew the facts about Swedish neutrality in World War II and in current times:

The World War II issue

Sweden was NOT that neutral during World War II. In actual fact, Sweden had a secret agreement with Nazi Germany which permitted all along the transit of German troops through Sweden in their way to occupied Norway. 

Prominent members of the Swedish establishment were Nazi or pro-Nazi.  Sweden sold to Germany the iron that held the weaponry manufacture in Nazi Germany on-going.

The discussion around a Swedish involvement with the Nazis or their ideology is like never ending. One day could be on the solid racist research conducted by that time in Uppsala University, another  on the compulsory sterilization (see "tvångssterilisering") that prevailed in Sweden until recent decades. Today is about Swedish politicians and doctors stand on euthanasia. In these very days the Swedish media has been reporting alleged commercial doings of the current Swedish queen's father, "Walter Sommerlath, a German Nazi Party member" who  "made a fortune from a factory seized from Jewish owners in Nazi Germany".

The alleged “pro Nazi-tradition” in Sweden has partly explained the continuously existence of important racist and pro Nazi political organizations. One current far right-wing political party (not a Nazi organization but with a clear anti-immigrant agenda) not only enjoys representation in the Swedish Parliament but their MP's are also in position to ultimately decide whether to grant necessary majority of votes in the legislative process.

Impact on immigrants

One proof of the above is that foreign-born immigrants in Sweden, particularly young men, commit suicide at a dramatic higher significant rate in comparison with Swedes. The overrepresentation of immigrants among the Swedish suicides is not a rumor, it is a fact, a series of epidemiological findings I conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and which I have published among other in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (USA) and Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

The NATO issue

This article is not aimed to analyse NATO policies or their current military engagements. Every sovereign country has the right to elaborate the geopolitical strategy that best serves its interests. Of course, in the equivalent, every nation has the right or duty defend its interests when occupied by a foreign power. And here is where the anti-war message of Wikileaks becomes highly relevant. Would it not be better to deflate international conflict by making international politics transparent?

Nevertheless. The current foreign policy of Sweden is OPENLY declared as actively pro-NATO. Sweden troops participate in the military occupation of Afghanistan under the command of USA military. During the Iraq invasion of USA troops Sweden assisted with material and strategic aid in the bombing of Iraq shelters.

Wikileaks recent disclosures with respect to Sweden presented evidence on secret agreements between Swedish government officials and the CIA and FBI regarding the channelling to USA of political and private information of Swedish subjects. Further, and most aggravating, this was done without the legal-necessary clearance of the Swedish Parliament, to keep the public unaware and avoid risking the pro-USA collaboration of the Swedish authorities.

The current foreign policy of Sweden is OPENLY and actively pro-NATO. Sweden’s troops participate in the military occupation of Afghanistan under the command of USA. During the Iraq invasion of USA troops, Sweden assisted with material and strategic aid in the bombing of Iraq shelters.

Intelligence gathering collaborattion

Sweden has an on-going strategic, military and political-police intelligence operation with the USA (the Pentagon, CIA and FBI). Among other things, this compromises sensitive data of the Swedish population, as disclosed by Wikileaks.

As recently revealed (February 2011) – also by Wikileaks – Sweden currently actively exercises an aggressive diplomatic and foreign policy aimed to the destabilization of Russian’s geopolitical situation.

How all the above could possibly be regarded as “neutral” positions in international affairs is straight absurd.

The role assigned to Swedish journalists

The international media journalists that base their reports from Sweden on the case of Sweden against Assange - and largely quote Swedish media articles - might have not considered that in Sweden the main media has a tradition of not contesting the official line provided by government. And the same is seemingly the case of some Swedish journalists working as correspondents of international media in Sweden, as analysed in my article in Second-Opinion (7/2, 2011).

Whether this phenomenon would be an implementation of established designs related to the country’s Psychological Warfare strategy, or a matter of simply loyalty from Swedes – including the media and its journalist – to their country in moments of international distress, I could possibly only speculate.

The fact is that this peculiar journalist tradition – or absence of it – has several times in the past been focus of international reporting on Sweden. One occasion was the riots in Gothenburg during the publicized visit of George Bush to the EU summit hosted by Sweden 2001.  International journalists who in vast numbers went to report on the event wrote thereafter about that astonishing professional phenomenon, namely Swedish journalists not questioning the authorities during official press conferences, or that the media basically either reported uncommented government press releases or along the day modified their analyses to make them compatible with both the government version and the respective “consensus” generated by the protesters’ actions  among all Swedish political parties (these reactions nearly exactly as in the case around Assange, viewed – although not yet publicly recognized – as a internationally embarrassing crisis).

One illustration of the above described professional docility towards the authorities in the reporting of the case Assange/WikiLeaks is given by this article by journalist Oscar Joulander in Expressen on September 8th, 2010, suggestively headed “Assange: I am the only victim”. In the article, the journalist reports an interview with the press secretary of the Swedish Foreign Office Anders Jörle. Jörle states the following: 

-       “They (USA) have not been in contact with us (officials at the Foreign ministry) through the official channels”

The journalist concludes and writes in the article: 

-       “At the Swedish Foreign Office it is denied than they have been contacted by the USA”. 

End of the story. The journalist does not infer the obvious, that the secretary of the Foreign Office is not denying that contacts have occurred, although through other channels. But the journalist does not care to ask, or does not think in asking, or perhaps he did but the newspaper would not print that. We would not know. What we know is that in either case the journalist is NOT doing his professional job, and that is what this article is also about.

For as in the main part of contacts led to the agreements of the Swedish government with the USA, they have been “not through the official channels”. Otherwise, if those contacts are labelled “official”, the government is obliged to inform the Parliament, with the ensuing risk of making the talks a public domain. Does not the journalist know that?

And here is where the rationale of Wikileaks   is best understood, as also the interest of the Swedish government to silence the organization. As noted above (Background B), Wikileaks disclosed one of such unofficial talks between the CIA/FBI and the Swedish government, which in fact resulted in an agreement between the two governments for the implementation of intelligence operations in the form of transference of information from Sweden to the USA. And the Swedish government, far more that the USA government (USA government and policies are predictable, and strategically open) cannot afford that these leaks should continue. Assange has to be stopped, be put out of productive track. And some wish to even punish him, or simply kill him. However, to reach any feasible end in that regard, in the case of a political celebrity as Julian Assange it is first necessary to kill his character. And here is where the smearing operation enters the scene. 

Notes and references

1. Source: Swedish Armed Forces
"NATO MEDALJER. Nato-stadgans artikel 5 är kärnan i försvarsalliansen Nato. Den innebär ömsesidiga försvarsförpliktelser för medlemsländerna i Nato.
Insatserna i Kosovo (Kfor) och i Afghanistan (Isaf) är så kallade ”non article 5” insatser (icke-artikel-5-operation). Det vill säga det är Nato-ledda operationer under ett FN-mandat.
När man som svensk soldat tjänstgjort minst 30 dagar i en icke-artikel-5-operation i Natos regi så får man en särskild medalj för det."
2. “Operation Deferment”
"The attrition war posed by the long lasting “legal process” initiated by Sweden against Wikileaks front-figure Julian Assange, have contributed with seemingly “artificial delays” to the tactical aim of exhausting Wikileaks in resources and manpower. For one thing is to acknowledge that legal appeal procedures do take their due time. But another is to explain why so different dates or delays, have been consecutively announced for such verdicts, or why, from the part of Sweden, it has been neglected a sooner interrogation of Assange (in London or by other means). This “Operation Procrastination” would also explain why the technical possibilities for the interrogation of Assange while he was in Sweden’s soil were not explored in fully by the local prosecutors. Could this apparently synchronized strategy of procrastinating several steps in the "legal" procedures against Julian Assange (further appeals are expected) aimed ultimately to strangle Wikileaks also economically and organization wise? And vice versa, to which extent the weakening or designed abating of Wikileaks through decimation of material resources was meant to the waning of Julian Assange international support? To this add the highly belligerent front 'Trial by the media' exercised in Sweden ad hominem against the Wikileals founder." 
From M Ferrada-Noli "Bildt och Clinton i konferens inför beslut om Assanges utlämning".  Published in Second-Opinion, 1 November 2011
3. M Ferrada-Noli, "Julian Assange declared symbolic issue by Swedish radical-feminists", Professors blogg, 30 September 2011 
4. M Ferrada-Noli, "Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?", Professors blogg, 20 February 2010
5. M Ferrada-Noli, "Sweden’s phony prosecution against Assange is POLITICAL and IDEOLOGICAL", Professors blogg, 20 December 2010

Other articles in Professors blogg on the Swedish case against Assange

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