Denmark and the “War on Terrorism”

Part 2: Denmark, Decency, and Decay

Read Part 1.

2001

The war on terror was initiated after 9/11 – Afghanistan 10/7. Denmark went along without thinking. The idea came from Washington, so what was there to think about?

At the time about 400 people were killed in international terrorism per year; today the Global Terror Index informs us that 32.000 people are killed in terrorism. It must be the stupidest war in modern time and the majority of the victims are found in the Middle East, not in Europe and not in the US.

But we bomb – and create more terrorism. And more refugees. Politics having become anti-intellectual and devoid of ethical considerations, few connect the dots. Fewer see Denmark’s own co-responsibility for causing the problems and even fewer see the moral responsibility of taking care. No, steal their belongings.

Iraq

It was prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen of the liberal Party, Venstre (meaning left but it’s neo-liberal right) whose government made Denmark an occupying power in Iraq over four years (2003-2007). By any standards the most serious foreign policy blunder of Danish foreign policy since 1945.

Asked recently on Danish television how he felt about the tragic situation in today’s Iraq he answered that – well, we stretched out our hand to the Iraqi people but unfortunately they didn’t take it.

No remorse there, Mr. Always Right. But quite a statement when you are a non-convicted war criminal having joined a project that killed about 1 million Iraqis during war, occupation and 13 years of sanction. The Danish politicians and people are still, it seems, unable or unwilling to understand the dimensions of this blunder – which is one reason they also don’t understand today what it means to be a refugee.

Mohammed caricatures

It was under his leadership – or lack if it – the Mohammed caricatures became a diplomatic disaster. He refused to meet with Muslim leaders in Denmark and also ignored a letter of concern from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the global voice of Muslims with 57 member states and 1,6 billion people.

Probably no one in the PM’s and foreign minister’s office had a clue what the OIC was.

But he did know who Muammar Gaddafi was when later, rewarded for his good deeds by the US and catapulted to S-G of NATO, he spearheaded the coalition member states’ violation of the very limited UN mandate, their destruction of that country and the killing of Gaddafi.

A social democratic prime minister re-invents rogue Denmark

Former female prime minister, Helle Thorning Schmidt – at the time leader of the social democratic party – will be remembered for bringing Denmark into Iraq for a second time, a decision to bomb taken in less than 24 hours after Washington’s call on September 24, 2014.

She will also be remembered for three other foreign policy-related blunders:

1) Supporting without any limitations the freedom of expression after Charlie Hebdo and saying that in Denmark we shall be able to speak and write and make the any drawing we want – while Danish police arrested youngsters who had used politically incorrect words on their Facebook pages.

2) She defined a socially marginalised young Muslim’s killing of two individuals in Copenhagen in early 2015 as terrorism without the slightest evidence. 

These two tragic events brought the official Denmark to the verge of hysteria with a memorial event in a park in Copenhagen – led by the royal house, the government and military plus 40.000 Danes where a song written against the German occupation (!) was sung followed, pathetically, by Lennon’s “Imagine” …

3) Thorning Schmidt committed herself and Denmark to follow the US/Denmark to also bomb in Syria – a plan only prevented by Putin’s intervention and the chemical disarmament agreement with Syria.

The extreme populist People’s Party has been shaping and promoting these trends for decades with a manifest xenophobic profile that spoke, at least originally to the petty bourgeoisie.

Whatever there once was of a the genuine social democratic party and a liberal party, of socialism and liberalism, has been buried long ago. The extreme right has become mainstream – thus time to change party names to fit reality. However the right social democratic party is wrong.

The third re-invention of rogueness

The present liberal party prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s, first foreign policy action was to kill the already established commission for investigating how Denmark under the leadership of his party comrade, Fogh Rasmussen, got involved in the war on Iraq.

The possibility that Mr. Always Right should be proved just a little wrong was a risk not to be taken.

It characterises the decay of democratic politics that elites across the political spectrum have more in common with each other than each has with their voters and constituencies.

The decision to bomb Libya was a milestone in the Nordic countries in that it was the first time ever that all parties, left to right – with one exception – voted for the bombing of Libya. The exception was the far-right, xenophobic Swedish Democrats. The Nordic public opinion against war and for peace – and there are some – no longer has more than a handful of individuals that represent them.

In a TV interview in October 2015 prime minister Løkke Rasmussen advocated safe zones to be established in Syria for refugees. One must assume to keep them away from Europe. In his view these zones should be protected from the air by combat aircraft – deliberately omitting any mention of UN peacekeepers.

This is an indication as good as any that he has no knowledge about such matters and no advisers either. Such an arrangement would create more than one Srebrenica in a war environment such as Syria which is worse by any standards than Bosnia where there were at least some UN troops at the time.

The underlying racism embedded in the idea of gathering citizens of a country in camps because you think it is necessary to destroy their country and culture – a kind of warfare Bantustans – speak of the Zeitgeist of a Denmark inside a Western world that is in moral free fall. Decaying.

Mr. Løkke Rasmussen further maintained more than once that he could not imagine Danish boots on the ground. But that was October last year.

It took only to January 2016 when it was revealed that his government now intends to send special forces to Syria. And rest assured: before long Denmark will again be at war in a foreign country in full violation of international law and UN norms.

Jan Oberg is a peace researcher, art photographer, and Director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) where this article first appeared. Reach him at: oberg@transnational.org. Read other articles by Jan.