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Sweden: The End of the Innocence
Offer up your best defence.
STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) — All countries have their dirty little secrets. Sweden's no exception.
Sweden has proudly brandished her neutrality for hundreds of years. This proved a bit difficult in World War II. The Nazis weren't interested in conquering Sweden but they did exact a thing or two in exchange for sovereignty. Herman Göring had been married to a Swedish woman; that might be one reason the topic never came up in Germany.
But the Nazis wanted Norway, and although they'd already taken Denmark, there was only one practical way to proceed: through Sweden. So they asked permission of the Swedes. And got it.
The Nazis also wanted to help Mannerheim on the front against the Soviet Union, and again there was only one practical way to move troops to Finland: through Sweden. So they asked permission of the Swedes. And got it.
One thing they've never been able to live down is turning back a boat of Jewish refugees. The work of Raoul Wallenberg remains legendary, but the Swedish government sending people to concentration camps...
All Together Now
The government of prime minister Per Albin Hansson established the concept of the folkhemmet - the people's home. All Swedes lived together. Classes wouldn't separate them. They all shared in the wealth and responsibilities.
And so it went for fifty years. Through the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s and the war years, the 1950s and the reconstruction and the birth of the modern welfare state, the 1960s with their protests and their free love, and the 1970s with ABBA - and a general cooling process had begun.
Sweden had always been a thorn in the side of the US. Whether it was their president Eisenhower screaming bloody murder because the Swedes had sex education in their schools, or prime minister prospect Olof Palme featured in the banned 'I Am Curious' movies, or the newly elected prime minister Olof Palme giving them grief for their wars of aggression, or whatever:
Sweden represented a 'middle of the road' option between communism and the capitalism of the US. And the Swedish system actually worked - and that's probably what irked the war hawks in the US the most.
The US had rampant social injustice; Sweden had none. The US had widespread poverty; Sweden had none. And so forth. It's really hard hyping your country as having the best system in the world when other countries keep showing you up.
The Republican Party in the US were particularly irked by Sweden, and in the 1980s they began using their international arm to try to influence things for the worse. A notable name would soon emerge in this effort: Carl 'Turd Blossom' Rove.
Rove is today an official adviser to the Swedish conservative party. The GOP arm also coached Sweden's current conservative prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt - considered especially conservative - back in the days when he was still vying for leadership of the conservative party. The GOP helped him land the slot.
Sweden's Loch Ness Monster
But perhaps the single most pivotal matter in the 1980s was how the US began spooking the archipelago of Sweden with tiny one-man submarines - and making it look like it was the Soviets.
The tabloids were awash with full page photos claiming to depict the critters. Matters weren't helped when a bona fide Soviet submarine washed up on the shore in Karlskrona. But the other submarines were all US frat boy: they were trying to make the Swedish citizenry paranoid about the Soviet Union so they could shift politics to the right. And it worked.
Olof Palme lost the national election in the middle of the 1970s. A tax auditor had barged into a dress rehearsal at the Royal Dramatic Theatre and taken famous director Ingemar Bergman back to his office. The auditor didn't like the way Bergman had done his tax returns, and decreed that Bergman would have to pay more than 100% in taxes for a while.
Swedes went through the roof. One in particular went through harder than the rest: famous Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgren, herself a lifelong social democrat.
Lindgren contracted with the 'other side' - with the liberal tabloid Expressen - to have a front page series she dubbed 'Pomperiposa from Monismania'. This was a fable of innocent little Pomperiposa who couldn't understand how the kingdom of Monismania could tax people for more money than they earned.
Astrid Lindgren felled the social democratic government of Olof Palme and ended a fifty year hegemony in the 'oblong land'. Although Palme was to return to power, things were never quite the same. And the GOP and Rove were working hard.
Obama's Secret Wars
By Christopher Holmbäck. Published 2012-01-04.
Iraq has been liberated from tyranny and terrorism and is now ready for freedom and democracy. That's why the last US soldier now leaves Iraqi soil. That's Barack Obama's version, and it's important. Not only because he wants to be reelected in November 2012, but also because he needs to restore the image of the US as a liberator, not an occupier.
But for Barack Obama Iraq is still a war zone where the US is to defend their interests: limit Iran's influence on Iraqi politics and safeguard the business interests of US corporations when Iraq's oil makes the country's growth go ballistic.
'The security role the department of state assume when US troops withdraw is unparalleled', according to a document from the US department of state. The US embassy in Baghdad, the world's biggest, is spread out amongst twenty-some buildings over an area bigger than the Old Town in Stockholm. 16,000 people will work there next year (six times what Sweden has in her entire department of state). Over 5,000 of those 16,000 are mercenaries from private companies who are there to defend the embassy and US transports.
'The reputation of superpowers depends on their power not being out in the open, and they're smart enough to not flash themselves too often', writes journalist Patrick Cockburn for the Independent. The cloddy and failed occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have, according to Cockburn, seriously damaged the prestige of the US as a superpower.
A new strategy is needed.
Iraq won't be quit the US in 2012, but the new year marks the transition from Bush's occupations to Obama's more secretive, more flexible, and more extensive war of execution.
Barack Obama put an end to the CIA system of secret prisons. He has 'suspected terrorists' executed instead. The killing is carried out beyond any possible democratic control. The CIA under Obama has been transformed from an intelligence agency into a military execution force.
Twice a week they carry out unmanned drone attacks primarily in Pakistan, and are establishing further drone bases in the middle east and in Africa (where the US long promised to not build new military bases). According to the small puzzle pieces journalists have dug up, at least 1,500 people have been murdered in drone attacks since Barack Obama took over the Oval Office. At least as many again have been murdered by mercenaries and special units in ground operations run by the CIA.
Almost all important information about the global wars of the US is inaccessible, writes Glenn Greenwald, one of the foremost analysts of the war on terror in the US. 'Whistleblowers are one of a very few possibilities we have left to find out what our government is up to.' And it's for that reason, says Greenwald, that Obama is persecuting whistleblowers with such furore, this despite his praising them in 2009 when he moved into the White House. 'Such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled.'
Bradley Manning, the soldier suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, is one of the ones Obama wants to lock away forever. Manning is being prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act, a law from 1917 that the Obama administration is citing in five ongoing cases. According to the New Yorker, those five are more than all presidents before Obama combined.
After nearly three years in power, it's clear Barack Obama's strategy is to hush things up rather than spread information and to murder suspected enemies rather than capture them. The war of the US for global hegemony is an outright attack on the boundaries seen historically as fundamental for democracy. Spies, mercenaries, embassy officials, secret elite units, local militias trained by the US - it all gets mixed together and makes it impossible to get answers to the basic questions Where? Who? Why? We only know that Somalians and Yemeni are being executed, and that the growing elite military units of the US operate today in nearly 100 countries.
And this is only the beginning.
The drones, surveillance technologies, and robots currently used by the shadow forces of the US are Stone Age compared to the weapons that will roll out onto the battlefields in 5, 10, 20 years.
There are drones flying over Afghanistan today that can monitor entire cities. Drone manufacturers and politicians around the world are talking about equipping drones run by local constabularies with 'nonlethal' systems like electrical shock weapons, to secure the peace in both London and Baghdad.
The US military are at the same time experimenting with unmanned swarms of submarines who can decide themselves who they want to attack.
Soon the US will be able to keep an eye on every threatening mountain village and if they so wish, 'erase' the villages with the push of a button from the head office. To make it clear that this will soon be reality, US secretary of defence Robert Gates said that 'the air force will make a considerable investment in a new long distance bomber with nuclear capabilities that can be run by remote control'.
Offer up your best defence but this is the end of the innocence.
- Don Henley
Sweden: The End of the Neutrality