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The Last Years of Bildt?
Covering a career from 2010 and forward.
The past four years have been rough on Swedish MFA Carl Bildt.
2010: WikiLeaks broke globally on 5 April with the release of the shocking Collateral Murder video.
Soon afterwards rumours started spreading that WikiLeaks also had a trove of US embassy dispatches. This is likely when Sweden's MFA Carl Bildt started losing sleep.
The cables that were to finally expose Carl Bildt were not in the release of 28 November that same year, but Carl Bildt couldn't know that. Those cables turned up first in the Kissinger Cables, part of the WikiLeaks PlusD project, released a great time later. But again: Carl Bildt had no way of knowing. All Carl Bildt knew was that his secret dealings with the US and the CIA might finally see the light of day.
WikiLeaks caused another sensation on 25 July 2010 with the release of the Afghan War Diaries, a tranche of some 75,000 documents from the US invasion of Afghanistan. Guardian editor David Leigh procured a copy of Cablegate around that time.
The FBI came to Wales to 'observe' how British authorities visited Manning's mother's home; Julian found it prudent to at least temporarily leave the United Kingdom. He decided to arrange to speak at a small conference in Stockholm. Which is when things started to get a bit strange. (The rest of this part of the tale can be found at Assange in Sweden and Sweden vs Assange.)
The late Michael Hastings conducted an interview with Julian Assange for Rolling Stone in December 2011; the interview was published on 2 February 2012, and it immediately brought about further headaches for Carl Bildt.
'It's a few days before Christmas, and Julian Assange has just finished moving to a new hide-out deep in the English countryside', began Hastings. Then Julian dropped the bomb:
'The Swedish foreign minister responsible for extradition, Carl Bildt, became a US embassy informant in 1973 when he was 24 years old.'
'He shipped his personal effects to Washington, to lead a conservative leadership program, where he met Karl Rove. They became old friends and would go to conferences together and so on.'
Hastings doesn't comment on the spying aspect but instead asks:
'Karl Rove? How do you know this?'
And Julian's straightforward reply:
The Kissinger or PlusD ('Public Library of US Diplomacy') files, released 7 April 2013, weren't a leak per se, but were originally not in a web-friendly format, tossed together in a 'VTOC' type mess of 1.7 million PDFs. The risk was the Obama administration would reclassify them and all that history would be lost. The task of the PlusD team was therefore to get those dusty old digital artifacts and put them in the format available today.
A good guess is that this process took up to two years or more to complete, so it's reasonable to assume Julian Assange had already seen many of the more interesting documents by December 2011, in time for the Rolling Stone interview.
The documents later showed that Assange was fully accurate.
Carl Bildt heard about the Rolling Stone interview, for shortly after the turn of the year, he and the tabloid Expressen began a coordinated smear campaign against WikiLeaks and Assange.
The accusations were marvelously hysterical. WikiLeaks had secret agents on the ground in Sweden, ready to spring to action should Assange be returned to the country; the editor-in-chief of Expressen was being spied on; and so forth.
Perhaps this piece helped make the Expressen editor paranoid:
There's a lot more to that story than fit into that article, such as unusable comments by the witnesses about how rude and obnoxious Mattsson was. There's also the story about how certain mailboxes were raided in search of further info. But none of this has to do with WikiLeaks or agents or spies, only ordinary Swedes who were a bit appalled at Mattsson's public display.
Be that as it may: Bildt had use for his contacts at Expressen (most notably convicted criminal Niklas Svensson) to launch a full-scale attack.
This clip, provided by Expressen, is entitled 'Carl Bildt goes on the attack against WikiLeaks'. There's not much attack there, mostly sweaty nervous replies by Bildt to questions about Bildt, not WikiLeaks, not so much as regards previous statements by Assange or WikiLeaks, but instead about the data found in the Stratfor files released by WikiLeaks the day before.
Several more articles about Carl Bildt and WikiLeaks followed, but Julian Assange must have understood by this point that Carl Bildt had been desperate all along. Bildt had every reason to be.
The Ultimate Betrayal
Betrayal is considered the ultimate crime by some; Carl Bildt's betrayal in 1976, an act that would help propel him into recognition by the CIA and the US government, is an ultimate act of betrayal. Seeking no further benefit or 'good' other than ingratiating himself to his favoured masters, Bildt visited the US embassy in Stockholm to give the CIA information that no one else had - and thereby betrayed his boss and father-in-law, his political associates, the Swedish citizenry, and his country.
A few sentences about the background to this affair.
Olof Palme's social democrats had held onto power for over 40 years, this with elections mostly coming every three years. They made coalitions from time to time with other parties, but they ruled, and this rule was responsible for the economic sensation the country represented, Sweden often placing at or near the top of 'standard of living' surveys.
But three things happened in the months before the 1976 elections.
- Ingemar Bergman was yanked out of a dress rehearsal to answer questions about his tax returns;
- Pippi Longstocking creator Astrid Lindgren found herself taxed over 100%; and
- People were in general growing increasingly sceptical of nuclear energy.
Shirley MacLaine and Olof Palme went through the first two points in a televised interview on 3 May 1977, a bit too late to help in the elections. Shirley - as many in Hollywood at the time - was a big fan (and friend) of Olof Palme, and the controversies were of course troublesome for Palme.
But it was environmental concerns about nuclear energy that were decisive in what was to come immediately after the 1976 elections. The Centre Party - formerly known as the Farmers Party - had the plurality of votes amongst the proposed coalition members. But their leader Thorbjörn Fälldin had gone to the polls on the promise of ridding the country of nuclear energy.
The Centre Party, the Liberal Party, and the 'Moderates' had the majority, but neither of Fälldin's two coalition partners felt the same about nuclear energy.
Fälldin's mandate and his predicament were clear. No compromises could be allowed on the nuclear energy issue. As for the other two parties, the situation was about the same. And if they couldn't agree - if they couldn't reach a compromise where no one actually compromised - then they couldn't build a government, and the ruling social democrats might continue to rule.
The coming deliberations would of course be held behind closed doors, and Bildt knew it: he was in on the meetings where this was agreed on. Bildt was by now the personal secretary of his future father-in-law, 'Moderate' leader Gösta Bohman. And as GB's personal secretary, and someone who always enjoyed the confidence and trust of his boss, he was privy to everything that no one else in the country knew anything about.
The nation lived through the darkness. No one knew a thing. Not the reporters, not anyone on the street, not the taxi drivers - no one. But there were a few people who actually did know, although no one else knew of it at the time. For Carl Bildt was rushing off to the US embassy and the CIA after work to inform on his country.
The CIA were of course very interested in knowing how things were going in those secret deliberations: they frothed in the mouth at the thought of no longer having the Swedish social democrats on their case for silly things like war crimes and carpet bombing campaigns. Palme enraged them by calling them all sort of names. Now they had a chance to silence one of their most dangerous critics.
But the CIA would have learned soon enough anyway. And what Bildt had to tell them was not of the earth-shattering variety.
Stockholm sent a summary dispatch to Washington on 1 October 1976.
3. CARL BILDT, AIDE TO MODERATE PARTY LEADER GOSTA BOYMAN, CONFIDED TO POLITICAL COUNSELOR AND EUR/NE DEPUTY DIRECTOR WOODS THAT TENTATIVE AGREEMENT HAD BEEN REACHED ON THE NUCLEAR ENERGY ISSUE, AND THAT DISCUSSION HAS TURNED TO SPECIFICS OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT. BILDT SAID HE UNDERSTOOD THAT UNDER COMPROMISE SOLUTION REACHED BY THE THREE LEADERS, TWO NEW NUCLEAR PLANTS (BARSEBACK II AND RINGHALS III) WOULD NOT BE CHARGED AT LEAST UNTIL 1978, DESPITE THE FACT THAT BARSEBACK II IS SCHEDULED TO BE LEADED THIS MONTH. NO NEW PLANTS WOULD BE CONSTRUCTED. IN ADDITION, A ROYAL COMMISSION WOULD BE APPOINTED TO STUDY ALL ASPECTS OF NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS AND WOULD BE CHARGED TO REPORT IN TIME FOR THE 1978 MAJOR DEBATE IN THE RIKSDAG ON ENERGY POLICY. BILDT ADDED THAT THE COALITION WOULD NOT BE ADVERSE TO HOLDING APUBLIC REFERENDUM ON THE ENTIRE QUESTION OF THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR POWER IN SWEDEN AFTER THE INVESTIGATIVE COMMISION SUBMITS ITS REPORT.:
4. BILDT ALSO STATED THERE WILL IN FACT BE A THREE-PARTY GOVERNMENT, ALTHOUGH ALLOCATION OF POSITIONS AND PERCENTAGE OF REPRESENTATION WAS STILL UNDER DISCUSSION. HE STATED THAT NEW GOVERNMENT HAS EVERY CHANCE OF REMAING IN POWER AT LEAST UNTIL 1982 IF THE SOLUTION TO THE NUCLEAR PROBLEM CAN BE RECONCILED WITH THE DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES OF THE COALITION PARTNERS, WHICH HE BELIEVES IS LIKELY IF THE COMPROMISE PLAN IS IMPLEMENTED.
But it's the thought that counts, as the old saying goes. That's important here, and it's from a Swedish perspective; it's that Carl Bildt so wanted to prove himself to his beloved overlords. The purpose of his visit was to show the US he could be counted on as an informer - Carl Bildt turned up at the US embassy because he was applying for a job.
To many Swedes, Carl Bildt committed an act of treason.
Bildt had already been sent through the CIA wringer in conjunction with an IV grant application to visit the US - including the HQ of the SAC - and he knew he had the credentials, he'd been approved. Now Bildt wanted to show his friends that he was the right choice for the jobs they needed done.
Bildt's father-in-law Gösta Bohman passed away in 1997 and so wasn't around for comments, but Thorbjörn Fälldin and Per Ahlmark were around, and they did comment - they were furious. Bildt had betrayed them, betrayed them all.
Back to the Future
But let's return to the summer of 2010 now. There's a stir in the Swedish military when Julian Assange arrives in Stockholm. A kerfuffle at the police station at the central train station in Stockholm causes worldwide shock, but within 12 hours the people running things behind the scenes manage to make it all blow over.
And then something remarkable happens, something that's ongoing to this day.
What highly-respected chief Stockholm prosecutor Eva Finné said was 'not a crime' was suddenly causing a major diplomatic crisis. Sweden's most tainted lawyer comes out of the woodwork, a new prosecutor of uncertain aptitude is brought in, and to make matters smell even fishier, Carl Bildt's office staff are found to have intercepted communications between the government of Ecuador and this new prosecutor, this immediately prior to the announcement of Assange's political asylum.
And Carl Bildt has instructed staff to use Gmail instead of the ministry's mail system, meaning reporters can no longer gain access to 'freedom of information' documents. Considering how thick Bildt is with US intel agencies, it's feasible he knew about NSA surveillance already back then, and so his policy change in effect gave the US direct access to all of Sweden's secrets.
As if this wasn't bad enough, Carl Bildt in effect runs a 'shadow government' of his own on Twitter, proclaiming official Swedish policy left and right in a furious stream of wild tweets, this without consultation with his prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Bildt's mostly unscathed for now. He has WikiLeaks under control. He can lead propaganda wars at will. He can do his best to crush his perceived enemies. He has it all.
But the truth will out, and the truth wins out, as another saying goes. And new Swedish national elections come in September of this year. And the polls are so far not looking good for Bildt and his 'Moderates'. A quick look at Bildt's Twitter timeline is enough to demonstrate that Bildt is an increasingly out-of-control and hated man.
Carl Bildt's made enemies all his life - something not exactly sought after in a foreign minister. Not everyone would agree with Hillary Clinton, but she's still well known and well liked around the globe. Russia's MFA Sergey Lavrov is the epitome of reserve. But Carl Bildt? Carl Bildt makes enemies. And that's very inappropriate (and damaging to foreign relations).
Carl Bildt's enemies include:
- His high school teachers and fellow students. He tried to break a teachers strike and accused his fellow students of unlawful behaviour for supporting the teachers. 'We've been given a directive to be in school!' barked a 17 year old Bildt.
- His fellow university students. In the famous 'Kårhusockupationen' he led an effort trying to sabotage the protest.
- His political colleagues when he betrayed them all - and his country - by squealing to the CIA about secret deliberations no one in the country was to know about.
- The parliamentary submarine commission, prime minister Olof Palme, the government of Sweden, and the people of Sweden when in the early 1980s he brazenly and without hesitation took a sealed document - the complete version of the submarine report - straight to his friends at the CIA in Langley, Virginia.
'The 'Moderates' and the foreign office are playing ping-pong. That fucking Bildt: leaking secret info is a criminal act!'
- Olof Palme
- The Russian government, the Swedish parliament, and the Swedish people when, after returning from Langley, he helped start a coordinated campaign to scare everyone in the country and aggravate the Russians through a concocted story about Russian subs in Swedish waters. It was later found out that this was a plot concocted by the very agency Bildt had just been over the pond to visit. This campaign is considered crucial in instilling 'russophobia' in Swedes and moving the country to the political right, straight into the arms of the waiting US.
- Nelson Mandela when, as prime minister, he cut off all aid to Mandela and Mandela's ANC. (The aid was restored as soon as Bildt was voted back out of office.)
- The people of Sudan when he turned a blind eye to the ongoing genocide carried out for the benefit of his business friends in Lundin Oil.
- The Swedish parliamentary investigative committees when he squirmed and wiggled his way out of accusations of complicity in the Sudan genocide.
- His immigration minister Birgit Friggebo when he forbade her to sing 'We Shall Overcome' with a group of distraught foreigners.
- Former political leaders Thorbjörn Fälldin and Per Ahlmark when they discovered, through WikiLeaks, that he had betrayed their trust by leaking confidential info to the CIA.
- His first wife Mia Bohman when she found out he'd betrayed her father.
- The people of the former Yugoslavia. He completely let them down in his role to mediate peace, and then had the gall to return on the 20 year anniversary, something that didn't go down well with anyone.
- The people of Iraq when he ran a campaign for the 2003 US invasion, something that made him a multimillionaire.
- Privacy advocates worldwide when he again ran his 'Stockholm Internet Forum' and refused to invite the key people, prompting Jacob Appelbaum to refer to him as 'Carl Motherfucking Bildt'.
- The people of Europe when he systematically blocked all attempts to investigate the extent of NSA surveillance.
- Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Bildt's bone to pick with the whistleblower organisation is that they have the proof he's been acting as an informer and an agent of influence for a foreign power.
- Russia and the people of the Ukraine when he refused (and continues to refuse) to acknowledge, much less to discuss, the pervasive Nazi elements in the Kiev putsch government, and continues to try to whip up hysteria about that conflict.
Appendix: Bildt & PNAC
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) might be the most dangerous think tank ever conceived. Their website may seem to be gone, but they haven't disbanded - too much daylight forced them to change their name. They're now known instead as 'Foreign Policy Initiative'.
A number of hallmarks of the PNAC.
- The PNAC cofounders are the notorious William Kristol and Victoria Nuland's husband Robert Kagan.
- PNAC believe an all-out nuclear war can be won - they'd like to provoke one to rid the planet of 'enemies'.
- Connections to the US State department are palatable, meaning current US policy is largely in tune with PNAC.
Carl Bildt is a signatory to PNAC publications.
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