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Carl Bildt: Scandal After Scandal

'Brains'll only get you so far...'

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GUSTAV ADOLFS TORG (Rixstep) — Scandal after scandal. And yet Carl Bildt's survived. One explanation is his ability to stay a step ahead of the media, says researcher Nicklas Håkansson at Gothenburg University.

Lundin Oil and the Saudi weapons factory. But two of the scandals Carl Bildt's been involved in over the years. Carl Bildt's ability to survive can be partly explained by his staying a step ahead of the journalists.

'He uses a number of channels under his control. He was a pioneer in use of social media. He had a newsletter already in the 1990s. I think an important part is his systematic use of Twitter and other media', says Nicklas Håkansson, media researcher at the Institution for Journalism, Media, and Communications at Gothenburg University.

Bildt's Soft News

Carl Bildt controls his presence in traditional media. He often refuses to participate in shows for state radio and television where he knows the questions will be many and difficult; instead he'll turn up later on informal chat shows where he isn't asked much at all, and can instead talk about what he wants to talk about.

'That's what we call soft news - hybrids somewhere between real journalism and entertainment shows such as chat shows. Chat shows give politicians another role and another platform, and they get more control over what goes out', says Håkansson.

Sharp Tweets

Staying a step ahead on Twitter is not always a good thing for a politician - particularly when it comes to foreign policy.

'Twitter chat is often aggravated. The rhetoric's different; it's easy to slip away from official policy', says Håkansson.

Postscript: The Best of Bildt

When the Swedish parliament voted for sanctions against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, Carl Bildt introduced a motion against them, with the motivation that it wasn't tenable 'to claim that one particular form of oppression in one particular country was particularly distasteful'.

When the serial killer 'Laser Man' was still on the loose, prime minister Carl Bildt traveled to the immigrant neighbourhood Rinkeby to try to calm people down, but he had the opposite effect, and his response to their hostility was to tell them to calm down. Bildt's blunder was overshadowed by Birgit Friggebo who tried to get the angry crowd to sing along to 'We Shall Overcome'.

Carl Bildt became a multimillionaire off the US invasion of Iraq, thanks to his seat on the board of directors of Legg Mason who had huge investments in Lockheed Martin, who won contracts for billions on the war. Carl Bildt also worked for the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq where he lobbied for the invasion.

WikiLeaks revealed that Carl Bildt and migration minister (and fellow 'Moderate') Tobias Billström had stressed the importance that former Iraqi informers be kept in Iraq (where their lives were in danger) and this because their situation would supposedly become 'untenable' in Sweden. Bildt and Billström said that many Iraqis who come to Sweden are poor, lack education, and have difficulty assimilating into Swedish society.

Sweden held the chair in the Artic Council, Carl Bildt held the gavel, and he gave his friends at Lundin, through the subsidiary Lundin Norway A/S, the green light to drill for oil in the polar cap. At least until 2006 Carl Bildt was active in the Lundin parent company Lundin Petroleum, accused of genocide and overexploitation in Africa.

Carl Bildt decided to visit Sarajevo for the 20 year anniversary of the siege, something that caused a strong reaction with the locals who'd declared him persona non grata. For not everyone was impressed with his skills as a peacemaker. Bildt was accused of being too compliant and slow to deal with Milošević.

A social democrat government signed an agreement to build a weapons factory in Saudi Arabia. The agreement was carried out by Bildt's new government. Minister for defence Sten Tolgfors was forced to resign, but Carl Bildt somehow again survived.

Carl Bildt is thought to be the puppet master at the Swedish end responsible for the diplomatic standoff with Sweden, Assange, and Ecuador.

Brains'll only get you so far and luck always runs out.
 - Hal Slocumb

See Also
Rixstep Special Report: Our Man Bildt
Rixstep Special Report: The Bildt Files

Industry Watch: Carl Bildt Runs Own Race

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