Monday, January 16, 2017

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of... Norway?

You read that right - the United States Marines have just landed in the historic city of Trondheim, the former capital during the wild and crazy Viking era.

photo credit, Ned Alley, NTB Norway

For the first time since Hitler assaulted much of Europe in World War II, the American military is setting up a "rotational" base in the Scandinavian nation as a sign of chest-thumping strength against an allegedly threatening Russia. Not even during the Communist era of Cold War expansionism did Norway, always a fiercely independent social democratic country, ever invite any foreign military power to help it defend itself against a potential enemy. As a matter of fact, the Norwegian government signed an agreement with the Soviet Union immediately after World War II promising, after it joined NATO, that it would never allow foreign troops to be permanently stationed on its own soil.

 The Marine contingent of some 300 troops flew in on Monday from comparatively steamy Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, and will learn how to shoot guns on skis, among other sporty winter war games.

The New York Times reports that regular Norwegian citizens, while a bit nonplussed at the sight of Marines in jungle camouflage trudging through the January snow, are more than a little paranoid these days. First, there was the annexation of Crimea and the unrest in Eastern Ukraine. And everybody's been glued to a wildly popular Norwegian TV series called Okkupert, a dystopian futuristic political thriller in which the country is occupied by Russia. Very coincidentally, there have also been imaginary sightings of  Russian submarines off the western coast, their periscopes popping up from the frigid waves like slimy Loch Ness Monsters.

  And then came the ultimate fright: the election in the United States of Donald J. Trump. Propaganda depicting him as a Kremlin stooge apparently travels very fast, and very far, apparently respecting no national paranoid boundaries.

As per usual, whenever militarism and authoritarianism rear their ugly heads, it's been the lefties who are putting up the biggest stink about the Marine okkupation. From the Times:
Morten Harper, a leftist member of the local assembly that governs the area housing the military base, said the Marines’ arrival was ensnaring Norway into the United States’ “power struggle” with Russia.
“We see an ever more tense foreign policy situation,” he said. “If there ever was to be a major conflict between the great powers in the future, this makes us a more likely bomb target.”
Norway's defense minister soothed critics by promising that the Marines are only there for a trial period of six months and can be asked to leave at any time in what she termed an "open-ended" agreement. Now, where have we heard that reassuring story before?

Although  plans for the Norwegian deployment have apparently been underway "for some time," according to the 350-year-old regional newspaper Adresievessen, the transformation of the Norwegian Home Guards into an American Marine base was never even presented to the local citizens for informational purposes, let alone considered a matter for public debate. Many people were thus reportedly taken aback by the sight of 300 heavily armed soldiers struggling through the snow, dragging their suitcases. Some of them were still dressed in lightweight fatigues highly unsuitable, to say the least, for the harsh weather conditions of this sub-Arctic region in January. Talk about a new cold war!

Still, the local newspaper editorialized that while "it's frightening that Trump will be the boss of these soldiers," residents should rest assured that a few hundred Marines aren't tantamount to the beginning of World War III.

Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, according to RT, was similarly nonchalant. "We've been going to Norway for 25 years," he groused. "So I don't really know what all the hype is all about."

He's undoubtedly right: the hype is a little late. As reported by the Norway Local, the US military already has completed the digging of deep tunnels into the Norway mountains for the storage of its tanks and other armaments. The American incursion has been an open secret.

Meanwhile, American media are not reporting on protests against the US military by Norwegian citizens. According to one local newspaper, residents were confronting the Marines directly, handing out fliers "to say a definite no" to what they consider a stealth occupation. (this article is available in English via Google translator.)
"I do not want our children and grandchildren to grow up with the same fear and the threat of bombs and war, we have lived with," said peace activist Jens Frøseth.

Foto: Håvard Haugseth Jensen

None of the scanty news reports I've seen about Monday's Marine landing mentions that there are vast deposits of oil lurking beneath the icy Barents Sea, with some estimates amounting to fully one-third of the earth's remaining reserves. And the country's Arctic territory is warming up at an ever-quickening pace, becoming ever more accessible to plunder and predation. Norway already is the eighth largest crude oil exporter in the world. So somebody's got to protect the multinational oil cartel which doesn't/mustn't/shouldn't include Russia. Right?

As a matter of fact, only the plot of the TV series Okkupert (I believe it's available for streaming in the US) revolves around oil. But in a twist, the Russians have joined forces with the European Union to invade Norway, a non-EU country, and the (Trumpian) United States has withdrawn from NATO. And wouldn't you just know it, the leftist Norwegian Green Party is kind of the bad guy in the story, having just come to power and stopped the production of oil, enraging the whole gas-guzzling world. The propaganda stage would thus seem to have been set for the true-life Marines by the magic of make-believe. Isn't it always the way?

So as ever, whenever you have questions about what the Military-Industrial Complex is up to any given day, in any given location, simply follow the money. Skål, and Ka-Ching!

Friendly USMC Publicity Photo Furnished to the Local Norwegian Newspaper


annenigma said...

This must be part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, reported last week in the foreign press.

'Biggest Shipment of American Tanks Since the Cold War Lands in Germany - Howitzers and Fighting Vehicles Will be Joined by Thousands of Infantry Troopers'

"Scores of tanks were among hundreds of US vehicles have arrived in Germany as part of the biggest transfer of American armour to the region since the fall of the Soviet Union."

"The deployment marks the start of a new phase of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which foresees the continuous presence of an American armoured brigade combat team in Europe on a nine-month rotational basis."

"They will eventually be moved into Eastern Europe where they will bolster a Nato operation to deter Russian aggression."

RUSSIAN aggression?

Jay–Ottawa said...

With good reason, the US is sick and tired of asymmetrical wars. We keep loosing them against amateurs, which raises eyebrows. Look at how it turned out in Vietnam and, lately, the Middle East. Buddhists and Muslims refuse to play by the Christian rules of the just war. Better get back to the game we are good at. It's like tennis, in a way. Some players excel on clay, others grass; so they pick and choose which tournaments to attend to win more trophies.

Think WWI, WWII and the Cold War. Uncle Sam was so much better fighting a conventional war on the broad plains of Europe against forces that were pretty much tutored by the same manuals. The US is good at that kind of war and made a clean sweep of it. As a result, the US has been recognized for decades as the most powerful European (sic) state, with bases all over the Continent, a kind of mother hen under whose wings the chicks of the UK, Germany, France, etc. are sheltered.

Norway is a member of NATO––just about every country that isn't in Putin's pocket now belongs to NATO. Military exchanges are the norm in such clubs. There are probably more Norwegian officers and military technicians on US soil right now than there are US marines in Norway. You'll find them in the various military schools and specialized bases in our beloved Homeland. It's the military's version of exchange students.

Norway shares a border with Russia, just like Sarah Palin on her front porch. Norway is an important link in the tightening necklace around Mother Russia. The other links: Ukraine (still in flux), Poland and the Baltic states, the latter hosting big maneuvers and somewhat permanent bases for American and other NATO troops. This annoys Putin, which is exactly what Obama's team wants to do.

The talk of nuclear confrontation with Russia is exaggerated. Putin and his military have put it out that if ever they are backed to the wall and about to lose a ground war in Europe, they will fall back on tactical (smaller) nuclear weapons to wipe out the armies pushing them around in the old-fashioned way. Such weapons are already being deployed to Russian front lines, which are massing along the border, according to some reports. So, not to worry. After all, small nuclear weapons restricted to the battlefield are not hydrogen bombs detonating over our big cities. No need to dust off lesson plans teaching school children how to duck and cover.

Trump, thanks be, is not another Obama (big nukes advocate) who was open to confrontations everywhere around the globe. Trump appears ready to strike a more pacific deal with Putin, which is all to the good. And, if we must have war, better it be limited to one front in the Pacific with China and North Korea. The US navy has earned a pretty good score at managing the Pacific Basin going back to Commodore Matthew Perry. And the Far East is far, far away from my home on the eastern side of the North American continent.

In summary, my advice to almost-president Donald Trump: get out of the Middle East completely, back off with NATO in Europe, but, if we must, let's finish Obama's pivot to the Far East in style. While they are still around, my best wishes to California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.