Norway double-dealed about missile shield / News / The Foreigner

Norway double-dealed about missile shield. The Norwegian Government allegedly played both sides in the missile defense issue. It publicly stated opposition, while accepting the policy under the auspices of NATO. The US exerted tremendous pressure upon the Government. In its campaign to gain support for creating a missile shield against any possible attack on allies, it reached not only their embassies in Oslo, but also political figures, journalists, and “think tank researchers”, according to the latest WikiLeaks document publications by Aftenposten.  “[…] we are pressing interlocutors within and without the GON (Government of Norway) to a minimum counter Russian misstatements and distinguish Norway’s position from Russia’s to avoid damaging alliance solidarity,” former US Ambassador to Oslo Benson Whitney noted as early as March 2007.

wikileaks, europeanmissiledefencesystem, jonasgahrstoere, espenbarth-eide, bensonwhitney, ivodaalder, anne-gretestroem-erichsen, raymondjohansen, usembassyoslo



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Norway double-dealed about missile shield

Published on Thursday, 6th January, 2011 at 01:12 under the news category, by Ramona Tancau.
Last Updated on 26th January 2011 at 21:40.

The Norwegian Government allegedly played both sides in the missile defense issue. It publicly stated opposition, while accepting the policy under the auspices of NATO.

Missile Defense Agency test (illus. ph.)
Missile Defense Agency test (illus. ph.)
Photo: U.S. Navy photo/Wikimedia Commons


Influence and succeed

The US exerted tremendous pressure upon the Government. In its campaign to gain support for creating a missile shield against any possible attack on allies, it reached not only their embassies in Oslo, but also political figures, journalists, and “think tank researchers”, according to the latest WikiLeaks document publications by Aftenposten.

 “[…] we are pressing interlocutors within and without the GON (Government of Norway) to a minimum counter Russian misstatements and distinguish Norway’s position from Russia’s to avoid damaging alliance solidarity,” former US Ambassador to Oslo Benson Whitney noted as early as March 2007.

Despite committing itself to abandoning plans for a missile defense strategy in its cross-party political platform declaration, “Soria Moria”,in 2005, Norway’s Red-Green Coalition began warming to the idea of it just two years later.

 “A shift of the broader public opinion is deemed not immediately likely but influencing political elites is within reach,” wrote Mr. Whitney.

Winds of change

In another note, he mentioned that visits to Norway from then US Secretary Condoleezza Rice in April 2007, as well as one in June by US Missile Defense Agency leader Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering, had a positive influence. He argued these gradually altered the course of Norwegian representatives’ approach towards the missile defense plan, as well as their response to Russian claims.

“[These have] helped move the governmental and public debate over missile defense in Norway in a positive direction…both government and media commentaries show a better understanding of the U.S.,s missile defense plans and a willingness to counter Russia’s false narratives on this topic.”

The former US Ambassador to Oslo also acknowledged, however, that Soria Moria was the number one impediment against getting the Norwegian Government to accept the missile shield, and that American pressure could only result in double-dealing by Norwegian representatives.

“The best result we can expect is for Norway to quietly continue work in NATO on missile defense and to publicly criticize Russia for provocative statements,” Mr. Whitney wrote in the June cable.

Less than one year later, the picture l began to look even rosier for the Americans. Former Norwegian Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen was the only representative to publicly-voice opposition to a missile shield at the 2008 NATO meeting in Vilnius.

She told the media that, “Norway doubts the need for missile defense and believes it could lead to an arms race,” according to another cable dated February 2008.

After this statement, Ambassador Whitney and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raymond Johansen had a meeting, in which Mr. Johansen highlighted that bilateral agreements on missile defense with Poland and the Czech Republic enabling defense for all allies would determine a change in Norwegian politics.

In addition, Mr Whitney noted that the defense spokesman for third coalition member the Centre Party (Sp) stressed the need for the Soria Moria statements to “adjust to current realities” concerning missile defense.

Divided, but conquered?

In August 2008, US NATO Ambassador Kurt Volkers met Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Deputy Defense Minister Barth Eide. Whilst Minister Støre showed skepticism towards the need for a missile defense shield in Norway, Mr. Eide had a divergent opinion

Mr. Eide explained that the missile “skepticism was largely for domestic reasons and that after the conclusion of agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland this would not be as contentious,” noted Mr. Whitney.

Full Norwegian governmental consensus about the missile defense system was only reached when Barack Obama assumed his Presidency of the United States in 2009, however.

At a meeting with US NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalders in August the same year, Minister Støre announced a shift in policy, saying the Norwegian government “would welcome a new U.S. Missile Defense strategy that emphasized a multilateral approach.”



Published on Thursday, 6th January, 2011 at 01:12 under the news category, by Ramona Tancau.
Last updated on 26th January 2011 at 21:40.

This post has the following tags: wikileaks, europeanmissiledefencesystem, jonasgahrstoere, espenbarth-eide, bensonwhitney, ivodaalder, anne-gretestroem-erichsen, raymondjohansen, usembassyoslo.





  
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