It must have been known for quite some time since, about a month ago, the Danish government decided to send a Hercules transport plane with humanitarian aid to Iraq. Most likely, it was a set-up because it was immediately changed into a Hercules transport plane + 55 soldiers to assist the U.S. and the Kurds.
Today’s decision is a violation of the UN Charter – the spirit of the Preamble as well as Article 1 which states that peace shall be established by peaceful means – and, later, only when everything has been tried and found in vain can a military action be decided.
Denmark must now calculate with Danish casualties and, even more worse, with taking responsibility for scores of innocent civilians’ death – something that can’t be avoided when targeting individuals from the air.
The decision documents that Denmark has learnt nothing from the earlier – failed – wars and that it does not have alternative expertise.
The common sense, solidarity and humanity that characterised Denmark, at least to some extent, about 20 years ago is now eradicated and replaced by thoughtless militarism; its only guideline has been and is: Accept willingly and unconditionally what the US does and follow it when it calls upon you to do its dirty job – His Master’s Voice.
If you think I exaggerate: There is not one major policy or decision the last 30-40 years where Denmark has shown the courage to stand up against Washington.
Millions of dollars are allocated to state-financed research institutes, military analysis centres and mainstream thinking that “explains” and legitimizes the policies. (The only peace research institute, COPRI, which was very well evaluated by international scholars was destroyed by the government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen who also made Denmark an occupying power – only to be rewarded with the position of NATO Secretary-General).
It is my judgement that the decision to participate in the war on Iraq was the largest foreign policy blunder in Denmark since 1945.
I wrote ”Predictable Fiasco” (2004) in which the present situation in Iraq was predicted fairly precisely and I presented a 20-point plan on what to do instead of war.
Thus I don’t know how to characterise a decision by a Social Democratic-led government to go to war in Iraq for a second time with as many wrong assumptions as it did in 2003!
PM Helle Thorning Schmidt presented the decision around lunch time today Friday September 26. Each of her arguments and assumptions were dubious, anti-intellectual and constructed to suit the event.
1) She said that this was not a war because ISIS is not a state (!!) – now you know the level of what followed.
But this is war no matter what her spin doctors may have invented. Those who in the thousands will be killed – ISIS people as well as civilians – can’t see it as anything but war. And nothing but military equipment is being used.
2) As mentioned above, the decision violates the UN Charter.
3) Mission creep is already a fact. First, Denmark should send only humanitarian aid, then it changed to military aid and now 7 F16s – the next step is likely to be what is constantly denied and therefore rather safe to predict: Boots on the ground.
4) It will not be a short, limited affair – it could well last for years. ISIS may be relatively small in numbers but could grow fast – there is enough of hatred; it has a lot of funds from Western allies such as Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Bahrein – who are playing a double game. And they have advanced weapons, a lot of it U.S.-produced, stolen from the Iraqis.
5) ISIS is the result of more than 100 years of Western arrogance in the region – wars, deceit, lies and agreements such as Sykes-Picot (1916) and Balfour – imposing of Western values, occupations (foremost Iraq), base-building, stealing of oil and coup d’etats. The list is long!
6) This action as a whole will only have one result: More terrorists. The entire ‘War on Terror’ is wrongly conceived from October 7, 2001. We can’t rid the world of terrorism by killing terrorists and ignoring the underlying causes any more than we can combat criminality by killing criminals.
Eventually there will be a blowback, a boomerang effect.
7) The Danish government now gives ISIS and others a perfect reason for targeting Denmark. It puts the security of the Danish citizens at risk – something that must be seen in relation also to the Muhammad caricatures as well as Denmark’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
While it is the first duty of a government to secure the lives and safety of its people, the Danish government does the opposite. To be loyal with Its Master’s Voice.
Add to this that Obama’s speech about how to combat ISIS was a manifest disappointment with neither strategy nor a vision for the future of the region. It boiled down to the bizarre: We kill people who kill people because it is wrong to kill people! (Deliver back that Nobel Peace prize medal, Mr. President!)
8) Finally, Denmark’s defence, security and foreign policy establishment increasingly looks like a one-party system with very little diversity.
All security research at its Institute for International Studies is financed by – you guessed it! – the Ministry of Defence. Not much research there on peace by peaceful means or alternative defence, peace-making, reconciliation, forgiveness etc.
Since 1975 when Denmark bought F16s a MIMAK has developed – a Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex with a degree of consent that is pathetic for a society that professes to be pluralist, democratic, humanist and open (-minded).
In particular, Denmark has been rewarded with lots of contracts for its booming military industry – and plans to waste at least US$ 5 billion on new fighter planes.
So, next week the Danish Parliament will – probably with one small left-wing party as dissenter – endorse that Denmark goes to war yet again, for a fifth time – only to cash in yet another fiasco (to be denied).
This only goes to show that democracy is forced to give in to militarism – because there is a considerable opinion in Denmark that does not support this and also did not support the four preceding wars.
Like in Norway and Sweden (exception in the latter: the xenophobic Sweden Democrats) those of us believing in international law and who have the idea that peace is better than war have no party anymore that represents our views.
Denmark – a rogue state
The Denmark and the Norden you may think you know is changing and we need a debate about this moral and intellectual defeat under MIMAK in our countries.
But certainly people in the rest of the world who used to look up to Scandinavia should know and tell us what they think.
Rogue states, big and small, is a problem to the whole world. And the sooner they change, the better for all.
Jan Oberg is the founder of Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research.