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NATO Chief Unfit To Quote?

A vigil marks the death of those killed in the Paris attacks, including police officer Ahmed Merabet.  (Photo: Christian Bille/flickr/cc)

It tells you something about what’s laughingly called the public debate, when the most dovish voice on the questions of terrorism and war comes from a leader of the military industrial complex.

Jens Stoltenberg is secretary general of NATO. He hasn’t appeared in the US media in connection with the attacks in France, but he was there in Paris for the unity rally this month, and he was interviewed on the BBC soon after that.

To the BBC World Service he could be heard saying radical things like individual people should be held responsible for criminal acts, not groups.

Stoltenberg knows whereof he speaks. He was Prime Minister of Norway in 2011 when madman Anders Breivik killed 77 mostly teenagers in the deadliest attack in that country since World War II. Instead of acting “tough” and calling for new powers to wage war, Stoltenberg at that time, called on Norwegians to quote: "counter blind hate with argument and education” .  His words from then got a new life on social media this January.

On the BBC speaking about the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market, the NATO chief said crazy dove-ish things, like,  “we have to distinguish between open debates and acts of violence."

 He even implied there was a role for courts. “Criminal acts have to be prosecuted with means of police and bringing those responsible to justice…”

Clearly he didn’t get the memo about assassination drones.

When UN human rights chief Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, declined to call 9-11 an act of war, and suggested we capture and prosecute instead of summarily execute those responsible,  she lost her post and her voice in the US media almost at once.

That's what I thought would happen to Stoltenberg.  There's just no visible place for controversial views like these in the great free press we keep hearing about.

Luckily for Stoltenberg, there is one way back into the US media’s good graces . Soon after the Paris unity rally, the new NATO chief  announced NATO’s latest high-ticket boondoggle - an “ultra-rapid-reaction force, “ called “spearhead” and in  speech in Berlin he  stressed the need for members of the US-led alliance to bump up investments in security forces austerity be damned. You need to invest more, amid challenges such as jihadist group Islamic State or the Ukraine crisis he said. You  could almost hear the military contractors salivate.

That did it.  Within days, I could find half a dozen stories quoting the NATO Chief talking about that.

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Laura Flanders

Best-selling author and broadcaster Laura Flanders hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people about the key questions of our time.  The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at or via Twitter @GRITlaura

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