While the Middle East is seething with anger, and the smoke is still rising from the burned-out Norwegian embassy in Damascus, Syria, Norway is sending a fresh squadron of F-16 fighters to the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. This clear-cut provocation against the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia is conducted amidst a flow of official statements stressing that «provocations should be avoided».
With «regret and understanding» it is acknowledged that Moslems feel provoked by the confrontational cartoons symbolising Mohammed the prophet, first printed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten and later in the Norwegian Christian journal Magazinet. Simultaneously, the Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary make it clear as crystal that «violence or threats are unacceptable»; so they choose to emphasize their point by sending four fighter-bombers to the very middle of the Moslem world!
They could not have picked a worse moment. Furious demonstrators in Kabul and other places in Afghanistan are demanding the withdrawal of Danish and Norwegian troops, and are attacking the ISAF force. This is just the prelude of what might occur, unless the government dares defy NATO and the USA and orders the troops back home without delay. That would be a token of respect towards other peoples and towards the Norwegian public. But the government appears instead to be attempting to impose the «respect» of the gun barrel, on NATO's orders.
The consequences are unpredictable.
This Norwegian double-dealing is part of the pay-off to NATO and the USA, compensating for Norwegian troops that have been withdrawn from Iraq and the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. His Master's Voice insisted that the red-green government must assign new troops and increase its military contribution to the NATO-led ISAF force. The Norwegian fighters will now only assist OEF «when need arises».
So much for the «radical» new government?
Get the troops out!
This a strongly abbreviated and somewhat edited version of the original article in Norwegian.