War Is Not Peaceful

In the wake of the senseless, monstrous, and completely unjustified attacks that have claimed (so far) over 90 innocent people in Norway, many of them teenagers, there has been a rather disturbing trend in the media’s coverage of the events: to describe Norway as a ‘peaceful country’, or presenting people who express that view unchallenged:

For instance, the Globe and Mail quotes Hillary Clinton in its lead story on Saturday: “This tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people”. And from its Saturday Editorial: “For decades Norway has done far more than its share in spreading goodwill around the world. [...] The world owes a debt of gratitude to Norway.”

Here is also the Toronto Star, in an article trying to determine the cause of the attacks: “If there were a peace capital of the world, it would be Norway.”

Others, including the National Post and the Toronto Sun (not to mention international media), are also equally surprised that anyone could have targeted Norway for any reason. But is this sheer and utter bewilderment at all justified?

Put shortly, no. Norway, as part of NATO, is a country at war—in fact, two wars. First is the war in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, and continue to be killed. Norwegian forces have been directly tied to some of those killings, and, according to Wikileaks, actively tried to cover up reports of civilian deaths. Then there is Libya, and although Norway has stated that it wants to leave the region by August, it doesn’t erase the fact that it has already contributed to over 300 bombs dropped, and, along with other NATO nations, is explicitly targeting the leader of that country, while implicitly (if not outright explicitly) responsible for the deaths of Muammar Gadhafi’s son and grandchildren, as well as other civilian casualties.

Just to be abundantly clear, attacks of wanton destruction, such as the events in Oslo, are always and everywhere unjustifiable. But Norway is at war, and, as Glenn Greenwald put it, “one reason not to invade and attack other countries is because doing so often prompts one’s own country to be attacked.” While at the moment, the only reported suspect in this tragedy seems to have been motivated to act because of discontent with the only the domestic policies of Norway, it that doesn’t detract from the main point here: that Norway is not some ultra-peaceful, antiwar country without any blood on its hands, as has been the overarching narrative of the media.

Regardless of how many ‘Peace’ prizes it hands out, a country at war is in exact opposition to peace.  To call any country at war—let alonetwo wars—‘peaceful’ serves only to destroy any meaning the word had.

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2 Responses to “War Is Not Peaceful”

  1. Mark D Hughes says:

    Excellently stated Ash!

    It always makes me cringe when I hear similar praise heaped on Canada as a country of "peace keepers."
    They tend to forget Canada's Post WW2 (non-peacekeeping) militarism:

    Korea
    First War on Iraq
    Kosovo
    (Somalia – sort of)
    Afghanistan
    Second War on Iraq
    Libya

  2. Ohhh Henry says:

    Not only does Norway participate in NATO wars, but the Norwegian welfare state is a war against the Norwegian people by government. It is not charity or benevolence that leads someone to offer "help" to the public at the point of a gun, but aggression and greed. Norway looks peaceful and uncontroversial because it has a lot of oil revenues which help to build a large welfare state with comparatively lower rates of taxation and borrowing. Nevertheless it is a society which which is founded on and defined by aggression and by its existence the Norwegian state is in a perpetual state of war.

    No matter how good the propaganda and no matter how apparently "generous" the wealth distribution, there will always be individuals and groups which react to the constant, threatened violence of the state with actual violence. In oil-rich Saudi Arabia with its generous welfare state, there is always a simmering hatred and threat of violence over the question of who will control the wealth. Osama Bin Laden was an example of this. Now in Norway there is this political "activist" or whatever you want to call him, who attacked the Labor Party – presumably because he wanted to replace them with a party that would manage the welfare/warfare state in a manner more to his liking. Rather than a direct attack by the government on the people, it was an attack of a would-be member of the government on what he perceived as a rival gang.

    Suppose that instead of the Labor Party meeting on that island, it was a colony of Norwegians who peacefully resisted or seceded from the Norwegian state. Would the Norwegian government have left them alone forever? Of course not. They would have circulated stories that the island was the scene of barbarity and depravity and then attacked the island with soldiers and helicopters, and more than likely would have murdered just as many people. Government is defined by violence and those who seek to govern recognize that if they are unable to convince the people to submit themselves through propaganda or threats, the only recourse is to commit actual violence.

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