"Why we fight" lie exposed - Deepdive #9
It is hard to overstate the importance of Wikileaks in documenting the many regime-change wars we have waged since 2001. Their publications have shed light on all aspects of our war-making, from the pre-war hype to the actual conduct of troops in the field, and by doing so Wikileaks has prevented our state/military-compliant media from hiding many ugly truths. For that I am very thankful.
The media attention brought by Wikileaks' publications tends to focus on the US, and quite rightfully so. While this tendency makes sense, it sometimes lets smaller countries escape the spotlight, often quite unrightfully so.
This under-reporting is a problem when a small country proves just as war-hungry as its bigger allies, and contributes significantly to the damage and suffering in the regime-changed country. Such was the case for Norway, my own country, when it attacked Libya in 2011. By looking at the behavior of Norway's government in early 2011 (as documented by Wikileaks) I learned more about the secret diplomatic efforts, and also how readily the most "democratic of nations" will resort to lies and deception when it wants to wage war. I'm making this post to share those lessons.
Starting in March of 2011, one of the most aggressive bombing campaigns in Libya was carried out by Norway. The Norwegian Air Force dropped 607 bombs, or well over 10% of the total for all Nato countries.
when Norway ceased its participation in military operations, the Air Force had  flown about 17% of the sorties to that point
Norwegian aircraft had dropped 588 bombs and carried out 615 of the 6493 NATO missions (not including 19 bombs dropped and 32 missions carried out under operation Odyssey Dawn)
On April 25 2011, Norwegian jets bombed Qaddafi's residence and killed 4 of his relatives, including three grandchildren.
At the time, the Norwegian Government officially stated the bombing was "to save civilian lives", and they stridently denied seeking regime change. This is a critical point, because regime change was not permitted under UN resolution 1973, which authorized the use of force in Libya. Norwegians have generally great faith the UN, so violating the UN resolution would have hurt the government domestically.
Many of us felt the government's claim of "bombing to save lives" was a ridiculous lie and an insult to all intelligent life. We knew the true goal was regime change, but of course we had no hard proof. Today we do, and here it is:
The email is remarkable for several reasons, but primarily for this short statement by a US State Dept official:
Spoke to Wegger. Delivered msg as we discussed including suggestion of no visits for the moment. He was fine with that. Said their msg to Saif has been Q needs to go.
"Wegger" is Mr Wegger Strømmen, Norwegian ambassador to the US in 2011. Wegger was part of a delegation that negotiated with the Libyans at the beginning of the war.
"Saif" is Saif al-Islam, the 2nd son of Qaddafi, who led the Libyan delegation.
"Q" is Qaddafi himself.
After filling in the pronouns, the line reads: The Norwegian message to the Libyan delegation was that Qaddafi needs to go.
With that, the official claim of "not seeking regime change" falls on its face.
The email is especially poignant because it was sent on May 9th 2011. On that same day the Norwegian Foreign Minister went before the Norwegian Parliament and spoke these words:
The UNSC resolution  does not mandate a regime change by external forces. An eventual changing of the regime must come as a result of internal and popular pressure from inside Libya.
"Sikkerhetsrådets mandat omfatter ikke regimeendring påført utenfra. En eventuell endring av styresett og regime må komme som et resultat av internt folkelig press i Libya"
It's a rare, and chilling experience to witness a government lie being exposed to this extent.
- Officially, Norway bombed to save lives, not to effect regime change
- In reality, Norway demanded regime change
They didn't just demand regime change, they were willing to kill for it, in large numbers.
Thank you Wikileaks for documenting a lie - a lie told by our government and repeated by our foreign minister to our own Parliament.
Edit: I should've added that lots of countries told the same story of "just wanting to save lives" when they bombed - so this post should be relevant for many other countries that participated.