Most people are probably completely unaware of the fact that NATO, the biggest military alliance in the world has appointed a new Secretary General. And to be quite honest, considering all the news events that we are bombarded with every single day, it’s not anything extraordinary about the fact that this particular piece of information has failed to make an impact in the news world. Anyway, when the current Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen steps down from this position on October 1, 2014 a new man is waiting in the shadows ready to step forward and assume his role and that man is Jens Stoltenberg former Labour Party MP and ex-prime minister of Norway.
Most people are probably unfamiliar with Mr. Stoltenberg and his political views, many have probably never even heard of him and that’s completely understandable considering that he hails from a relatively small country with a population of just over 5 million people. Those who are curious to find out more about the man can of course do a quick Google search which will point them to the ‘official’ biography on Wikipedia, which is comprehensive, but fails to include several important episodes from Mr. Stoltenberg’s long political career. It also falls short of giving the reader an impression of the man himself, i.e. what is he like as a person, and whether he is someone that can be trusted.
That’s one of the reasons I decided to write this article. I figured that someone should shed some light on those lesser known facts that can’t be found in the Wikipedia entry and which most non-Norwegian nationals are unfamiliar with. It is important to note that I haven’t written this article because I have an agenda against Mr. Stoltenberg, or because I wish to portray him in a less than flattering light (the information that I have included here is true and it can easily be verified by clicking on the various links that I have provided - links leading to Norwegian articles can be Google translated), but because I believe that people deserve to get a better insight into the man who’s been chosen to lead NATO for the next four years.
Please also note that all the information presented in this article has at one stage been published in Norwegian and International MSM newspapers, i.e. it’s not of a questionable nature.
Anyway here’s a list of some of the lesser known facts about the future Secretary General of NATO.
* In an interview published in a Norwegian newspaper in 2013 it was revealed that Jens Stoltenberg had a strong desire to travel to Haiti and start a revolution when he was younger. He was at the time heavily influenced by his older sister Camilla who was a member of the Norwegian communist organization ‘Red Youth’. In the particular interview Camilla Stoltenberg stated that her little brother was inspired by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, but that he started to have second thoughts when he discovered that their ideas and ideology required the use of violence and terror.
* In the early 1970’s a young Jens Stoltenberg attended an anti-war rally outside the American embassy in Oslo to protest against the US involvement in Vietnam. The demonstration quickly got out of hand and several of the most radical demonstrators started throwing rocks at the embassy building. In a newspaper interview published a few years ago, Stoltenberg stated that he couldn’t remember whether he had thrown any rocks or not, citing that it happened such a long time ago, and went on to say that he couldn’t completely rule it out. Several of his friends however who were actively involved in the communist organization ‘Red Youth’ did throw stones and were subsequently arrested and fined.
* In the late 1990’s Jens Stoltenberg was subpoenaed to appear in the Oslo City court to give evidence against charges of alleged financial misconduct during his leadership of AUF (The worker’s youth league) in the 1980’s. Stoltenberg initially admitted in a newspaper interview when the story first broke that there was a culture of misappropriating government funds in the organization during his leadership; however later on in court he denied any knowledge of such illegal practices. He was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, but several former AUF members were found guilty and handed prison sentences. Several political commentators in Norway at the time felt that powerful political forces had been operating in the background in order to prevent Jens Stoltenberg and several other prominent politicians from being prosecuted.
* In 2001, just days after Jens Stoltenberg had stepped down as the prime minister of Norway he accidentally crashed into another car while reversing out of a car parking slot causing damages to the other car to the tune of approximately US$ 1200. Stoltenberg was observed getting out of his car to inspect the damage by a witness and was seen attaching what appeared to be a note on the windscreen of the other car before driving off. The note turned out to be a blank piece of paper, which prompted the witness that had observed the incident to suggest that Stoltenberg was trying to avoid paying for the damages. This became a big news event in Norway at the time
* In 2006 at the height of the so-called Mohammed cartoon crisis, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz claimed that Jens Stoltenberg had apologized to him over the phone for the actions of a Norwegian newspaper that had published the cartoons. Mr. Stoltenberg vehemently denied these allegations and claimed that he was only expressing remorse over the fact that Muslims had been offended. Vebjørn Selbekk the editor of the small Norwegian periodical Magazinet which printed the cartoons however maintains that he felt pressured by the Norwegian government, which at the time was led by Stoltenberg, to apologize for his actions. Mr. Selbekk eventually apologized at a press conference organized by the Norwegian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Bjarne Håkon Hanssen in Mr. Hanssen’s government office.
* In 2008 while giving a Labour Day speech in Lillestrøm, a small town northeast of Oslo, Mr. Stoltenberg appeared to be intoxicated; slurring his words and at various stages during the speech lose his train of thought. This was later on vehemently rejected by Stoltenberg’s political advisor who suggested that it was nothing but vicious rumours spread by political opponents. The incident was quickly picked up by several newspapers and the speech in its entirety was eventually posted on Youtube.
* The Norwegian Government led by Jens Stoltenberg also funded the trip of two radical left-wing Norwegian surgeons, Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse to Gaza during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead campaign in 2008-2009. The two surgeons eventually ended up becoming part of the Hamas propaganda machinery. At some stage during their stay in Gaza, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg contacted them via phone and informed them that “all of Norway is behind you.” It should also be noted that both Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Fosse defended the attack on the twin towers in NYC in 2001.
* The Norwegian Government led by Jens Stoltenberg was also heavily criticized for being the only western government to recognizing Hamas after the organization won a landslide victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, a move that was strongly criticized by both the US and Israel on account that Hamas was, and is still deemed a terrorist organization. A Hamas representative was also invited to Norway where he met with several prominent Norwegian MP's in the Norwegian parliament.
* In 2013 several Norwegian newspapers reported that members of the Afghan Taliban had secretly been invited to Norway for peace talks in September 2011 by the Norwegian Government which at the time was led by Jens Stoltenberg. The Norwegian Government also contributed funds to pay for the first official Taliban office in Doha, Qatar.
* In 2011, a Norwegian author published an article in one of Norway’s biggest newspapers that examined Jens Stoltenberg’s contact with the KGB in the 1980’s. The author pointed out that the KGB had an ‘advanced contacts’ file on Stoltenberg, which meant Mr. Stoltenberg was being groomed so he could be snared in the KGB net. The intelligence services in Norway first became aware of the contact between Stoltenberg and a Soviet diplomat during a security clearance check, and suggested that Mr. Stoltenberg stop seeing the diplomat in the future, which Mr. Stoltenberg agreed to. It is important to note that Mr. Stoltenberg has never been accused by the authorities of any wrongdoing, and that it was common practice for Soviet diplomats at the time to try and elicit classified information from influential people.
* Jens Stoltenberg was also criticized heavily in the aftermath of the terror attacks which occurred in Norway on July 22, 2011 in which Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in two separate incidents. Mr. Stoltenberg was among other things criticized for not referring to the incident as a terrorist attack on the actual day, but rather describing it as ‘we have been struck by a terrible tragedy’ and that it was a ‘dramatic incident’. Some political commentators felt that there was a reluctance to label this as a terror attack due to political implications. This was before the perpetrator was apprehended and when most people assumed it to be the work of Islamic terrorists.
* Jens Stoltenberg and the Norwegian government were also heavily criticized in the official report on the terrorist attack. Things that were specifically highlighted in the report was that no security measures had been introduced to prevent the terrorist from parking his van directly opposite the entrance of the Government building, which was targeted in the attack. This despite the fact that the authorities had been aware of the problem for several years. Other things that were highlighted in the report were the slow and ineffective response from both the police and the authorities. It took the police swat team approximately 90 minutes to get to Utøya Island and finally apprehend the terrorist.
* Jens Stoltenberg also received international media attention when he appeared in a Labour Party TV commercial as a taxi driver. The clip appeared to show the Prime Minister picking up random passengers from various locations in Oslo and discussing politics with them. However it later turned out that everything was scripted and that the passengers who appeared in the ad were in fact paid to do so. One of the passengers also complained about having sustained a back injury when the prime minister was forced to make a sudden brake.
* And last but not least, in the mid 1980’s while Jens Stoltenberg was leader of the AUF (Labour Youth) he went on record stating that he was an opponent of NATO and urged the Norwegian Government at the time to withdraw from the military alliance. I guess he has since changed his mind ;^)
And of course the latest episode in this saga is that Jens Stoltenberg will assume the role as the new Secretary General of NATO on October 1, 2014. I’m sure we’ll hear lots more from him in the future.