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Carl Bildt: Neocon lobbyist? [updated]

by NordicStorm Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:45:10 AM EST

Swedish tabloid Expressen is apparently intent on setting some sort of world record in reporting on potential scandals involving Carl Bildt, former prime minister and current foreign minister of Sweden. (See also my previous diary on Bildt and Sudan). Expressen is now reporting that Bildt was recruited in 2002 (between Bildt's tenures in the Swedish government) by the (now defunct?) Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), which Wikipedia claims had "close links to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), important shapers of the Bush administration's foreign policy."



Carl Bildt värvades av krigslobbyn
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- Carl Bildt var en viktig värvning för oss. Opinionsläget var dåligt i Europa, säger Bruce Jackson.
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I kommittén ingår idel neokonservativa krigshökar, många med starka kopplingar till den amerikanska krigsindustrin.
Kommitténs ordförande, Bruce P Jackson, har fram till bara några månader innan varit chef för stragisk planering på Lockheed Martin, en av världens största vapentillverkare.
I slutet av 2002 rekryteras Carl Bildt till CLI.
...
Carl Bildt was recruited by the war lobby
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- Carl Bildt was an important recruit for us. Public opinion in Europe was unfavourable, says Bruce Jackson.
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The committee includes several neoconservative hawks, many with strong connections to the American war industry. The chairman of the committee, Bruce P. Jackson, was until just a few months ago the head of strategic planning at Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers.
Carl Bildt is recruited by CLI at the end of 2002.
...
- Vi gav honom inga direktiv om hur han skulle argumentera. Det viktiga var att han var för en intervention i Irak, berättar Bruce P Jackson för Expressen.
Carl Bildt börjar direkt att synas i flera svenska och europeiska medier, och framstår som en stark anhängare av det stundande kriget.
...
- We didn't give him any directives on how he should argue. The important thing was that he was in favour of an intervention in Iraq, Bruce P. Jackson tells Expressen.
Carl Bildt immediately begins to be seen in Swedish and European media, and appears as a strong supporter of the impending war.
...
- Bildt såg i Irak-kriget sin chans till comeback i storpolitiken. Genom att ställa upp för CLI ville han visa Vita huset att han var en man att lita på, att han inte tillhörde "Old Europe" - inte var en Villepine [sic] eller Chirac eller Schröder, säger en neokonservativ som tillhör kretsen kring de ledande personerna i CLI. - Bildt saw the Iraq war as his chance for a comeback in big league politics. By working for CLI he wanted to show the White House that he was a man to be trusted, that he wasn't part of "Old Europe" - that he wasn't a Villepin or a Chirac or a Schröder, says a neoconservative in the inner circle of the leading individuals in CLI.

Bruce P. Jackson, incidentally, was apparently also chairman of our good friends over at PNAC.

In January 2003, Bildt wrote an op-ed for the International Herald Tribune, No going back : Regime change in Iraq isn't optional, where Bildt argues for the removal of Saddam as the only possible option, on humanitarian grounds. He also gave a far more reasonable estimate for the war, at best "four to six weeks of difficult regime removal followed by four to six years of even more difficult regime reconstruction," than some people.
Bildt presents a reasonable and well thought-out argument to be sure, although Bildt concludes his op-ed with the remarkably not prescient "The next few weeks should be the beginning of the end of decades of war for the peoples of Iraq and for the region." But Bildt, identified in the article as "a former prime minister of Sweden" and as someone who "is a member of the board of the Center for European Reform in London as well as of the board of the Rand Corp. in the United States," failed to acknowledge his ties to CLI.

As Starvid stated in a comment attached to my previous diary on Bildt, there seems to be a media campaign against Bildt, and Expressen in particular seem to be throwing as much crap on Bildt as possible, in the hopes that something will stick (an indignant Expressen columnist even dubs Bildt The Teflon emperor, stating that "other politicans would have fallen for less.")
But it does seems rather troubling that one minister would be able to generate so much article fodder. Bildt wasn't the only smart person suckered into believing intervention in Iraq would not be a tremendously bad idea. But to actually be working with allies of PNAC to promote this insanity? At a certain point you have to ask yourself where exactly the loyalties of the Swedish foreign minister lie.

Update [2007-2-21 8:14:26 by NordicStorm]:: Bildt responds to the Expressen article on his Swedish language blog:

Det är alldeles korrekt att jag hade synpunkter på Irak och regimen Saddam Hussein. Jag var en stark motståndare till den blodiga regimen.
...
Dessutom ingick jag - alldeles riktigt - i en internationell rådgivande grupp som skulle diskutera Irak efter regimen Saddam Hussein.

Alldeles riktigt - och egentligen rätt hedervärt.
It is absolutely correct that I had opinions about Iraq and Saddam Hussein's reigme. I was a fierce opponent of the bloody regime.
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Additionally, I did participate - absolutely correct - in an international advisory group, which was supposed to discuss Iraq after Saddam Hussein.

Absolutely correct - and actually quite honorable.

Bildt addresses some other concerns not diaried here, but beyond "international advisory group" does not address the PNAC connection at all.

Update [2007-2-21 9:19:5 by NordicStorm]: Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet had already reported on Bildt's actions prior to the Iraq war back in late October 2006:
Vad Carl Bildt gjort för kriget
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I januari 2003 etablerade sig kommittén i Europa med ett internationellt rådgivande utskott.
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Bildt delade ordförandeskapet med den polske före detta dissidenten Adam Michnik.
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– Det vi gjorde i kommittén var avgörande för uppbygget av en koalition mot Saddam Hussein, säger Randy Scheunemann. En person av Carls format, med hans bakgrund, och dessutom från Sverige, var naturligtvis väldigt betydelsefull. Genom hans kontaktnät och det faktum att han skrivit på fick vi med oss flera av de andra i rådet.
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Rådgivarna hade inga formella sammankonster och ansvarade inte för någon organiserad verksamhet av den typ som brukar förekomma vid think-tanks i USA.
– Vad de framför allt gjorde, fortsätter Scheunemann, var att förse oss med flera röster på flera språk i flera huvudstäder i Europa.
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Han var oroad över sina amerikanska vänners gränslösa tilltro till den egna makten och deras förbindelser med Likudregeringen i Israel, han höll distans till det mest hysteriska larmet om massförstörelsevapnen och han varnade för de komplikationer som väntade. Men då det gällde marschen mot Bagdad tvekade han aldrig.
What Carl Bildt has done for the war
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In January 2003 [CLI] established itself in Europe with an international advisory subcommittee.
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Bildt shared the chairmanship with the Polish former dissident Adam Michnik.
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- What we did in the committee was crucial for the creation of a coalition against Saddam Hussein, says Randy Scheunemann. A person of Carl's format, with his background, and from Sweden, was of course very important. Through his contacts and the fact that he had signed on got us several of the others in the council.
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The advisors had no formal gatherings and were not responsible for the kind of organised activity of the kind that usually occurs in think-tanks in the USA.
- What they did above all, continues Scheunenmann, was to provide us with several voices in several languages in several capitals in Europe.
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[Bildt] was worried about his American friends' limitless faith in their own power and their connections with the Likud government in Israel, he held his distance to the most hysteric alarms about weapons of mass destruction and he warned about the complications that would arise. But, as far as the march towards Baghdad is concerned, he never hesitated.

Scheunemann was a director of CLI and a former advisor of Donald Rumsfeld, according to the article.

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ask yourself where exactly the loyalties of the Swedish foreign minister lie

With the "Anglo-Nordic model", obviously.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 06:21:44 AM EST
It seems the people in charge of Expressen has an intense personal hatred of Bildt.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 08:44:22 AM EST
It would appear that way. It's not quite the scoop they make it out to be either, as Aftonbladet reported on it last year.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 08:56:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, if I do recall correctly, the people raging against Bildt on the Expressen editorial pages where some of the most fanatic pro-war voices back in 2003...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 08:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So it seems.

Which I find quite interesting (rightwing paper owned by the mighty Bonniers family) and a bit amusing (rightwing paper bashing rightwing minister).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 09:47:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems you have an intense personal hatred of swedish journalism... </snark>

If this isn't already known in Sweden, it is without doubt newsworthy. Bildt has been the "good swede" of right-wing american and european fundy-market-liberal think tanks for years. It is frankly worrying that he is now your foreign minister.

by Trond Ove on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 02:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't say Starvid's dislike of Swedish journalism is unfounded. Even so, even a broken watch (the Swedish media) is right twice a day...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 02:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I agree that swedish journalism is pretty bad. (About on level with the norwegian one, but even more conformist, from what little I have read of it.)

What surprised me about Bildt was that this was not the big scandal from day one. I seriously doubt this wasn't common knowledge in the media all along.

by Trond Ove on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 02:54:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes people joke and say that the entire Swedish media can only care and talk about a single issue at any given time.

Then people remember it's not a joke.

Probably has something to do with that the journalist all live in the same places, eat at the same restaurants, send their children to the same schools, are married to eachother and actually almost never ever meet someone who is not a journalist.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:02:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I contend that this has nothing to do with their political leanings thought. This is a problem with establishment journalism everywhere. And is one of the reasons I at times find the cries about press freedom slightly funny. The Plame case (with the imprisonment of Judith Miller) is a good example of how "press freedom" is used to defend power against justice.
by Trond Ove on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems you have an intense personal hatred of swedish journalism... </snark>

And with good reason!
From the last thread on Bildt, quoting myself:
My pathological hate of Swedish journalists might or might no cloud my judgement.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Expressen's agenda aside, and taking into account that they were going for the most sensational angle possible, I was rather disturbed by the PNAC connection. Bildt trying to spin this organization as your run-of-the-mill international advisory group (and, gosh darnit, we should thank him for taking part in it!), doesn't quite cut it. Surely he was well aware who they were and what their goals were. Maybe there's a piece of the puzzle I'm not seeing here.
How many other ministers have PNAC connections on their CV?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 10:05:35 AM EST
The Aftonbladet article adds some nuance, thanks.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 06:27:42 PM EST
The Bildt business is heating up again due to the intense reporting from mainly Expressen, but it seems to be all bluster and no substance.

From the horse of the mouth itself (the Bildt blog).

   


   
   
   
Jo, nu har jag kunnat ta del av vad Expressens politiske redaktör PM Nilsson hade att säga om mig i radions Studio Ett i går.

Och jag häpnar.

Han säger att de åsikter jag företrädde "inte var någonting att skämmas för" och att samma sak förvisso gällde sällskapet i den internationella rådgivande kommittén.

Det handlade ju om prominenta och respekterade europeiska namn. So far so good.

Men sedan far det iväg bortom varje antydan till saklighet.

Han säger att problemet var att "kopplingarna fanns till den stora amerikanska fonden som har stora innehav i amerikansk vapenindustri" och - sitt ner! hör och häpna! - att "uppdraget till kommittén kom från fonden."

Ojojoj så konstigt och felaktigt det kan bli.

Den journalist som till äventyrs skulle fråga Legg Mason om de någonsin gett något sådant uppdrag eller ens haft någon förbindelse med den kommittén eller grupp det handlar om skulle möta de mest förvånande svar.

Det finns inte ens närkontakt med verkligheten i det påstående som PM Nilsson gör till kärnan i sin anklagelse.

Well, now I have managed to take part of what the political editor PM Nilsson of Expressen had to say about me in the Radio show Studio One yesterday.

And I am astounded.

He says that the opinions I represented "weren't anything to be ashamed of" and that the same thing applied to the people in the international counciling committee.

As it was about prominent and respected European names. So far so good.

But then it goes away beyond any suggestistion of objectivity.

He says that the problem was that "the connections that existed to the large American fund [Legg Mason] which has big holdings in American arms industry" and - sit down! listen and be amazed! - that "the assignment to the commission came from the fund."

Ohohoh how strange and incorrect things can become.

The journalist who perchance would ask Legg Mason if they have ever given such an assignment or even had any connection with the committee or group this is about would receive the most surprising answers.

There is not even a slight contact with reality in the assertion which PM Nilsson makes into the core of his accusation.

 

By the way, the Expressen journalist Per Svennson just wrote an aggresive article about the Bildt blog (comparing him to Nixon of all people!) and demanding it be shut down. The journalist trash doesn't like competition and losing the privilege of media gate keeping, it seems.

Actually, the article is so retarded and smells so much of fear (and is something of a declaration of war on netrooting in general) that I might translate it for you horror.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 01:26:45 PM EST
They must hate Wallström's blog, too?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 02:15:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strangely no...

Neither do they hate soc dem leader to be's open letters published on the internet...

I wonder why? It's so strange. </snark>

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 25th, 2007 at 04:52:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, a blogger (not a journalist of course) did some real research and found out that of the total capital that is being taken cared of by Legg Mason, 0,002% of it is invested in this American arms company, Lockheed Martin. Wow. A whole 0,002 %. How awful.

I guess the Swedish Postal Service should get new PC sorting machines.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Feb 25th, 2007 at 05:00:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Expressen seem to be missing the big story here, which isn't Legg Mason or Lockheed Martin, but the PNAC connection. The very same people principally responsible for the Iraq disaster. Bildt of course is well aware of who they are and what their goals are and pretends that there's no connection whatsoever to the "international advisory committee," banking on the fact that either the Swedish journalists are to incompetent to figure it out or that it will be buried in the sea that is Bildt scandals. That other so called intellectuals were suckered into the committee is of little relevance.
Neither the media, Expressen in particular, nor Bildt will emerge particularly clean from all this. It's not an either-or proposition.


"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Feb 26th, 2007 at 08:17:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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