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|
- Carl Bildt var en viktig värvning för oss. Opinionsläget var dåligt i Europa, säger Bruce Jackson.
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|
- Carl Bildt was an important recruit for us. Public opinion in Europe was unfavourable, says Bruce Jackson.
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.|
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
I januari 2003 etablerade sig kommittén i Europa med ett internationellt rådgivande utskott.
Bildt delade ordförandeskapet med den polske före detta dissidenten Adam Michnik.
– 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.
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.
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
In January 2003 [CLI] established itself in Europe with an international advisory subcommittee.
Bildt shared the chairmanship with the Polish former dissident Adam Michnik.
- 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.
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.
[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.