Norway 7/22. What? And Then What?

EDITORIAL, 25 Jul 2011

#174 | Johan Galtung, 25 Jul 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service

22 July 2011 will be engraved in Norwegian history like 9 April 1940, the German invasion.  Words pale faced with this enormity.  The ministerial area in the center of Oslo looks more like a war-zone than during the Second World War, with some bombing from the resistance and from England.  And then the massacre of Labor Party youth at Utöya near Oslo.  8+68=76 killed, many badly wounded.

And then 32 year-old Anders Breivik, blond, blue-eyed, “nice and polite” as neighbors say, confessing–to be verified–to both.  A 1,500-page manifesto details his political philosophy: He sees a civil war in Europe–weakened by marxism and multi-culturalism– between islam and christianity.  Muslims: leave or face execution. He hates journalists and social democrats for multi-culturalism. And this mass murderer is one of us.  He is the enemy within.

In this moment hearts from all over the world reach out to the bereaved and to a country–mine–in a state of shock.  Analysis is cold and intellectual, contrary to emotions of sadness and anger.  And yet it has to be done.  Understanding is indispensable; so are reflections on what we can learn.  All events have causes.  Find them, remove them, change them, if the events are unacceptable.

So, 7/22 reminds us of what?  IHT evokes 9/11 this weekend, with the unverified claim by Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad) as response to Norwegian forces in Afghanistan and insults to the prophet.  The forces have license to kill (Med mandat til å drepe, Oslo: Kagge, 2010), and Norway, strong on the freedom of expression, is deficient on the freedom from insults for muslims.

The choice of targets also carry a 9/11 type message.  The Prime Minister’s office, those dear to him, the oil ministry–does that not remind us of NATO targeting Gaddafi, his compound, with rebel oil contracts as rewards?  It does.  But there is no claim.

Enters 4/19, 19 April 1995, Timothy McVeigh and helpers also used a fertilizer based bomb, on the Oklahoma City federal building. 168 killed.  He hated federal US–trained militarily by them–for the Waco massacre, he claimed.  A similarity–Anders Breivik was 7 at the time and may have been inspired also by this US violence.

But the massacre on the island differs from all the above.  Up comes Hitler’s Willing Executioners (by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen), as fueled by anti-semitism and civil war between Aryans and Jews (Goebbels: “plutocratic in London and bolshevik in Moscow”), as Breivik seems to be by anti-islamism and his civil war.  And like the nazis he hates marxists, social democrats and any mixing.  He sees his act as “terrible but necessary”.  Killing 84 face to face in cold blood for 90 minutes (he had a weapons license) beats even most nazi horrors.

The massacre fits the nazi model as latter-day Western neo-fascism.  But why killing labor party youth, as little left wing and marxist as the Progress Party is right wing?  The two parties agree both on the NATO Libya bombing and on buying, at enormous costs, US F35 planes.  Why did he not hit an immigration agency, mosques, muslim meetings?  His thinking neither reflects nor is reflected by Norway’s political landscape. In Norway a loner, a nazi.

But, let us not narrow the interpretation horizon to one point.

On one end is the islamophobic loner with links to some groups.  If he could be defined as crazy, the political brunt is removed.  He becomes a causa sui, his own cause.  Norway could lift from US 9/11 speeches about “evil”, “nothing to do with anything we have done”.  But maybe “something we have not done”, like not spotting him?

On the other end is the islamist Helper of the Global Jihad a bankrupt Washington could use to get money for “war against terror”.

And in-between is Breivik, at some stage using Libya as a cover, and they at some stage him as a bomber?  A tacit cooperation?

Let us straighten the back, looking forward: And then, what?

[1] The PM put it well, nobody shall frighten Norway away from its democracy.  BUT, democracy is more than everybody sitting in some narrow ideological niche, as fundamentalist Christian, Progress Party youth, free mason.  Democracy is dialogue, challenge, confrontation with others, not merely counting niche settlers every four years.  Breivik should have met more people.  We all should.  Parliament and people should discuss all such issues openly.

[2] Violence is the antithesis of dialogue.  NATO had as of 18 July 5858 sorties in Libya; 535 by Norway, dropping 501 bombs.  But the targets were military!?  Maybe yes, but if in NATO an attack on one is an attack on all then an attack from one is an attack from all–based on a shaky UNSC mandate with 5 abstentions and no Muslim veto power. Maybe dialogue would have been better than depleted uranium bombing?

[3] Norway did not like that single bomb.  Maybe Libya dislikes 501?

[4] Norway did not like civilians massacred.  Maybe so do Afghans?

[5] Beyond that, politics is about conflicts crying for creative, constructive, concrete solutions.  Schools and media should train in conflict solution, for a conflict hygiene like we have for health.

[6] Maybe better leave the 7/22 explanation to a competent UN body? [7] Maybe more knowledge about the history of West-Islam relations?

[8] Maybe having dialogues with “extremists” before labeling them, searching for their, possibly, legitimate goals?

[9] Maybe seeing illegitimacy as something that can occur all over the political spectrum, not only far away from oneself?

[10] Maybe changing the amateurish secret police PST, close to CIA-FBI, with a left eye so sharp that it even sees the non-existing but so right eye blind that Breivik passed undetected and unprevented?

There is that excellent US expression, a “wake-up call”.  A brutal one, pointing beyond monitoring fertilizers and gun licenses.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Jul 2011.

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10 Responses to “Norway 7/22. What? And Then What?”

  1. satoshi says:

    Please allow me to provide you with the four comments as follows:

    First: It is no doubt that the last Friday’s bloody event in Norway is one of the most tragic incidents in Europe in recent years. But how much do we, the general public, care for the similar incidents, occurring almost daily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.? Is this the tendency of the Western major mass media? In that regard, some years ago Prof. Galtung pointed out the similar thing in his article, “What is Peace Journalism?” In that article, he used the words, “elite country,” “elite people,” “non-elite country” and “non-elite people.” See the “Table 2: A Four-Factor News Communication Model” in that article.

    Second: No violence solves any problem permanently because violence does not bring about the “win-win situation” to the disputing parties. The loser of violence will constantly attempt to reverse the status quo until they themselves will be the new winner and until the current winner will be the new loser. Then, the new loser will do the same. Bloody and endless reactions begin. As such, massacre solves no problem. Did Hitler solved his agenda/problems, for example? No! If you deal with your agenda, you should have dealt by “peace and love”, Anders Behring Breivik. Did you solve your agenda/problems? No! Do you have peace in your mind? Do you have love in your heart?

    Third: The contemporary DNA research finds that we are all brothers and sisters. Do you think George Washington belongs to the so-called white race? the DNA research tells that his DNA contains Africans’ DNA. Anthropology teaches that there is only once race; the human race. Did you know that Hitler was a Jew? Did he know that? I am not sure. But how about you, Anders? Analyze your DNA, and you might find who you really are.

    Fourth: I believe that it is meaningful and significant to recall, by using this opportunity, the message in the Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

  2. Ringo says:

    Some possible causes:

    *** Personal:

    * Breivik has never lived with his father. As a child he had some contact with his father, but the contact was gradually reduced. There has been no contact between the two since 1995, when Breivik was 15-16 years old. Two sources say Breivik stopped the contact. In a way, he has now made other people experience the same tragedy of no contact between parents and kids – through killing the kids.

    * Breiviks father and half brother has worked for Norwegian ministeries. He bombed ministeries in Oslo.

    *** Political:

    * The mighty kill the leaders of rebels. The Labour party represents ordinary people, that had no power before democracy.

    * Mighty people that become weaker, become aggressive. This is an example of Johan Galtungs theory of aggression, which says that people that are in some respects topdogs (here mighty) and in others underdogs (here becoming weaker), are the most aggressive. And the immigration of dark skinned people to Europe means less power to white Europeans in Europe. Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War in the USA is another example.

    * Race relations are often violent, it’s us or them in the survival of the fittest, not us and them.

    Two interesting contrasts:

    * The extreme right in Norway is violent, and this is of course the worst example. The extreme left, on the other hand, consists of former communists that are now in the Norwegian elite, as authors, journalists, academics, etc. To be fair, the extreme left also consists of people at the Blitz house, that have wounded policemen by throwing stones, etc. But the contrast is also there, the Blitz house has been bombed by rightwing people three times.

    * The wealthy western part of Oslo has produced two of the most extreme people regarding conflicts – the extreme in the worst sense is Anders Behring Breivik, the extreme in the best sense is Johan Galtung.

  3. Susanne Urban says:

    Violence – legitimate means?
    The ministerial area smashed – 7/22 in Oslo, the capital of Norway. “Chaos, panic… injured lying around in the streets, sounds of ambulances, … completely bombed… several dead”. We have seen exactly those pictures before, only from other capitals with other people involved – from Libya’s capital Tripoli, from Afghan capital Kabul, Iraq’s capital Bagdad, Yugoslavias/ Serbias capital Beograd. Pictures from both wars and “war-like actions” Norway has been heavily engaged in, with both soldiers, weapons and money. Broken bombed big cities are a scenario we have become used to, through tv-news and through war-, violence- and shooting-games on the computer screen.

    Are we allowed to be surprised if there was a link? After all we use violence to achieve – yes, to achieve what? justice? democracy? peace? oil? influence? womens liberation? a non-violent society without terrorist acts?

    Books, not bombs are the best defence against terror. Nevertheless Norway has dropped more than 335 bombs over Libya, since 19. March 11. Cost pr. bomb is 30.000,- to 50.000,- €.
    I join the statement of Helge Lurås, researcher at NUPI, Norwegian Institute of Foreign Affairs, hoping that bombing the epicenter of Norwegian politics will lead to an awakening of politicians: the military adventures we have been part of in Afghanistan and now in Libya may have potential effects also for Norwegians.

  4. I agree with Mr. galtung.

  5. […] —Johan Galtung, Norway 7⁄22. What? And Then What? […]

  6. It is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen not David Goldhagen.

  7. Tanka Subba says:

    I’m agree with editor’s note. but we may have to see the his opinion. he clearly mentioned his views on that violent work. I think he Oslo accident was created by lack of social institution.especially family values, social institution norms, ritual of paradox etc. we all know human nature is continuously surviving by its history on family values and social institution norms. so, We may have to do research on the relation of social norm and values with the relation of continuity of human race in changing perspective.

  8. Johan,
    I have one suggestion. Analyzing the text of the 1500-page MS by Breivik should be the first step in determining what’s wrong with him. That should be the starting point leading to other pieces of the killer puzzle. The issue is not whether he is a sociopath but why and how he got that way. The perenniel issues of tradition directed, other directed, inner directed, and idiosyncratically directed are still valid as organizers of what B. expresses through his killing.