Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The terror in Paris: An odd and disturbing view from Stockholm

...Most of us have our own ways of feeling good about ourselves and life. We now know something about what brightens the Swedish foreign minister's mood, and the same for Europe's most hunted terrorist. Each, in his and her own way, is delusional and simplistic. When it comes to the deadly dangers of terror, the rest of us - and our political leaders - cannot afford to be either.

Friday night's Swedish TV interview with the
hapless foreign minister
Image Source: Screen Capture]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
16 November '15..

A year ago, Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström went to Cairo. It was her first official visit to anywhere outside the EU.

Sweden was one of about fifty countries represented in a conference that sought to figure out how to rebuild Gaza in the wake of the destructive 2014 war between the Hamas Islamist regime and Israel and to collect money for that purpose. (Israel has a vital interest in seeing things get better in Gaza but understands that for deplorable reasons this is not going to happen under Hamas.)

We know now the Cairo conference was not the biggest of successes: the Iranian mouthpiece PressTV reported half a year later ["No home rebuilt in Gaza after 2014 Israel war: UNRWA", April 23, 2015] that things were barely moving. According to Chris Gunness of UNRWA, his agency had gotten funding that barely enabled it "to reconstruct 200 of the 9,161 houses totally destroyed." What a mess.

But not for Ms Wallström. She got back to Stockholm quite pumped up, reporting in an interview to Radio Sweden [here] that Sweden was hailed by the Palestinian Arabs as

"heroes... [because] we plan to recognise the Palestinian state. That is why we are placed in a category of heroes here... They are very pleased and hope this will inspire others. One also believes it is courageous of us to lead the way and so have been very well received."

It's easy to imagine Ms Wallström getting a kick from the sort of attention she received in Cairo. On the whole, 2015 has not been a fun year for her and her ministry, and fawning attention, as well as admiration and respect have been in short supply. This is particularly true of its (and her) broader Middle East strategy. See "20-Mar-15: A peek into how Middle East politics work in reality". Fair warning: that post is not a good place to look for complimentary remarks about Sweden's foreign minister.

Now, in the wake of Friday night's horrific terrorism inflicted on Paris, we get a sense of where that uplifting sense of being someone's hero has brought Margot Wallström and the government in whose name she speaks.

(Read Full Post)

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