Espen Barth Eide has returned home after serving as UN special envoy to Cyprus. He has combined his job as special envoy with his position as Managing Director of the billionaires club the World Economic Forum in Geneva, writes Paal Steigan. He now is in Norway to run an election campaign for the Labour Party—a party that has not found a single spot for a labourer on its Oslo list. On the contrary, the list is chock full of consultants and advisers. Including Managing Director Espen Barth Eide, the man who got Norway entangled in the war against Syria. Let us take a closer look at Barth Eide.
Espen Barth Eide played a central role in getting Norway entangled in the war against Syria
WikiLeaks has released a secret telegram from the U.S. Embassy to the Department of State in Washington in which the Embassy gives its recommendation for Barth Eide. The telegram is from July 2008 and can be read here. If you are wondering what kind of politician Barth Eide is, you should study the cadre evaluation he was given by his American friends. In the summary it says:
“Ministry of Defense State Secretary, Espen Barth Eide is one of the more powerful politicians in the current GON despite his deputy minister portfolio. His ties to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, think tanks, NGOs and the UN as well as his influential current position likely will result in either a ministerial position in a future Labour government or a high ranking UN or EU position. Barth Eide is particularly interested in UN peacekeeping operations and may be interested in a future UN position”.
He was then already a person the U.S. made a point of following. And the subject at the top of the telegram says it all: that he was regarded as “a rising star”.
Pro-U.S., but a bit “hard to pin down.”
In its evaluation of Barth Eide, the Embassy expresses that he is helpful, but that they do not fully trust him:
“In his relations with the Embassy, Barth Eide has been difficult to characterize. Barth Eide is a skilled and subtle interagency player who is largely pro-U.S. but should not be trusted to reliably uphold U.S. interests. On several important issues Barth Eide has been helpful, such as missile defense (where he helped prevent a Norwegian veto of NATO plans), the sale of land to the USG for construction of a new embassy building (intervening on touchy real estate issues affecting the U.S. purchase of land for the new embassy) and pushing for Norwegian deployments to Afghanistan. On other issues, such as the decision process on the purchase of new fighter aircraft and the Norwegian approach on cluster munitions, he has hedged his bets”.
A “weasily” but helpful adviser
The U.S. Embassy feels that Barth Eide is a “weasily” politician who promotes U.S. priorities, but whom they are not sure they can rely upon. At the same time, he receives praise for having informed the Embassy on several occasions of how it should approach Norwegian politicians.
“Barth Eide has avoided the gratuitous negative comments about the Bush Administration that other GON figures have made. Barth Eide also takes pains to stress NATO as the cornerstone of GON security policy and the importance of the Norwegian-U.S. relationship. He has given the Embassy good advice on how to approach the GON on several occasions. However, some very senior U.S. officials have felt that he has been hard to pin down on several issues of concern and characterized Barth Eide as ‘weasily’. Senior Norwegian officials, with strong pro-U.S. instincts, have also told the Embassy in private that Barth Eide is not to be relied upon to promote U.S. priorities. One key test of Barth Eide’s inclinations will be the MOD recommendation on which fighter plane to purchase, the Joint Strike Fighter or the Saab Gripen”.
As we know, Barth Eide proved his loyalty to the U.S. with the purchase of fighter aircrafts, and if they were to have any remaining doubts, he proved his absolute loyalty when he ensured that Norway was a crucial supporter of the so-called “National Coalition” in Syria and through his activism for Norway’s involvement in the war against Syria and its participation in the sanctions against the country. And he has been an unconditional supporter of Norway’s participation in the war in Afghanistan “as long as NATO is there”. “Putting [his] personal interests ahead of Norway’s strategic interests.”
U.S.: Barth Eide supports U.S. interests because it benefits his own personal ambitions
The US embassy does not hide that Barth Eide is a man that supports US interests because it benefits his personal interests:
”Barth Eide’s interest in UN peacekeeping operations is obvious from his resume and he was rumored to be interested in the UN under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations position, given to Alain le Roy. Although it is speculation, several sources in the GON raised the possibility that [his] desire for this position was behind his push for a deployment of Norwegian troops to Haiti. What is fact is that…despite opposition from the head of the security policy section and from [the] military, Barth Eide pushed for Norway to send a battalion to Haiti in response to a UN request, even asking the U.S. to request such a deployment in an effort to move his reluctant bureaucracy. According to sources in the GON, Barth Eide manipulated the MFA State Secretary Raymond Johansen into stating that FM Støre supported such a deployment, when Støre in fact remained uncommitted. MOD sources were shocked and appalled at what they considered as putting one’s personal interests ahead of Norway’s strategic interests”.
He has proved his loyalty to the U.S.
Time and time again, Barth Eide has shown the U.S. that there is no reason to doubt his loyalty. When NATO decided to deploy Patriot missiles on the Syrian border, Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide declared: – We look upon this very favourably.
With each round of new sanctions against Syria, Barth Eide has buddied up with the U.S. He has played on Israel’s team by taking a hard line against breaking down the Gaza blockade. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza”, said Barth Eide in 2012.
He has been so loyal that the billionaires club the World Economic Forum rewarded him with a position as their Managing Director. He combines this position with his job as UN special envoy to Cyprus. No one has said anything publicly about what he makes from these two high profile jobs, but what we do know is that such positions are paid very highly, that they come with lots of personal benefits and that the salary is tax-free. The Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF gave Barth Eide his gleaming recommendation when he took his job with the UN, saying that it also underscores the international significance of the WEF.
On the “Consultant Party” list
Barth Eide is running an election campaign partly to bring in a new Labour Party government, but most likely so that Barth Eide himself becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs. He occupies fifth place on a list that has no room for even a single labourer.
Full-time politicians, political advisers—and communication consultants. These occupations dominate the proposal for the Oslo Labour Party’s new parliamentary list. 20 of the 25 names on the list are part of the work force. Only four of these 20 work in capacities other than advising, PR or full-time politics.
This was reported by the Norwegian Klassekampen newspaper.
Journalist Jens Kihl goes on to write:
Zaineb Al-Samarai works for Rud Pedersen, a communications agency. Inger Helene Vaaten and Jon Reidar Øyan are communications advisers for the Norwegian Union of Commerce and Office Employees, as well as for the Labour Party’s parliamentary group.
Victoria Marie Evensen is a full-time politician at Oslo City Hall, but she came from a position as a copywriter for the advertising agency Dinamo. And Eskil Pedersen is the Head of Communications at Nortura SA.
Further down the list we also find Katinka Riksfjord Sporsem, who recently left her job as Head of Communications at the think tank Agenda to take the position of General Manager of the Norwegian Airline Pilots Association—a member of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions.
Until now, consultants have mostly been content with formulating speeches and initiatives for the politicians. Those in the Labour Party have taken it a step further. They have simply taken over the list, together with the “weasily” Espen Barth Eide.
Translated by Hanne Nabintu Herland for The Herland Report.
This article was first published in Norwegian.