Norway, Nord Stream and Vietnam
By Nadya Williams
Feb. 28, 2023
Nadya Williams is Director of Communications, Veterans For Peace, San Francisco Chapter 69; and Board Member, VFP Viet Nam Ch. 160. Williams forwarded to Workers World this guest article, in which most language is left in her style.
Forgive the pun, but the irrefutable [U.S] American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh dropped a bomb in Washington’s lap with his Feb. 8 meticulous exposé: “How America Took Out the Nord Stream Pipeline.”
This was something that everyone already knew; however, the forensic details were lacking — with a single anonymous inside source providing those details to Hersh, in spades. But the big surprise was Norway’s role — a willing partner in the U.S. Navy’s underwater sabotage, which deprived much of Western Europe of cheap Russian natural gas to hold freezing winter at bay. “May others suffer to punish the Russians” seems to be the idea.
I happened to be in a meeting in Oslo with a Norwegian explosives expert on Sept. 28, 2022, two days after the spectacular blowup in the south Baltic Sea. Our meeting concerned Vietnam but was interrupted toward the end, as major Norwegian media were clamoring for the expert’s assessment of the explosion as more information was coming to light — although Norway’s role was not then known, at least not publically.
Follow the seemingly disparate threads laid out here, as they will be woven back into a larger tapestry of global reach. My trip to Norway last fall was a brief extension of a three-month stay at my California-born son’s home near Stockholm. The explosives expert [whom I met with] heads up a very effective program at Norwegian People’s Aid to detect and remove UXOs (Unexploded Ordnance) from former battle sites around the world. NPA is, in fact, a huge, well-respected and internationally known nonprofit that supports myriad good works.
My connection to NPA comes via Vietnam and my 20-year associate membership in Veterans For Peace, San Francisco chapter, as Director of Communications. Since VFP was founded in 1985 by veterans of the American War in Vietnam, many of the more than 100 chapters fund and support humanitarian projects for the victims of our wars in Korea, South East Asia, the Middle East, etc.
There is a Hoa Binh (Peace) chapter of VFP in Vietnam of American vets who initiated an ongoing UXO-removal organization called ProjectRENEW in Quang Tri Province, the most bombed area of Central Vietnam. Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were on the receiving end of. perhaps 10 times the explosive power of all of World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Norwegian People’s Aid valiantly made a small dent in the UXOs by funding ProjectRENEW for several years. My meeting was a courtesy visit as a VFP representative, in the hope that additional funding might resume at a later date. (I am on the board of both the Asian and the state-side chapters, the only female and only non-vet).
Ironies of Norway’s role
It is ironic that Norway, as well as many other countries globally, should aid the victims of America’s wars. Ironic too that, as a young journalist, Sy Hersh became world-famous in 1969 by exposing the My Lai Massacre of March 16, 1968, when 500 Vietnamese villagers died at the hands of our soldiers. My Lai was key to shifting our nation’s conscience, finally turning it against that war.
All this so far is not “full circle” but a thread nonetheless: NPA’s positive role in Vietnam; Hersh’s courageous Vietnam truth telling; and now, once again, more of his unpopular revelations about American crimes — with Norway in the mix!
Happily Norway’s People’s Aid is saving lives, and no one died in the pipeline’s destruction on Sept. 26, but many a European is suffering in the cold, now unable to pay two and three times their normal heating bill. Among the lower-income populace, the saying is apparently now “Heat or Eat.” Economic damage to Russia for invading Ukraine? That country owns 51% of the Nord Stream enterprise, with the Dutch, French and Germans left holding the bag on the rest of the lost infrastructure and revenue.
Although a Washington task force, which included the Navy, Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA and State and Treasury Departments, was the genesis of the sabotage, Hersh’s source says Norway was pulled in, as a prominent member of NATO, as well as for its proximity to the chosen underwater explosion site, off the coast of Denmark. Extensive Norwegian diving expertise with offshore North Sea oil rigs was a big plus.
Additionally and most importantly, Hersh tells us the Pentagon has invested “hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and expand American Navy and Air Force facilities in Norway” — a loss of sovereignty that does not sit well with many Norwegians. In a seamless connection, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s current “supreme commander,” was Norway’s prime minister for nine years not too long ago. Besides, with cheap Russian natural gas off the market, more energy resources, like Norwegian and American, will have to be procured by Western Europe, to say nothing of the global economic impact!
Past environmental controls on fracking, oil and gas exploration, coal and nuclear are now out the window. Dirty, and more profitable, energy floodgates are opening wide every day. God help the Climate Crisis!
Norwegians fought Nazis with dynamite
But as much as he is to be admired for his thoroughness, Mr. Hersh missed one more draw unique to Norway, which ties into my reason for the Oslo stopover. I had three goals in mind for the three full days I had there: NPA, The “Homefront” Museum (Museum of the Resistance to the German occupation of 1940 to ’45) and the Nobel Peace Prize Museum. So Wednesday morning Sept. 28 found me leaving the NPA headquarters for a short stroll to the medieval Akershus Fortress overlooking the scenic, old harbor to delve into the fascinating history of Norwegian partisans blowing up all things Nazi 80 years ago.
The Norwegians are explosives experts, with a storied history of sabotage with dynamite — invented a century and a half ago, a mere 320 miles away in Stockholm by Alfred Nobel. Whole ships, entire railroad lines, strategic bridges, vital communication lines, Gestapo police stations and crucial war-production factories blew to pieces and went up in smoke, much to the approval of our World War II Allies, other civilian resistance groups and all populations living and dying under German invasion and occupation.
Members of Norway’s Communist Party took the lead in damaging Germany’s war machine on their soil. Russia (then the USSR) was a key ally — more ironies.
The Soviet sacrifice of 27 million dead far overshadows all others in the Second World War, but in the Western European lore of spies, saboteurs and guerrilla fighters, Norway’s reputation in particular is quite exalted in this pantheon — especially when held up to other Scandinavian countries, which were either “neutral” or acquiescent.
A visit to the Resistance Museum was always definitely on my itinerary. A chill runs up the spine when one learns that cells holding POWs were housed in the basement of the very same ancient stone building that now holds the museum. A small walled area just outside was used for the executions of freedom fighters. Norwegians valiantly fought back, mostly with dynamite.
Pipeline destruction a year in the making
Today, C4 explosives are the thing and were used to take out three of the four Nord Stream pipelines. Planning started in Washington in late 2021, ahead of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Could Washington have guessed that the Russians felt threatened by massive Western military buildups on their northern — and central and southern, as well as eastern — borders?
No matter. Hersh’s source says that Washington task force members flew across the Atlantic to meet with their Nordic secret service and naval counterparts to negotiate the joint operation. Maybe it was payback time for the “hundreds of millions of dollars” poured into that country for U.S. bases in the north of Norway?
Therein lies another irony, as the present American bases in the far north of Norway are in or near the very same area where combined Soviet and Norwegian forces spent six months from 1944 to ’45 driving out the Germans. That protracted battle began with a Soviet offensive that liberated a Nazi-occupied Norwegian city just over the narrow border between Russia and Norway. Early in the war, the Norwegian government-in-exile established a military mission in Moscow! Now a united Germany is a key Western ally in a “war against Russia”?!
The last stop in my Oslo visit was the Nobel Peace Prize Museum, just on the other side of the small harbor from the fortress. Swede Alfred Nobel, in his 1901 will, chose to leave his vast fortune to fund an annual Peace Prize to be given by Norway (which did not gain independence from Sweden until 1905). Additional prizes in four categories, three scientific and one literary, are awarded by a Swedish committee.
Today the Oslo government-appointed Nobel Peace Prize Committee is highly politicized, a museum docent confided to me privately. He noted my Veterans For Peace bag as soon as I paid for admission at the museum desk. I then got a personal tour and an extended conversation with him about the selection of the awardees — no surprise with a government that is sympathetic to NATO.
My guide, having heard from me about VFP’s collaboration with NPA in Vietnam, pointed out the 1973 Peace Prize awardees — [Vietnamese representative] Le Duc To and [then-U.S. Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger “for jointly having negotiated a cease-fire in Vietnam.” But what the museum does not tell you, he said, is that Le Duc To refused the prize, because the U.S. violated the armistice with the brutal “Christmas bombing” of North Vietnam’s capital Hanoi in December of 1972.
Global economic and military realities are indeed made up of complex and contradictory threads, producing a mind-boggling “tapestry” — with many holes in it. Truth is stranger than fiction, and my innocent tour of Norway’s capital last fall seems to have touched on multinational histories and present crisis situations.