Just Hours Before Trump's Conviction, We Put Our Fate In His Hands

It is this man, convicted Donald Trump, that we have given unlimited access to military bases in the Arctic through a simple political majority. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5440002785)

Commentary: Only hours before the US' likely next president was convicted in a historic trial in New York, the Norwegian parliament had opened eight new military bases for American forces and law enforcement. The timing is accidental, but the consequences could be dramatic.

Norwegian version.

I had just led a debate during the Arctic Congress conference in Bodø, Northern Norway. 1,500 participants from across the world had stepped indoors in a Northern Norwegian city that was just deciding to break its heat records for the month of May. On stage, I had gathered a selection of national and international politicians and ambassadors. 

Unnecessary concern

Among them was American Jamal Al-Mussawi, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Norway. During the conversation, I challenged him on the state of American democracy, in which presidential candidate Donald Trump neither acknowledges his defeat in the 2020 presidential election nor the independence of the legal system.

Convicted on all counts.

Al-Mussawi believed Europeans worried unnecessarily. His strongest defense of American democracy was the independence of the institutions. The presidential election would not change that, said Al-Mussawi, who still understood European concerns.

A few hours later, a New York jury proved him right. 12 sworn women and men convicted Donald Trump on all 34 counts of which he was indicted in the so-called hush money case regarding the payment of a former porn star to make her shut up about her relationship to Trump.

Contempt of the court

A few minutes after the dramatic and historic verdict, Donald Trump still fueled the concern. In his usual manner of expression, he expressed his contempt of the court, which he believed was rigged by current President Joe Biden. There is not a speck of evidence of such a claim, which is therefore only suitable to weaken the US institutions.

Put our fate in Trump's hands.

In the time that passed from the debate in Bodø to the verdict, the Norwegian parliament voted on US forces' presence in Norwegian military bases.

An overwhelming political majority opened eight new military bases for American forces in addition to the previous four. Six of these are in the Arctic.

We are talking about an American right to unimpeded access to and use of these military bases, including the right to use American, not Norwegian, legislation in case of criminal prosecution of personnel.

Simple majority

Finland and Sweden are currently discussing the same legislation. Yet, where these countries require a two-thirds majority to cede national sovereignty to another country, a simple majority is sufficient in Norway.

In the Norwegian parliament, the decision was made by 85 to 12 votes. This means that only 97 out of a total of 169 representatives of the Storting took the trouble to be present during this historic vote.

War can be decided in a prison cell.

Even worse, the vote happened nearly without public debate. In all reality, the decision was made in the backrooms of the majority parties—a lapse back to the days of the Cold War.

It is part of the context that this is only possible due to Russia's brutal and persistent war against a European country. At the same time, there is little, if any, doubt that Russia's hybrid warfare was a decisive factor in Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election in 2016 and also his likely victory now in 2024.

Donald Trump's foremost characteristic is to weaken the US democracy, with good help from precisely Russia.

Without debate

It is in the hands of this man that Norway is putting its military fate and cedes national sovereignty with a simple majority and nearly without political debate.

In an interview with High North News, Professor Håkon Lunde Saxi at the Norwegian Defence University says there will be "no adults present" in a new term with Donald Trump.

Saxi is unlikely to share my concern about the parliament's decision and must not be thought to do so. His description of the security policy situation, if Trump wins the election, is nevertheless very worrying. Among other things, he fears that Trump's presidency "could lead to an unanswered Russian attack on a NATO country."

He is absolutely right about that, and the Americans know it, too. Precisely for this reason, the US Congress has tried through legislation to guard against a president who wants to withdraw the US from NATO and allow Russia to attack Norway or other NATO allies.

In practice, however, it has little significance. The president still decides whether or not to deploy American forces.

Yesterday's verdict in the USA shows that the order can just as easily come from a prison cell in New York as from the presidential chair in Washington.

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