Peterson explained that "to this end, one month ago, the government appointed a public commission. The demand for such a review and for the preparation of a 'white book' was put forth by the Swedish Afghan Committee, by the Association of Solidarity With Afghanistan, and the Congress of the Social Democratic Workers Party of Sweden," groups with which Peterson himself has long been involved.
The politician turned activist, who had previously served as Sweden's defense minister between 1994 and 1997 following a distinguished career in parliament and in government, noted that "the Swedish people, whose country, without any public discussion, was suddenly embroiled in Sweden's first war in nearly 200 years, and who spent billions of krona on this war, have a right to a fair, comprehensive and public assessment of the war which interrupted our long peace. Veterans, relatives of the victims and others have a right to know why and how Sweden was drawn into this war."
Nearly 10,000 Swedish military personnel have served in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force since 2002, with five soldiers losing their lives, and 13 more seriously injured.
The former defense minister noted that "the security situation has deteriorated, and is now worse than it was a few years ago –this was the conclusion reached by the government in its 2014 report before parliament. It is therefore necessary for the Commission to conduct a thorough analysis of events in Afghanistan since the war began, comparing them with Sweden's [original] objectives."
Line Between UN Peacekeeping and NATO's War Blurred
Peterson noted that while Sweden's mission was long characterized as a peacekeeping mission under UN auspices, the reality was that "already by the end of November 2001, the US and the UK came to lead the operation. It was these states that started the war and the bombings. These were not the blue helmets [of the UN], but NATO helmets."
"The UN mandate was to conduct operations aimed at ensuring the safety of the new government, first in Kabul, and later extended to the entire country. The mandate had never come to encompass the task of crushing all pockets of resistance in the country. This task was put forward by the US-led operation Enduring Freedom, which was contrary to international law. Evidence has emerged that during our country's participation in the ISAF mission, Swedish forces participated in the extrajudicial, targeted killing of Afghans. The Commission must clarify whether this indeed happened, and if it did, to what extent."
"The secrecy surrounding everything relating to the Swedish military operation has been total," Peterson explained. "All cases of Swedish soldiers' participation in combat operations remain classified. The investigation must disclose the facts about the Swedish war effort."
Swedes Deserve a Fair Accounting of the True Cost of War
"Prior to the Riksdag's adoption of the decision on January 18, 2002 to send Swedish troops to Afghanistan, the government put forward several demands: that Sweden's participation in the mission not last more than six months, that the operation be only under the auspices of the United Nations, and that it involve the participation of Muslim states. None of these requirements were met. So why did Sweden enter the war?"
Peterson hopes that the commission will be able to find some answers to this question.