"If the Iraqi war was illegal, which is what Kofi Annan says, what about the bombing of Libya, which went far beyond the UN Security Council mandate?" Jagland asked on Facebook.
The US and Britain went to war in Iraq with the single intention of toppling President Saddam Hussein, which was done without any approval from the UN Security Council. France voted against it, and Russian President Putin called the proposed US-led invasion a "big political mistake." In 2003, the war was justified with "credible" intelligence information, according to which Iraqi had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. However, none of the promised weapons were found in the subsequent free-for-all, and Iraq has plunged further into terrorist chaos and sectarian violence.
Norway, which is usually reserved and judicious, rushed into the skirmish headfirst, as the then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg gave his government no time to reconsider. Over the course of four months in 2011, Norway dropped 567 bombs on Libya. During the operation's initial phase, 17 percent of NATO's bombs were dropped by Norway. Afterwards, every tenth bomb in Libya was dropped by Norwegian pilots. Later, Norway received much praise for its perhaps disproportionate contribution from US President Barack Obama himself.
However, Norway's valor over Libya's ruins will hardly go down in history as a shining moment of Stoltenberg's otherwise impressive career. After Gaddafi was hunted down and slain, the hostilities went beyond all reasonable interpretations of the UN mandate. Libya collapsed, ceasing to function as a state after all the foreign "liberators" went home.
Historically, Thorbjørn Jagland and Jens Stoltenberg, both former leaders of the Norwegian Labor Party and both former prime ministers, fought a bitter power struggle in the early 2000s on home turf. Today, it may look like a rematch, albeit this time in the European arena, between the Secretaries-General of the Council of Europe and NATO.
"Not a single attempt to put things into perspective during coverage of the NATO Summit. Only propaganda in the Norwegian press, almost as bad as the Russian propaganda against "the West. It's time to turn on your wits, as Mikhail Gorbachev put it," Jagland wrote.
This may indicate the next round of the decade-long melee between two archrivals.