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OSLO, Jul 26 2011 (IPS) - Norway is a small nation and its people are in shock after the callous act of political violence of unprecedented cruelty that occurred just days ago. There is a tangible atmosphere of quiet everywhere, of subdued voices, sadness, and national grief, which is fortunately alleviated by the compassion and concern that flows from friends all over the world. We are also grateful to our national leaders, government, police, and emergency and rescue personnel for reacting with admirable composure, compassion, and efficiency.

Few can grasp the scale of sheer devastation that one derailed ubermensch was able to cause. Motivated by white supremacy, he blamed a conspiracy of politicians and media for cultural marxism and assisting an Islamic invasion of Europe. As a fervent anti-socialist, the killer chose to target the next generation of Labor Party politicians by murdering everyone at their youth camp, kids as young as 14 or 15 from municipalities all over the country. He had taken drugs to boost his self-confidence and subdue all inhibitions as he embarked on shooting teenagers at a rather small island in a cold lake.

The youth camp was the main target; the car bomb set off in the center of Oslo one hour earlier was intended to create chaos, draw the police, and secure the maximum time possible for undisturbed slaughter of the labor party youth. Though meant as a diversion, the bomb caused extreme havoc and damage. International media stated that the explosion was “near the prime minister’s office” but it was much worse. Placed in the middle of the government compound, the bomb damaged almost all surrounding office buildings, several beyond repair. With few exceptions, Norway’s ministries will need to work from makeshift offices for at least two years.

One particularly evil and cruel aspect of the massacre was the killer’s use of a police uniform. The young people of the camp, having fled in all directions from the attack of this deranged man in a police uniform, were desperately scared when the real police finally came to their assistance an hour later: were these officers just pretending to help in order to get near enough to shoot and kill?

The perpetrator, a smart and exceptionally well organised loner who grew up in affluent suburbia, had been a member of the extreme right-wing party before he concluded that democracy could not protect Europe from being conquered by Islam. For 9 years he planned the rollout of his Big War on multiethnic, multicultural Europe, isolating himself from family and friends to make sure nobody would find out and try to stop him.

We can no more protect ourselves against such a megalomanical madman than against a natural catastrophe. But this gun-swinging religious fanatic is the product of our militarised culture with its high tolerance for violence.

Peter Weiss, an attorney in New York and president of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, made this remark: “What can be done with such people? Maybe nothing. But engaging in dialogue with extremists, unpromising as that may seem, would be better than waiting for the next Utoya to happen.”

The mass murder of future politicians on the island was made possible with modern military kill technology -ostensibly produced for our “security”. Einstein said, and Nobel would have agreed, that in the nuclear age true security can be built only on justice, co-operation, and compassion, acknowledging all as fellow members of the human family and forgetting borders and religious and ethnic divides.

Norway is in a special position to promote global peace through global law and institutions since this was the idea Alfred Nobel wished to promote through his prize for the champions of peace. The response to the atrocities must not be more power-wielding and violence. Instead we must create a global culture of peace and non-violence.

In the flow of dramatic stories one stands out, about a member of the Labor Party youth group, a teenage girl of Indian or Sri Lankan extraction who was forced by friends to swim with them to safety. A bad swimmer, in frigid water, with 600 meters to go and bullets ringing around her head when she set out, the odds were high that she would join the many who drowned. But the girl made it to shore and said, when asked by a TV crew about her feelings toward the killer: “I feel pity for him. If this man had enjoyed a good friendship with just one colored immigrant, this disaster might never have happened.” (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

(*) Fredrik S. Heffermehl, author of “The Nobel Peace Prize; What Nobel Really Wanted” is a lawyer and board member of IALANA, the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms.

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