Individuals matter. Oriana Fallaci, and latterly Magdi Allam, have
had a great and salutary influence on the understanding of Islam in
Italy. Geert Wilders is a symbol, and more than a symbol, as Pim
Fortuyn was before him, of a stance to be taken against the
islamization of Europe. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who along with another
half-dozen apostates from Islam, deserves — and is unlikely ever to
get — the Nobel Prize for Peace, has had an effect on those who,
because she is from Somalia, can tell certain home truths about Islam
without that all-purpose idiotic charge of “racism” being flung at her
so as to silence her, or at least to make those who might stay to
listen hesitate instead, and possibly walk on.
And if individuals matter, and they do, the individual who most
intrigued me today was not the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace but,
rather, the Chairman (as of 2009) of the Norwegian Nobel Prize
Committee. So I turned to Wikipedia, which sometimes is awful, and
sometimes is most useful and informative. In this case, Wikipedia did
And I wanted to share what I found out. So you are free to go to
Wikipedia yourself, or you may prefer to read what I have arranged,
with some interpolated explanatory phrases, in an order, and with a
filleting, designed to highlight the most relevant parts of the works
and days of the Chairman of the Committee. His name is ThorbjÃ¸rn
The biographical information is below.
Everything below in italics is taken from the Wikipedia entry on Mr. Jagland:
ThorbjÃ¸rn Jagland (nÃ© ThorbjÃ¸rn Johansen) is a Norwegian
politician for the Labour Party, and the Secretary-General of the
Council of Europe. The President of the Storting since 2005, Jagland
served as the Prime Minister of Norway from 1996 to 1997, and later as
Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2001. Prior to becoming Prime
Minister, Jagland served as party secretary from 1986 to 1992, and
subsequently party leader until 2002, when he was succeeded by Jens
Stoltenberg. In 2009, he became Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel
Committee. He did not run for reelection to parliament in 2009.
Early Life: ThorbjÃ¸rn Jagland was born on 5 November 1950 in
Drammen and is the son of a welder, Helge Th. Jagland, and a cook,
Ingrid Bjerknes. The family was originally named Johansen, but in the
early 1950s, they changed their name to Jagland, a new constructed
surname that appeared in a book published in the late 1940 which aimed
at helping people find new surnames instead of patronyms, which had
long been associated with the working class. ThorbjÃ¸rn Jagland reached
a higher status in society with his new name and has been the first one
in ancestry to go to university.
Education: Jagland….studied briefly at the University of Oslo, whence he graduated with a one-year degree in Economics in 1975.
Early Career: He started his political career in the Workers’ Youth League, and served as national leader from 1977 to 1981.
But All Was Not Smooth Sailing: Jagland also sat in Buskerud
county council from 1975 to 1983. Jagland’s cabinet, albeit
short-lived, was marked by controversies from the beginning to the end,
with two ministers being forced withdraw following personal scandals.
Jagland, who was also ridiculed for his quotes and statements, resigned
following the 1997 election, even though his party won the most votes.
Resistible Rise: On 23 October 1996, Gro Harlem Brundtland
informed Jagland she was withdrawing from politics and leaving him as
head of government. The third cabinet Brundtland resigned, prompting
the party leader Jagland to form a new cabinet. When asked if
Brundtland was sure about Jagland, he replied, “Yes. I note that I have
been elected unanimously five times in the Labour Party’s national
congress, and that I have had all the political offices possible to
obtain in a country.”
Jagland Has His Big Idea –The “Norwegian House”: The tenure of
Jagland’s cabinet was marked by controversies. Minister of Planning
Terje RÃ¸d Larsen was forced to resign after 35 days, after it was
learned he had failed to pay all his taxes after receiving an option
pay-out in 1986. Jagland, and RÃ¸d Larsen’s successor, Bendik Rugaas,
were widely ridiculed for their visions about “the Norwegian House”.
This was a metaphor Jagland illustrated to present his vision of
Norway. In his speech to the Storting following his appointed, Jagland
described the Norwegian House as a foundation with four pillars. The
foundation represented, “the collective value creation within the
ecologically sustainable society”. The four pillars that hold up the
house were business and labour policy; welfare policy; research and
educational policy; and foreign and security policy. Jagland stated
that everyone had something to contribute regarding the creation of the
house; in particular he stated that the cabinet would cooperate with
the opposition to reach these goals. In his speech, Jagland said that
he would not deviate much from Harlem Bruntland’s policies, but that he
would increase the focus on violence, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and
crime, including improvement of preventative measures and the courts.
He also stated that it was important to introduce information
technology in all parts of the education system. As part of the
construction of the Norwegian House, the cabinet also started to
appoint lay councils, with expertese within their fields, that would
provide them with feedback and inputs on important areas in society.
Jagland stated that the purpose was to allow critical voices close
access to the political decisions, and increase the number of ideas
generated at a political level. Jagland stated in August 2008 that,
“the Norwegian House could have been better planned and prepared, but I
did not have the time. I took a chance. The Labour Party was down for
the count. My goal was to make a good election; and we did. We have not
done so well since”. Jagland said in an interview, “I still get letters
from people who miss the Norwegian House. It was an attempt at
something new, a building project that would also inspire the activity
on the side of the parties.”
There were scandals: Minister of Petroleum and Energy Grete
Faremo resigned following the secret police investigation of Berge
Furre, which occurred during her period as Minister of Justice.
But Foreigners Were Impressed With Jagland: In August, a former
Soviet spy described Jagland as a friendly politician during the 1970s
and 80s. Jagland said he held diplomatic talks with the Soviet unions
and that all the conversations were innocent exchanges between them. He
was classified as a “confidential contact” by the Committee for State
Security (KGB). In 1996, Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian
National Authority (PNA), visited Norway for two days.
He Was Known For His Loyalty: With
the announcement of the new government, Jagland chose not to renew the
term of Martin Kolberg as state secretary at the Office of the Prime
Minister. Kolberg, a childhood friend of Jagland, reacted with anger
and frustration, and the media portrayed the matter as Jagland firing
his best friend. Jagland said, “Martin had wanted to work for Gro
[Harlem Brundtland]” … I really wanted him to work as party
secretary”. Regarding Kolberg’s reaction, Jagland said, “I followed an
agreement between us, and I though he did not want the job. I am very
surprised by his reaction.” Five days later, Kolberg was appointed
state secretary in the Ministry of Defence.
In 2008, former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland called Jagland
“stupid” because of his lack of tactical judgment during the election.
He responded by saying, “I am glad I am who I am, and I would never
describe another person in those terms.”
Jagland said that in the elections he would have to obtain 36.9% of the
vote – the same percentage that his predecessor had obtained. But [a]s it turned out, Labour only received 35.0%.
And Jagland resigned.
After the 1997 election, a power struggle developed within the
Labour Party, with Stoltenberg seeking to become the new party leader.
Labour had lost much of its political power to Kjell Magne Bondevik and
his cabinet. In 1998, Jagland made several now-famous statements that
were met with ridicule, including, “We will come again, yes, we are
here already”, and “We put the foot down and stand on it.”
After several years of strife, the power struggle was essentially
concluded in 2000, when Stoltenberg became the party’s prime minister
candidate and Jagland settled as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Incident of the Breasts: In 1998, Jagland was confronted with another incident, after
placing his hands on SynnÃ¸ve SvabÃ¸’s breasts on national television.
SvabÃ¸ was at that time talk show host for Weekend Globoid. Two years
later, she was prosecuted for adultery against Jagland by the
Labour-politician Gaute Hareide from Ulsteinvik. SvabÃ¸ replied to here
prosecution “Am I accused for the Jagland-grip? I had considered an
accusation, but not three years afterwards. And not against me … I
was innocent”. The police dropped the case shortly afterwards. It was
seen by many at that time that SvabÃ¸ “lured” Jagland.
Workers’ Youth league membership scandal
Also in 1998, four leaders and treasurers of Oslo AUF were
convicted of fraud and jailed as part of the Workers’ Youth League
membership scandal. They were found to have filed excessive membership
numbers in order to receive increased municipal grants, and the court
case revealed that most youth parties and their leaders had been
engaging in this practice since the 1970s. Jagland testified in the
case and said it was not necessarily wrong to “advance” money for
memberships, provided the members in question reimburse this fee later
on. But he did testify that it was unacceptable to transfer money from AUF’s
main bank account to pay for membership fees. When pressed by the
prosecutor, he also agreed that membership numbers were too high when
he was the leader of AUF. In his defense, he said if AUF were
to follow the law too rigidly, they would only have ended up with a
quarter of the membership numbers that the Norwegian Young
Conservatives operated with. Jagland has later said to the court that AUF should
have received even more subsidies, referring to some of the other
political youth parties that used similar methods for calculating
The “Bongo From Congo” Affair: A new Labour cabinet, to be led by Jens Stoltenberg, was
announced by King Harald V on 17 March 2000; although Jagland was still
party leader at the time, he was passed over for the Prime Minister
candidacy, and instead settled for Minister of Foreign Affairs. Jagland
again made national headlines in a similar fashion to the publicity
about “The Norwegian House” and “36.9%”, this time for the phrase
“Bongo from Congo”. Jagland stated on 2 February 2001 on the nationally
broadcast television show I kveld med Per StÃ¥le on TV 2 that “everybody
at the Foreign Department went around saying that ‘now you are going to
meet with Bongo from Congo’.” The term “Bongo” and “Congo” has been
seen by many as a racial slur which tended to conjure mental imagery of
Accusations Against Australia Reported by Norway To The U.N. and The Red Crescent: When Jagland was Foreign Minister Norway reported Australia to
the United Nations for refusing to allow a ship full of Afghans to
enter Australian territory. Jagland, who said of the matter, “our
opinion is that international law is on our side,” reported Australia
to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Last, and not at all least:
From 2000 to 2006, he [Jagland] chaired the Socialist
International Committee on the Middle East, and he has outspokenly
opposed the perceived presence of islamophobia in Western societies.
There. That’s ThorbjÃ¸rn Jagland, as of this year the head of the
five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee that, on October 10, awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama.
Make of him, and that award, what you will.