Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the twelfth Secretary General of NATO for half a decade. He retired last month.
NATO is the biggest military alliance in human history. It was formed to defeat an enemy that no longer exists, and has not existed for about thirteen years.
Rasmussen is an economics graduate and a keen amateur cyclist. He was Denmark’s taxation minster for a while in the late eighties/early nineties and then became Prime Minster in 2001, a position he held for eight years, during which he strongly supported the Iraq War, citing the ongoing covert manufacture of Iraqi WMDs as justification. He was a pro-intervention politico, sending Danish troops to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Kosovo too.
Rasmussen’s government oversaw the trial and sentencing of Major Frank Grevil, a member of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service who did four months for leaking to the press that the Service knew there were no WMDs in Iraq, and had briefed Rasmussen to that end. During the Jyllands-Posten controversy, when the Danish newspaper printed anti-Islamic cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Rasmussen refused to meet with the Ambassadors of eleven Middle Eastern countries. During his second term, rumours began to spread that Rasmussen was being courted for a top international job. He resigned and took up post at NATO.
The ongoing failures of NATO during his tenure are too profound to be addressed here. Two quick bullet points: it helped destroy a stable and peaceful Libya, turning it into a bloody Islamist morass, and is currently busy destabilising the Ukraine. The organisation badly needs to find a neutral gear or it will end up as nothing but a murderous echo chamber for electoral American politics.
Before leaving NATO Rasmussen gave a speech at Chatham House for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, during which he said the following:
“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organizations, environmental organizations working against shale gas – obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That’s my interpretation.”
Finding any evidence for this would be very easy indeed, but none was offered, because none exists. Environmental groups deny it. Russia denies it. NATO immediately distanced itself, saying that Rasmussen was only expressing a personal opinion. One wonders which allies Rasmussen was referring to, and about the acuity of his own interpretative powers. Ever since the events of the Maidan there has been a resurgence of Cold War hawkishness, and this comment exemplifies that perfectly. One is reminded of defectors like Yuri Bezmenov, who made a good living in Reagan’s America by claiming the KGB were expending 80% of its resources on cultural infiltration: promoting atheism, advocating social work, promoting the values of collectively-funded healthcare, questioning the material acquisition of wealth, and so on. No evidence for any of that was ever found either, but to the anxious and angry right it had the quality of a lullaby. Doubts about the American dream could be dismissed once more as the work of the devil, and Bezmenov ate well.
Leaving Rasmussen’s powers of interpretation to one side, the most pertinent question is who fed him this rubbish. One demographic leaps avidly into frame: the ex-spooks who now work in the energy sector. They could present him with the sort of chatter he felt able to drop into conversation; official, classified intelligence would be strictly no-go. The links between big oil and British intelligence, for example, are widely known and long established. These firms have been used to provide cover for working spies in the past, and that relationship continues after service: Shell and BP have been bankrolling old spooks for decades. Consultancies like Hakluyt & Co offered lucrative opportunities to broker intelligence on environmental groups and corporate rivals, while top brass like Sir Mark Allen were hired directly. Clearly, there is money to be made. What Rasmussen repeated in Chatham was a sales pitch; like many sales pitches it crumbled on exposure to daylight. Whether they were British or not, I’d bet it was former intelligence officers who spun him the tale.
What Rasmussen’s naivety both occludes and exposes is the extent to which energy companies and environmental groups alike are subject to the machinations of former and serving intelligence officers. Rest assured, these aren’t Russian. They are overwhelmingly British and American, with a smattering of German and French. Russian sponsorship of the anti-fracking movement is negligible to non-existent, despite what Curveballs its money-minded advocates might drag out in private.
Western activity in this area is far more extensive, and one doesn’t even have to look abroad to know that. Domestic infiltration of environmental groups by the police, the security service, and private sector intelligence consultancies has been rife for decades. In some cases police officers fathered children with activists in order to validate their cover. Such intrusions and subterfuges have been largely pointless, but economy of activity is alien to the nature of bureaucracies. Further afield, the SIS men have been markedly more aggressive.
Those without especially long memories will remember the failed counter-coup in Sierra Leone, a small country with less small reserves of oil and gas, which proved to be the last hurrah of the white mercenary in Africa. The resulting scandal dragged several prominent figures into its maw, and the sell-swords in question had not long returned from putting down an insurrection in a mineral-rich province of Papua New Guinea. Both actions were SIS-backed.
What about the present day? In Myanmar the National Endowment for Democracy (an offshoot of the US State Department), Exxon, BP, Chevron and total are funding newspapers and activist groups to oppose the building of hydroelectric dams. The country’s pursuit of renewable energy has been discreetly opposed ever since Naypyidaw turned to China, and not the World Bank, for help, leaving the States scrabbling to exert some of its “soft power”.
Lastly, I’d wager it was someone with a background in intelligence who coaxed ex-BP CEO Tony Hayward into Kurdistan. Have any of those supertankers full of stolen Iraqi oil actually docked yet? Or are they still transferring at sea to cloak the origin of their cargo?
If any single power bloc has infiltrated both the environmental movement and the energy sector, it is the member countries of the Western alliance which Rasmussen has supposedly been overseeing for the last five years.