As one Norwegian signs for a British football club another leaves, but is that any reason for us to be paranoid?
One of the useful things about having spent your teen years on a variety of narcotics to numb the pain of living in the United Kingdom during the 1980s is that one has an enviable understanding of paranoia. Walking around the streets of London at night with a head full of chemicals was always a bit of a toss up, but more often than not we’d escape with nothing worse than a few scrapes to our psyche, and the experience has since proven useful.
Panic, for instance, doesn’t come easily to those of us that have experienced true paranoia, whatever the situation is, it’s just not quite as bad as believing the entire room is full of people who, if you but blink, will slit your throat, or worse, tell the spiders on the walls that you’re an arachnophobe. One also gets to understand how people might act out of fear based entirely on paranoia rather than any sensible reality that might actually objectively exist.
Unfortunately reality has a way of presenting just enough evidence to back up a loosely arrived at position of paranoia. It isn’t too difficult to find potential threats if that is all your mind will let you see, and their behavior or statements might easily be interpreted as a threats or indications of imminent hostility. There’s no point gambling news reports from your central nervous system will countermand this mental misinterpretation, because your brain has the casting vote.
Worse still it is not just individuals that suffer from this affliction, entirely nations can befall its stranglehold on their sanity, indeed whole groups of nations. The biggest, in the macro sense is the current stand off between Russia and NATO over the Ukraine and Crimea, where both sides fear each other to such a degree that rational common sense on either side left the building a long time before Elvis even got off stage.
Macro Political Paranoia
NATO paints itself as a force for good and democracy, despite being an expansionist power that has gained far more territory in the last quarter century than Russia has since 1945, whilst Russia thinks WWII is actually going to happen again and leave it with another 20 million dead or more. Both sides are, lets face it, utterly insane. NATO knew Russia would never lose the strategic naval and air bases on Crimea to a political shift in Kiev, and Russia knew NATO nations wouldn’t sit by.
Not that NATO nations were about to rush to anyone’s aid. It’s one thing to bomb desert militia who wouldn’t know a surface-to-air missile if it bit them on the bum, but quite another to go up against an integrated air defense system of a first-line military nation. Far better to put the fiscal squeeze on Russia, or at least a few people in Russia, to just ramp up the pressure on Putin and hope his regime comes to a sticky end from within.
Is Joint Viking Frightening?
• Norway holds military exercise
• Burnley sign up Ulvestad
• Rogne leaves Wigan
Of course it’s quite optimistic of NATO to believe that, and whether you’re American sitting in the states or up close to the border as a Pole, Finn or Norwegian gambling laws and regulations, sanctions and diplomacy can shift a man whose opponents get gunned down on the streets of Moscow by people who work for a friend of his, is just a bit too much to hope for if you ask me. Of course once the sanctions were put in place and Russia didn’t much care, NATO returned to type.
NATO is primarily a military organization and as such tends, when it doesn’t know what else to do, to return to its roots in the cold war, especially when faced with the very same “enemy” it was first created to combat. The faux-outrage at Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the fake incomprehension of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, all of these disingenuous responses from NATO are backed up with a whole bunch of sword rattling because NATO don’t really know how to do anything else.
Norwegians Rattle Their Sabers
This then is why Norway is holding it’s largest military training exercise since 1967 this week involving 5,000 troops, 400 vehicles and elements of both their Air Force and Navy, in what they’ve named “Joint Viking” – which frankly sounds like a stoned Norseman – just one of a number of exercises scheduled for this spring. To read about it in Russia Today, of course, one would think that the Norwegians are preparing for war.
Not that there will be one. Russia isn’t about to nuke it’s customers and NATO are happy enough to swap Eastern Europe for Eastern Ukraine as the new Russian buffer-zone, but the constant talk about it as a real possibility should alarm everyone. Indeed perhaps it has and I’ve read the situation wrong, perhaps this isn’t about a stand off between east and west but just another machination of those devious Norwegians and their secret plan to take over the world.
This would explain why British football seems to be operating a bizarre one-in-one-out system when it comes to Norwegian players. Burnley, sitting in the relegation band of the English Premier League, has signed a three year deal with the 22 year old Norwegian Fredrik Ulvestad after a successful training with the squad, a signing which may well help their chances of escaping that relegation zone, although even their manager admits it’ll be a challenge for Ulvestad, not just on the pitch but off it.
Wigan, meanwhile, are also suffering enough to put relegation squarely on their plate as a possibility, but rather than signing up a Norwegian they’re shedding one. Defender Thomas Rogne is to leave the club having featured just once this season and, at 24, needs to be somewhere that needs him to play, not just be part of the squad. Still, those of you who like to bet on sport in Norway can always put some money behind Burnley at ComeOn! Sportsbook as they face Man City, but you’ll get 1.43 on the latter and just 8.0 on Ulvestad’s new team.