In Defense of Norwegian Russia Expert Glenn Diesen
Norwegian Russia expert Glenn Diesen was recently victimized by a smear campaign driven by those who claim that his appearances on RT sharing non-mainstream views about Russia-EU relations is tantamount to so-called “Russian propaganda”, which curiously coincides with Oslo agreeing to host American B-1 bombers for the first time in what CNN described as “a clear message to Moscow”.
The right for anyone to peacefully and responsibly exercise their freedom of speech is considered to be among the hallmarks of Western Democracy, yet double standards are regrettably applied in practice if the views that one shares aren’t considered to be “politically correct”. Norwegian Russia expert Glenn Diesen recently learned this first-hand after he was victimized by a smear campaign driven by those who claim that his appearances on RT sharing non-mainstream views about Russia-EU relations is tantamount to so-called “Russian propaganda”. Norway’s TV2 published a hit piece against him at the beginning in the month but it wasn’t until it was reported on by Russia’s Sputnik last week that a wider audience became aware of this scandal.
Professor Diesen responded to the criticisms against him by telling TV2 that “Rejecting counter-arguments as Russian propaganda is a form of censorship that demonizes the other party and polarizes the debate.” He also added that “They try to portray me as pro-Russian instead of pro-European in a format that includes Russia. They question whether I should ever be allowed to work for a Norwegian university. These are quite extreme attitudes, you ask me.” He’s entirely right, too. This prominent Norwegian Russia expert is being pressured to self-censor under implied threat that his hard-earned academic career is at risk if he doesn’t. His freedom of speech is being infringed upon because he dares to defy “politically correct” narratives about Russia.
Upon reviewing Professor Diesen’s growing archive of materials on RT, it’s clear that he’s truly a passionately pro-European thinker just like he defended himself as being. One of the main points that he regularly makes in his work is that the EU’s current policy towards Russia is counterproductive. He believes that this harms European interests and should therefore be reconsidered as soon as possible. His arguments are compelling and deserve to be listened to or read by any serious observer of Russian-EU relations. Regardless of however one feels about his criticisms and proposals, there’s no doubt that they’re shared in good faith with the intention of advancing European interests. Questioning the sincerity of his views is professionally indefensible.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly what his critics are doing, hence Professor Diesen’s justified reaction in describing their attacks as “a form of censorship”. Quite curiously, this scandal coincides with Norway recently agreeing to host American B-1 for the first time in a move that CNN described earlier this month as a “clear message to Moscow that the US military will operate in the strategically important Arctic region and demonstrate that it will defend allies in the area against any Russian aggression close to the country’s border.” The timing naturally makes one wonder whether the witch hunt against Professor Diesen is intended to silence one of the country’s most prominent dissident academics as US-Norwegian military cooperation distinctly begins to target Russia.
After all, Professor Diesen first appeared on RT in July 2018 according to the oldest record of their cooperation available on its website upon searching for his name. It’s certainly strange timing then that Norway’s TV2 only just now ran their hit piece about him at the same time as the US prepares to deploy B-1 bombers to the country in an unprovoked show of force aimed against Russia. From the perspective of American strategists, it makes sense that this move would be accompanied by an effort to silence one of the country’s most well-known dissident academics by threatening to “cancel” him for exercising his freedom of speech in a “politically incorrect” way. That definitely doesn’t make it right, but it helps put his current travails into a larger context.
Considering all that he’s going through right now simply for peacefully and responsibly expressing his well-intended expert views about the best way to improve Russia-EU relations, Professor Diesen deserves everyone’s support. What’s happening to him is morally wrong and goes against everything that Western Democracy is supposed to stand for. Those who disagree with him should publish rebuttals or challenge him to a debate. They shouldn’t go around smearing him with the innuendo that he’s pushing “Russian propaganda” just because of who hosts his views. If there’s any silver lining to this scandal, it’s that more people than ever are now aware of Professor Diesen’s ideas and can thus make up their own mind about them.