US-NATO bloc controls Iceland’s air space

From the day of the Anti-NATO protests in Reykjavík. Police unleash tear gas against the people. On the west side of the House of the Althing. March 30th 1949 | Arnaldur Grétarsson & family, rights-holder to these photographs.

From the day of the Anti-NATO protests in Reykjavík. Police unleash tear gas against the people. On the west side of the House of the Althing. March 30th 1949 | Arnaldur Grétarsson & family, rights-holder to these photographs.

On May 10, 1940 Britain invaded neutral and sovereign Iceland, then in a union with Denmark which had been brutally invaded by Hitlerite Germany. The British occupation force of 25,000 troops was bolstered by troops from Canada, which in turn occupied Greenland, a source of minerals for the U.S.-owned Inco nickel monopoly. Iceland subsequently agreed in July 1941 to a tripartite treaty under which U.S. Marines – reaching as many as 50,000 – deployed to relieve the British garrison in Iceland on the condition that all military forces be withdrawn from Iceland immediately upon the conclusion of the war in Europe. The contribution of the Icelandic people, especially its fishermen, to the anti-fascist struggle, was second to none. On VE Day, thousands of U.S. soldiers and sailors went berserk in Reykjavík until pacified by Icelandic police and civilians. And, in fact, U.S. forces stayed until 2006 – at the military base Naval Station Keflavik. Iceland’s charter membership in NATO in 1949, which was broadly opposed by the people (pictured), formally required neither the establishment of an Icelandic armed force, nor the stationing of foreign troops in the country during peacetime. The Washington (NATO) Treaty was and is not a treaty based on the relations of equality of nations, big and small or the principle that every nation is as equally as important as the next. Iceland’s membership was demanded by the U.S. for self-serving reasons as a military “stepping stone” to Europe, as was the Azores in the mid-Atlantic belonging to fascist Portugal of the dictator Salazar.

The Icelandic government and ruling elite adhered to the neocolonial view that looked down on small nations. This slavish view is frankly expressed by veteran Ambassador Einar Benediktsson in a major 2011 paper he delivered to the US Army War College: “Iceland is so weak that it must either follow U.S. leadership or abandon the notion of any substantial bilateral relationship at all.” Hence, as a small nation, it can never consider itself on a par with a big state to whose “security interests” it must sacrifice its own security and rights.

Thus, almost immediately, at the demand of NATO, Iceland entered into a defence agreement with the United States in 1951 which in parallel established its nuclear base in Thule, Greenland. But Iceland was never regarded as a partner in the NATO bloc. This bitter reality was made clear in the bitter “cod wars” its fishermen and coast guard was forced to fight against British economic aggression in 1958, 1972-73 and 1975-76 for territorial waters. The slogan “Iceland out of NATO and the Army out!” (“Ísland úr NATO og herinn burt!“) is as relevant as before. 

NATO membership and the U.S. defence agreement was the beginning and ultimately the kiss of death of the Iceland Defense Force as a sovereign entity, as the following item illustrates.

ICELAND: Six Norwegian F-16 fighter jets touched down in Iceland on Monday, 27 January 2014, to take on NATO’s mission to provide airborne surveillance and interception capabilities to meet Iceland’s peacetime preparedness needs.

The deployment will both provide Iceland with a quick-reaction capability of fighter jets ready to scramble if required to conduct the peacetime NATO Air Policing mission, and ensure that Icelandic and NATO personnel are fully trained and experienced to support all future such deployments.

“The Norwegian Air Force is a highly capable and professional fighting force, and they add tremendous value to our collective defence posture,” said General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

The Norwegian jets will be deployed to Iceland until 21 February.

Starting on 3 February 2014, in the context of Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), they will conduct a training event with fighter jets from partner countries Finland and Sweden, air-to-air refueling aircraft from the Netherlands and the United States, and Icelandic rescue helicopters and support staff.

The training event, ‘Iceland Air Meet 2014’, takes advantage of the Norwegian deployment, but will be fully separate from the peacetime-preparedness mission. At no time will the partner nations conduct air-policing duties or come under NATO operational command.

“NATO is looking forward to enhancing our relationship and interoperability with our partner nations Finland and Sweden during the Iceland Air Meet 2014,” General Breedlove said.

Story by NATO HQ and SHAPE Pubic Affairs Offices

TS note: Icelandic citizens have the same eligibility as Norwegian citizens for military education in Norway and to serve as professional soldiers in the Norwegian Defence forces

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