Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tsunami over Rosenbad

Today, an independent commission has issued a report on the performance of the Swedish government in the wake of the tsunami catastrophy during the Christmas 2004 which is unique in modern Swedish history in its criticism of the government in general and the Prime Minister in particular.

The report is a political tsunami sweeping in over Rosenbad, which is the building housing the core governmental functions in Stockholm.

The report details with astonishing clarity how the government was completely asleep at the wheel, and continued to be so for a remarkable long period of time.

For someone with some knowledge of these things the report of the independent commission makes astonishing reading. It was common knowledge that things were bad, but hardly that things were this bad.

We are talking about a profoundly dysfunctional government. And this was brutally exposed in a situation like this.

The Prime Minister doesn't talk to the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister doesn't talk to the Deputy Foreign Minister. The civil servants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs don't talk to the higher levels and don't dare to do anything in the absence of concrete orders.

It's profoundly dysfunctional. And exposed in a way that's just amazing.

One small detail - although an important one - is that of the disputed phone call from the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister to the Deputy Foreign Minister.

The first claims that he called the later on his mobile phone, on instructions from the PM, to check that things were OK. But the the later denies ever receiving such a call, and has now publicly referred to the logs from the mobile phone companies to prove that no such call was ever received by him.

This is astonishing in itself. Two of the very key persons in handling the foreign and security affairs of the nation are demonstrating in public that they have no confidence in each other.

Even more astonishing is the fact that the Prime Minister has announced that they and everyone else so heavily critized by others will remain in their position. The sufferings inflicted by the tsunami will not be eased by any resignations or dismissals, he says.

That's probably correct.

But equally correct is to note that a dysfunctional set-up of persons just continue at the helm of the nation.

If they couldn't talk to each other before or during the catastrophe last year, they are even less likely to be able to talk to each other after entering having de facto accused each other in public of lying.

The report is the most damming document every issues on the performance of a Swedish government. It is unique in every single respect.

But it's not necessarily an indictment against the Social Democratic party. I know of past Social Democratic Prime Ministers that ran governments far more functional.

It's an indictment against the Persson system of government.

And the core conclusion to be drawn from the report is that this can't be allowed to go on. With the existing set-up of failed persons just sitting there, they are as likely to fail the nation tomorrow as they failed the nation yesterday. - Bakgrund