Fox News’ Swedish ‘se­cu­rity ad­viser’ has heads scratch­ing

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

A trans-At­lantic wave of puz­zle­ment is rip­pling across Swe­den for the sec­ond time in a week, af­ter a prom­i­nent Fox News pro­gram fea­tured a “Swedish de­fence and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor’’ who’s un­known to the coun­try’s mil­i­tary and for­eign-af­fairs of­fi­cials.

Swedes, and some Amer­i­cans, have been won­der­ing about rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the Nordic na­tion in the U.S. since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­voked “what’s hap­pen­ing last night in Swe­den’’ while al­lud­ing to past ter­ror at­tacks in Europe dur­ing a rally Feb. 18. There hadn’t been any ma­jor in­ci­dent in Swe­den the pre­vi­ous night.

Then, Fox News com­men­ta­tor Bill O’Reilly con­vened an on-air face­off Thurs­day over Swedish im­mi­gra­tion and crime be­tween a Swedish news­pa­per reporter and a man iden­ti­fied on screen and ver­bally as a “Swedish de­fence and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser,’’ Nils Bildt.

Bildt linked im­mi­gra­tion to so­cial prob­lems in Swe­den, lamented what he de­scribed as Swedish lib­eral close-mind­ed­ness about the down­sides of wel­com­ing new­com­ers and said: “We are un­able in Swe­den to so­cially in­te­grate these peo­ple,’’ ar­gu­ing that politi­cians lacked a sys­tem­atic plan to do so.

But if view­ers might have taken the “ad­viser’’ for a gov­ern­ment in­sider, the Swedish De­fence Min­istry and For­eign Of­fice told the news­pa­per Da­gens Ny­heter they knew noth­ing of him. Calls to Swedish of­fi­cials Sat­ur­day weren’t im­me­di­ately re­turned.

Bildt is a found­ing mem­ber of a cor­po­rate geopo­lit­i­cal strat­egy and se­cu­rity con­sult­ing busi­ness with of­fices in Wash­ing­ton, Brus­sels and Tokyo, ac­cord­ing its web­site. His bio speaks to ex­per­tise on de­fence and na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues, say­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes serv­ing as a naval of­fi­cer, work­ing for a Ja­panese of­fi­cial and writ­ing books on is­sues rang­ing from in­vest­ment and po­lit­i­cal cli­mates to se­cu­rity is­sues in work­ing in hos­tile en­vi­ron­ments.

But se­cu­rity ex­perts in Swe­den said he wasn’t a fa­mil­iar fig­ure in their ranks in that coun­try.

“He is in not in any way a known quan­tity in Swe­den and has never been part of the Swedish de­bate,’’ Swedish De­fence Univer­sity lead­er­ship pro­fes­sor Robert Egnell said by email to The As­so­ci­ated Press on Sat­ur­day. He and Bildt — also known then as Nils Tolling — were in a master’s de­gree pro­gram in war stud­ies to­gether at King’s Col­lege Lon­don in 2002-2003, and Bildt moved to Ja­pan soon af­ter, he said.

The ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of “The O’Reilly Fac­tor’’ said Bildt was rec­om­mended by peo­ple the show’s booker con­sulted while mak­ing nu­mer­ous in­quiries about po­ten­tial guests.

“Af­ter pre-in­ter­view­ing him and re­view­ing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening,’’ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer David Taba­coff said in a state­ment.

The net­work said O’Reilly was ex­pected to ad­dress the sub­ject fur­ther on Mon­day’s show.

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