Stephen Strong

Let’s start with a belated welcome back to campus! My would-be first column was slated for MLK Day, and being the diligent student that I am, I decided to not do any more work than was necessary. This week I’d just like to reintroduce my column and tell a short story.

My column specializes in two things: deconstructing overly politicized news stories and discussing whatever else I want, really. This column was inspired by the tendency of news media on all sides of the aisle to take important events and politicize them to an almost comical degree, often to the detriment of the general public. Examples of this would be when the US pulled its forces out of northeast Syria or the egregious lack of coverage and emphasis given to local elections.

However, the news isn’t always teeming with interesting stories, and sometimes I would rather avoid adding my opinion to the storm; in these cases, I’ll write a column about something I’m passionate about like a movie review or a poem.

Today, I could talk about impeachment; it’s the hot button topic. But I would only be adding to the cacophony of voices in an already tired conversation. Really, the only thing I think is worth saying on the subject is that Chief Justice John Roberts has done a great job both in impeachment and his career as chief justice. He has a real sense for the strengths and weaknesses of our constitution and navigates its sometimes muddy waters admirably (if occasionally controversially).

So, since I won’t be discussing impeachment today, I’d instead like to tell a story about today in history. On this day in 1942, Vidkun Quisling (whose name is mud) was declared prime minister of Norway in the culmination of the Nazi domination of the European continent. The Scandinavian campaign, like all of the early parts of the war, was an astounding victory for the Nazis. After bloodlessly annexing Austria and Czechia, partitioning Poland and conquering France, Belgium and Holland in a matter of weeks, the Nazis turned north to capture Scandinavia as well.

Denmark was so ill-prepared that they capitulated within six hours without any resistance. The defeat was so complete that the King of Denmark actually sent his congratulations to Hitler on another magnificent victory.

However, for Hitler, Denmark was little more than an appetizer for the main course: Norway.

Norway was made of tougher stuff than the Danes, and withstood the Nazi onslaught for two months, longer than anyone else had to date, before finally succumbing. They might have held out longer had it not been for the political and military betrayal of one Vidkun Quisling.

Quisling was a once prominent political and military figure in Norway who, inspired by the fascist regimes in Italy, Germany and Spain, started his own fascist party in Norway and began enticing Hitler to invade.

During the invasion, after the legitimate government had relocated to another safer location, Quisling declared himself prime minister and with German support began ordering a demobilization of the Norwegian forces. He lacked legitimacy, and many of his acts as prime minister were ignored, but the chaos he sowed was enough to cement the fate of Norway. Two years later on Feb. 2, 1942, Hitler granted him the now ornamental post of prime minister.

The lightning-quick victories in Scandinavia cemented the mythology of the unstoppable war machine that was the Wehrmacht. But it was on another Feb. 2, this one in 1943, that the myth was shattered forever when the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad.

The Nazis exploded into a world that didn’t even want to imagine war, let alone prepare for it, and today is not so different.

Europe, with the exception of France, has become content to rely on the United States for virtually every military matter, even going so far as to criticize the US for not solving issues that are right outside their door. Most NATO members do not even meet the minimum military investment required by the organization. Meanwhile, the isolationist sentiment has begun growing in the US again, while a Russian dictator consolidates his power with massive sweeping constitutional reforms and tensions continue to rise among the world’s military powers.

Am I saying WWIII is around the corner? No. I don’t think that’s likely, and I’m not sure it’s even possible. But the attitude that historically ended with the Cold War has led nations across the world to focus on inane social issues while closing their eyes to the real evils in the world.

Wow, I kinda went off the rails there. Let’s end on a high note: we’re already doing better than last century — no World War yet! Then again there is a plague ...

Let’s just try and survive until graduation, y’all.

Stephen Strong is a senior majoring in finance and international business. He can be reached at sstrong8@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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