The bunad guerillas strike again in Norway!
Never heard of them? You’re not alone. The bunad is the traditional dress of Norway. Normally worn on formal occasions, women are taking to the streets in bunad dress in protest of closing hospitals. Norway has long been touted as the place to copy for socialized medicine. This is only made possible by its significant oil revenue. Norway brings in millions in oil money, which it invests in a fund and uses to finance its very liberally social government.
While the government wisely invested it to fund the state, Norway is now facing a crunch. It didn’t invest in its military, and a resurging Russia (with eyes on Norwegian territory) has been calling for more NATO forces. That’s quite ironic: a nation spending very little on its own military with plenty of money to spread around is asking a nation broke from fighting wars to bring in more military.
Not surprisingly, the US and others have been less than eager to help. So Norway has had to raise its defense budget, which requires consolidation elsewhere. This consolidation is partly coming through reducing health care costs by closing hospitals in less populated parts of the country. Once some of the local women were so far away that they gave birth to babies on the side of the road, the bunad-dressed women rebelled.
There is much to admire about Norway, but it got of pretty easy. The US military has been paying the price for European freedom, and too many European countries took advantage of the good times. As the US struggled with more debt and trying to provide for its own citizens, Norway and others were awash in money while not having to worry about defense. Those days are long gone.
Norway and the rest of Europe will find a way to balance their budget while also maintaining a force capable of defending their borders. The question is, will it happen before Russia begins to get angry and take portions of their territory?
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.