President Barack Obama welcomed the assembled leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to the White House with sincere praise. Obama said that these Nordic countries would make the world “more secure and more prosperous” if "we" would allow them to run things. Speaking on May 13, Obama said “So I really do believe that the world would be more secure and more prosperous if we just had more partners like our Nordic countries.  There have been times where I’ve said, why don’t we just put all these small countries in charge for a while? And they could clean things up.”
 
Adding that these Nordic states are central to his efforts to create an "international order," Obama said “They have been extraordinarily important for us in shaping and maintaining an international order that is rule-based, that is fair, that is just.”
 
Obama claimed that taxation and wealth redistribution in these countries is to the benefit of their respective citizens. “In fact, in a world of growing economic disparities, Nordic countries have some of the least income inequality in the world -- which may explain one of the reasons that they're some of the happiest people in the world, despite not getting much sun.” He praised the collective as a "model” and for their  “pluralism” and willingness to welcome refugees. Obama said, “And we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being.  We believe in pluralism and tolerance and respect for free speech and freedom of religion.  It’s why we welcome the refugee who seeks a better life.  It's why we stand up for human rights around the world.”
 
Sweden and Norway have seen considerable social turbulence of late since the arrival of a continuous stream of refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants, especially from Africa and the Middle East. Some Swedes, for example, complain that some areas of Stockholm and other cities have become "no-go" areas due to a spike in violence. Sweden's Democrat Party is now the most popular party in the country, having come out strongly opposed to continued entry of immigrants. The incidence of smash-and-grab crimes has increased markedly over the last year. Immigrant gangs have stolen numerous pieces of unsecured heavy equipment, such as front-loaders, and used them to assault businesses.
 
In Sweden, police have been tasked to increase security at asylum centers in the country. And in January of this year, authorities were organizing departure flights for asylum seekers on charter airlines.  With a population of 9.8 million people, Sweden is one of the EU member countries that received the largest share of refugees per capita. In 2015, it accepted over 160,000 refugees and migrants. However, since January the number has plunged ever since Sweden introduced systematic photo ID border checks, after stating that it has hit its limit in terms of receiving asylum seekers


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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