http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/opinion/thomas-friedman-revelations-in-the-gaza-war.html says:

The second pillar, which debuted in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, is to nest Hamas fighters and rocket launchers among the densely packed Gazan population and force Israel into a war where it can only defeat or deter Hamas if it risks war-crimes charges. No one here will explicitly say so, but one need only study this war to understand that Israel considers it central to its deterrence strategy that neither Hamas nor Hezbollah will “outcrazy us.” I don’t believe Israel was targeting Gaza civilians — I believe it tried to avoid them — but, at the end of the day, it was not deterred by the prospect of substantial collateral civilian casualties. Hamas used Gaza’s civilians as war-crimes bait. And Israel did whatever was necessary to prove to Hamas, “You will not outcrazy us out of this region.” It was all ugly. This is not Scandinavia.

What does "This is not Scandinavia" mean? Why does Thomas Friedman precede that sentence by "It was all ugly"?

EDIT: In a Google search, I also found http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/central-south-asia/65337-india-just-woke-up-north-korea-what-11.html, which says:

As I condemn those anonymous instigational mischief mongers who started this whole spiral of violence. Neither should be spared the full weight of the law. Because frankly I hold both responsible.

Once again this proves what I have been saying to the Ivory Tower residents here. This is India. This is not Scandinavia. Use your brains. Be responsible, be vigilant, clamp down if you see or know someone who's doing something you feel has the potential to hurt others. Do not be silent. Do not be apathetic. And do not let false loyalty come in the way of doing what is right.

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    In the United States, Scandinavia has come to be regarded as a humanistic, peace-loving region of the world, in part because of its strong support for high-quality, publicly financed social services, and in part because nations in the region have tried to remain neutral in the great military conflicts of the past century. – Sven Yargs Aug 6 '14 at 4:34
  • @Sven Yargs. Thanks! A Google search doesn't have much about the expression. – user87367 Aug 6 '14 at 4:39
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    @user87367 - in Europe too Scandinavia is a region which is often referred too as a model for high-quality life, social and political stability and peaceful attitude. – user66974 Aug 6 '14 at 4:46
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    This question is not about the English language. – Kris Aug 6 '14 at 5:13
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    Damn the Vikings! – Mitch Oct 27 '15 at 21:59

Scandinavia is a region which is often referred too as a model for high-quality life, social and political stability and peaceful attitude. Often called also , Nordic model. In the articles above the comparison with Scandinavia is a way to creat a contrast with less developed or less stable parts of the world.


  • A region of northern Europe consisting of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Finland, Iceland, and the Faeroe Islands are often included in the region.

Nordic model:

  • Although there are significant differences among the Nordic countries, they all share some common traits. These include support for a "universalist" welfare state (relative to other developed countries) which is aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, promoting social mobility and ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights, as well as for stabilizing the economy; alongside a commitment to free trade. The Nordic model is distinguished from other types of welfare states by its emphasis on maximizing labor force participation, promoting gender equality, egalitarian and extensive benefit levels, the large magnitude of income redistribution, and liberal use of expansionary fiscal policy.


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  • FWIW Josh, I see no connection to the "socialist model" ("Nordic model") aspect. If someone in the US said "where's the free healthcare?!" you might answer "hey buddy, this is not Sweden!". The meaning would be (as you say) Sweden (SUPPOSEDLY) has high social services, "socialism" if you will. In this example it's like "you're in a war zone - this is not Sweden!" The emphasis here is on Sweden as very law-abiding, no terrorism (err, much), very orderly - you know? ("Switzerland" is also used like this.) – Fattie Aug 6 '14 at 15:49
  • Note that the "India" example the user8 gives, is also using Sweden as "very orderly, law-abiding, non-chaotic." – Fattie Aug 6 '14 at 15:50

"This is not _ _ _" is a fairly common figure of speech, user8.

For example: you're in a fancy restaurant and you ask for ketchup. The manager says "This is not McDonalds!"

Conversely, you're in McDonalds, and you ask for caviar and champagne. The manager says "Hey, this is not Le Cinq!"

You get the idea?

In this example, "Scandinavia" is a peaceful, very orderly region. So, it's a contrast to the chaos and war of the region under discussion.

The expression is particularly used in the sense ... "Don't expect..." or perhaps "what did you think?"

For example, you take an expensive car somewhere known for a huge amount of crime (perhaps Mexico of today, say). Your car is stolen. You complain bitterly that your car is stolen. Your friend says to you: "Hey, what did you expect? This is not Zurich!" (Or, some other place where there is very little street crime . say, "This is not Sweden!" or "This is not Japan!" ...)

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  • Scandinavia may be a peaceful, very orderly area or place; but a nation it is not. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 6 '14 at 16:15
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    It's just a cliché bud - nobody cares about your facts and reality :) – Fattie Aug 6 '14 at 19:14

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