TFF PressInfo # 285: What submarine in Sweden?

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

You have heard that Sweden is hunting a ”submarine” and that it is ”presumed to be Russian”. Here is an example, Financial Times of October 21 – which incidentally also announces that the Swedish Prime Minister vows to increase defence spending.

Not the slightest evidence

There are only three problems with this:

1) There is not the slightest evidence of there being anything military, neither that it is a submarine nor that, whatever the object might be, it is Russian.

2) Even with CNN, BBC and AlJazeera this is nothing but speculative low-grade yellow press journalism. This is possible in the field of defence, security and peace because much less is required of journalists when they write about these matters than when they write about, say, domestic politics, economics, sports, books or food and wine. In these fields you are expected to have some knowledge and media consumers are able to check. Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemology: On the use of dichotomies

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Sometimes the use of dichotomies, simple cuts, male-female, democracy-dictatorship, negative-positive peace is criticized: the world is more complicated. That the organic world with life, individual and collective, is complex, there is no doubt. That a simplistic us-them division of the world in two blocs or poles, polarization, is a step on the way to violence and war, is clear.

On the other hand, the dichotomy is a frequent form of thought; today’s digital world is even based on 0,1. We cannot live without right-left, forward-backward, up-down, North-South, East-West, etc.

For this author, with many dichotomies in thought-speech-writing, they are indispensable building-blocs for a complexity that can mirror some of the complexity of the real world, Read the rest of this entry »

The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable

By Farhang Jahanpour

Once again, the British Parliament has led the way with an epoch-making decision. On Monday 13 October 2014, British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognizing Palestine as a state. With 274 to 12 votes they passed a motion stating: “This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The Conservative Party’s whips advised the party’s MPs to stay away from the vote. As a result, nearly 90 per cent of the ruling Conservative Party members were absent from the vote. (1)

The Israeli government lobbied actively against the motion. The Zionist Federation of Great Britain, the oldest Zionist federation in the world, launched a campaign calling on British Jews to write letters to their MPs, urging them to oppose the motion. The more mainstream Jewish organizations also joined the campaign.

On the other hand, a number of Jewish MPs spoke eloquently in favour of the motion. The veteran Labour Party MP Gerald Kaufman, supporting the motion, accused Israel of “harming the image of Judaism” and contributing to anti-Semitism. In fact, the motion would not have made it to the floor of the House without the support of the Jewish leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband.

Most of those who spoke in favour of the motion were emphatic about Israel’s right to exist, but they felt that it was time to give the Palestinians the same rights that the Israelis enjoy.

Nearly a hundred years ago Read the rest of this entry »

Oslo is dead! Long live Oslo! The UK House of Commons Supports Diplomatic Recognition of Palestine

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
The post below is a modified version, especially the ending, of a piece published online two days ago in AlJazeera English. While appreciating the importance of the European moves to endorse Palestinian statehood, it seeks a more definitive repudiation of the Oslo Approach.
It calls for an end to the U.S. role as exclusive intermediary and the presumed outcome of a peace process being two states without indicating the character of the Palestinian state. So far, the two-state mantra has been cut back to allow Israel to retain at least the unlawful settlement blocs and to insist on arrangements that uphold their security against unforeseen threats, while granting not a word of acknowledgement to Palestinian security concerns.
My own strong belief is that unless the two peoples are treated with full equality in seeking a solution, the result will not be sustainable or just even in the unlikely event that some sort of agreement is reached.

Oslo is dead! Long live Oslo! The UK House of Commons Supports Diplomatic Recognition of Palestine

On October 13 the House of Commons by an overwhelming vote of 274-12 urged the British government to extend diplomatic recognition to Palestine.

At first glance, it would seem a Read the rest of this entry »

End Game in Ukraine?

By Jens Jorgen Nielsen

Written September 25, 2014

It should never have come to this horrible situation in Ukraine. The local population of Donetsk, Lugansk, Slavyansk and other eastern Ukrainian cities is living through a true nightmare. Residential areas are being bombed, shelled and burned. Non-combatants i.e. elder, women and children are lying dead in the streets. We’re talking about thousands of deaths. No water supply, no heating, no security – this is the grim reality for the population.

700.000 Eastern Ukrainians have already escaped from the war scene, most of them are living in refugee camps in Russia. It is worth noting that they have not fled to Kiev or elsewhere to the west.

Surprisingly the Western media hardly pay any attention to the horrors in Eastern Ukraine.

But that is not all. Ukraine is in total disruption socially, politically and not least economically and financially. Furthermore, the mental scars in Ukraine will continue for at least one generation ahead.

But again that is not all. The European Union suffers as well – in several ways. Read the rest of this entry »

From Third World to First World – Brazil’s election

By Jonathan Power

Brazil has long lived out its personal fantasy as the archetypal relaxed, tolerant and gregarious country with Copacabana beach, the samba, the carnival and a great deal of sexual freedom. It is now living out in real time its almost forgotten societal dream, an economic-cum-social revolution.

The retired president, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, bequeathed the nation a vibrant capitalist economy with a human face – an economy that has raised income per head quite substantially (it is now four times that of China), has almost abolished daily hunger and given the large majority of the poor an income supplement in return for families sending their children to school.

Still, after 8 years of Lula and 4 years of his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, the country struggles to stay ahead of its burgeoning population, the inequities of the feudal land system that cast millions into shanty towns and a murder rate in the slum favelas that is more akin to a war zone than a normal society.

Brazil remains one of the most Read the rest of this entry »

ISIS – Negotiations, not bombing

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

More senseless bombing of Muslims, more defeats for USA-West, more ISIS-type movements, more West-Islam polarization. Any way out?

“ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq-Syria, appeals to a Longing for the Caliphate” writes TFF Associate Farhang Jahanpour in an IPS column. For the Ottoman Caliphate with the Sultan as Caliph – the Shadow of God on Earth – after the 1516-17 victories all over till the collapse of both Empire and Caliphate in 1922, at the hands of the allies England-France-Russia.

Imagine the collapse of the Vatican, not Catholic Christianity, at the hands of somebody, Protestant or Orthodox Christians, meaning Anglo-Americans or Russians, or Muslims. A center in this world for the transition to the next, headed by a Pope, the apostolic successor to The Holy Spirit, an emanation of God in Heaven. Imagine it gone.

And imagine that they who had brought about the collapse had a tendency to bomb, invade, conquer, dominate Catholic countries, one after the other, like after 2 Bush wars in Afghanistan-Iraq, 5 Obama wars in Pakistan-Yemen-Somalia-Libya-Syria, and “special operations”.

Would we not predict [1] a longing for the Vatican, and [2] an extreme hatred of the perpetrators? Fortunately, it did not happen.

But it happened in the Middle East: leaving a trauma fueled by killing hundreds of thousands.

The Sykes-Picot England-France agreement of 16 May 1916 led to Read the rest of this entry »

Questioning Sweden’s ‘bold’ initiative

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

It was a welcome move, but only in some respects. The new center-left Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, in his inaugural speech to Parliament indicated on October 3rd the intention of the Swedish government to recognize Palestinian statehood.

He explained that such a move mentioned in the platform of his party is in accord with promoting a two-state solution, and more significantly, that is to be “negotiated in accordance with international law.” The call for adherence to international law in future diplomacy is actually more of a step forward than is the announced intention of future recognition, which has so far received all the media attention and incurred the wrath of Tel Aviv.

To bring international law into future negotiations would amount to a radical modification of the ‘peace process’ that came into being with the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993.

The Israel/United States view was to allow any agreements between the parties to arise from a bargaining process, which is a shorthand for acknowledging the primacy of power, taking account of ‘facts on the ground’ (that is, the unlawful settlements) and diplomatic leverage (allowing the United States to fake the role of ‘honest broker’ while at the same time making sure that Israel’s interests are protected).

I suspect that this hopeful language suggesting the relevance of international law was inserted without any awareness of its importance or relevance. Such an interpretation is in line with Swedish official explanations of their initiative as a way of helping ‘moderate’ Palestinian leaders gain control of diplomacy, thereby facilitating the eventual goal of mutual coexistence based on two states.

It was presumed by Stockholm without any supportive reasoning, and against the weight of evidence and experience, that a Palestine state could emerge from a reinvigorated diplomacy. No mention was made of the settlements, separation wall, road network that have cut so deeply into the Palestinian remnant, which as of the 1967 borders was already 22% of historic Palestine, and less than half of what the UN partition plan had offered the Palestinians in 1947, which at the time seemed unfair and inconsistent with Palestinian rights under international law. Read the rest of this entry »

Did Israel commit genocide in Gaza?

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
The post below is a somewhat revised version of a text published by The Nation. I should also point out that in these proceedings in Brussels under the auspices of the Russell Tribunal I served as a member of the jury.

In a special session of the Russell Tribunal held in Brussels on September 24th, Israel’s military operation Protective Edge was critically scrutinized from the perspective of international law, including the core allegation of genocide. The process featured a series of testimonies by legal and weapons experts, health workers, journalists and others most of whom had experienced the 50 days of military assault.

A jury composed of prominent individuals from around the world, known for their moral engagement with issues of the day that concerned their societies, and also the wellbeing of humanity, assessed the evidence with the help of an expert legal team of volunteers that helped with the preparation of the findings and analysis for consideration by the jury, which deliberated and debated all relevant issues of fact and law, above all the question of how to respond to the charge of genocide.

It should be acknowledged that this undertaking was never intended to be a neutral inquiry without any predispositions. It was brought into being because of the enormity of the devastation caused by Protective Edge and the spectacle of horror associated with deploying a high technology weaponry to attack a vulnerable civilian population of Gaza locked into the combat zone that left no place to hide.

It also responded to the failures of the international community to Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo 284: U.S. nuclear policy is taking the wrong road

By David Krieger

Intro: The absurdities of the Nuclear Age

By Jan Oberg

We deny – every day – that we can all be gone today or tomorrow. Project humankind finished. Not by God but by ourselves. We also deny that we could live much more safely without these doomsday weapons.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and its visionary leader, Dr. David Krieger, have devoted their energies since 1982 to tell the world that we must stop denying, stop taking huge risks and stop wasting incomprehensibly large sums so much needed for human welfare instead.

A nuclear-free world is eminently possible. And better. The nuclear states are committed to it through the Non-Proliferation Treaty and countless statements and UN resolutions. But they deny their responsibility.

There’s been enough documented technical and human failures with nuclear weapons. We ought to be scared.

Most media shed light on potential nuclear weapons, those Iran for instance don’t have. That’s the proliferation problem.

But non-existing nukes can’t kill everything we love. Existing nukes can. That’s the problem of possession.

And then there is state terrorism. Remember, until 9/11 nuclear arsenals were part of the ‘balance of terror’?

Terrorism is the deliberate wounding or killing of innocent people to achieve a political purpose and to instill fear.

No nuclear weapon can be used without deliberately killing millions of innocent people. Therefore, every nuclear state and nuclear-based alliance such as NATO subscribes to a philosophy similar to IS or Al-Qaeda. On a much larger scale.

It simply isn’t true that nuclear weapons are only for deterrence and would never be used. If adversaries knew that the other side would never use them, they would not deter. Deterrence means nuclear use under certain circumstances.

Nuclear weapons – weapons of mass terror – should be abolished.

They have no function, no ethical foundation and – like slavery or cannibalism – don’t fit human civilisation.

Isn’t it high time Western politics and our allegedly free media shed light on this issue? Give it priority?

Don’t they have a duty to inform us about the greatest danger of all?

In the pathbreaking article below one of the world’s leading experts on nuclear weapons, Dr. David Krieger who is also a TFF Associate for decades, tells you why we must wake up and why the U.S. should scrap its plan to modernise its nuclear arsenals at “up to a trillion dollars” over the next 30 years.

And here Gunnar Westberg, MD and TFF Board member tells you about Ukraine – once hosting the 3rd largest nuclear arsenals on earth. We should be happy that today’s Ukraine is nuclear-free and recognise that these weapons are useless.

By David Krieger

On September 21, 2014, the International Day of Peace, The New York Times published an article by William Broad and David Sanger, “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.” The authors reported that a recent federal study put the price tag for modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal at “up to a trillion dollars” over the next three decades.

It appears that Washington’s military and nuclear hawks have beaten down a president who, early in his first term of office, announced with conviction, “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Continue here

 

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