By Gunnar Westberg
The 2015 Review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended Friday May 22 in New York without a final document being accepted.
Up till the very end it seemed that the conference would produce a non-committal final document.
The outcome which a majority of the states desired, a plan for a total ban on nuclear weapons, as there is for chemical and bacteriological weapons, was unacceptable to the nuclear weapon states.
Consensus means in the NPT that the nuclear weapon states decide. They wish to keep their capacity to exterminate mankind for generations ahead.
The American government had told its allies, the NATO states, Japan and others, not to support a ban on nukes, and the allies obeyed.
However, the Friends of Nukes did not have to take the blame for blocking a final document. Instead the blame fell on Israel, a country which is not even a member of the NPT.
The proud United States of America choose once again to heed the instruction from Mr Netanyahu: No agreement on a nuclear weapons free Middle East!
Perhaps it was easier for the USA to take the blame for blocking a hopeful outcome of the NPT if it was for the sake of the pro-Israel lobby than for love of nukes?
In doing so, the USA relieved the other nuclear weapon addicted states from the responsibility of this defeat for the NPT.
Even France, the most hypocritical of the Friends of Nuclear Weapons, could pretend to be a Friend of Disarmament.
“The atom bomb mentality is immoral, unethical, addictive and only evil can come from it.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
This would all seem like a great disappointment. But the important outcome of the conference was just the opposite: There is more hope today for a ban on nuclear weapons than we have seen for twenty years.
No less than 159 states agreed that the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons would be so catastrophic that they must be abolished.
Even more important, 107 countries asked for legal measures for a prohibition of nuclear weapons – use, threat, production, storage.
Read the speeches by South Africa, or Costa Rica, in Xanthe Hall’s exellent account, referring to the three humanitarian conferences held in the last two years, which offer hope where NPT fails:
“The humanitarian conferences demonstrate that democracy has come to nuclear disarmament, even if democracy is yet to come to the NPT…
Despite what has happened at this Review Conference, there is no force that can stop the steady march of those who believe in human security, democracy and international law.
History honors only the brave, those who have the courage to think differently and dream of a better future for all.
This is not the time to lament what has happened here, as lamentable as it may be. Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve. Let us all, boldly and finally, give peace a chance.”
IPPNW – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
By Jonathan Power
As long as Jeb Bush stays in the race to be the next president of the US the issue of the Iraq war will not go away. The fact that Iraq is descending into further chaos and that he is the brother of ex-president George W. Bush whose willful invasion of Iraq catalyzed Iraq’s implosion will see to that. And so it should.
When Bush junior was asked recently if he thought his brother’s policy in Iraq had been the right one he muffed his answer. He is going to be asked this question again and again. So far he hasn’t been pinned down publically on whether he supported his brother’s policy of using torture, including waterboarding. But he will be.
It is beyond understanding that Jeb has announced that his brother will be his principal advisor on the Middle East. His foreign policy team include a number of people who were complicit in the decision to go to war. There’s no evidence that they have changed their minds.
American politics has now reached a rough consensus about the Iraq war. It was a mistake. Americans belatedly realize that President Bush pulled the wool over their eyes. The reaction may not be as strong as in the UK where ex-prime minister Tony Blair, who walked in lockstep with Bush, is now treated as a pariah by a large majority of the population, but it is there.
Over time more and more Republican politicians have admitted that the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – which Bush and Blair said were definitely there – undermined their rationale for the invasion in 2003.
Hilary Clinton, now the front-runner in the next election, voted in the Senate for the war. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
Violence is to harm and hurt body, mind, spirit, even lethally, suicide, homicide, genocide (“cide”, from Latin “caedere”, falling). The focus here is on body violence, “sui” standing for Self, “homi” for Other. They do not exclude each other, they can be combined.
We have in mind US shootings-killings in recent decades, often at schools, spraying Others with bullets, in the end also Self, at his own hand or somebody else’s, with a gun. The killing by somebody else may or may not have been expected, but exposure to such extreme risk makes intention likely. In short, homicide and suicide. Both-And.
Hitler sacrificed millions of Germans and committed suicide.
We are used to seeing suicide as the consequence of life being intolerable: “I am better off leaving this world”; and homicide as other(s) being intolerable, “the world is better off without you”. These tragic, aggressive outcomes of double frustration may be rooted in unsolved problems and conflicts (dilemmas, disputes). Seeing it that way the “both-and” category makes sense: “I am a total failure; but you people betrayed me and deserve to be severely punished”.
Suicide can be combined with individual or collective homicide. The latter should not be confused with Durkheim’s distinction between egoistic suicide on behalf of oneself only, and altruistic suicide, Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
While hailing the so-called “framework agreement” on the nuclear deal with Iran reached in Lausanne on 2 April 2015 as a great political achievement, President Barack Obama also announced that he would invite the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders to Washington and to Camp David to inform them about the deal and allay their fears.
Just like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some Arab leaders had also expressed their opposition to the deal. Netanyahu has often described Iran as an “existential threat” to Israel and has condemned the tentative deal between Iran and six global powers, the so-called P5+1 (the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany), as “a very bad deal”.
While not using Netanyahu’s over-the-top rhetoric, nevertheless, some Arab leaders have expressed the view that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of relative isolation would mean that the West’s and particularly Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided between them and Iran, and that they would lose their pivotal position that they have held since Iran’s Islamic revolution.
This is why President Obama felt Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Both the West and Russia have a responsibility to make sure they don’t throw the baby out with the bath water as their quarrel over Ukraine continues. So much has been achieved since the end of the Cold War. Why throw it away because of Ukraine?
Ukraine is a marginal country. The tail should never be allowed to wag the dog. Ukraine has never really counted in world affairs in the 200 years of its existence. Only unthought through politics can inflate a misdemeanor into a capital offence.
Instead, front and centre of their minds, Russia and the Nato countries should think over what they achieved in the years immediately following the Cold War – nothing less than laying the bedrock of a global security system.
There were major agreements concluded to ensure control over nuclear and conventional weapons and to guarantee non-proliferation and liquidation of weapons of mass destruction. The UN began to play a much greater role in peacekeeping operations – of 49 deployments carried out before 2000 36 were carried out in the post Cold War 1990s. The number of international conflicts decreased quite significantly. Russia and China and other former socialist countries, despite differences in their political systems, were integrated into one global and financial economic system.
Several attempts were made to legally formalize the new balance of power – Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
In the middle of the Middle East is Israel, harboring dreams of an Israel even greater than King David’s. Israel has 5 neighbors:
Lebanon-Syria-Jordan-Palestine (recognized by 135 states)-Egypt.
This first circle of neighbors borders on a second circle of 6: Cyprus-Turkey-Iraq-Arabia-Sudan-Libya.
The second circle of neighbors borders on a third circle with 8: Greece-Iran-Kuwait-Bahrain-Qatar-United Arab Emirates-Oman-Yemen.
Adding up to 1+5+6+8 = 20 states; covering greater Middle East.
Israel has no ally among the 19, has been at war, with or in, the first circle, Iraq in the second, working for a US+ attack on Iran in the third. Greater Israel, from Nile to Euphrates would absorb the entire first circle and much of Turkey-Iraq-Arabia from the second.
In the middle of post-World War I Europe was Germany, harboring dreams of a Germany even greater than Bismarck’s Second Reich: a Third Reich more like the First, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation destroyed by Napoleon in 1806: a Neuordnung, nuovo ordine with Italy for Europe, with Russia as German colony. Read the rest of this entry »
By Gareth Porter
In February, a US Department of the Treasury press release announced sanctions on three Lebanese in Africa it said were linked to a “Hezbollah terrorist cell.”
But behind that press release is a story of how the portrayal of the Lebanese by the Treasury Department was based entirely on a case constructed by Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad through its Nigerian clients, and how that Treasury release suppressed publicly available facts, which made it apparent that those claims were false.
It was not the first time the Treasury Department had used its “designations” of foreign individuals and organizations to put out false and misleading information reflecting an Israeli propaganda line.
By Richard Falk
As long ago as 1998 Edward Said reminded the world that acting as if Palestinians were equally responsible with Israelis for the persisting struggle of the two peoples was not only misleading, but exhibited a fundamental in misunderstanding of the true reality facing the two peoples: “The major task of the American or Palestinian intellectual of the left is to reveal the disparity between the so-called two sides, which appears to be in perfect balance, but are not in fact. To reveal that this is an oppressed and an oppressor, a victim and a victimizer, and unless we recognize that, we’re nowhere.” – he said in an interview with Bruce Robbins published in Social Text (1998).
I would rephrase Said’s statement by substituting ‘any engaged citizen and morally sensitive intellectual’ for ‘the American or Palestinian intellectual of the left.’
We do not need to be on the left to expose the cruel hypocrisy of suppressing gross disparities of circumstances, or more to the point, blocking out the multiple diplomatic, military, material, and psychological advantages enjoyed by Israel as compared to the Palestine. “It is elementary, my dear Watson!” as Sherlock Holmes so often exclaimed, or at least it should be.
Unfortunately, a principal instrument of the mind numbing diplomacy of the United States is precisely aimed at avoiding any acknowledgement of the disparity that at the core of the encounter. As a result, the American public is confused as to what it is reasonable to expect from the two sides and how to interpret the failure of negotiations to get anywhere time and again. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
When I put things together in the early morning of May 15 – mainstream media reports, Twitter, Facebook and info from Burundi and my 13 years of experience there – Chapter One of the Burundi crisis is over. Another very bleak chapter is opening. Everything is worse now in Burundi.
The coup d’etat of May 13 has failed, its masters being arrested. President Nkurunziza who was in Tanzania when ousted will return as soon as he feels he can trust enough loyalists; there may well be increased repression of the people everywhere and violence between loyalists and opposition. Toward civil war? Toward genocide?
PressInfo 319 was an early warning. PressInfo 320 dealt with some hopes and possible outcomes – in which a coup d’etat was predicted. However, neither hopes nor denials make a policy and certainly don’t save lives.
The international so-called community’s response so far has, no exception, been woefully inefficient.
The African Union which ought to have action capacity and serve as mediator came out with the usual diplomatic appeals to all sides about showing restraint (echoing an equally lame UN Secretary-General). Incredibly, it condemned only the coup makers but not the massive brutality with which Burundi’s political and military leadership have attacked every citizen-democratic protest the last weeks – protest against the President’s arrogant violation of both the Arusha agreements and the Burundian constitution.
The UN Security Council at least “condemned both those who facilitate violence of any kind against civilians and those who seek to seize power by unlawful means.” In essence, neither the AU nor the UN understands a democratic citizens’ perspective. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
According to BBC World in a broadcast yesterday morning its considered opinion is that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels battle US-backed Ukrainian forces, is working. There are still too many skirmishes, too many guns and mortars being fired but the big guns are largely silent. President Vladimir Putin said the other day that both sides have been guilty of transgressing the cease-fire.
Both the Russians on one side and the US and Nato on the other have been playing with fire with their support of the two sides. And who suffers?- the ordinary inhabitants of the eastern provinces. However pro-Russian they were before all the fighting began they are now largely convinced the rebels killing in their name no longer represent them. The businesses they work for or own are working at half power or less. Unemployment has soared. Homes have been decimated. Pensions are unpaid. Hospitals find it increasingly hard, struggling to deal with extra patients and a curtailed drug supply.
In Moscow, among thinking people, it has become clear that Russia should have no interest in taking over large swathes of Ukrainian territory Read the rest of this entry »