Archive for February, 2012

Nigeria – I have seen the future and know it works

By Jonathan Power

Did you know that Nigeria, the most populated country in black Africa, is now one of the top five fastest growing big economies in the world? (The others are China, India, Turkey and Argentina.)

The image of Nigeria is of poverty, crime, corruption, election fiddling and maladministration. Africa, I find from my family and friends, is still a continent where death stalks – war, starving children and impoverished refugees.

But the tale of progress is unsung. This wretchedness is the only news that penetrates. Only one western newspaper, the Financial Times, has a full time correspondent in Nigeria where one third of all the black people in the world live. The rest get their news from the fickle eye of television and the rest of the newspaper pack. Read the rest of this entry »

Japan’s spiritual crisis

By Johan Galtung

From Kyoto, Japan: A grey, cold Sunday morning, fitting the sad theme.

The Japan Times, an excellent middle wing newspaper, came in the middle of the night, with four typical stories, for a starter.

We approach the 3/11 anniversary. The earthquake struck on 11 March 2011, followed by the tsunami and the near meltdown of Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant. On 11 March 2004, terrorism struck the Atocha train station in Madrid. A bad date; may inspire somebody.

We read: “Worker at No. 1 nuke plant died from ‘overwork’. He was dispatched by a subcontractor, a construction firm based in Shizuoka, and started working at Fukushima No. 1 on May 13. On his first day he engaged in piping and other work in a waste disposal facility at the complex, but complained of not feeling well the following morning. He was immediately taken to a hospital and died shortly afterwards–radiation still high around Fukushima No. 1–640 km off the coast of Fukushima.” A private construction firm. Read the rest of this entry »

New media report confirms violence to be much more important than peace

A new report by Media Tenor and the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that violence still outrules peace in the international TV media. Yet, certain aspects of the study are questionable – how to measure peace quantitatively?

By Jan Oberg and Ida Zidore

We all have a feeling of what peace is. Yet, defining it more precisely is not so easy. It belongs to the category that philosophers have called ‘essentially contested concepts’ – also used about freedom, justice and, say, democracy. Being somehow elusive, perhaps the best we can hope to achieve is intelligent discussions about how to approach peace, rather than defining it precisely.

There are those who jump the philosophy, conceptuality and definitions and go directly to quantifying peace. By means of some “indicators” readily available in data bases they put together a composite measure that enables them to rank-order countries. Developing such hit lists – for happiness, development, corruption, etc.- has become a kind of industry in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »

When is an ‘NGO’ not an NGO?

Twists and turns beneath the Cairo skies

By Richard Falk, writing from Cairo

A confusing controversy between the United States and Egypt is unfolding. It has already raised tensions in the relationship between the two countries to a level that has not existed for decades.

It results from moves by the military government in Cairo to go forward with the criminal prosecution of 43 foreigners, including 19 Americans, for unlawfully carrying on the work of unlicensed public interest organizations that improperly, according to Egyptian law, depend for their budget on foreign funding. Much has been made in American press coverage that one of the Americans charged happens to be Sam LaHood, son of the present American Secretary of Transportation, adopting a tone that seems to imply that at least one connected by blood to an important government official deserves immunity from prosecution. Read the rest of this entry »

The dangers of Nigeria’s extremist Islamic movement

By Jonathan Power

The governor of the north-eastern Nigerian state of Yobe, Ibrahim Geidam, where the extremist and murderous Boko Haram movement had its origins, told me that the situation is now “under control”. He pointed to the recent arrest of its spokesman and the way he was cooperating with his interrogators.

He also told me of the splits that had developed in the movement. President Goodluck Jonathan in a rare one hour interview told me much the same. But he added a caveat. Boko Haram still has plenty of destructive power. “Who is to know if they have infiltrated major institutions, even here in the presidential compound. It might be a cook, a cleaner or a driver, waiting for their moment to explode a bomb.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ten questions for coming Chinese and US leaders

By Johan Galtung, writing from Kyoto, Japan

Japanese media make it look as if China attacked Japan in the 1930s-1940s, massacred a major city, with a concentration camp beating Auschwitz in cruelty. And, Japan fears a repetition. Well, Japan fears something, probably what Western aggressors fear too: Of course, we never did anything wrong, but one day they may come and treat us the way we treated them.

In 2012 the power will/may change in both superpowers, and we have a right to know how the power-wielders look at some basic issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Richard Falk

A longer video with fundamentally important issues. About 16 minutes into it, listen to Richard Falk’s extremely relevant pointing out the difference in attention to an Israeli and a Palestinian human rights case.
Listen also to his telling criticism of the UN Secretary-General’s way of handling the politicization of the world organization and the difficulties he has with reaching the UN S-G.
Professor Falk is the envoy of the S-G to the occupied territories and TFF Associate since 1986.

Danmark for Fred Med Fredelige Midler

Af Jan Øberg

Et initiativ til grundlæggende forandring af Danmarks udenrigs- og sikkerhedspolitik

Motivering, formål og debatvejledning
Danmark for Fred med Fredelige Midler
Oprettet 14 February 2012

1) Dansk udenrigspolitik er blevet altfor voldsbetonet

I de sidste 20 år er dansk sikkerheds- og udenrigspolitik blevet orienteret mod voldsanvendelse i en grad, som vi både forundres og forstemmes over. Vi bombede i Jugoslavien i 1999, vi er i Afghanistan til ingen synlig nytte, vi var med endnu en folkeretsstridig krig mod Irak og optrådte som besættelsesmagt i 4 år og senest har hvert eneste medlem af Folketinget stemt for at Danmark deltog i bombningen af Libyen. En ny international opinionsundersøgelse viser at 37% af danskerne synes man skal bombe anlæg i Iran og 27% at der er brug for en troppeinvasion. Hvad er det for mentalitet og psykologi, hvad er det for viden denne militante opinion bygger på?

2) Alle partier for krig

Det var under en socialdemokratisk ledet regering, den “aktivistiske” volds-fremmende politik blev indledt, nemlig i Jugoslavien. Read the rest of this entry »

Iran, Israel and the USA

How to prevent the war that is becoming more likely?

By Gunnar Westberg
TFF Board member who has visited Iran a number of times the last few years

The threat of a war involving Iran, Israel and USA is discussed with increasing intensity. At this time an attack by Israel is seen as the most likely risk.

Do I, decidedly not an expert, have the right to say that most contributions are lacking in depth and there is little attempt to understand the other parties? I say so, and I hope to be proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Ban the Bomb!

By Jonathan Power

If in 2012 and 2013 the big nuclear weapons powers and UN Security Council permanent members – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – don’t make significant reductions with their nuclear weapons then an important opportunity will be lost.

Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev appear to be of a mind on this.

One has to go back to the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to get the full picture on the dismal progress on nuclear disarmament. Their Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara, told both presidents nuclear weapons were unusable. Read the rest of this entry »


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