Archive for July, 2012

The dangers of chemical weapons, Syria’s too

By Jonathan Power

The Syrian government say that, unlike Saddam Hussein, it won’t use its sizeable stocks of chemical weapons on its own population, only on would-be attackers. That’s a comfort of sorts since nobody is going to attack it. Chemical weapons are regarded as weapons of mass destruction along with nuclear and biological weapons. Chemical agents like sarin that destroys the nervous system, VX and mustard gas can kill thousands of people in one blow.

If the UN were mandated to send in troops or the US did so unilaterally their forces could be devastated by a chemical attack. The main worry – as such an invasion is highly improbable unless a dying regime or a new regime asks for help – is that the chemical stockpiles could fall into the wrong hands – the hot-headed thorn in Israel’s flesh, Hezbollah in southern Libya or Al Qaeda which the regime says are part of the opposition. Read the rest of this entry »

The politics of the economic crisis – class warfare

By Johan Galtung

From Jondal, Norway

Writes Eduardo Porter on The New York Times:

“Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Libor scandal is how familiar it seems. Sure, for some of the world’s leading banks to try to manipulate one of the most important interest rates in contemporary finance is clearly egregious. But is that worse than packaging billions of dollars worth of dubious mortgages into a bond and having it stamped with a Triple-A rating to sell to some dupe down the road while betting against it? Or how about forging documents on an industrial scale to foreclose fraudulently on countless homeowners?”

A useful summary of the situation as of today. But, a summary of what? What is this?

We have been through many answers starting with credit squeeze, then a real estate bubble that burst, toxic assets, credit swaps, hedge funds, derivatives – bets with the money of other people, yours and mine – all finance and banking. A psychologism was added at an early stage; greed. Read the rest of this entry »

India-China cooperation in the Asian century

By Shastri Ramachandaran*

NEW DELHI – India had more than one message for China prior to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Myanmar, the world’s newest darling of democracy being wooed with ardour by the two Asian giants and the US.

From New Delhi went the un-subtle message that the prime minister’s visit was actuated by the neighbourly intent of peace and prosperity; and, not by any expansionist design. Taking a dig at China comes naturally to some in New Delhi, even when it is inappropriate – as it was here, because it does not fit with Manmohan Singh’s style and persona. Read the rest of this entry »

What Dani Dayan says and why it is interesting

By Richard Falk

[Note: I have revised the first paragraph of this post to take some note of comments addressed to the original version, and in light of my own further thoughts]

Dani Dayan’s article, “Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay,” was published by the NY Times on July 26, 2012. Dayan is the chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities, and has been long known as a leading spokesperson of the settler movement.

An obvious response to such a settler screed might be to dismiss it out of hand as an extremist expression of Israeli views, which it certainly is, but it would seem a mistake to do this before taking some account of its content and timing. The moral and legal premises that underlie Dayan’s insistence that the settlers will never leave the West Bank are without substance, but the political arguments he puts forward are so strong as to be virtually irrefutable. Read the rest of this entry »

The bonding of civility and dialogue

By Richard Falk

Recently my blog posts have attracted some venomous comments. I have somewhat reluctantly ‘approved’ of most such comments unless blatantly anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-Semitic, racist, or personally defamatory, and even with such offending comments I have leaned toward inclusion.

Recently, however, I have received several critical messages suggesting that allowing such comments demeans the quality of the dialogue generated by the blog. These messages have prompted me to reconsider my way of filtering comments, and lead me to become somewhat more of a gatekeeper. Read the rest of this entry »

A brief further comment on Syria

By Richard Falk

Some of the sharpest critics of my posts contend that I focus too much attention on Israel while exempting the far worse Syrian regime from any sort of harsh condemnation. In fact, I did write a post devoted to the Syrian situation on May 31, 2012 in which I referred to the criminal character of the Assad regime and pointed to such bloody deeds (Crimes Against Humanity) as the Houla massacre that had occurred a few days before. In my mind, there is no doubt that the behavior of the ruling clique in Damascus is genocidal, and should be condemned and appropriate international action undertaken to protect the people of Syria.

But what is appropriate in such a situation is far from self-evident. Read the rest of this entry »

Towards a Gandhian geopolitics: A feasible utopia?

By Richard Falk

There has been serious confusion associated with the widespread embrace of ‘soft power’ as a preferred form of diplomacy for the 21st century. Joseph Nye introduced and popularized the concept, and later it was adopted and applied in a myriad of settings that are often contradictory from the perspective of international law and morality.

I write in the belief that soft power as a force multiplier for imperial geopolitics is to be viewed with the greatest suspicion, but as an alternative to militarism and violence is to be valued and adopted as a potential political project that could turn out to be the first feasible utopia of the 21st century. Read the rest of this entry »

Falling in line: An Indian editor works at Chinese media

By Shastri Ramachandaran

Working as a journalist in China’s newspapers can be an eye-opening and engaging experience, revealing unsuspected potential and unforeseen possibilities. Such work, more often than not, is with the state media. To make the most of the situation, it is necessary to leave behind a lifetime’s misconceptions and prejudices.

My life as an expatriate journalist in Beijing began with China Daily (CD) – the country’s oldest English daily brought out by a department of the Information Ministry. The Editor in Chief (EiC) is said to enjoy the rank of Vice Premier, with all the powers of that office, barring the one that allows issue of visas. Read the rest of this entry »

Alleging mafia-states is loose talk

By Jonathan Power

The vigour of the recent elections in Mexico suggests that despite the massive number of drug related killings Mexico is not yet a “mafia-state”. The government remains the primary source of both political power and economic patronage. The mafia king-pins can dominate a town here or there, intimidate a regional government and assassinate policemen and journalists. But this doesn’t make it a mafia state, as some commentators suggest. It is a state which is still in control of its own destiny and one which with some bold decisions can probably get on top of what is an intolerable surge of criminality. Read the rest of this entry »

Not much peace? It’s also the mediators’ fault

By Johan Galtung

Not so difficult is to argue against war and militarism, against the suffering in war that may also accrue to oneself, and against the doctrine that the lasting solution to conflict is military victory. Be strong, deter, win; dictate peace does not convince. Nor is it so difficult to argue that solving the underlying conflict is a better approach: engaging antagonist verbally, in dialogue with or without mediation, in a joint search for an acceptable and sustainable solution. A military victory delivers neither one, nor the other.

More difficult is to argue the significance of conciliation, of clearing, closing the wounds of the past, for a future together; the only future there is in a globalizing world. There are so many wounds. Read the rest of this entry »


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