Archive for January, 2013

The Arab-Muslim awakening – and Greater Israel?

By Johan Galtung

The Middle East-North Africa–MENA–is Arab-Muslim with a growing Jewish island in its midst. Former colonial territory – under Sunni Ottoman Turks for four centuries+ and the secular West, England-Italy-France, for half a century–now under Jewish colonialism and US imperialism. They have controlled MENA through dictatorships, condoning violence and corruption as long as they support US-Israel policies in the area.

The Arab awakening is against the violence and corruption in favor of democracy, against corruption in favor of growth and jobs, and against US-Israel domination. There is also a Muslim awakening – to believe that Islam tolerates imposed secularism is incredibly naive. But there are many Islams; like there are Christianities and Judaisms.

How do USA-Israel react, and what would be a positive reaction to their reaction–keeping in mind that this is old colonial territory? Read the rest of this entry »

The second anniversary of the Tahrir Square Rising

By Richard Falk

The rising in Tahrir Square two years ago electrified the world and achieved the impossible: forcing the departure of Hosni Mubarak, the harsh and corrupt dictator of Egypt for the prior 30 years. What inspired the world was the spontaneous spirit of unity, a movement guided by exhilarating visions of democracy and freedom and hope, generating a new kind of populism that dispensed with ideology and leaders, a sense that the people of Egypt had acted creatively and bravely to recover their country from the clutches of neoliberal predators and their domestic collaborators. Even the armed forces had seemed mainly to welcome these developments, partly because of their own fears that Mubarak harbored dynastic dreams. Although the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia preceded Tahrir Square, it was the developments in Egypt that made it plausible back in 2011 to speak about and to dream of the ‘Arab Spring.’

A year later in 2012 there was still some afterglow from the drama of Tahrir Square, but there were also growing signs of disunity. It was becoming clear that Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the Salafis, enjoyed the benefits of grassroots organizing and support, which translated into electoral dominance. It was also evident that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that was providing governmental authority was not clearly committed to the values and practices of constitutional democracy and human rights. Read the rest of this entry »

China’s growing presence in Africa

By Jonathan Power
Writing from Dar es Salaam

Go Into the casino in Tanzania’s capital, Dar Es Salaam and what strikes you? The overwhelming number of players is Chinese. If the Chinese are not quite everywhere in Africa their numbers, their investments and their trade has mushroomed over the last ten years. If one compares Chinese and US investment in Tanzania there is no contest despite Tanzania being one of the US’s favourites.

Overlooked is that China has been in Africa twice before. Read the rest of this entry »

Change happens – But How, Why, When and Where?

By Johan Galtung

A century ago humanity, particularly in the West, was at the beginning of a major revolution, from horse culture to car culture. Today there are still (FAO-UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 2008) 59 million horses, but (2010) more than 1 billion cars (in 1986 only half of that). In other parts of the world, like Japan and China, there was a revolution to cars, but from bicycles–Beijing went from 6 million bicycles to 4 million cars over a period of 20 years, only from 1990. Japan had an intermediate scooter stage–like in India, Southeast Asia–less so in China.

Imagine 19th century in the West: horses everywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

On Syria: What to do in 2013

By Richard Falk

I took part last week in an illuminating conference on Syria sponsored by the new Center of Middle East Studies that is part of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. This Center has been recently established, and operates under the excellent leadership of Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, who previously together edited the best collection of readings on the Green Revolution in Iran published under the title The People Reloaded.

The conference brought together a mixture of Syrian specialists, Syrian activists, and several of us with a more general concern about conflict in the region, as well as with human rights and as participants in the heated debates of recent years about the virtues and vices of ‘humanitarian intervention’, what is now being called ‘Responsibility to Protect’ of ‘R2P’ in UN circles and among liberals.

I came to the gathering with a rather strong disposition to present myself as a confirmed R2P skeptic, regarding it as a cynical geopolitical euphemism for what Noam Chomsky labeled as ‘military humanism’ in the context of the controversial NATO Kosovo War of 1999. Ever since the Vietnam War I have viewed all Western claims to use force in the post-colonial non-West with suspicion. Read the rest of this entry »

Russia and China: Arms around the Middle East

By Sharmine Narwani

Russia and China have drawn a great deal of censure this past year for resisting UN Security Council resolutions to intervene in the domestic affairs of Syria and Iran.

Why, many ask, would this duo leverage their growing global political clout for two Mideast states that have been so actively marginalised by the other UN Security Council permanent members – the US, UK and France?

And do these new Russian and Chinese positions place them on a collision course with Washington – in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Continue reading at The BRICS POST

Against world revolution – constructively!

By Johan Galtung

From Alicante, Spain

“Unemployment in Spain Tops 6.1M” – Unemployment rate is 26.6 percent; for those under the age of 25, 56.5 percent; all growing, all EU records. “Bank of Spain inspectors pen damning report about wrongdoing in Spanish banks: look the other way” was the reaction, while the government spends billions of Euros to bail out those banks. (El País, early January 2013).

And this: “300 Madrid health chiefs resign over privatization”; “Locksmiths in Pamplona refuse taking part in evictions involving families with young children”; “Theater chief sells carrots at 13 Euro as entrance ticket” – value-added tax down from 21 to 4 percent for food; “Mothers strip for erotic calendar to drum up funds for canceled school buses”.

A country rapidly de-developing, into low Third World levels, even in health. A country not only saving banks rather than people but also letting the banks get away with crimes. A country reacting with mini-revolutions, nonviolence, civil disobedience against such glaring injustices. A country where the class war is over for the time being; capitalism won and more particularly the bankers and their servants, the politicians, and even more particularly the finance-speculation capital.

And this in a Spain close to 40 years into democracy after 40 years of Franco dictatorship. Constitution + democracy + elections + human rights (also to property) + parliament vs finance capitalism. Weak vs strong.

What is Spain, and EU heading for? What will be fund further down this road? Read the rest of this entry »

A stunning African success

By Jonathan Power in Dar es Salaam

In an article last week, published in The Citizen of Tanzania, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, observed that “in the last decade after emerging Asia Africa recorded the world’s strongest growth rates. “In some cases”, she wrote, “the African lions outpaced the Asian tigers in their first two decades.”

The American and European economic crisis has had only a modest impact on those African economies doing well. “Resilience is home grown”, she says. African countries have been able to take advantage of the strong foundations they have built in the years leading up to the crisis. Since 2000 debt levels fell from over 100% to under 40% of GDP, foreign exchange reserves more than doubled and inflation was halved.

Two thirds of them, including Tanzania, have been able to pursue expansionary policies during the crisis – Keynesian policies of not slamming on the brakes as in Europe and the US – increasing spending on health and education and drawing a circle of protection around the most vulnerable people.

Judging from the substantial spending of the US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation Tanzania is the most successful lion of them all. This aid program is contingent not just on economic and social policies but also on the degree of political freedom and the pursuit of justice.

The US ambassador heaps accolades on Tanzania. The World Bank says Tanzania is “a top performer” and in economic terms has been “a rock of stability”. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing light: The blogger’s delight

By Richard Falk

While reflecting on my prior blog lamenting the challenges of sustaining civility amid tumult and controversy, I came to appreciate my own partial captivity in realms of darkness. The negativities I tried to discuss are the shadow land of my blog experience, which is more essentially lived in the sunshine of new and renewed friendship, solidarity, mutuality, and the new emotional and spiritual resonances of our era, what I would call, in the absence of greater precision, the emergence of ‘digital love.’

What becomes possible, although there is no doubt that it produces its share of blood, sweat, and tears, are invisible communities of commitment to a better future for humanity, all of it. Such communities keep candles of hope flickering during an historical period of thickening darkness when even the will to species survival seems to be in doubt.

Why else would the world choose to live with nuclear weapons? Why else would political leaders turn their backs on the alarming scientific consensus as to the growing hazards and harms associated with climate change? Why else would the 1% be allowed to indulge super-luxuries while more than a billion struggle daily with the ordeals of poverty? Read the rest of this entry »

The US cliff, swamp, quagmire: Two major proposals

By Johan Galtung

There is more than the fiscal cliff to meet the naked eye.

Wise people – Borosage, Krugman, Stiglitz – some of them economists, see neither the fiscal deficit nor the US debt but the lack of growth as the key problem. They point to Clinton years and how, through growth, the Debt/GDP ratio went from a half to a third. This is important, but then there is a fourth consideration: some Americans are suffering out there. “16 percent” comes up very often, of people and families below the poverty line, not knowing for sure where the food comes from the next day, not having medical insurance. Macroeconomics is blind to human basic needs, yet there may even be solutions hidden in it.

But after the Clinton years came somebody else; increasing expenditure with enormously costly wars making conflicts even worse, and in addition lowering the revenue by reducing taxes on the super-rich. That a fiscal deficit would rear its ugly head, fed by such policies year after year, was a foretold conclusion. Democracy protects the president with a golden parachute, similar to that enjoyed by the CEO of a bankrupt company. But rightly so: he was elected, even re-elected. US voters, you asked for it and you got it! Read the rest of this entry »


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