Archive for February, 2013

The West needs a new Iran policy (1)

By Farhang Jahanpour

TFF is proud to present this video with one of the world’s leading experts on Iran. Dr. Jahanpour here talks about why war on Iran cannot be an option on the table. In part 2, he lists 2o steps that can be taken if the West switches to a conflict-resolution and trust-building perspective. Please share this as widely as you can, thanks.

Iran (1) War Is Not An Option from TFF on Vimeo.

Envisioning a world without nuclear weapons

By Richard Falk

Book Review

ZERO: THE CASE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS ABOLITION
By David Krieger (published in 2013 by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation); $14.95

I have known David Krieger for the past twenty-five years, and he has never wavered, even for a day, from his lifelong journey dedicated to ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. If I were given to categorization, I would label such an extraordinary engagement with a cause as an instance of ‘benign fanaticism.’

Unfortunately, from the perspective of the human future, it is a rather rare condition, posing the puzzle as to why Krieger should be so intensely inclined, given his seemingly untraumatized background. He traces his own obsession back to his mother’s principled refusal to install a bomb shelter in the backyard of their Los Angeles home when he was 12 years old. He comments in the Preface to ZERO that even at the time he “hadn’t expected” her to take such a stand, which he experienced as “a powerful lesson in compassion,” was especially moved by her unwillingness “to buy into saving herself at the expense of humanity.” (xiv).

Nine years later after Krieger graduated from college his mother was again an instrumental force, giving him as a graduation present a trip to Japan to witness first-hand “what two nuclear weapons had done to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” (xiv) The rest is, as they say, ‘history.’ Or as Krieger puts it in characteristic understatement, “[t]hose visits changed my life.” (xiv) Read the rest of this entry »

Cambodia’s War Crimes Court at snail pace

By Jonathan Power

Dateline: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

At the end of World War 2, when the three allies, Britain, the US and the Soviet Union, were considering what to do with the top German political and military leaders, Winston Churchill had no compunction in saying they should be taken out of their cells and shot. Franklin Roosevelt persuaded him that a trial was more in order. Stalin went along with this.

A trial it was with judges from the three powers – the first war crimes’ trial in history. It tried 23 of the German hierarchy and it took only 13 months to complete the trial.

The trial in Cambodia, organised jointly by the UN and the Cambodian government, has had only five people in the dock but has taken 7 years and is not likely to finish before the end of the summer or even early next year. (One was convicted in 2010 and one, the only woman, has been released on health grounds.) I asked senior Western diplomats and two of the judges on the court why so long and they all found it difficult to answer. Some talked about the investigation part of the trial taking too long, yet the evidence was growing on trees. Read the rest of this entry »

The world as seen from Mount Everest

By Johan Galtung

The Weekly Mirror published Mondays in Kathmandu is a remarkable mirror of the world seen from above. Prem Kumari Pant, the editor, is a Nepali in the country where Buddha was born in Lumbini. Buddhism, now 9% as against hinduism-brahmanism 80%, migrated to India, and was forced south to Sri Lanka where 5th century buddhist monks invented the Mahawamsa doctrine. They were the “chosen people”, by the Buddha, to make Sri Lanka a home for buddhism. They had not only the right but the duty to eliminate Tamil claims on a part of the land: Go home to where you came from; Sri Lanka is our homeland, language, religion; no buddhist nonviolence and compassion.

Prem Kumari Pant is also chairperson of the Nepal-China society. Read the rest of this entry »

Pope Benedict, good or bad?

By Jonathan Power

Dean Acheson, the distinguished US Secretary of State who coined such phrases as “Britain has lost an empire but not yet found a role” also once said: “Moral talk is fine preaching for the Final Day of Judgement, but it was not a view I could entertain as a public servant.” No wonder he could justify the use of the nuclear bomb on Japan.

The last four Popes, including Benedict who has just announced his retirement, would never have supported the Hiroshima bombing. Neither did they support the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They believed in moral talk here and now.

“Moral talk” led Pope John Paul to wage a long and successful fight against communism in his homeland, Poland. Indeed, many say that victory was the catalyst for the fall of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself.

“Moral talk” led to Pope John, the great reformer, to use his position to tell President Lyndon Johnson to his face that the Vietnam war was immoral.

Benedict is cut of the same cloth, with some interesting shades of emphasis. Read the rest of this entry »

Room for optimism in Iran and the P5-plus-1 talks

By Farhang Jahanpour*

Iran and the P5-plus-1, which includes the United States, will meet again on 26 February in Kazakhstan. This is the first time that the two sides will meet in an atmosphere of continuing mutual suspicion since the third round of talks held in Moscow on 18-19 June 2012 ended in stalemate.

Iran believes that the West, particularly the United States, is using the talks as a pretext to increase the sanctions until Tehran bends to its will; whereas Washington holds that Iran is prolonging the talks in order to continue its uranium enrichment with the aim of producing a nuclear weapon. The fact of the matter is that neither side is sincere in their remarks and both sides are engaged in a cat and mouse game trying to use the talks for domestic purposes and for pursuing other goals, rather than finding a mutually acceptable solution to Iran’s nuclear program. Read the rest of this entry »

Nepal – Six years of “transition”

By Johan Galtung

From Kathmandu, Nepal

Three huge revolts in Asia in the last decades came to an end: the anti-Confucian cultural revolution in China 1967-76, the anti Phnom Penh Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia 1975-79, and the anti-feudal monarchy anti-caste maoist People’s War in Nepal that lasted 10 years from 13 February 1996, followed by 18 days of effective nonviolence in the streets of Kathmandu in 6-24 April 2006. The King abdicated.

Transcend mediated in May 2003, and identified, through dialogues with the parties, eleven deep faultline conflicts as roots of violence…Continue here


What the Syrian death tolls really tell us

By Sharmine Narwani


Unreliable data can incite and escalate a conflict – the latest UN-sponsored figure of 60,000 should not be reported as fact.

Less than two months after the UN announced “shocking” new casualty figures in Syria, its high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay estimates that deaths are “probably now approaching 70,000″. But two years into a Syrian conflict marked by daily death tolls, the question arises as to whether these kinds of statistics are helpful in any way? Have they helped save Syrian lives? Have they shamed intransigent foes into seeking a political solution? Or might they have they contributed to the escalation of the crisis by pointing fingers and deepening divisions?

Continue reading in The Guardian, February 15, 2013

Urgent UN Press Statement: Release Palestinian Hunger Strikers Now

By Richard Falk

The following press statement was issued 13 February 2013 under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council in my capacity as Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967.

This nonviolent resistance to unlawful and abusive detention practices by Israel is a human rights outrage that should be the occasion of media attention and a worldwide outcry.

I encourage all who can to exert pressure on Israel before these individuals die in captivity. They are currently reported to be in grave condition. Please use all social networking tools to alert contacts.

**********************************

Press Statement – UN expert calls for the immediate release of three Palestinian detainees on hunger strike held by Israel without charges

GENEVA (13 February 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk today called for the immediate release of three Palestinian detainees held without charges by Israel. Mr. Falk expressed deep concern for the fate of Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who are on their 78th day of hunger strike, and Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days.

“Continuing to hold Mr. Qa’adan, Mr Azzidine and Mr. Al-Issawi under these
conditions is inhumane. Israel is responsible for any permanent harm,” warned the independent expert designated by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on Israeli rights violations in Palestine. “If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against these men, then they must be released immediately.”

“Mr. Qa’adan and Mr. Azzidine are reportedly on the verge of death, with the threat of a fatal heart attack looming,” the expert noted, recalling that both men were arrested on 22 November 2012 and began their hunger strikes on 28 November, after being sentenced to administrative detention for a period of three months. They were transferred to Assaf Harofi Hospital near Tel Aviv on 24 January 2013 after their conditions deteriorated sharply.

This is the second time that Mr. Azzidine and Mr. Qa’adan have undertaken hunger strikes against administrative detention, since they took part in the mass hunger strike of Palestinians from 17 April to 14 May 2012. Mr. Qa’adan had been released after 15 months of detention on 8 July 2012 and Mr. Azzidine had been released on 19 June 2012 after three months of detention, before being re-arrested.

“Israel must end the appalling and unlawful treatment of Palestinian detainees. The international community must react with a sense of urgency and use whatever leverage it possesses to end Israel’s abusive reliance on administrative detention,” urged the Special Rapporteur.

Mr. Falk noted that Israel currently holds at least 178 Palestinians in administrative detention.

END of statement

Beyond the haunted imagination

By Richard Falk

Ever since atomic bombs were exploded over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II, end-of-the-world forebodings have been present in Western cultural consciousness. In the background of such thinking is the religious anticipation of a day of judgment when life in earth will be replaced by the consignment of everyone then living to either the hell of damnation or the heaven of salvation.

The first type of end time thinking is based on the fear that the Promethean gift of technological innovation when carried to its omega point will produce a big bang terminal moment in the human experience. The second kind of end time thinking imagines that the gift of planetary life was a testing time for the human species that would end with endless punishment for the many and eternal rewards for a few, and was divinely programmed in a fatalistic manner beyond human capacity to control or alter.

We live now amid both types of end time thinking, a realization made more troublesome because such alarmist patterns of awareness, while rather widespread, have not generated any strong reactive movement based on prudence and preservation. Instead, all of us avert our eyes most of the time, and most manage to look away all the time often with the help of drugs and denial. Only a few are able to fix their full gaze on the impending cosmic wreck without turning away.

One of those few is a poet named C.K. Williams who in an essay, “Nature and Panic,” Read the rest of this entry »

 

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