Archive for May, 2013

The Iran threat delusion

TFF PressInfo
May 8, 2013

Contacts for interviews as well as analytical sources below the statement.

Summary

Scores of Western politicians state that Iran is a threat to its neighbours or even the world. But before we end up in yet another cruel war based on wrong assumptions and delusion, somebody should ask them the simple question: How do you know?

- There is little, in fact, to back up these claims. Each time Iran spends 7 US$ on its military, the U.S. spends 700 US$, Israel 15,60 US$, Saudi-Arabia 44 US$ and the Arab Emirates 16 US$. Therefore, if Iran were to start a war, it would have to ignore the “balance of forces” of 1:110 with its basic opponents!

- “To construct Iran as a threat, one must assume that its leaders are lunatics or suicidal. There’s no evidence they are,” says Jan Oberg, director of TFF, The Transnational Foundation in Sweden*.

Argument

- False or exaggerated threat assertions are necessary to build up legitimacy among citizens before wars are started. Experts call it “fearology”: Instill fear in peoples’ minds and they accept, from left to right, their own governments’ taxpayer-funded wars. Read the rest of this entry »

An octogonal world

By Johan Galtung

Let us try a look at the world from above, right now. There is so much drama unfolding. Is there a Big Picture? Of course there is, we all have one, so here is one effort, imgaine it as The Octagon, consisting of these eight big states or regions:

1) USA, 2) Russia, 3) India, 4) China, 5) OIC (the Organization of Islamic Conference, the 57 Muslim countries), 6) EU (27), 7) Africa (AU, African Union, 54 countries) and 8 ) CELAC, Latin America and the Caribbean, 33 countries). We might add Israel and Japan to the USA if the criterion is willingness to go to war with and for the USA – but Israel wants the USA to fight its wars, and Japan, even with Japanese hawks more than willing to join the nuclear club, is still bound by the constitution depriving Japan of the right to war. So they work for a new constitution with an emergency article that could justify a military take-over. Ominous. Hopefully Germany does not follow suit. Read the rest of this entry »

China’s under-reported positive behaviour

By Jonathan Power

China is a sitting duck. Not that long ago, as far as most of the rest of the world was concerned, it was almost a closed, mysterious, society. Now it is wide open. The bad is there for all to see. Last year the New York Times published an in-depth investigative series of long articles on the secret wealth of the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. It proved that it is possible to peel off the layers and look beneath.

China’s new found relative openness has allowed an open season on the shooting range. The targets are legion – corruption, nepotism, nationalism, maladministration, growing inequality, environmental degradation, over assertive foreign policy and the military build up. Western critics enjoy popping off at them.

Much of what the critics say is true. But much is exaggerated. And much is ignored, in particular what is positive. Read the rest of this entry »

Syria: U.S. involvement could make things even worse

By Stephen Zunes

A comprehensive analysis by Zunes of chemical weapons in the Middle East and U.S. policies in this regard can be found here

The worsening violence and repression in Syria has left policymakers scrambling to think of ways our governments could help end the bloodshed and support those seeking to dislodge the Assad regime. The desperate desire to “do something” has led to increasing calls for the United States to provide military aid to armed insurgents or even engage in direct military intervention, especially in light of the possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

The question on the mind of almost everyone who has followed the horror as it has unfolded over the past two years is, “What we can do?”

The short answer, unfortunately, is not much.

This is hard for many Americans to accept. Read the rest of this entry »

Is it immigration versus the working class?

By Jonathan Power

Every developed country is importing cheap labour, although much less so during this time of the Great Recession, yet all too rarely are the pro and con arguments discussed with real profundity.

A new, incisive, book “The British Dream” by David Goodhart, the founder of the magazine, “Prospect”, dares to deal with the shibboleths. There are many commonalities in Britain that apply to countries as varied as France, the US, Thailand and Qatar.

Goodhart’s conclusion about immigration is that what we might generalize and call the “working class” point of view is essentially correct: “We have had too much of it, too quickly, and much of it, especially for the least well off, has not produced self-evident economic benefit.”

This viewpoint is anathema to the liberal intelligentsia, businesses and many governments. In Britain, after years of gate-closing under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, a well trodden liberal, opened the gates wide. Businesses could smooth the wheels of the economic motor with workers prepared to work for lower wages, work night shifts, do the unpleasant jobs and thus grease the wheels of the economy. Liberals focused on the argument about giving a helping hand to some of the world’s poor and led to a welcome broadening of the culture with new foods, restaurants and music. Read the rest of this entry »

Syria – toward a Swiss solution?

By Johan Galtung

We all feel desperate watching the horrible killing, feeling the suffering of the bereaved, the whole people. But, what to do?

Could it be that the UN, and governments in general, have a tendency to make the same mistake, again and again, of putting the cart before the horse? The formula they use is generally:

1. Get rid of No. 1 as key responsible, using sanctions; then
2. Cease-fire, appealing to the parties, or intervening, imposing;
3. Negotiation among all legitimate parties; and from that
4. A political solution as a compromise between the positions.

It looks so logical. There is a key responsible, President Assad, ordering the killing; get rid of him by all means. Then the cease-fire, the fire ceasing; then negotiation, and then the solution emerges. Logical, yes; but maybe not very wise. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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