Archive for December, 2013
Majken Jul Sørensen became TFF Associate in 2013
PhD student, University of Wollongong
1 year MA programme, Peace and Reconciliation studies, Coventry University, UK. Including a dissertation of 15.000 words.
BA in Sociology, University of Tromsø, Norway. Including a bachelor project of 30 pages.
One year part time study in “peace work”, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
We have a lot to be thankful for in 2013.
Look at the protests now going on in Bangkok. After some initial clashes at the beginning both sides have become non-violent. One can praise the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for this. She ordered the gates and doors of the ministry of the interior, of the police and the Thai equivalent of Scotland Yard/FBI to be opened. The protesters poured into the buildings and then left – bored.
In the Ukraine after a couple of nights of police brutality President Vikto Yanukovych ordered the police to restrain themselves. Both sides now use peaceful tactics.
Non-violence à la Gandhi and Martin Luther King doesn’t always achieve its objectives, but it keeps the political temperature down and avoids many deaths. It is more likely to work when there is a grave injustice. This is not the case either in Thailand or Ukraine. Indeed in Thailand it is the middle class protesting at the government’s policies of favouring the poor and the rural peasantry, although the demonstrators are not trying to take away the progress the poor have already made. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
What a Christmas gift to all of us from that amazing Pope Francis, his first Message for the World Day of Peace, Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace. A tightly reasoned statement in ten sections; here is an effort to summarize some key points:
1. An irrepressible wish for fraternity enables us to see others not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters. However, reference to a common Father is needed; otherwise it becomes “a mere do ut des /I give so that you give/ which is both pragmatic and selfish”.
2. The story of Cain and Abel /the first brothers, sons of the first couple, Adam and Eve/ “teaches that we have an inherent calling to fraternity, but also the tragic capacity to betray that calling”: Cain killed Abel out of jealousy because God preferred Abel.
3. Human fraternity is regenerated in and by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection–the Cross is the definitive foundational focus of that fraternity-/no/ separation between the people of the Covenant and the Gentiles–not party to the pact of the Promise.
4. Fraternity is the foundation and pathway–peace is work, an opus solidaritatis, a duty of solidarity, of social justice, of universal charity, of a more human and sustainable development. Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
Having visited Belfast the last few days during some negotiations about unresolved problems between Unionist and Republican (or Nationalist) political parties, I was struck by the absolute dependence for any kind of credibility of this process upon the unblemished perceived neutrality of the mediating third party. It would have been so totally unacceptable to rely on Ireland or Britain to play such a role, and the mere suggestion of such a partisan intermediary would have occasioned ridicule by the opposing, and confirmed suspicions that its intention must have been to scuttle the proposed negotiations.
In the background of such a reflection is the constructive role played by the United States more than a decade ago when it actively encouraged a process of reconciliation through a historic abandonment of violence by the antagonists. That peace process was based on the justly celebrated Good Friday Agreement that brought the people of Northern Ireland a welcome measure of relief from the so-called ‘Time of Troubles’ even if the underlying antagonisms remain poignantly alive in the everyday realities of Belfast, as well as some lingering inclination toward violence among those extremist remnants of the struggle on both sides that reject all moves toward accommodation. Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
The more contact one has with the modern state, even in those societies that have long constitutional traditions entrenching civil liberties, the more grounds there are for deep and growing concern. I suppose that the most dramatic exhibition of the dangers being posed as 2014 approaches, and we are reminded that this will be 30 years after 1984, are associated with Edward Snowden’s extraordinary disclosures of the global network of surveillance being operated by the National Security Agency in the United States (NSA).
Such a network presupposes that we are all, that is, every inhabitant on the planet to be regarded as worth investigating as potential terrorist threats, and along the way establishing a huge data bank of information that can be used for nefarious purposes at any point to disempower and subvert protest movements or even blackmail anyone seen to be obstructing projects dear to the government or any special interest group that has the government’s ear on matters it cares about.
In important respects more disturbing than the Snowden revelations was the rabid response of the supposedly liberal government presided over by Barack Obama. No stone was left unturned, other than assassination or kidnapping, in the effort to gain physical custody over Snowden evidently with the intention of prosecuting him to the full extent of the law as an odious criminal offender. Foreign governments were badgered to cooperate in the pursuit, a plane carrying the Bolivian president was improperly denied access to the airspace of several European countries and forced to land in Vienna, because it was suspected of carrying Snowden.
Such an enforcement dynamic completely overlooked the political nature of Snowden’s crimes, Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
My friend and former collaborator, Howard Friel, has written an intriguing book contrasting the worldviews and polemical styles of two Jewish American intellectuals with world class reputations, Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz (Friel, Chomsky and Dershowitz: On Endless War and the End of Civil Liberties, Olive Branch Press, 2014). The book is much more than a comparison of two influential voices, one critical the other apologetic, with respect to the Israel/Palestine struggle and the subordination of private liberties to the purveyors of state-led security at home and abroad. Friel convincingly favors Chomsky’s approach both with respect to the substance of their fundamental disagreements and in relation to sharply contrasting styles of argument.
Chomsky is depicted, accurately I believe, as someone consistently dedicated to evidenced based reasoning reinforced by an abiding respect for the relevance and authority of international law and morality. Chomsky has also been a tireless opponent of American imperialism and military intervention, and of oppressive regimes anywhere on the planet. He is also shown by Friel to be strongly supportive of endowing individuals whether citizens or not with maximal freedom from interference by the state. From such perspectives, the behavior of Israel and the United States are assessed by Chomsky to be betrayals of humane values and of the virtues of a constitutional democracy.
In contrast, Dershowitz is presented, again accurately and on the basis of abundant documentation, as a dirty fighter with a readiness to twist the truth to serve his Zionist predilections, which include support for the post-9/11 drift toward authoritarian governance, and an outrageous willingness to play the anti-Semitic card even against someone of Chomsky’s extraordinary academic achievements in the field of linguistics and of global stature as the world’s leading public intellectual, who has an impeccable lifelong record of moral courage and fidelity to the truth. Dershowitz has devoted his destructive energies to derailing tenure appointments for critics of Israel and for using his leverage to badger publishers to refrain from taking on books, however meritorious, if they present either himself or Israel in what he views to be a negative light.
Friel illustrates the contrast Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Chile has moved to the left. With Michelle Bachelet’s overwhelming victory in the presidential poll she now has the freedom to legislate as she wants. Poverty reduction, income re-distribution and education are the sharp end of her political program.
But of all Latin American presidents she is perhaps the most fortunate. Despite his draconian suppression of human rights, the dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled in the 1970s and 80s, not only engineered high economic growth he also kept deep poverty at bay. Read the rest of this entry »
There it is, that fantastic duomo, the fourth in size in the Christian world, honoring their God, exuding self-confidence, and the beauty of the marble stones of the huge façade. Founded six hundred years ago, took five centuries to build, a marvel of engineering and architecture. A major concert with a choir does not manage to fill the inner space of the dome, but of the listeners, yes, with awe.
Conceived in the “dark ages” as those masters of cultural violence, our historians, call them, the “middle ages”, presumably between two “shiny ages”, the Roman Empire and Western colonialism, “modern times”. Will anything built today be visited by people in five hundred years, filling them with awe? Some banks, corporations? Some corrupted national assemblies? Some stadiums, shopping centers sloppily made, collapsing, built with no love, except for money? Some huge missile ramps to sow death and harvest hatred and revenge?
Do they ever think of that, the “leaders” in the most aggressive parts of the West, Anglo-America, UKUSAF–adding F for that center of “enlightenment” and “modernity”, France – do they think of the harm they do to all of us, in the West? To our past, to our legacy?
But soon it is over; they are losing Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Mali–no democracy, no economic growth, no human rights arising from the ashes of the most basic human right, to life, insulted. All over even mainstream media are filled with negativism; crying failure. Read the rest of this entry »
TFF PressInfo – December 20, 2013
By the TFF Board
1. That Iran, the West and other countries are in touch after decades of frozen relations indeed offers a ray of hope. The Geneva deal between the 5P+1 and Iran of November 24, 2013 can be seen as a first, very important step in what is bound to be a long process of building trust, security and co-operation. And it reduces the risk of war, a war no one can afford and no one will win. But there are also serious reasons for concern.
2. Contrary to Western media and policy interpretation is not a fair deal but expressive of conflict a-symmetry, a winner/loser perspective that has little, if anything to do with genuine conflict-resolution and trust-building.
3. The media reports on it has been quite biased and tacit of just how strong remains the pressure on Iran and the suffering of its citizens.
4. Iran did the only right thing by accepting this deal because it a) had no choice and b) the deal undermines any future claims that Iran seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.
5. It can be stated that Iran gave about 90% to this deal. The P5+1 gave 10%. At the next round of talks the roles will have to reverse: the very hard sanctions and the oil embargo must be lifted completely. The alternative will be that the hardliners in Iran will win over the reformers which would be tragic in and of itself but also self-defeating for the West and harmful to the wider Middle East.
Arguments Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
This Sunday morning, I stumble upon this article on BBC’s homepage – the French foreign minister is “pessimistic” about the negotiations to be held in January in Montreaux, Switzerland about Syria. This is a slightly expanded version on what I jotted down on TFF Facebook:
• Look: First you simplify the conflict beyond recognition, the usual two parties: one side with all the good people and one side with all the bad people – the type of conflict analysis that has proved to never work anywhere (but you learnt nothing from Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya).
• You set up the Friends of Syria – but with such friends, who need an enemy?
• You act as if you have noble motives but never recognize that the French, British and other interventionist and war history in Syria and surroundings is a main reason behind today’s terrible situation. And of course you never mention the words oil and gas.
• You say you can’t talk with the President, a main party to the conflict.
• Then you support some bad guys against some other bad guys and ignore civil society.
• Then you pour in weapons to have the maximum number of people killed and fleeing.
• Then you undermine the only realistic peace effort, that of Kofi Annan, forcing him to resign.
• Then you act surprised that Al-Qaeda & Co. appears on the scene.
• You consistently antagonize Russia which does have an influence on Assad and keep Iran out as a relevant mediator.
• Next, you threaten war on the country but – oh shoot – only France (France, look at this link, is Mr. Fabius an idiot?) and Denmark think it is a good idea.
• Then you get it wrong with the chemical attack, blaming Assad before anyone had investigated it.
• Next you arrange negotiations that ignore 95% of the Syrian people (civil society).
• Next you forget that you should have a cease-fire and some monitoring or ceasefire-keeping mechanism on the ground.
• And you ignore the basic role of thumb that negotiations is the last stage, the result of, comprehensive consultations and dialogues with numerous parties before you go to Montreux.
And then You are surprised and pessimistic that perhaps these negotiations won’t be a success !!
Is that because you really always wanted peace so much? Or are you just systematically behaving as conflict illiterates, doing more harm than good?