Archive for December, 2013

Statement on Nobel’s Peace Prize and TFF receives the People’s Nobel Peace Prize

By Jan Oberg

Here first the important statement by seminar participants (in Swedish below):

The Nobel Peace Prize must not be misused

A Nordic seminar at Orust (Sweden) about the Nobel Peace Prize has analysed the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s selection of awardees over time. Lead by former Prime Minister Torbjørn Jagland, it has awarded the prize to e.g. Wangari Maathai, Al Gore, Shirin Ebadi, Liu Xiabo, Barack Obama and institutions such as the European Union (EU).

The mentioned personalities have undoubtedly contributed in various ways to a better future of the world but they have not met the criteria which Alfred Nobel formulated in his will, namely:

• Active struggle for the abolition or reduction of standing armies
• Contributing to the fraternity among nations
• Creation of negotiations/dialogues aiming at peace and congresses for peace
• Resilience as ”fredsförfäktare” – champions of peace.

This unambiguous anti-militarist mandate is strongly contradicted by the selection of the European Union Read the rest of this entry »

Nelson Mandela’s inspiration

By Richard Falk

Fifteen years ago I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela in Cape Town while he was serving as President of South Africa. It was an odd occasion. I was a member of the International Commission on the Future of the Oceans, which was holding a meeting in South Africa. It happened that one of the vice chairs of the Commission was Kader Asmal, a cherished friend and a member of the first Mandela cabinet who himself played a major role in the writing of the South African Constition. Kader had arranged for Mandela to welcome the Commission to his country, and asked me if I would prepare some remarks on his behalf, which was for me an awesome assignment, but one that I undertook with trepidation, not at all confident that I could find the words to be of some slight help to this great man.

Compounding my personal challenge, the Brazilian Vice Chair of our oceans commission who was supposed to give a response on behalf of the Commission became ill, and I was asked by our chair to respond to Mandela on behalf of the commission. I did have the thrill of hearing 90% of my text delivered by Mandela, which years later I remember much better than my eminently forgettable words of response to the President.

What moved me most, and has led me to make this rather narcissistic introduction, is the conversation after the event. Read the rest of this entry »

The United States of America – Where is it heading?

By Johan Galtung


In the shorter run, till around 2020, not good; in the longer run, from 2030, not bad at all. Short-run possibilities:

Politically: post-democracy, Congress more accountable to business than to people for election; the top executive power possibly sliding from the president to the supreme court justice, with money steering politics, protected as “freedom of expression”; Snowden-type revelations coming from once a year to once a month, once a week.

Economically: runaway inflation; accelerating inequality; deep misery affecting one third to a half of the population; depression.

Militarily: coup by evangelical fundamentalists to “give us our country back”/”give our, empire, our world”; using war to restore the economy; a temporary strong hand “to get things going”.

Culturally: declining faith in a covenant with a universal God as the Exceptional Chosen People; anomie, absence of compelling norms.

Socially: atomie, lacking social tissue, leading to collective and individual depression; increase in suicide and homicide (some by veterans back from meaningless wars); increasing “accidents” – cars, trains, planes – due to sloppiness, “don’t care”; school etc. massacres from once a year to once a week by suicidals taking others with them; general social malfunctioning; Jews used as scapegoats for the ills with rampant anti-Semitism, seeing Israel increasingly as a liability. Read the rest of this entry »

Mandela and his economics

By Jonathan Power

In the days when Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union, engaged in his policy of glasnost and disarmament, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize, he used to have a feisty press secretary who, asked about the deteriorating economic situation, replied that his boss didn’t win the Nobel for economics.

Could he have said the same about Nelson Mandela? Yes and no. Yes, when Mandela first came out of jail when he talked of the need for massive nationalisation and forcible wealth re-distribution. No, when president, having learnt a thing or two about what had been going on in Africa, he began to preach another message. He saw that most of black Africa had adapted “African socialism”. This, together with dictatorships and maladministration, had led to decades of rising poverty. Even in Tanzania, where the benign leadership of the sage-like, incorruptible, Julius Nyerere, gave the country a spirited sense of emancipation, the economy eventually lost momentum as Nyerere pushed socialist shibboleths.

Mandela told the African Union that “the fault lay not in our stars but in ourselves”. Read the rest of this entry »

Power scramble in the China seas

By Jonathan Power

In 1978 Deng Xiaoping, architect of China’s economic miracle, said the intractable problems of which country owns what in the East and South China Seas should be left to the next generation. He was right. China should keep kicking that can of worms down the road.
The recent surprise declaration that a huge swathe of international air space above the East China Sea be part of a new Chinese “Air Defence Identification Zone” (ADIZ) is counterproductive. The zone includes the Senaku/Diaoyu islands, claimed by by both China and Japan. The ADIZ demands that any aircraft flying across it must seek permission from China.

What does history say? In 1971 the US post-war occupation regime returned the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands to Japan and China did not object. But, according to Meiji era documents unearthed by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, in 1885 Japan acknowledged China as the owner. Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the global economy heading?

By Johan Galtung

Charles Darwin, in The Voyage of the Beagle, has a passage where he condemns an egalitarian native people on the tip of South America to stay primitive. Development presupposes inequality, having chiefs – human, animals, races – to look up to and learn from; no word wasted on the humans, animals or races at the bottom. And the evolution theory emerging from a mind thus pre-programmed is obvious: competition, struggle for survival, not mutual aid, as the substitute narrative for Genesis 1:20-28, 4th to 6th day–but without God.

However, a man of God, Pope Francis – if anyone is saving Western civilization from itself it is he, not economic growth presidents/PMs – comes out and decries inequality and “trickle-down economics” in particular as a “crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power” (Washington Post, 27 Nov 2013, p. 1). Or, maybe “those wielding intellectual power”, the servants, the economists, rather?

Look at BRICS, 45 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of the Gross World Product, GWP. NO to inequality and trickle-down: Brazil under Lula-Rousseff, Russia with revolution, China lifts the bottom up, South Africa breaks down Apartheid. India has some trickle-down, but social walls are too strong to break. The Social Protection Index of the Asian Development Bank is three times higher in China than in India (Japan is almost three times China–starting distribution already in the 1870s).

But the USA and EU have increasing inequalities. Read the rest of this entry »

Gaza – the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe

By Richard Falk

This material below was distributed by John Whitbeck, distinguished American lawyer and author, living in Paris, and doing his best to keep a group concerned with world affairs informed about latest developments, especially inthe Middle East. I also add a slightly edited text of a message sent by Robert Stiver from Hawaii, who has exhibited consistent empathy for the suffering of the Palestinian people.

My press release below, although far less emotional than the cri de coeur that Robert Stiver wrote, issues from the same place of urgent concern for the brave and resolute people of Gaza. I hope that Robert is wrong however when he ends with self-tormenting words of despair: “What to do, in the name of common justice? I know not; it seems useless, all useless.” Such feelings of futility are quite understandable, but let us do all within our power to make sure that this unfolding catastrophe ends before its full tragic character is totally realized.

It hardly needs to be observed that the silence of the United Nations and the global media is a continuing disgrace, particularly given the pomp and circumstance of those mighty statesmen who self-righteously proclaim a new doctrine: ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) those whose survival and dignity is at stake due to crimes of state or as a result of natural catastrophe.


Cutting edge Middle East news analysis edited by Oliver Miles
Web Arab News Digest

Gaza: a disgrace

According to a BBC report military action in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has been limited since the serious fighting a year ago in which about 170 Palestinians and six Israelis died. But tension remains high, as also between Hamas and Egypt where northern Sinai has been the scene of much fighting. Meanwhile living conditions for 1.7 million Gazans remain atrocious. Read the rest of this entry »

On non-violence in Thailand now

By Chaiwat Satha-Anand

TFF Associate Chaiwat Satha-Anand writes warning words to the protesters’ leader about the use and misuse of non-violence in this situation.

For your information, here a link to Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy PM of Thailand, who is the recipient of professor Anand’s open letter

– Jan Oberg


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