Archive for May, 2014

Jens Jørgen Nielsen’s CV

Jens-Jørgen Nielsen became TFF Associate in May 2014

Basic facts
Nationality: Danish
Married status: Married with 2 children to Yelena since 1992 (She is Russian, born in Estonia).
Current employment: Assistant professor with Niels Brock Department for Business Studies.
Besides I run my own small business as consultant in the field of managing culture clashes and conflict management and consultant for Danish export firms. Moreover I am the author of several books, the latest being: På egne præmisser – Putins nye Rusland (On its own terms – Putin´s New Russia).
Date of Birth: 12.09. 1949 Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo: Ukraine – Stop escalation and think peace

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden May 9, 2014

1. Welcome de-escalation
Vladimir Putin’s statements that separatists should not hold referendums on May 11, that he welcomes the elections in Ukraine on May 25 and that Russia is withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine should be welcomed.

If he has been ”aggressive” and this is a ”turnabout” as many in the West believe, this turnabout is even more welcome.

If he hasn’t been aggressive but merely defensive, it is still helpful in terms of defusing the crisis.

2. Constructive response from the West
The only constructive approach so far seems to be OSCE chair Burkhalter’s “roadmap”. But it needs to get more concrete and detailed.

We now need some constructive response from the US, NATO and EU. It would be helpful if they announced that they will not try to include Ukraine in NATO or EU for that matter but respect the opinion of all Ukrainians. Read the rest of this entry »

Nigeria’s oil has cons and pros – and Boko Haram

By Jonathan Power

Oil provides 70 % of booming Nigeria’s government revenues and without that, since tax collection is so poor, Nigeria would be a country without much in the way of education, health facilities, infrastructure building and urban renewal.

People talk suggestively about a corrupt elite creaming off oil money. Although true it is only the cream. The milk itself goes to the state, hence the government’s preoccupation with oil theft which is now on an enormous scale, organised by corrupt businessmen, officials and politicians. (Before that it was the insurgency in the Niger delta where youthful, well-armed, guerrillas sabotaged the pipelines for well over a decade until a peace agreement (a buy out) was negotiated by the underestimated president, Umar Yar A’dua, President Goodluck Jonathan’s predecessor who died on the job.)

The proportion of the economy that oil makes up is now found to be much less than thought. Nigeria has just revised its national income figures. (The International Monetary Fund supports this.) It has handsomely overtaken South Africa to become the continent’s largest economy. The economy of Lagos is one and a half times the whole of Kenya’s. Nigeria has become the 16th largest economy in the world. Some say within ten years it could be in the top five. However, the statistical revision shows that the share of the oil and gas industry in the economy is not 32% but 14%. Nigeria has diversified much more than was ever guessed at. Read the rest of this entry »

TAP+TPP = “All But China” = TAP+TIPP?

By Johan Galtung

Washington is working hard to reconquer slipping world hegemony; in the Anglo-American tradition assuming that No. 2–this year maybe No. 1 economically–is an enemy, instead of deepening cooperation.

In addition to military confrontation, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)-AMPO (Japan-US Security Treaty) against SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) over Crimea-Ukraine, economic exclusion; isolating China like they try to isolate Russia over Ukraine. Together in SCO, with new ties being spun daily in the budding Eurasia and giga gas deals in the making, “isolation” of the most populous and largest countries in the world seems out of touch with reality.

Bordering on the Asian sub-continent and the Islamic world most of them might actually lean toward China-Russia, or prefer being open to “isolators” and “isolated” alike. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizens versus subjects in a democratic society: The American case

By Richard Falk

“Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t

Escape from silence?…”

Robert Bly, “Call and Answer”

In my understanding silence is passivity as a way of being. Silence can be much more than the avoidance of speech and utterance, and is most poignantly expressed through evasions of body, heart, and soul. Despite the frustrations and defeats of the period, America was different during the years of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement.

It was then that alienated gun-wielders assassinated those among us who were sounding the clearest calls for justice and sending messages of hope. In a perverse reaction, Washington’s custodians of our insecurity went to work, and the sad result is this deafening silence!

I have long felt that most American ‘citizens’ increasingly behave as ‘subjects,’ blithely acting as if a love of country is exhibited more by obedience than conscience.

In my view the opportunity to be a citizen is a precious reality, a byproduct of past struggles. Genuine citizenship remains possible in the United States, but has become marginal, and is not much in evidence these days. I am identifying the citizen as an ethically sensitive and responsible member of a political community, most significantly of a sovereign state. In contrast, the subject conceives of upright standing in a political community by the willingness to go along with the group and to obey the directives of government and those exercising formal authority.

The moral substance at the core of genuine citizenship only exists if the political structure allows opposition without imposing a severe punishment. If citizenship is possible, then it automatically gives rise to responsibility to act accordingly, that is, by honoring the imperatives of conscience. Read the rest of this entry »

Marshallöarna utmanar kärnvapenstaterna

Av Gunnar Westberg

Marshallöarnas utrikesminister Tony de Brum berättade vid den pågående förberedelsekommitténs möte (Prep Com) i FNs-högkvarter i New York, den 28 april till 9 maj 2014 om avtalet mot kärnvapen, NPT, i New York, om sina upplevelser av kärnvapenprov:

Jag har varit vittne till kärnvapenexplosioner och mina minnen från Lipiep-atollen i norra Marshallöarna är starka. Jag bodde där som pojke under de 12 åren som kärnvapenproven pågick. Jag minns det bländande vita ljuset från Bravo-sprängningen på Bikini-atollen år 1954, tusen gånger starkare än den över Hiroshima.

Marshallöarna utsattes för 67 kärnvapenprov mellan 1946 och 1958, motsvarande 1,6 Hiroshima-sprängningar varje dag I tolv år. Följderna finns kvar hos oss som en börda som ingen nation, ingen befolkning, skulle behöva bära.

Marshallöarna förvaltades vid tiden för kärnvapensprängningarna av USA under FN-mandat. Nu är landet självständigt med namnet Republiken Marshallöarna, som omfattar ett stort antal öar med en befolkning av totalt endast 60 000 personer. Landet ar ett avtal med USA som bl a innebär att USA står för försvar och vissa sociala tjänster.

Marshallöarna tar nu strid för att inget land i världen skall utsättas för kärnvapen, inte testsprängningar men framför allt inte kärnvapenkrig. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo: GCC Military Command or a More Open Society

By Farhang Jahanpour*

Short e-mail PressInfo version here.

Saudi Military exercises

On 30th April 2014, Saudi Arabia staged its largest-ever military exercises codenamed “Abdullah’s Shield” after the kingdom’s 91-year old ruler and coinciding with the ninth anniversary of his ascension to the throne. The exercises involved 130,000 Saudi troops and showcased some of the latest weapons purchased by the kingdom from the United States and China, including the Chinese CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 2,650 kilometers (1,646 miles) which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Chinese version of these missiles is already equipped with nuclear warheads. This was the first time that these missiles had been seen in public in Saudi Arabia.

Crown Prince Salman presided over the exercises, which were also watched by a number of prominent foreign guests, including King Hamad of Bahrain and more pointedly by Gen. Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani chief of the army Staff. There have been persistent rumors over many decades that in return for Saudi funding of the Pakistani nuclear weapons’ program, Pakistan had committed to provide nuclear warheads for CSS-2 missiles, should Saudi Arabia decide to have them. Earlier in the year when Prince Salman visited Pakistan, he personally invited Gen. Sharif to be his guest at the exercises. Pakistani media stressed the point that Gen. Sharif had gone to Jeddah “on the invitation of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to witness the military exercise…” (1)

With the exception of Bahrain’s ruler, none of the other GCC rulers watched the exercises. The guests included the crown prince of the UAE, the prime minister of Jordan and military commanders from some GCC states, but Qatar pointedly did not send any representatives. This was yet another sign of a growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A unified GCC Command and Monetary Union

At the GCC summit held in Kuwait in December 2013, the Saudis called for a unified GCC military command to have 100,000 forces, half of which would be contributed by the Saudis. (2) However, other GCC members opposed the idea as they saw it as a way of consolidating Saudi domination of other GCC states and affirming Saudi Arabia’s position as the big brother. Many smaller GCC states value their independence, and while they would like to cooperate with other GCC members, they do not wish to be absorbed into a unified military alliance as junior partners. Oman openly expressed its opposition to the proposal and Qatar and Kuwait also followed suit. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Peace Talks Collapsed—and Should Not be Resumed

By Richard Falk

A week ago Israel suspended participation in the peace talks in response to news that the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah had for a third time concluded a unity agreement with the Hamas leadership of Gaza. Such a move toward intra-Palestinian reconciliation should have been welcomed by Israel as a tentative step in the right direction. Instead it was immediately denounced by Netanyahu as the end of the diplomatic road, contending that Israel will never be part of any political process that includes a terrorist organization pledged to its destruction.

Without Hamas’ participation any diplomatic results of negotiations would likely have been of questionable value, and besides, Hamas deserves inclusion. It has behaved as a political actor since it took part in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, and has repeatedly indicated its willingness to reach a long-term normalizing agreement with Israel if and when Israel is ready to withdraw fully to the 1967 borders and respect Palestinian sovereign rights.

The contention that Hamas is pledged to Israel’s destruction is pure hasbara, a cynical means to manipulate the fear factor in Israeli domestic politics, as well as ensuring the persistence of the conflict. This approach has become Israel’s way of choosing expansion over peace, and seemingly ignoring its own citizens’ mandate to secure a stable peace agreement.

Israel had days earlier complained about an initiative taken by the PA to become a party to 15 international treaties. Again, a step that would be viewed as constructive if seeking an end to the conflict was anywhere to be found in Israel’s playbook. Such an initiative should have been interpreted in a positive direction as indicating the Palestinian intention to be a responsible member of the international community. Israel’s contrary lame allegation that by acting independently the PA departed from the agreed roadmap of negotiations prematurely assuming the prerogatives of a state rather than waiting Godot-like for such a status to be granted via the bilateral diplomatic route.

To remove any doubt about the priorities of the Netanyahu-led government, Israel during the nine months set aside for reaching an agreement, authorized no less than 13,851 new housing units in the settlements, added significant amounts of available land for further settlement expansion, and demolished 312 Palestinian homes. Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa’s election must be a turning point

By Jonathan Power

South Africans of all races know how to behave at election time- responsible as voters and honest in their voting procedures. This is part of the legacy of Nelson Mandela who, as his funeral last year made clear, was the most honoured and respected leader in the world.

The country that has tripled its income in the years since the end of apartheid has achieved a lot more, much of it totally unexpected by white opinion. The Financial Times recently wrote, “What was in 1994 a divided country and a broken polity is now an unrecognisable, modern, investment-grade economy”.

Inflation has been tamed and support for the poor has been expanded with weekly cash grants to 16 million people. Every year 1 million people join the middle class. Read the rest of this entry »

Homage to International New York Times

By Johan Galtung

On the table are some old clippings mainly from that remarkable paper; in my mind the International Herald Tribune, IHT, from 1857 and a part of my reality for about fifty years. Maybe an addiction? Hard to live without. The recent name change to International New York Times was understandable but too specific geographically, not global. The Honolulu papers, well located, are often more global.

Why homage? Not for the news coverage; usually the news “fit to print”. The news that do not contradict too openly the world views carried by US and Israeli foreign policies, even if this has improved considerably recently. Nor for the editorials, they are usually on the same line and also, sorry, frankly, often boring.

No, the homage is for the articles, essays even, at a very high level in what is after all a newspaper, a paper with news. Those essays often carry discourses that are wide ranging, way back into the past, far into the future. We are not talking about agree-disagree but about broadness, openness, even globally.

Take William Safire 30 September, 1991 Read the rest of this entry »


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