Archive for July, 2014
By Jan Oberg, TFF director
Lund, Sweden July 31, 2014
Responsibility for wars and killing
A number of Western/NATO politicians – Hillary Clinton foremost among them – and media people have recently introduced a new ethical principle in international affairs:
When A delivers weapons to B, A is responsible for what B does with these weapons. The former Secretary of State and perhaps future U.S. President presents this new ethical principle here on CNN.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Look at it this way:
Here is a young confused boy who has little to look forward to – and less to lose – because his country is falling apart in nasty civil war. He’s been told by some commander, or by his President, that he must hate the enemy; he gets paid for killing off as many as he can. And so he does.
He believes also in what he’s been promised: Fame as a hero upon return – that is, if he returns – and a comfortable life.
So he kills people, Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
What would the conservative president, Ronald Reagan, have done if the Ukraine debacle had happened on his watch? I suspect he would have made sure it didn’t devalue relations between the US and Russia.
It wasn’t him nor his vice-president, George W.H Bush, who inflamed relations with a post-Cold War Russia, it was his successor the liberal, Bill Clinton, who, together with a supine EU membership, decided to expand NATO right up to Russia’s doorstep, despite a solemn US promise given personally to the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, by George H. W. Bush’s secretary of state, James Baker, that it wouldn’t.
And today President Barack Obama won’t say clearly and out loud that the US doesn’t expect that Ukraine will ever join NATO, a move that could de-escalate the crisis faster than you could say: “At last Obama understands where President Vladimir Putin is coming from”. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
28 Jul 2014 – Kuala Lumpur
They made it, with constructive alternatives – the New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Agreement–to the US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those two parts of Bretton Woods were basic pillars in the economic infra-structure of the US Empire in the hands of the US Congress. Loans were disbursed in return for “structural adjustment” –privatization, budget cuts, devaluation, repatriation of profit, also against BRICS countries. US companies were commissioned for huge jobs serving local elites. Untold damage was done in spite of some recent changes in rhetoric.
The USA used them to export the US economic–and with it the social, political, cultural, military–order through loans, grafting it upon social bodies that after some time rejected the implants as foreign and incompatible. Even a decaying order however brilliant it may have looked to the untrained eye as late as the 1990s.
What remains today of that US “order” is the military part Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
That is, don’t answer, if you are a certified critic of Israeli policies and practices.
The siren lure of big time media is partly a romancing of the ego, partly a rare moment to intrude a moment or two of truthfulness into the endless spinning of the Israel’s narrative that stresses its extravagantly humane response to Hamas flurries of rockets and alleged human shield tactics.
Four times in the past week I have received invitations to be a guest on BBC programs dealing with Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Each time the female producer, with charming British intonation, expressed her strong interest in arranging my participation at such and such a time.
And each time I agreed, although Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
The post below is a revised text of an article published in AlJazeera America on July 26, 2014. Devastation and violence has continued in Gaza, with Palestinians deaths now numbering over 1000 (overwhelmingly civilians) and Israeli deaths latest reported at being 43 (almost all military personnel).
Such casualty figures and disparities raise questions of state terrorism in a stark manner. Also, it should be appreciated that if Israel were to do what it is required by international law to do there would be no rockets directed at its population centers – lift the blockade, negotiate peace on the basis of the 2002 Arab proposals and Security Council 242. Yet this would require Israel to give up once and for all its expansionist vision embedded in the settlement phenomenon and the version of Zionism embraced by its leaders and reigning political parties.
The best that the UN has been able to do is to call for an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire” to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council; such an unseemly balancing act is not what the UN Charter had in mind by aligning the international community in opposition to states that break the peace and act aggressively in disregard of international law; a victimized people deserves protection, not some sort of display of deforming geopolitical symmetry.
So far, the diplomatic effort to end the violence in Gaza has failed miserably, Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
July 28, 2014
Posted here is a Joint Declaration of 142 (as of now) international law experts from around the world who are listed below as endorsers. I am among the endorsers, and the text was initially drafted by Chantal Meloni who has served as rapporteur.
We welcome additional signatures that can be sent to me at email@example.com with affiliation noted for identification, and names will be periodically added to the text.
I view this as an important expression of professional judgment and individual conscience relating to Israeli behavior in Gaza commencing on 8 July that has already taken so many innocent lives and caused such widespread devastation. Please join us and spread the word!
The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip
As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of the 23th July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.
Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg, TFF director
Lund, Sweden July 25, 2014
Violence is a dead end
Look at the violence in Gaza today, DR Congo (6 million dead), Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia etc: Isn’t it obvious that the world needs a completely new approach to conflicts?
We’ll never rid the world of conflicts, conflicts is part of human and social life. Conflict-prevention is a meaningless term.
But we can rid the world of most of its violence. If we want, if we educate each other and if economic and other interests stopped supporting killing as a tool in conflict-management.
Unrealistic? Hopelessly idealistic? Well, look at the places above and try to find the realism and hope there.
Look at the conflict not at the parties and the violence
It requires almost no intellectual effort to take sides in a conflict between A and B. If both parties use violence, that means endorsement of the violence – the justification both need: “They threaten and kill us, therefore we threaten and kill them.”
Those who support a conflict party who use violence also support violence. As long as violence continues, there will be no process towards peace – only more hate, traumas, suffering, wish for revenge and destruction.
Violence – not the conflict – becomes the main thing and tit-for-tat the rule of the game, with an increase in the violence for each round. Scorpions in a bottle, feeding each other.
Both those who are outside a conflict and debate it – for instance, 99% of the media debates – and the conflicting parties on the ground feed on violence. If A did not use violence against B, how would B justify its own killings?
Gaza today – both parties lose
This is where we are in Gaza today when reports tell that around 800 civilians have been killed without any positive effect, both losing.
It’s not about evil, it’s about desperation coupled with traumas coupled with a lack of insight and education.
This wrong-headed attitude is indicative of conflict and peace illiteracy: among the parties, our media and our decision-makers. Innocent people on both or all sides normally pay the price for it.
The world needs a completely different approach. It’s embedded in the UN Charter and called peace by peaceful means. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
The essay “Galtung’s Structural Violence and the Sierra Leone Civil War c. 1985-1992” by Philip Leech [TMS-Analysis 14 Jul 2014],–of all the commentators the deepest–is a very welcome opportunity to clarify and develop further some of the underlying thinking. By and large his comments, based on Peace by Peaceful Means (PBPM, SAGE, 1996); the concepts have been developed further in A Theory of Peace) are very positive. I focus on the questioning and critical, and not on Sierra Leone, having no direct mediation experience. Leech is familiar with the conflict.
Leech says repeatedly something that meets with my full agreement: “No theoretical concept can tell the whole story”. Indeed, how could a string of words match the ever evolving complexity of reality? A sharp edge–by a Marx (means vs modes) or a Toynbee (challenge vs response)–may reveal some deep aspects but never “the whole story” which, in addition, is revised all the time–with new sharp edges.
In my efforts toward nothing less than a new culture to come to grips–diagnosis, prognosis, therapy–with conflict, violence and peace, structural violence is only one component. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jake Lynch
“This is not war – it’s a massacre”. The slogan has appeared on placards at demonstrations around the world, calling for an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza. The ‘Dahiya doctrine’, named after the suburb of south Beirut where it was first applied, is in operation: an attempt to turn the population against an armed group – Hamas, in this case – by destroying civilian infrastructure. That is why the civilian death toll – including children – has mounted so rapidly.
Pitted against Israel’s hi-tech killing machine are rockets with all the efficacy of a peashooter. These are indiscriminate by nature, and firing them therefore also constitutes a war crime. It can be of little comfort…
Continue reading at Transcend News Service here.
By Richard Falk
Prefatory Note July 17, 2014 written before the ground invasion
This is a modified version of a post published online, July 15, 2014, at the recently established very informative website, Middle East Eye; as the casualty totals continue to mount while the world looks on in stupefied inaction, the attacks go on.
At the very least, from a humanitarian perspective, there should be a global outcry demanding that children, mothers, and those sick and disabled be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip until current hostilities end. Yet this is a gap in international humanitarian law, refugee law, and the moral sensibilities of the combatant states.
• As the hideous Israeli assault on Gaza, named Operation Protective Edge, by the IDF enters its second week, overdue international appeals for a ceasefire fall on deaf ears. The short lived July 15th ceasefire arranged by Sisi’s Egypt had many accompanying signs of bad faith from its inception, including the failure to allow Hamas to participate in the process, insultingly conveying the proposed terms of the ceasefire through public media.
The vague terms depicted, alongside the failure to take any account of Hamas’ previously announced conditions, suggest that this initiative was not a serious effort to end the violence, but rather a clever ploy to regain moral credibility for Israel thereby facilitating the continuation and even intensification of its violent military campaign that was never defensive in conception or execution.
Rather than being a real effort to end the violence, such a ‘ceasefire’ seems best understood as a sophisticated for form of escalation produced by a descent into the lower depths of Israeli hasbara. Such an Israeli tactic was facilitated by the active complicity of the Egyptian government that shares with Israel an undisguised wish to destroy Hamas.
Cairo regards Hamas as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has been criminalized and viciously repressed, and has collaborated with Tel Aviv ever since Sisi took over control of the Egyptian government.
Throughout Protective Edge Bibi Netanyahu has been telling the world Read the rest of this entry »