Archive for August, 2015

The Korean peninsula: A view of the future

By Johan Galtung


There was a big conference in 1972 in Kyoto, well over 40 years ago; that was my first effort, with thousands, millions of others. On the agendas for these countless encounters the U-word, “unification”, loomed high.

In Kyoto, I made a distinction between unifying the Korean nation by opening the border for projects beyond unifying families, and unifying the two states. Which one are we talking about?

The second is problematic if it means one state–and one president!–less. Could wait; from a human point of view unifying the nation has priority. Building on that a Korean Community with two states could emerge; building on that a Korean Federation with capital neither in Seoul nor in Pyongyang; building on that, maybe one day a unitary state.

I rejected any idea of one collapsing and the other taking over – “the German model”. Unification is symmetric, neutral, a nuclear-free UN-monitored Korean peninsula with non-provocative, defensive defense.

As such ideas emerged, about forty concrete cooperation projects were elaborated. One of them was a Peace Railroad running through the Koreas, connecting my wife’s Japan and my own Norway, in Western Europe. Could have happened but did not. China did it: the Silk Railroad to Madrid.

An important point became increasingly clear. The real conflict was not between North and South Korea, but between the USA and North Korea: the USA denying North Korea a peace treaty and normalization, hating the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-DPRK for not having capitulated; working 60+ years for its collapse. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Claudia Rankine on race

By Richard Falk

We white people have lots to learn about racism in America no matter how progressive our attitudes toward race. I realized this some years ago when I found Toni Morrison’s Beloved so grimly illuminating in depicting the cruelty experienced after the abolition of slavery by our African American fellow citizens left in a malicious shadow land of unknowing, a reflection of white indifference.

It made me abruptly realize that I had never effectively grasped the intensities of hurt and pain of even close black friends afflicted or threatened with affliction as a result of societal attitudes of hatred and fear that lie just below the surface, behavior socially conditioned to be ‘politically correct.’

White consciousness was preoccupied with the condemnation of hideous events that capture national attention, but remain largely unaware of the everyday racism that is the price African Americans of talent and privilege pay for ‘success’ when penetrating the supremacy structures of society that remain predominantly white.

I recall some years ago being picked up at the airport in Atlanta by a couple of white undergraduates assigned to take me to the University of Georgia where I was to give a lecture. On the way we got onto the subject of race, and they complained about tensions on their campus. I naively pointed out that the stars of their football and basketball teams were black, and since white students were fanatic collegiate sports fans at Southern universities, wouldn’t this solve the problem. I assumed that these black athletes who won games for the college would be idolized as local heroes.

The students taking me to the lecture agreed with my point, but claimed that the black athletes refused to socialize with whites, displaying an alleged ‘reverse racism’ that the white student body resented. In explaining this pattern of multi-culturalism to me, whether accurate or not I have no idea, these young Southerners did not pause to wonder whether this reluctance by campus blacks, including the sports stars, to mingle socially might have something to do with the history of race relations in the South, and not just the history but an of nasty earlier experiences of racism as well, and not just in the South, but throughout whole of the country, and that this was their reason for choosing to be racially aloof!

It is with such thoughts in mind that reading Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (Greywolf Press, 2014) became for me a revelatory experience Read the rest of this entry »

Living in the 21st Century

By Richard Falk

The following post is more personal than is my natural mode of communicating on this website. I hope it causes no offense. It is confessional to the extent of acknowledging my own surroundings of digital devices that while liberating in some respects are repressive in others. To sustain our freedom under these ‘postmodern’ conditions requires the rechristening of meditative intelligence (as distinct from the instrumental rationality that acted as wet nurse of the ‘modern.’

Ever since I read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen I have been haunted by the suggestive resonance of its opening line:

“When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows.”

Of course, Rankine allows this quietness to evoke her anguishing memories of past subtle racist slights that are the hurtful daily experiences of embedded racism that has for centuries undermined the normative pretensions of ‘civilization,’ not only here in the United States, but globally. Recently, a series of police atrocities throughout America has reminded us ever so forcefully that the election of an African American as president did not mean the end of racism, but alarmingly, an ugly new beginning, an apt occasion for the emergence of Black Lives Matter. (You may listen to Rankine here, Editor)

It is the first part of Rankine’s sentence that speaks so simply, yet so responsively, to the circumstance of our 21st century reality, our struggles with loneliness while treasuring the self-discoveries that are uniquely dependent on reflective solitude.

What Rankine is telling us is that digital modernity has diminished our capacity to be creatively alone and sufficiently sensitive to the arts of self-discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 342 – The iron fist inside a velvet glove

By Jonathan Power

“1789 is an historic date but it is not an historic example”. The French Revolution, violent to its fingertips, began with the highest motives, led by the most inspired and determined of people, but descended step by step into its own self-created inferno where the revolution consumed its own children.

Violence begets violence and, as Martin Luther King said, “The means and the ends must cohere. We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represents the ideal in the making, and the end in process. And, ultimately, you can’t reach your good ends through evil means, because the means represents the seed and the end the tree.”

According Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, writing in the August, 2014, edition of Foreign Affairs, “Between 1900 and 2006 campaigns of nonviolent resistance against authoritarian regimes were twice as likely to succeed as violent movements. Nonviolent resistance also increased the chances that the overthrow of a dictatorship would lead to peace and democratic rule. This was true even in highly authoritarian and repressive countries, where one might expect nonviolent resistance to fail.”

Critics of nonviolence are always swift to cite cases when non-violent campaigns were counterproductive – the student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the failure of the Arab Spring where non-violent protests were hijacked by extremists, as in Syria, or were self-sabotaged by their leaders who had no strategy for the long term, as in Egypt.

More recently in Ukraine the ferment unleashed by those protesting against the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych while achieving its aim of toppling him has been compromised by the infiltration of extreme rightists which, in turn, worked to provoke Russian military intervention in the east.

All such criticisms are right. But Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmy Carter: A life up and down

By Jonathan Power

“ The lives of all politicians end in failure”. So said Enoch Powell, a maverick former cabinet minister in the British government.

Of recent US presidents Jimmy Carter has not been alone in failure. Think of George W. Bush (Iraq war). Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky and a wasted last term). George H.W. Bush (messing up the economy and laying the foundation along with Clinton for the great economic crash of 2007). Ronald Reagan (missing the chance with Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to create the nuclear-free world that he offered). Jimmy Carter (driving out the Soviet army and thus initiating the war in Afghanistan, laying the groundwork for both Al-Qaeda and ISIS). Richard Nixon (Firing up the Vietnam War and had to resign in disgrace).

And now Barack Obama. Despite some important achievements he has allowed his flawed policy on Ukraine to lead to a dangerous confrontation with Russia.

Back to Jimmy Carter who, according to the man himself, appears to be dying.

I had a tangential responsibility for his election. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 335 Greek debt and West-Russia-China-Japan

By Johan Galtung

The game is dirty and has lasted 70 years. It came with the idea of development as imitating, but not catching up, with the West, for all states, including the deluge of states due to decolonization.

The formula for big profit is simple: give credit to a country poor enough not to be able to pay it off quickly, yet not so poor that it cannot go on servicing the loan for years. To be worthwhile the project must be capital-intensive, like (air)ports and highways to the (air)ports for import-export, assembling cars–something for the rich. Investment to lift up people in misery, or ravished nature, makes no sense: the poor need very little capital and can only pay back in labor, whereas nature pays back but is not capitalized.

Ideally, the country asks for more credit to service the first, and a second, third loan is then offered at higher interest. Till the debt is non-sustainable; the debtor country is then squeezed dry.

Then comes the time for debt relief, provided the profit made on investment in debt exceeds the debt forgiven.

From Agence France Presse comes a study: Germany made € 100 billion on the Greek crisis since 2010 – amounting to 3% of the GDP – on the difference between interests paid to German banks and the interest they paid; from German banks to ECB 1%, to German banks from debtors, say, 6%.

Germany’s share of the total bailout package to Greece – with the latest for payment due August 20 – is € 90 billion, meaning a € 10 billion profit if Greece cannot be squeezed further. The money flowing into Greece is to keep banks, not people, afloat. And to benefit USA, France and the Netherlands, but to a lesser extent than Germany.

This is the way the Third World has been treated by the USA-based IMF and the World Bank; what is new is EU treating a fellow EU member like a Third World country (or worse).

Next in line is Ukraine, Read the rest of this entry »

TFF turns 30 Part 2: Why peace research is about finding solutions

Jan Oberg talks about why it is essential to not only do analysis and criticism but to also be pro-peace – come up with constructive ideas, concrete peace proposals and thereby combine science with the art of seeing a better future than warfare and other violence.

TFF turns 30 Part 1: How it all began

In this short video founders Christina Spännar and Jan Oberg talk about why they set up TFF in 1985 and what the basic idea behind was.

U.S. lawmaker is warmaker…

House Democrat Hastings calls for war authorization against Iran
Jan Oberg comments on lawmakers being warmakers and on the – dangerous – decline of the U.S. Empire.
Thanks for sharing if you like and sorry that I look even worse on this video than in reality…

Down with war, Up with Europe

By Jonathan Power

Mankind got rid of African slave trading. It got rid of dueling. It got rid of torture. In some European countries it was abolished over 200 years ago. Even in the Second World War the allies did not systematically use torture. Regrettably, when President George W. Bush came to power, torture was reinstated – a reminder that although there has been progress it can slip back. Likewise, slavery has found new life with the rise in child and female trafficking.

As for war it is abundantly clear that since the end of the Second World War the number of conflicts and battlefield deaths has gone sharply down. Some of the most distinguished military historians now think that the age-old connection between war and states may be on its way out.

The European Union has shown the way. The part of the world that used to be the most violent has effectively banned the clash of arms. Between 1648 and 1789 the European powers fought 48 wars. Even when there seemed to be peace, as when no wars were fought between 1871 and 1914, the colonial powers fought both each other abroad and the natives who they colonized. The British army was at war in some part of the world throughout the entire nineteenth century.

Then came the carnage of World War 1. Read the rest of this entry »


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