Archive for September, 2015

The Pope’s challenge to white America.

By Jonathan Power

September 22nd 2015.

The pope will cause waves in America during his visit this week. Invited to speak before Congress by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, he’ll arrive right at the time that the Republican candidates for president are touting ideas that are anathema to Pope Francis.

He detests the cruder aspects of capitalism and the consumer life style so rife in America. The culture of Wall Street and its banks, in particular their performance in precipitating the crash of 2007 and their rush to avoid culpability, he finds distasteful.

Nor has he much time for those who turn their back on the needs of the poor, the unemployed, the discriminated against, those unnecessarily imprisoned or the migrant.

Nor will American political leaders find him giving any support for the kind of wars fought by the US since 9/11. The Republicans will find him way to the left, except on the issue of abortion.

The Pope is unlikely to rattle through the statistics but I’m sure he knows what the facts are.

The US now ranks lowest among affluent nations in how it spreads its wealth. It has the worst poverty, the lowest life expectancy, the highest rate of infant mortality and the shortest (or non-existent) maternity leave among the world’s richest 21 nations.

It is nearly the worst in its mental health provisions, the degree of child poverty and its numbers of obese. Read the rest of this entry »

Making peace arrive in Ukraine – bring in the UN

By Jonathan Power

September 15th 2015.

On the last day of last month right wing demonstrators, mostly from neo-fascist movements, hurled themselves against the police in Kiev’s Maidan square, the same place where in February 2014 a more heterogeneous group of demonstrators effectively ousted President Viktor Yanokovych. A grenade was thrown and three people died and 120 were hospitalized, mostly policemen.

In an address to the nation President Poroshenko blamed the clashes on nationalistic forces, calling their actions “a stab in the back”. Finally the Western powers raised a voice of condemnation, although over the last year they have made little criticism of the rightist militias and parties.

That is perhaps because it would interfere with their narrative – that the demonstrators that overthrew Yanukovych were of a liberal, democratic hue. The overwhelming majority were. But the ignored fact is that the people who led the crowd and fired the bullets when the demonstrations turned ugly were these very same rightists.

Some of the leaders of the neo-Nazi organisations, especially Svoboda, went on to be appointed to senior positions in government and parliament.

The BBC’s Ukraine correspondent, David Stern, reported on September 1st: “The explosion in Maidan comes weeks after another armed incident involving volunteer militia with ties to the extreme right – a shoot out between members of the so-called Right Sector and the local police in south-western Ukraine. Although the militias have been nominally integrated into government structures, many wonder how much control Kiev actually exercises.”

The main gripe of the protestors is that Read the rest of this entry »

Guatemala, country of evil

By Jonathan Power

September 8th 2015.

Guatemala on Sunday held a reasonably honest presidential election.

But it is probably not the end of the brutal saga of the country- 36 years of continuous murder, mayhem, abductions, disappearances, rapes and genocide that have kept on rolling, chapter after chapter. Labour leaders, villagers and peasants, students and churchmen, journalists and human rights activists have been killed by death squads. This is a Harry Potter saga with bullets.

Few countries have suffered as much as Guatemala. More people were killed in the 36 years of civil war than in all of the rest Latin America put together, more than in the civil wars in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru and the bloody coup d’etats in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

A UN investigation in Guatemala reported that far more guerrillas had died than government forces, by a factor of 9. The Commission estimated that the number of persons killed or disappeared “as a result of fratricidal confrontation” reached a total of 200,000. The State, it concluded, “deliberately magnified the military threat of the insurgency. The vast majority of the victims were not combatants, but civilians. A quarter of all victims were women”.

Most of the weaponry and political support for the government came from the US. When Congress cut off military aid in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan asked Israel to take over. During the most intense period of the civil war, Guatemalan soldiers dropped into Indian villages on Israeli-made Arava Transports and did their killing with Uzi rifles.

As Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times journalist and author of a seminal book on the United Fruit Company, wrote last week, “Guatemala was horrifically brutalized by Spanish conquerors. It became a nation dominated by rich landowners who continued oppressing the Indian majority. Early in the 20th century the Boston-based United Fruit Company became the country’s most powerful force. Read the rest of this entry »

Toward a Northeast Asian Community

By Johan Galtung


Abe’s policy of “collective self-defense”, an alliance with the most belligerent country in the world, USA, with 248 military interventions abroad since 1805–78 after the Second World War– is a policy of national insecurity. It involves Japan in US armed conflicts all over, eg., against the Islamic State with revenge against Japan, and in arms races easily leading to war. And the TPP-CSD makes Japan a periphery of a US economy with deep problems, also reducing welfare. All this is masked by focusing on the past, and on apologies.

Positive Peace, from 1958, means cooperation with equity, harmony with empathy, institutions-fusion-transmission by inspiring others; nothing military, no arms. The Japanese government uses such words for the opposite of what they stand for: A Peace Umbrella, not neo-AMPO (Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan).

Negative Peace, aka security, stands for the absence of violence and war by removing the causes through conflict solution and trauma conciliation; in the Japanese approach, there is no conflict solution.

And now a peace formula… Continue reading here

TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event

Lund, Sweden, September 5, 2015
Updated September 5 and our apologies if you’ve received this before.
We want to catch all and miss no one over all these years.

Dear friend!

We are happy to invite you to the TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event !
September 11-12, 2015

Live Lectures by videostream
Exciting lectures on world affairs and peace over two days – See program below.

This is not an invitation to visit the foundation in person.
It is an online, live video streamed event that you will be able to follow from anywhere in the world
Here is the link and it’ll also be shown via Facebook, Twitter and on our website.
And all the lectures will be available later as videos on our own video channels.

Open House at the foundation
Saturday September 12 at 14:00-17:00
It’s at Vegagatan 25 in Lund, Sweden – deadline for your registration September 7.

1. Lectures on-site with live streaming

We’ll shortly tell you the links where you may see it all and where videos will later be available.

Lecture program

Friday September 11

Live, video streamed:

September 11: Alternatives to the devastating War On Terror – Jan Oberg

TFF 30 Perspectives – TFF Associates and Board on the better world we dream of – And cheers!

Saturday September 12

Live, video-streamed 10:00-18:00

Iran And the Nuclear Issues – Gunnar Westberg

Integration – Why and how? Example: Afghan Youth In Sweden – Christina Spännar, Sweden

Nuclear abolition is necessary and possible – Gunnar Westberg, Sweden

West and East: Ukraine and New Cold War? – Jan Oberg

Human Rights And War Crimes – Jonathan Power, UK/Sweden

Women, Self-Esteem and Violence – Annette Schiffmann, Germany

Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done? – Jan Oberg (in Memoriam Håkan Wiberg), DK/Sweden

Media and Peace – Sören Sommelius, Sweden

Burundi’s Crisis And Possible Ways Out – Burundi expert

2. Open House hours 14-17
Buffet, drinks, coffee and tea, cakes and other sweets.
You must register your visit by September 7 at the latest at or call 0046 738 525200.

3. Peace with peaceful means
The day is devoted to the – ongoing – struggle for ”peace by peaceful means“ as the UN Charter puts it. Gandhi said that the “means are goals in-the-making”. To realize that noble goal remains the mission of TFF. Today we show you how and promote all related activites with the help of social media and new video technologies.

4. This is a Benefit Event – Your support to TFF please!

TFF is unique in being totally independent of government and corporate funds. It’s people-financed. No one related to TFF has a salary; we’re all-volunteer.
This provides for truly free research and permit us to be critical and constructive and practise our freedom of expression. Not everyone can boast that today!
Wars, nuclear and conventional arms, bombing raids and occupations etc. are financed by your tax money. Sadly and unfairly, no tax funds go to realise the UN norm above.

We think that people who believe that peace is better than violence should also pay something to the research, education and activism in favour of that UN norm.
If you can come to Lund on our big day or sit somewhere following our rich lecture program, we urge you strongly to make a donation. Every day over 30 years, TFF has given the world something useful.

You can do it right in the middle of our homepage – click the “Give” button or under the headline “Support” in the right-hand column where many options exist, including PayPal. It easy, fast and secure!
Cash – but no cheques – can also be donated at the event.* *

Thank you so much!

5. Videos
We’re proud to present the first two short videos – 3 more to come – in which the founders talk about various aspects of 30 years in the service of peace on the basis of questions asked by board member Annette Schiffmann. Watch, comment and subscribe!

The First

The Second

6. Brand new Online Magazine
The announced online magazine launched to mark our Anniversary is now here!

“Transnational Affairs – TFF Magazine for conflict-resolution, non-violence and peace-building”

Excited as we are, we’ll be back to you soon with more details!

Yours truly

Christina & Jan

* If you are able to come in person, you must register to or call 0046 738 525200 by Tuesday September 8 at the latest.

* * This does not apply to you if you have already made a donation in 2015.

TFF PressInfo # 343: Can nuclear war be avoided?

By Gunnar Westberg

The Canberra Commission had as members former leading politicians or military officers, among others a British Field Marshal, an American General and an American Secretary of Defence and a French Prime minister.

The commission unanimously agreed in their report in 1996: The proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never be used – accidentally or by decision – defies credibility. The only complete defence is the elimination of nuclear weapons and assurance that they will never be produced again.

So that’s it: Nuclear weapons will be used if they are allowed to remain with us. And even a “small” nuclear war, using one per cent or less of the world’s nuclear weapons, might cause a world wide famine leading to the death of a billion humans or more.

Lt Colonel Bruce Blair was for several years in the 1970s commander of crews with the duty to launch intercontinental nuclear missiles. “I knew how to fire the missiles, I needed no permission,” he states. In the 1990s he was charged with making a review for the US Senate on the question: “Is unauthorized firing of US nuclear weapons a real possibility?”

Blair’s answer was Yes, and the risk is not insignificant. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part II

By Christina Spannar and Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part 1 here

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.

Part 2

Weak aspects of TFF

• Being outside many networks and institutions – it has become more and more difficult to influence the world if you are small, independent and don’t accept governmental and corporate funds.

• A perception that the interest/commitment of TFF is out of sync with the sentiments of times, of the Zeitgeist. In spite of that we maintain the fundamental belief that peace is essential and that we can forget about the rest if major wars or nuclear exchanges take place.

• Too ‘academic’/theoretical to forge deeper, permanent links with public opinion and movements.

• Too ‘radical’ or ‘idealistic’ to be interesting to governments and most mainstream media.

• A constant very hard work load – resting on a small international group and on the founders in Sweden – vulnerability also in the perspective of us having gotten 30 years older.

• The struggle for funds getting more and more tough and we are much more vulnerable than, say, ten years ago. Being all-volunteer, we still have to pay the bills for what enables us to do things: the Internet, computers, travels to conflict areas, insurance, bank fees, fund-raising, phones, sending out mails, using social media, etc. 
The generosity of yesterday has been replaced by a ”stingy” attitude of being entitled to get things free in the affluent Internet-based society. This attitude implies that it is not my responsibility to finance peace, somebody else does (and the somebody else is never me). Few citizens seem to recognise that they are the taxpayers who de facto finance all the weapons and wars. 
The far majority of those who support us are idealists without particular means – while wealthy people for peace a far and few between.

TFF’s stronger sides

• We are still here, operating with amazing TFF Associates around the world who share the commitment to ‘peace by peaceful means’.

• We have remained faithful over all these years to the original ideals, not succumbing to go mainstream/politically correct to achieve more funds or appearing acceptable to the masters of war, i.e. government – neither by the way in Sweden nor Denmark. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part I

By Christina Spannar & Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part I

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.


The 1980s was a decade of gross changes in Europe, the struggle against nuclear weapons in particular.

Lund University was predominantly about education and single research projects – while TFF could be more of an experimental playground. We wanted to do truly free research and not negotiate with higher levels at, say, the university what to do where, in which countries to work and what to say to the media.

Peace has always been controversial and there were – and remain – enough examples of places that become ‘mainstream’ and routine – rather than experimental and radically ’alternative.’

What we did not know back in 1985 was that Lund University wanted to get rid of all inter-disciplinary academic endeavours – women, environmental, human rights and peace studies – and closed down the Lund University Peace Research Institute of which Jan had been the director since 1983, in November 1989.

Being a private undertaking

The HQ is the first floor of a two-family house in a villa area of Lund. Visitors, board members etc. have held seminars there, eaten and often stayed with us. Board members were colleagues and personal friends and new board members were recruited from Associates who were also personal friends, like-minded colleagues or mentors one way or the other.
Our children and other friends were often involved in the things TFF did – including printing newsletters in the basement, gathering them, putting them in envelopes and fix address labels.


The permanent top priority has been to promote the UN Charter norm that ‘peace shall be created by peaceful means’ (Article 1).
This was promoted through traditional book-based research and later field work – i.e. conflict analyses and mediation and peace plans – in conflict zones, but also through intense public outreach/education such as newsletters, media participation, press releases – and, from 1997, the Internet and then social media.

Secondly, we wanted to integrate theory and practice. While it is good to do basic research in the laboratory, what is peace research really worth if it is never applied to real life’s tough situations?

The first five years we did book projects like everybody else in the trade. But in September 1991 TFF went on its first peace mission to former Yugoslavia. It is safe to say that we were among the first to embark on that in-the-field philosophy and practice it – with all the problems and risks that it entailed.

Foundation and management

The word ‘foundation’ does not mean that we had an endowment to start out with – and funding has been a constant problem every day and year ever since. And getting worse over time.
But it meant flexibility and – being and remaining small – quickly adapting to a changing world.

Being our own and not part of Lund University was another advantage – and a drawback in terms of finding funds. TFF had to build its own reputation from scratch rather than piggyback on that of the university’s. It was quite tough but also more rewarding in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »

Latin America’s big setback

By Jonathan Power

It was Charles de Gaulle, France’s Second World War statesman, who said, “Brazil has a great future, and always will”. Under the benign presidency of the ex car metal worker, Luis “Lula” Inacio da Silva, the adage seemed to be banished. But now under his successor, Dilma Rousseff, the tag has stuck once again. Brazil is back to its old ways, albeit with a difference.

An economy going down hill, incompetent economic mismanagement and massive corruption are frightening investors away. Brazil is now suffering its biggest recession since the 1930’s Great Depression. The difference is that this time the safety net of financial support built for the very poor by Lula remains intact.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, is having it especially bad but most of the other countries are doing not so well. The 2004-2013 decade was exceptional. Inflation which for the region was 1,200% came down to single digits and a strengthening of the tax base as economies grew facilitated a well-financed expansion of social spending.

Countries built up large foreign exchange reserves. This allowed them to have extraordinary access to external financing. There was an investment boom as economies grew at more than 5% a year, and some, like Brazil, Peru, Panama, Uruguay and Paraguay, exceeded 6%.

Even the great recession of 2009, triggered by the collapse of major US banks, only caused a brief slowdown thanks to the resilience of their economies. Read the rest of this entry »


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