Archive for April, 2016

Searching for the good town

By Johan Galtung

Alfaz, Spain

You are young people on an EU mission exploring good towns that do not generate violence; 50 of you from 11 towns in 10 countries–and Alfaz del Pi is on the list. Rightly so, with 105 nations represented–No. 1 Spaniards, No. 2 English, No. 3 Norwegians–with conflicts over incompatible goals, yes, but hurting and harming each other, violence, no. Remarkable.

A simple theory: if a town makes you feel well, at ease–“it is so easy to live here”, many people say–then something seeps into you and makes you nonviolent. If the town, your habitat, a key context in your life, hits you badly, then aggression seeps into you, violence may follow, and often across racial or ethnic faultlines.

So, what is the secret of the good town? There is much to learn from Alfaz; here is a short list summarizing our experiences:

• small enough for people to know each other and care for each other;
• big enough to offer the necessary goods and services; shops etc.;
•people both live and work here-neither only dormitory nor only work;
•something for the spirit, like a Casa de Cultura with much going on;
•something for the body, like sports arenas of all kinds, nice walks;
•a good natural climate, beauty and green inside and around the town;
•a good human climate, people with smile and laughter in the streets;
•plenty of good diverse cafeterias-restaurants at all price levels;
•plenty of cultural offers like local cinema Royal Opera telecast;
•not much inequality, class difference with West-East ends far apart.

The Alfaz my family happened to visit in 1969 was indeed small, with women in black and flies dominating the rush hour traffic. For a bulb we had to go to that Sodoma-Gomorrah called Benidorm (but just people have been located, it has not been destroyed). With a hidden strength: Read the rest of this entry »

A woman to lead the UN? If so, Angela Merkel

By Jonathan Power

April 26th 2016.

A woman for the next secretary-general of the United Nations? Well, it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are other criteria in play – there is an unwritten rule that the regions of the world should take it in turns to occupy the UN’s top job.

The east Europeans are saying it is their turn. Ironically, since eastern Europe is now part of western Europe, the EU, the would-be candidates are in effect appealing to Russia to vote for them, since only as geographically part of the old Soviet alliance can they be regarded as an entity separate from western Europe.

How about a South Asian? Now that would make sense, since there has never been a secretary-general from there before and the subcontinent contains 1.7 billion people. However, no-one has put themselves forward.

Or an Australasian? The former New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, has cast her hat into the ring.

I would argue that it is time to forget gender or place of origin. It is character that should be the critical element by which the candidate is judged.

We need a leadership that knows how to transcend mankind’s divisions, to diminish our most primitive instincts and to enhance our nobler ones.

It must have the power of personality that inspires the best of us and takes us onward and beyond what we do now, so often unsatisfactorily and insufficiently, to what we could do if human energies were liberated from the confines of too simple and narrow a perspective.

We need to move much further than we have so far, beyond country, race, religion, culture, language and life-style to being part of what Martin Luther King called the beloved community. “We seek only”, he said, “to make possible a world where men can live as brothers”.

Leadership, we know, is Read the rest of this entry »

Danmark skal heller ikke bombe i Syrien – 6 artikler

Af Jan Øberg

Posted on 18 April, 2016 on Jan Oberg’s blog

Den 19. april 2016 havde Folketinget 2. behandling af forslaget om også at bombe og indsætte specialstyrker i Syrien.

Jeg mener at sagen er fundamentalt vigtig for Danmark, danskerne og vor fremtidige rolle og ‘image’ ude i verden.

Desuden finder jeg at beslutningsgrundlaget, mediedækningen og den offentlige debat giver anledning til den største bekymring.

At gå i krig er den vigtigste beslutning en regering kan tage og en befolkning bakke op om. Men det er som om dette at deltage i krig stort set rager både ministre, folketingsmedlemmer, journalister og befolkning en forårsblomst.

Med en vis fortvivlelse skrev jeg derfor 6 artikler med forskellige temaer og producerede en video, der også foreslår hvad vi kunne gøre i stedet.

Jeg ville have disse ting sagt og spredt inden beslutningen blev taget.

Herunder findes de én for én som jeg har skrevet dem med en lille kommentar til publiceringsprocessen, som også i et vist omfang vidner – for mig i hvert fald – om mærkelige prioriteringer hvad angår tidspunkt og længde.

Alt andet lige bliver redaktionerne ikke oversvømmet af kvalificerede, kritiske og konstruktive artikler af denne type – men det er dog kun meget korte ting, man kan få ind. Om overhovedet…

1. Dansk krigsdeltagelse i Syrien vil være landsskadelig

Politiken 16. april 2016. Problemfri publicering.

Den 19. april skal folketinget have 2. behandling af forslaget om at Danmark skal deltage i krigen over Syrien og endog have specialstyrker på landjorden.

Det vil i så fald være sjette krigsdeltagelse siden 1999 – Serbien, Afghanistan, Irak 2003-2007, Libyen, Irak igen.

Der synes desværre at være flertal for krigspolitikken uanset det faktum at samtlige krige har været fiaskoer på deres egne præmisser og ud fra et fredsskabende synspunkt.

Politikere og andre mennesker, der støtter det krigsførende Danmark gang på gang, må vel efterhånden kunne blive stillet til ansvar for deres holdning til massedrab på uskyldige. Kan det være rigtigt at dette er så uproblematisk som den ringe offentlige debat tyder på at det er så let at beordre mord på andre mennesker?

Internationale rapporter gør gældende at den vestlige verden kan have dræbt op til 4 millioner muslimer siden 1990. Read the rest of this entry »

Mediation by Judges, by the Police

By Johan Galtung

Alfaz, Spain

Police? The judges have more social status but the police know better the local situation and possible lawbreakers.logo mediation desk

What is happening right now, in front of our eyes, for instance in Vila Real, north of Valencia, 13-15 April 2016–“II Ibero-American Conference on Police Mediation” is police revolting against the judges.

“We use force to arrest the suspects, deliver them with evidence to the courts, many are found guilty, sentenced to prison, after some time released, presumably born anew–and after some more time we have to rearrest them; old or new crimes, same people.

“The theory of individual and general prevention does not work. We must remove the roots, in them and in the local context causing the crimes. We want to add mediation, prevention, to force and arrest”.

What happens in prisons? This author spent half a year in prison in Oslo many years ago; connected to conscientious objection to military service for NATO, I wanted peace service as alternative service.

The central hypothesis of my Ph.D. thesis about the prison community is that it serves prisoners in reducing, eliminating any sense of guilt. Fifteen ways of escaping from the reality of crime-guilt-punishment were identified into a reality they could accept. By far the most important was their use of social class: “those up there” commit far worse crimes than they accuse us of doing, but they get off scot free, or at least without doing time in prison. By and large that is correct.

However, that does not make them innocent, but “those up there” guilty of corruption, of selling permits to the highest bidder, enriching themselves immensely at the cost of “those down there”, claiming market legitimacy. “We need more theft, more violence till they understand that this rotten society does not work.” Class struggle.

Worse than a crime school – for most lower class crimes schooling is not needed – the prison serves to eliminate the idea of crime by reducing the sense of guilt, Read the rest of this entry »

Realpolitik versus Realistic Politics

By Johan Galtung

School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution – Arlington, VA, USA – April 11, 2016

Classical Realpolitik is the priority in US foreign relations. Let force decide issues, if possible by threat, if necessary by fighting to the end.

The two traditional nominees for the US Presidency, Cruz and Clinton, both advocate open violence; Cruz by “carpet bombing” and by patrolling Muslim neighborhoods making use of force credible, Clinton by standing by her past record of bombing Muslim countries.

Trump, distancing himself from both Clinton belligerence and Cruz patrolling, deepens underlying conflicts in a most unfortunate way by stirring up prejudice and discrimination against Muslims and Mexicans. He wants a fence, built by Mexico, forcing them out.

Sanders is so focused on US domestic inequality that he remains vague on foreign policy. However, he might steer US discourse as well as foreign policy by arguing more positive policies; examples below.

Net conclusion: the two official candidates, Clinton and Cruz, are more similar than they are to their intra-party rivals. Paul Krugman (INYT 5/6 Mar 2016) throws the official Republican (former) candidate Rubio “con artist” for Donald Trump back at Ryan-Cruz-Rubio. And Thomas Friedman, “Only Trump can trump Trump” (INYT 10 Mar 2016), says that should Trump become the nominee and elected, he has a lot of space to maneuver towards the center, away from his extreme positions. “He will have no problem playing the moderate unifier”.

Nevertheless, Trump may already have helped gravediggers dig his grave.

Both Clinton and Cruz have credibility problems. Democrats may find Clinton’s turn toward the left incredible and prefer Sanders as more genuine; Republicans may find Cruz’ Tea Party extremism incredible and prefer Trump. With Sanders-Trump unavailable, high abstention?

However, in the US delegatocracy, very cleverly crafted to protect the USA against democracy, alternatives may still appear/be drafted.

US Realpolitik has led to more than 20 million killed in 37 countries after WWII, while the US relative economic, military – not cultural – position in the world declines. This should lead to a search for something realistic, solving problems rather than adding new problems to the old; solidifying the US position.

What does it take to make US foreign policy more realistic? New ways of thought more than political decisions and economic allocations.

Identify the positive, good in the other big world actors, Russia-India-China-Islam-EU-Africa-Latin America, learn from positives, and link their good to the US good, for cooperation and harmony.

To promote peace, cooperation must be equitable – mutual and equal benefit – and harmony must be based on empathy – deep understanding of others. Know the shadows of history, Read the rest of this entry »

Concocting lies before the Iraq war

By Jonathan Power

April 19th, 2016.

President Barack Obama has observed, “ISIL – Islamic State – is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion – which is an example of unintended consequences – which is why we should generally aim before we shoot”.

Many of us, looking at the horror of the Iraq war, waged by the US and the UK against the regime of Saddam Hussein when 200,000 civilians died and a total of 800 billion US dollars was spent on the campaign, need little to be persuaded that there was a Machiavellian plot to find an excuse to make war. Yet there are many in the circles of power in Washington who believe the US should shoot on sight and to kill whenever danger is thought to have appeared- in Iraq, Syria, Libya and, before that, in Vietnam.

The so-called “justification” for going to war in Iraq 13 years ago was based on a 93 page classified CIA document that allegedly contained “specific information” on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction programs and his close links with Al Qaeda.

The document has now been declassified thanks to the work of the investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald. His findings have just been published in the on-line magazine, VICE.

The document, before published with a large number of deletions, is available for everyone to read in its entirety. It reveals that there was zero justification for the war. It reveals that there was “no operational tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda” and no weapons of mass destruction programs.

President George W. Bush’s secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, claimed that the US had “bulletproof evidence” linking Saddam Hussein to the terrorist group. “We do have solid evidence Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil’s great achievement must survive

By Jonathan Power

April 12th, 2016

If worst comes to worst and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is deposed and her widely beloved predecessor, Luiz “Lula” da Silva, is discredited they will long be remembered for the “Bolsa Familia”. This is a government program that has cut Brazil’s once appalling poverty rate by half and reduced the number of poor very sharply to 3% of the population. It reaches 55 million people and 36 million have been lifted out of poverty. It has been such a winner that around sixty countries have sent their experts to study it. Indeed, it has been so successful politically that we shouldn’t be surprised that if Rousseff is felled by the shenanigans of Congress masses will go out on the street and riot.

Before the Bolsa Familia program was put into effect by Lula, Brazil had many welfare and food subsidy programs. Like in most developing countries the benefits didn’t reach the poor in the way that was intended. Middle men, black marketeers, corrupt officials and politicians skimmed and diverted much of them.

Bolsa Familia absorbed these into one direct cash payment. If you were a poor mother of a family- women were more trusted than men- you received an electronic card which you could slip into a bank cash dispenser and immediately get your monthly allowance, often doubling your cash income. There would be no intermediaries and no skims and no scams.

There were some conditions. Her children had to go to school, be immunized and have regular health check ups. She herself, if pregnant again, had to go to the maternity clinic. So not only were incomes being raised above the poverty line but infant and maternal mortality rates fell fast.

The income of the poorest 20% of Brazilians rose by 6.2% between 2002 and 2013, while that of the country’s richest 20% rose by only 2.6%. (In the US in the same time period the income of the richest 10% rose by 2.6% and that of the poorest 10% shrank by 8.6%.)

Innoculations reached 99% of the population. Deaths from malnutrition fell by 58%. Longevity steadily increased. Literacy became almost universal and education gave young people a better chance in life. The number of children forced to work instead of attending school dropped by 14%.

I’ve been out to the villages in the North East and seen with my own eyes the visible and dramatic improvements. I’ve been visiting Read the rest of this entry »

How ought we treat each other?

By Johan Galtung

Upon receiving the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder Prize

Atlanta, 31 Mar 2016

Dear President, dear Dean of Morehouse College, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply honored by the prize from a college in Georgia, in the US South, that has been and is a beacon in the struggle from dominion to dignity in race relations. The civil rights movement is an American Revolution, like the feminist movement it inspired–aiming at parity and dignity for all. To refuse sharing the spoils of exploiting Reds and Blacks and poor Whites with London was far from a revolution.

This college shaped Dr Martin Luther King Jr. I had the honor of meeting him twice here in Atlanta in 1960–working on desegregation without violence in Charlottesville, VA–and in 1964 in Oslo when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. This College made him use Gandhi’s clinging to truth through nonviolent struggle, satyagraha, lifting 20 million Blacks into dignity. There is a backlash: Blacks are again shot at, and used as slave labor in prisons. The struggle continues.

Building communities. There are at least two of them, the community of people, and the community of states. I will deal with both and share with you in this speech the basic ideas of TRANSCEND mediation – an NGO of more than 500 invited members, comfortable with our mantra, “Peace by Peaceful Means”. Transcend means going beyond.

Let us approach answering the question through some words on how we ought not treat each other.

It is all in our thought habits, the deep culture of our thinking. In the West we think in simple dichotomies, like positive/negative, good/bad, even evil. Either one or the other, not in-between, neither-nor, both-and. And we very easily fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as only good, and someone else as only bad, steered by God or Satan. The road to narcissism, self-love and paranoia, seeing threats everywhere, is short. Victory! not solution.

AND Narcissism + Paranoia = Psychosis, the psychiatric diagnosis.

To escape from this thought habit use ancient Chinese habits. Yin/Yang. They also think positive/negative, good/bad; but add more levels, like the positive and negative in the positive and negative, the good and bad in the good and bad. That opens for identifying the negative in Self and the positive in Other; for positive-peaceful, not negative-violent relations. Not either-or; but both-and, neither-nor.

The TRANSCEND formula: focus on the positive, good in everybody including yourself; but keep the negative, bad in the back of the mind to improve it and as possible danger, to Self and-or Other.

Then create projects linking good with good; first as vision, then reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Three unshakeable pillars of American foreign policy

By Richard Falk

April 4, 2016

It deserves to be noticed that it is only the two anti-establishment candidates who have challenged the foreign policy consensus that has guided American politicians ever since the end of World War II: 1) consistently express unconditional support for the Pentagon, 2) Wall Street, and 3) Israel (especially since the 1967 War).

Bernie Sanders has been the first serious presidential aspirant for several decades to challenge directly and unabashedly at least one of these pillars by way of his principled and concerted attacks on Wall Street, on the billionaire class, on the exploitative 1%.

Although moderate overall, Sanders has been respectfully deferential to the other two pillars, Pentagon and Israel. Because he has mobilized an intense following among all categories of American youth there has been a media reluctance to assault his substantive views frontally, except to offer a variety of snide remarks that cast doubt on his ‘electability.’

Such a dismissal pretends to be pragmatic, but the polls indicate that Sanders would do better against likely Republicans than Clinton. This leads me to interpret the refusal of the corporatized mainstream to take Sanders seriously, at least so far, as a coded ideological attack, basically a reaction to his anti-Wall Street stand that can be viewed as the opening salvo of class warfare.

Donald Trump has encountered a somewhat different firestorm but with a similar intent.

At first, when the cognoscenti dismissed him as a serious candidate, he was welcomed as a source of entertainment. Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil must not fire its president

By Jonathan Power

The Brazilians have an elected president. They must keep her. If Dilma Rosseff is pushed to resign democracy has failed.

Two years ago she won re-election handsomely. That is the source of her mandate. From that she derives her legitimacy. The only thing that could topple her is if hard evidence emerges that she is crook- in her case supposedly stole millions of dollars from the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras, of which she was once head of the board. Then Congress would be within its rights to discuss her impeachment.

But there is no evidence of her personal corruption- although there is evidence aplenty that her party, The Workers’ Party, has received a lot of black money, not just from Petrobras.

Brazil is not a parliamentary democracy. It is not necessary for her to have a majority in parliament to rule, anymore than Barack Obama does in the US Congress. Unlike in, say the UK or Denmark, if members of parliament withdraw support for a head of government he/she does not fall.

Nevertheless, the Economist, a long-time supporter of democracy, argues in its latest issue she should resign, ignoring the rules of democracy, even though it admits impeachment would be wrong and even though her only “crime” is to have mishandled the economy. Read the rest of this entry »


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