Archive for June, 2016
By Jan Oberg
The third article in the TFF series on The New Cold War
We are witnessing a remarkable increase in tension between the US/NATO and Russia these years – and it can not only be explained by whatever we choose to think happened in Ukraine and Crimea. We find a totally new effort on both sides to use social and other media to tell how dangerous “they” are to “us”. There is a clear tendency to “fearology” – to instill fear in the citizens on both sides about the capabilities and intentions of the other side.
Why is the new tension rising in Europe between US/NATO and Russia so manifestly dangerous and – with the exception of the Cuban Missile Crisis worse than during the First Cold War?
On a series of indicators, the political Western world – US/NATO/EU and Christian (Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic with sects) – is becoming weak relative to other players in the global society.
The West has engaged in a series of wars that turned into very costly fiascos – from what followed from Sykes-Picot which turned 100 in May 2016 over Vietnam to the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The West is still the largest economic bloc and the 28 NATO members cover about 70% of the world’s mind-boggling US $ 1700 billion military expenditures. Africa as a continent, BRICS countries – China in particular – are making progress, also in fields where the West has failed; for instance, China has lifted 400 million Chinese out of poverty in a couple of decades. The wealthy West has done nothing of the sort over centuries but produced a grotesquely, perversely unequal income distribution.
Take a look at the graphs linked to this summary page from SIPRI. They will tell you how world military expenditures in constant prices have risen since 1996 even though the Warsaw Pact had been dissolved. In 2015, the US alone stands for 36% of the world’s military expenditures, China for 13% and Russia for4%.
President Obama stated recently that the US military is stronger than the next 8 – here is what he said in his State of the Union Address on January 12th, 2016:
“I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker,” Obama said in his last annual State of the Union address Jan. 12, 2016. “Let me tell you something: The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”
In spite of these fact that prove the overwhelming and increasing superiority of today’s NATO, we see a constantly increasing propaganda coming out of NATO circles to the effect that NATO is getting weaker and that Russia a formidable, unreliable power just waiting for the next opportunity to invade some country in the West.
Let’s take a look back in time. Read the rest of this entry »
By Mairead Maguire
The long awaited Chilcot report (5 years) on the Invasion of Iraq will finally be released on 6th July, 2016.
The Report is to be welcomed and the hope expressed that this inquiry will tell the truth of what happened to the Iraqi people and clarify the UKs involvement, through an official Government recognition of facts of the wars, sanctions and invasion of Iraq and for transparency, accountability and reparation to be paid to the Iraqi people by the UK Government who participated in these illegal and immoral genocidal wars.
The story of what was done to the Iraqi people by UK and Western allies is shocking and deeply disturbing.
The two wars, the imposition of economic sanctions, causing the slow deaths of thousands of people, were indeed crimes against humanity, war crimes, breaking all international obligations and conducted with no respect for human life or the Iraqi people’s rights.
The UK/USA acted unilaterally ignoring the principal of multilateralism and irrespective of the enormous opposition to war against Iraq, articulated by millions of people around the world.
The invasion was carried out by US/UK NATO forces on the basis of a ‘lie’ that Iraq had nuclear weapons and was a threat to the US.
The foreign policy of the US/UK governments were for regime change and about Iraqi oil; the methods used were Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
The vote turned out like the two referenda held in Norway in 1972 and 1994. And much for the same reason: Protestant break with Rome – Catholic, imperial – Henry VIII made himself head of the Anglican Church in 1534.
Religion was not the only reason, there are Protestant Nordic members of EU, closer to the continent and closer to Russia. World history, a short while after Pope Francis – Patriarch Kirill also made world history, bridging the Catholic-Orthodox 395-1054 gap.
The Disunited Queendom is now London with surroundings; England. The implications are enormous, for UK-GB and the British Isles in general, for EU and Europe in general, USA and the world in general.
The US Trojan horse decided to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.
UK-GB and the British Isles in general:
Goodbye United Kingdom, UK, we may get United Ireland, UI, instead.
Goodbye Great Britain, GB, we may get Scotland in EU instead.
Welcome to Britain of England-Wales, if they care for that vocabulary.
Welcome to new-born England, 23 June being the Day of Independence.
Washington, having lost its inside-EU ally, Read the rest of this entry »
The UK, Europe and the rest of the world will be affected. But there has been no planning for this anywhere. It’s now all up in the air what this Brexit vote will be the starting point of. All we can safely predict is that we are in for interesting times!
Why did it happen?
Arrogant corporate and other elites continuously enriching themselves against all common social sense and ignoring the legitimate needs and concerns of ordinary citizens, women in particular – so, class and gender.
So too that more highly educated people tended to vote for Remain and older people voting Leave – more interesting sociological analysis here.
Interestingly, the whole art world supported Remain – and now fear for the effects of Brexit on Britain’s cultural development.
An EU that has failed to create a new, better way of doing politics, merely growing its original democratic deficit – so, lack of real democracy.
An EU that has had a woefully inadequate, cynical response to a refugee crisis caused by leading EU member states’ warfare – so, (mis)management and lack of leadership.
Significantly, the leading Muslim Association of Britain, MAB, supported Remain with the argument that ”Exit from the EU runs the risk of perpetuating rifts in British society, which would increase levels of hate crimes against British Muslims.” So, Islamophobia.
A general sense (but sometimes denial) of insecurity about the future all over the Western world, Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
Take the candidate debate about nomination and election, focused on Trump’s buffoonery and Sanders’ ineligibility. Hillary?–on using a private account. Few words wasted on her foreign policy of massive belligerence, warfare. In the tradition, Zoltan Grossman [i] documents: 151 military interventions from Wounded Knee in 1890; and in spite of the war fatigue expressed by Trump, Cruz, Sanders – even by Obama.
And US reality? John Pilger [ii]: “Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president”. The Wall Street Journal (30 May 2016) had a full page on the new Navy railgun projectiles with ultra-speed that can penetrate any armor.
No peacefare; no sign of conciling trauma, of solving conflicts.
Take foreign policy. C. W. Freeman Jr.: “The End of the American Empire”; Noam Chomsky: “How Imperial Violence Backfires–Lessons from the Middle East”, Zalmay Khalilzad: “De-Ba’athification was a recipe for disaster” (firstname.lastname@example.org, 13 Apr, 19 May, 19 May 2016). Anatol Lieven, “What Chance for Afghanistan?” (NYRB 21 Apr 2016): none. A foreign policy in shambles, generally; Middle East, Afghanistan.
Cuba? In the balance, can be undone by a Republican Congress.
Saudi Arabia? May “wreck the U.S. economy”; USA gives in, as does the UN.
Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security expert, in “Why do terrorists commit terrorism” (INYT, 16 Jun 2016) focuses only on individual motivation. He rejects Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
Within a matter of days a self-appointed ISIS “lone wolf”, Omar Mateen, with no actual links to home office Isis has created mayhem in Orlando, Florida, with his killing of 49 people in a gay club, and the Iraq army has pushed Isis troops out of most of the important city of Falluja.
Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that ISIS is on the run its bailiwicks of Iraq and Syria but it is certainly taking very bad hits. Two years after sweeping through northern Iraq and capturing the oil city of Mosul in 2014 they are now on the defensive. ISIS has lost nearly half of the Iraqi territory it held. (i.e. an area about half that of the UK). It has lost much of its oil infrastructure.
It is taking lots of casualties. In Syria it is fighting on two contradictory fronts – the regime in Damascus, supported by Iran and Russia and against the non-Islamist rebels, supported by the US and the Arab states.
Meanwhile the flow of foreign fighters on which it has depended is slowing up and large numbers are returning home. Funding is drying up.
This indeed is why Mateen, the lone wolf, is so important to ISIS. ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has asked ISIS sympathisers to stay where they are. “The smallest action you do in the heart of [your] land is better and more enduring to us than what you would do if you were with us.”
Is this a switch in tactics? We do not know yet.
What we do know is Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
June 14th 2016
Is there a democratic recession? No, not an economic one. Rather one of the voting kind. In other words is democracy going backwards? It is not. Democracy remains resilient. Authoritarianism is being held at bay, despite recession in Russia, Turkey and China.
“Democracy may be receding somewhat in practice, but it is still globally ascendant in people’s values and aspirations”, writes Larry Diamond in a new book, “Democracy in Decline”. In fact Diamond’s positive conclusion is less positive than I believe the facts say. By and large democracy is not receding.
One problem in the measurement debate is that we expect too much. From the mid 1970s to the early 1990s the number of democracies in the world rose from around 45 to an astonishing 120, well over half of the world’s population.
How can we reasonably expect all these to succeed? Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
Except for a dark shadow, all is normal in the land of Japan.
The local levels function very well with diligent Japanese working together to lift them up. Except for those with nuclear power plants, particularly one of them, on the coast, hit by a tsunami. Except too for rural communities laid waste, people aging, leaving, empty villages, hit by having to import rice instead of cultivating it.
Ride the trains, walk the streets with the Japanese; as brisk and busy as ever. A little older, more canes, fewer bicycles, more cars, better streets and roads, cars run faster. In addition, a little fatter, sharing aging and putting on weight with developed societies all over.
Missing are older ladies on bikes navigating the narrow streets with elegance, skirting pedestrians by a centimeter or two–bikes ride on sidewalks in Japan not on the streets–heads high, unperturbed.
Not missing are school classes of lovely children following the teacher with a flag–the small girls being as sweet as anywhere in the world or more so. Judging by their faces the future looks bright.
Tokyo has modernized almost to the extreme. From a concoction of villages with scattered houses of all shapes and colors to a megalopolis of skyscrapers. Totally void of any charm, but mega-modern. We all pray they can stand an earthquake or two. There was a small one during the night; maybe just informing us all that “we are still here”.
Restaurants are filled to the brim, food as delicious as ever. Plus a more recent phenomenon: tables just for women, or having the room that evening, joking, laughing, self-assertive, accompanied by no males. Next, tables only for children; accompanied by no parents?
Ancient Japan shows up as temples and shrines and gardens, as beautiful, as spiritual as ever. It is all there, to our delight.
But under the shadow of the relation to the USA, occupied for 70 years, a colony, micro-managed in the smallest detail and spied upon. Read the rest of this entry »
By Farhang Jahanpour
Today (16 June 2016), Jo Cox, the 41-year old Labor MP, was killed after she was shot and stabbed in her constituency in Yorkshire. A 52-year old man was arrested in the area. The suspect was named locally as Tommy Mair.
There is as yet very little concrete information about him or his motives, and it is too early to jump to a conclusion and link his dastardly act with the referendum, but some eyewitnesses have said that before shooting Jo Cox twice, Mair shouted “Britain first”. Clearly, he is a deranged individual, but if he uttered those words, it is possible to conclude that the assault was connected with the referendum.
The fact remains that the assassination of such a strongly pro-EU MP is a big shock, a major loss and of course the source of great grief for her husband and her two small children. Before being elected as an MP in the last general election, Jo Cox had been a charity worker and a human rights campaigner all her life. Her husband, Brendan, used to work for Save the Children. They and their two little children lived a quiet and unassuming life in a barge on the Thames near the Houses of Parliament.
Her husband released the following touching statement after her death:
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
In any case, this ugly deed provides an extreme example of the acrimonious debates that are held over the referendum. All campaigning has been suspended as a sign of respect for the death of the MP.
On June 23, the British people take part in a rare referendum Read the rest of this entry »