Archive for the ‘Richard Falk’ Category
By Richard Falk
In early morning darkness on April 7th the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian al-Shayrat Airfield from two American destroyers stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean. It described the targets as Syrian fighter jets, radar, fuel facilities used for the aircraft. It asserted prior notification of Russian authorities, and offered the assurance that precautions were taken to avoid risks to Russian or Syrian military personnel.
Pentagon spokespersons suggested that in addition to doing damage to the airfield, the attack had the intended effect of “reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”
President Donald Trump in a short public statement justified the attack as a proportionate response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the western Syrian province of Idlib a few days earlier, which killed an estimated 80 persons, wounding hundreds more.
Although there were denials of Syrian responsibility for the attack from Damascus and Moscow, a strong international consensus supported the U.S. view that Bashar al-Assad had ordered the attack allegedly as a means of convincing opposition forces concentrated in Idlib that it was time to surrender.
In the background, is the conviction among the more militaristic policy advisors and political figures, including Trump, that President Barack Obama’s failure Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.
Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report [bearing the title “Israel’s Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”] was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria and derision.
Originally published in The New Statesman, London, 15 March 2017
28 March 2017
Three former UN insiders on the future of the world’s most ambitious organisation.
By Hans von Sponeck, Richard Falk – both TFF Associates – and Denis Halliday.
US President Donald Trump is ardently embracing a toxic form of messianic nationalism, while demeaning those who oppose him as corrupt, and dishonest enemies. His “America First” chant is creating severe international tension, promoting extremism – within and outside the US – and undermining the homeland security that he has so insistently pledged to enhance.
Trump seems determined to implement policies and practices that could signal the weakening of democracy, and possibly even herald the onset of fascism. His programme to deport undocumented immigrants and to exclude all visitors from six designated Muslim majority countries is illustrative of a regressive and Islamophobic outlook.
The groundswell of popular dissent is vibrant and worldwide, from Romania to South Korea, Gambia to Brazil, from the UK to the Ukraine.
Trump is dangerously exploiting the frustration of citizens with the political establishment, which is unprecedented in its depth and breadth. The umbilical cord that connects those governing with those governed is becoming dangerously stressed. The digital revolution is endowing governments with horrifying capabilities for oppression and control but it is also enhancing the ability of the citizenry to mount resistance and mobilize opposition forces.
UN charter law and power politics
As UN veterans, we recall and affirm the preamble to the UN Charter that reads “we the peoples” – not we the governments! The trust of people in their governments to work for social and economic progress and to prevent war has dramatically weakened, if not disappeared.
The prediction made by the Mexican delegate at the founding of the UN in 1945 that “we have created an institution which controls the mice but the tigers will roam around freely” seems truer today than at the moment of its utterance. The UN Security Council’s permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – indeed “roam around freely” lacking respect for international law or the authority of the UN, once more pursuing their respective nationalist agendas without any pretence of accountability. These countries are also the major consumers and exporters of military hardware, facilitating both militarism and “merchants of death”.
The international war supposedly being waged against political extremism and terrorism has predictably deteriorated into a series of horrific wildfires and slaughter. Wars that should never have happened, neither the overt ones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria nor the partially covert ones in Yemen, Somalia, and a range of other countries in Africa and Asia have brought peace or stability, but a series of unspeakable ordeals of human suffering. Old struggles have been magnified while new ones have been created.
The US tiger, aged as it is, displays the most serious signs of political amnesia. Unilateralism and exceptionalism have just been reaffirmed as cornerstones Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
March 4, 2017
Donald Trump has articulated clearly, if somewhat vaguely and incoherently, his anti-globalist, anti-UN approach on foreign policy.
For instance, in late February he told a right-wing audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that “there is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag. This is the United States that I am representing. I am not representing the globe.”
A similar sentiment was expressed to Congress a few days later in a tone of voice and choice of words praised by media wonks as ‘presidential.’ On this occasion Trump said, “[m]y job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”
Such rhetoric coming from a normal American leader would probably be interpreted as an expression of geopolitical humility, implicitly rejecting the standard insistence on American exceptionalism, exemplified in recent times by the project to create and maintain the first global state in human history.
This potentially self-limiting language might even be understood as renouncing earlier claims to assert American global leadership as the keystone of world order.
George W. Bush in 2002 gave this bold leadership claim a sharp edge when he insisted that only the US model of market-based constitutionalism was a legitimate form of governance for sovereign states in the 21st century.
Or even more grandiosely, in the spirit of Michael Mandelbaum and Thomas Friedman, that the United States as a consequence of its martial strength, technological prowess, democratic values and institutions, and skills of leadership provides the world with the benevolent reality of virtual ‘world government.’
Let’s face it, Donald Trump is not a normal political leader, nor is he someone disposed to embrace humility in any form, so we should take his pledge to represent American interests while leaving the world to fend for itself with many grains of salt, especially if we consider the specifics of the Trump worldview.
What Trump seems to be offering is maximum disengagement from international and global arrangements designed to Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
Here is the highly controversial report’s full text with co-author Richard Falk’s introductory comment on the conflict its publication has created.
By Richard Falk
When the Clinton campaign started bitching about Russia interfering in US elections by hacking into the DNC I was struck by their excesses of outrage and the virtual absence of any acknowledgement that the United States has been interfering in dozens of foreign elections for decades with no apparent second thoughts.
CNN and other media brings one national security expert after another to mount various cases against Putin and the Kremlin, and to insist that Russia is up to similar mischief in relation to the upcoming French elections.
And never do they dare discuss whether such interference is a rule of the game, similar to espionage, or whether what was alleged to have been done by the Russians might lead the US political leaders and its intelligence agencies to reconsider its own reliance on such tactics to help sway foreign elections.
Is this selective perception merely one more instance of American exceptionalism?
We can hack away, but our elections and sovereign space are hallowed ground, which if encroached upon, should be resisted by all possible means. It is one thing to argue that democracy and political freedom are jeopardized by such interference as is being attributed to Moscow, and if their behavior influenced the outcome, it makes Russia responsible for a disaster not only in the United States but in the world.
The disaster is named Trump.
Assuming this Russian engagement by way of what they evidently call ‘active measures’ occurred is, first of all, an empirical matter of gathering evidence and reaching persuasive conclusions.
Assuming the allegations are to some extent validated, it hardly matters whether by what means the interference was accomplished, whether done by cyber technology, electronic eavesdropping, dirty tricks, secret financial contributions, or otherwise.
What is diversionary and misleading is to foster the impression that the Russians breached solemn rules of international law by disrupting American democracy and doing their best to get Trump elected or weaken the Clinton presidency should she have been elected.
The integrity of American democratic procedures may have been Read the rest of this entry »
The Dismal Cartography of the Pre-Fascist State
January 25, 2017
Points of Departure
Listening to Donald Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20th led me to muse about what it might mean to live in a pre-fascist state. After reflecting on key passages and conversations with friends, I came to the view that all the elements were in place, although set before us with the imprecision of a demagogue.
Yet I do not doubt that there are many ideologues waiting in the wings, perhaps now comfortably situated in the West Wing, ready to cover the conceptual rough spots, and supply an ideological overlay, and add the semblance of coherence.
Considering the daily outrages emanating from the White House since the inaugural jolt, the coming years will be rough riding for all of us, with many cruelties being readied for those most vulnerable.
Of course, the Woman’s March on January 21st was temporarily redemptive, and if such energy can be sustained potentially transformative. It is odd to contemplate, but there just may be tacit and effective cooperation between the national security deep state and a progressive populism converging around their divergent reasons for being deeply opposed to the shock and awe of the Trump presidency. Trump may invent ‘alternative facts’ to restore his narcissistic self-esteem, but when it comes to program he has sadly so far been true to his word! This alone should encourage a unified, energetic, and determined opposition. If the Tea Party could do it, why can’t we?
The Pre-Fascist Moment
First, it is necessary to set forth the case for viewing Trump’s Inaugural Address as a pre-fascist plea:
1) Locating power and legitimacy in the people, but only those whose support was instrumental in the election of the new president; the popular majority that were opposed are presumed irrelevant, or worse;
2) Denigrating the political class of both political parties as corrupt and responsible for the decline of the country and the hardships inflicted on his followers;
3) Presuming mass and unconditional trust in the great leader who promises a rupture with the past, Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
December 3, 2016
In recent months the Turkish President, Recep Teyipp Erdoğan, and his principal advisors have not made it a secret that they are reconsidering Turkey’s relations with neighbors, with the countries of the region, and with leading geopolitical actors.
The Early Agenda of AKP
When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002 it set about almost immediately to fashion a post-Cold War foreign policy based on the idea that it was time to supersede the Cold War posture of almost total Turkish deference to the United States, especially within NATO and bipolar contexts, and depict a conception of Turkish interests developed in Ankara rather than adhere to Washington’s blueprint. In its early period of national leadership, the AKP seemed to pursue four interrelated international goals:
– resolve the Cyprus conflict;
– give priority to seeking full membership in the European Union (EU);
- improve diplomatic and political relations with Arab World;
- seek continuity in U.S./NATO/EU relations, but with overall independence.
During the Foreign Ministry of Abdullah Gul, reflecting and incorporating some of Ahmet Davutoğlu ideas and his ambitious conception of the proper Turkish international role, this new assertiveness of Turkish foreign policy achieved with impressive results. Turkey’s signature approach of ‘Zero Problems with Neighbors’ (ZPN) was initially seen as the adoption of a regional conflict-resolving perspective, and given early credibility by transforming relations with Syria from hostility to harmony.
By Richard Falk
I am republishing my review essay that appeared in International Dialogue: A Multilateral Journal of World Affairs 6:2016.
It discusses two excellent studies of humanitarian intervention, a post-colonial trope allowing the United States and West Europeans to feel morally satisfied while projecting military power to distant lands, often with devastating consequences for the people being protected, and sometimes, even being rescued from tyranny and brutal repression.
In some respects, what progressive critics call ‘regime-change’ the champions of such policy like the terminology of ‘humanitarian intervention,’ or even better, ‘Responsibility to Protect’ or R2P.
Donald Trump interestingly portrayed Hillary Clinton accurately as a regime-change advocate, and pledged not to make such mistakes if elected. We will wait, see, and hope that at least this time, he means what he says.
The Middle East has been the testing ground for this ‘new geopolitics’ but its antecedents can be traced back several centuries as the Klose edited collection of essay clearly demonstrates.
Both studies are notable for highlighting the non-humanitarian motivations that accompany such undertakings, which are often hidden from public view, and need to be highlighted to comprehend this latest twist in the conduct of international relations.]
Fabian Klose (ed).
The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present
Cambridge University Press, 2016. 364pp.
The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention
Oxford University Press, 2016. 235pp
By Richard Falk
November 6, 2016
It is not often that Medea Benjamin, the charismatic founder of Code Pink, offers us her insight into a troublesome American reality that is almost simultaneously confirmed by the New York Times, the virtual bible for secular liberals in the United States.
Yet it happened, most surprisingly, in a positive portrayal of one thin slice of Trump loyalists – veterans of recent foreign wars.
Medea reports on a conversation with such a veteran on a train out West, and was impressed that he felt Clinton much more likely than Trump to get Americans killed in a future distant war disconnected from any reasonable defense of the homeland.
The New York Times in a front-page feature article reached this same plausible conclusion on the basis of a wider scan of relevant evidence.
Here are two disturbing realities Read the rest of this entry »