Archive for the ‘Eastern Europe’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 436: The Prince of human rights got it all wrong and we are still waiting

By Jan Oberg

General Ratko Mladic has finally been sentenced – to life – for crimes committed in Bosnia during the Yugoslav dissolution wars in the 1990s.

That motivated Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to make a statement to the effect that “Mladic is the epitome of evil, and the prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about.”

But that statement is, if anything, the epitome of exemplary nonsense, pro-Muslim bias and something the UN S-G ought to distance himself from since it is a purely political statement.

The media – in the West in particular – have of course lapped it up. Most media people today are too young to have any personal experience of the events some 25 years ago and would have to read thick books to understand some of it.

The verdict’s political effect – whether intended or not – is to justify the horrible way the so-called “international community” intervened in the Yugoslav complex of intertwined conflicts with an inverse proportion between its intellectual understanding and its brutality.

Now, if you think I am thereby defending Mr. Mladic, let me say that there are strong reasons to believe that he is guilty of much including some of the killings in the massacre of Srebrenica.

Essentially, the argument of this article is not about Mladic. It’s about the Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s unacceptably politicized – but hopefully well-intentioned – statement.

But the Jordanian prince – who was with UNPROFOR in Yugoslavia at the time and should know better – anyhow got it all wrong because:

• The human evil card is a cheap one to play that doesn’t explain anything. Any serious intellectual knows that there are very complex economic, political, historical and other factors associated with crimes of this type. What happened in Srebrenica can’t be reduced to one man’s evil as little as the Second World War can be reduced to the single person Hitler.

• What made Srebrenica happen was, among other things, that the six safe zones the UN Security Council had established was never made safe by the UN members. Then UNPROFOR top General Wahlgren of Sweden whom I knew very well had required around 30.000 more UN troops to make those zones safe for refugees to be in; the international community gave him only 1200 Turks with a Turkey firmly sympathising with the fundamentalist Muslim leadership in Bosnia under Alija Izetbegovic.

• Interestingly, the safe zones were not de-militarised. The international community – the US? – had permitted Izetbegovic’s government to place its ammunition depots and troops inside these zones – from which they could then make excursion out and fire into Serbian villages while Serbs obviously could not fire into safe zones filled with refugees.

• In addition, the UN as such was bankrupt at the time – member states such as the US having ignored to pay its dues to the organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Impact of European common values on the EU’s ability to solve conflicts in the countries of the Eastern Partnership

By Per Gahrton
Former Member of the European Parliament, Green Party of Sweden
PhD Sociology
Lund, Sweden, October 2017

A lecture at the XI Congress of Ukrainian European Studies Association, Kharkiv National University, October 20, 2017

Introduction: Sweden-Ukraine ties

A couple of days ago Swedish media reported that a wild boar, shot some 200 kilometres north of Stockholm, had been found to contain ten times more radioactivity than permitted by the health authorities. As you may guess, this radioactivity emanated from the Tjernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. This shows that we live in one globalized world and that my Sweden and your Ukraine are linked together.

Another example of Swedish-Ukrainian common experience might be the battle of Poltava in June 1709, which according to Wikipedia resulted in the “beginning of Sweden’s decline as a Great Power”. As belligerents, Wikipedia lists on one side Sweden and Ukraine, on the other Russia.

However, this military defeat against the Tsar may have been a blessing for the Swedes, because afterwards the Swedish people toppled the dictatorship of the king and introduced what is called The Times of Freedom (Frihetstiden), when a four-chamber parliament including peasants, ruled the country for half a century. Though it was not a full-fledged democracy (women and the poorest men were excluded) it was a starting point, well before the French Revolution.

About hundred years later Sweden suffered another defeat against Russia, which in 1809 conquered Finland, a country that until then had been an integral part of the Swedish kingdom.

Although many Swedes wanted to retake Finland, today most historians think that perhaps even this defeat was a blessing, for two reasons: First, the inevitable Finnish struggle for independence – which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – was not conducted against Sweden but against Russia. And secondly, the political elite decided, as expressed by the famous poet Esaias Tegnér, to “reconquer Finland inside the borders of Sweden” which meant to build a peaceful and rich society and give up wars and dreams of territorial expansion and great power status.

Since then Sweden has been militarily non-aligned and has seen no war for more than 200 years.

Examples of Scandinavian conflict-resolution

However, earlier throughout history Scandinavia has been an arena for endless internal wars, mainly between the Danish and Swedish kingdoms. Like so often people have fought with those who should be their closest friends – their neighbours. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo 417: The future of EU-US relations – The Debate

The Debate with Jim Walsh, MIT and Jan Oberg, TFF

Lund, Sweden – May 30, 2017

Last night “The Debate” on PressTV was devoted to the future of European-US relations in the wake of the NATO Summit, President Trump’s words and omissions and the – historic – words, in particular, of Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately after.

Undoubtedly, we are at a turning point in these relations in general and for the NATO alliance in particular.

To discuss these issues – past, present and future perspectives – were Jim Walsh, senior research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program, Masschusetts, and Jan Oberg, director of TFF, Lund.

Thanks to PressTV’s excellently structured program and interviewer we touched upon a series of aspects and dimensions around which we found both agreements and slight disagreements – all in a sober tone fit for public education and personal reflection.

We hope this debate will stimulate your own thoughts about the future of war, security and peace.

We’d be grateful for your sharing it to media people, students and other academics as well as to decision-makers in the field that you may know.

See it here – The Debate

NATO is outdated and should be dissolved – 8 arguments

This is TFF Live on Facebook on the occasion of NATO’s Summit in Brussels on May 25, 2017.

We use TFF Live on Facebook because it is handy, personal and interactive and because such live broadcasts have a larger organic spread that texts, images, links and even YouTube videos. And we want to make use of the technological developments as they help TFF reach out to ever more.



I feel very strongly about the harmful modes of operation of this US$ 900 billion giant element of the global Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC) and shall therefore be most grateful if you would spread it. This is the url of it. Thanks!

US/NATO increasing tension with Russia – focus Syria: New frosty Cold War

TFF Live
April 12, 2017

The secretaries of state, Tillerson and Lavrov meet today. We seem to enter a stage of what must appropriately be perceived as a frosty new Cold War.

In the worst of cases this can lead to a new Cuban Missile Crisis. God forbid!



The dangers of populism waxing

By Jonathan Power

April 4th 2017

The long talked-about referendum in Turkey will happen on April 16th. In effect voters have to decide whether the president, Recep Erdogan, in theory the incumbent of a relatively modest political post, should now be given the powers of the president and prime minister together.

Combined with a large majority in Parliament he would have enormous power to shape Turkey around his pro-Islamic agenda. Although working within a democratic system Erdogan is in many ways a populist, rather in the mould of President Donald Trump.

Shortly after his Justice and Development Party first won an election in 2003 I was in Turkey and my first question to the people I interviewed was does the party have a “secret agenda”- that is was planning at some future date to make the country Islamist. “Definitely not”, was the almost universal response.

How wrong they were. Or perhaps they weren’t. Maybe over the years Erdogan has changed his spots.

Either way Turkey now confronts a situation where populism, Islamism and nationalism are becoming Turkey’s dominant forces. This is dangerous for Turkey.

Its highly educated, secular-minded, middle class will have less influence and indeed will be singled out and prosecuted, as many journalists, professors, novelists and judges are these days. Turkey will become even more anti the European Union – and what a mistake it was not to admit Turkey when twelve years ago it was knocking loudly on the door and was rebuffed.

The Islamist forces so strong today would have been Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 403: Discussing NATO with a former US Assistant Secretary of Defence

By Jan Oberg

On the occasion of NATO’s defence minister meeting on February 15-16 discussing NATO, Ukraine, Crimea, Syria and the eternal threat images which are fake – with former Assistant Secretary of Defence of the United States, Mr. Lawrence J. Korb.

I’m afraid he got some stuff wrong such as the establishment of NATO and whether or not Kosovo is part of the Balkans.

He also believed that NATO’s 1999 bombing of Serbia-Kosovo had a UN Security Council mandate.

Enjoy those small moment and the rest where I am trying to present some more general thourght on why the whole NATO philosophy is outdated – the only point where I agree with President Trump…

Media experience and policy

Lots of people in the debate seem to believe there is something strange about being in the “propaganda” media of “enemies of the West” – read the global Iran’s PressTV and Russia’s Russia Today.

What they don’t seem to have acknowledged is that tons of Westerners are being interviewed and do commenting (like myself for years) at these media. Here is Mr. Korb with me at Iran’s international TV channel.

What they also don’t know is something I am sorry to report: I’ve met attempts at manipulation and “editing” and censorship with a series of Western mainstream media, not the least in my native Denmark, but I have not experience any of that even once with Russia Today and PressTV. Very decent professionals!

So much for the free press and for the propaganda channels. My personal problems is, which is which?

About my policy vis-a-vis the media.

NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Obsolescence

By Jan Oberg

Commenting on Iran’s PressTV on the upcoming NATO defence minister meeting, February 15-16, 2017

TFF PressInfo # 389: Ukraine as the border of NATO expansion

And why Russia doesn’t have to be a threat to the West

By Jan Oberg

TFF Series ”The New Cold War” # 7

If the Ukraine conflict is the centerpiece of the new 2nd Cold War, it is essential to ask: What really happened? What did NATO countries do to cause it? What did Russia do to cause it?
And – if you live in the West, in particular: Did we really have to end in this situation given Russia’s significant weakness over 25 years?
This article argues that the superior West could have played its cards differently and it’s time for self-critical soul-searching and just a little living yourself into the shoes of the other.
If peace rather than war is your true aim.

There was a beginning and a framework

The Ukraine conflict has a 25-years history. Instead of dissolving NATO, the alliance was expanded. Relieved from there being a Soviet Union and a Warsaw Pact, the alliance went as fast it could to do all it wanted. Remember, a series of WW III scenarios has been written in which that war would start with some uncontrollable event in Yugoslavia. Now it could be chopped up – freely and without risk. Serbia was bombed and Kosovo carved out without a UN mandate whatsoever (1999).

How did they think about that in the Kremlin at the time, one must wonder?

Clinton literally did not give a damn about all the promises made to Soviet leader Gorbachev by US leaders such as Bush, James Baker and German leaders including Hans-Dietrich Genscher. (Yes, they were not written down but confirmed by those involved and present).

He began the expansion of NATO in 1994 – in Georgia (see what I refer to elsewhere in this series). All around a Russia on its knees Americans were placed in the offices of prime ministers, defence and foreign ministers – I saw it myself in former Yugoslavia – and met CIA people in Croatia disguised as humanitarian workers. And had a long conversation with the representative of the US in Tblisi in 1994. Historical moment!

The bad Christians, the Orthodox, were the Serbs and Russians and Greeks – all should be antagonized and the good guys in Yugoslavia were those who had been on the fascist side in WWII – the leaderships in Croatia, Muslims in Bosnia and the Kosovo Albanians. The Serb minority that had lived 400 years as a minority in the Croatian republic were, in the common Western discourse, invaders masterminded by strongman Slobodan Milosevic – whom Clinton without hesitation called the new ’Hitler of Europe’.

Ukraine was – and remains – what its name says: the border areas (like Krajina in Croatia). This is where NATO can establish itself as little as Chruschev could get away with deploying nukes in Cuba – considerably further away from the US, but anyhow.

Imagine – with a little bit of empathy (not necessarily sympathy) how Washington would react if today Putin’s Russia was 12 times stronger militarily than the alliance-free US (NATO dissolved 25 years ago) and tried with his alliance of 27 other members to make Canada or Mexico the 29th member. Perhaps most people in the US and Europe would have some sympathy for the negative reaction of Washington. Rand remember, Trump wants to build a wall to Mexico…

The main reason, it is stated again and again, in the Western press, NATO and other political circles is: Ukraine and Crimea. The lie about Putin’s aggression on Ukraine is told so many times that it is becoming the truth. Just see these two recent articles by Newsweek as two of hundreds of articles.

Here’s the chosen story in politics and media alike

The narrative is simplified beyond recognition and goes like this:

Putin (there is always just one top guy in Western eyes and it is one leader at the top like Milosevic, Mohamed Farah Aideed, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khaddafi, al-Assad) is a bad guy and you know that because out of the blue his suddenly annexed Crimea. By that he changes the borders of Europe and then he gets his disguised soldiers into Eastern Ukraine – a Ukraine that we, in contrast to Bush Senior, care very very much about today.

We care so much about it that Read the rest of this entry »

Europe’s ongoing failure handling refugees

By Jan Oberg

- speaking out on PressTV on September 24, 2016

 

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