Archive for the ‘Georgia’ Category

Trump visits Putin

By Jonathan Power

October 25th 2016

I have a fantasy. Donald Trump wins. He goes to Moscow on his first trip as president and gives President Vladimir Putin a bear hug and they go hunting in the forest, Soviet style.

When they emerge they have shot a couple of bears and have had a good lunch laid out for them by acolytes at which they have discussed the matters of the world.

They give a press conference. They have decided to re-start negotiations on major nuclear arms reductions and both say they unilaterally are immediately ridding themselves of a 1000 missiles each.

They have found a way to implement autonomy for eastern Ukraine, as done in Scotland, which Trump with his Scottish golf courses knows well. Ukraine can work towards both a trade agreement with the EU and the Russian-backed Eurasian Economic Union. Russia was always happy about such an arrangement, but many Ukrainians weren’t and only wanted an EU arrangement. This was the trigger for the uprising in Kiev and Western support for the powerful revolutionary movements that had a fascist pedigree.

Dealing with Syria is both simpler and more difficult – difficult because of the intensity of the fighting and the multi-nation interests and easier because neither Russia nor the NATO powers want to see a clash over a relatively small part of the global population – Syria’s population is 9 million, about the same as one of America’s eastern states.

In the forest they agreed to stop using Russian warplanes backing President Bashar al-Assad, the US to stop aiding anti-Assad guerrillas and both to concentrate on defeating ISIS. In return the US would invite Russia to share its airbase in Qatar. The civil war opponents would be left alone to fight. UN mediation would continue.

Trump has a point in wanting rapprochement with Russia.

At the moment Read the rest of this entry »

America, the threatened?

By Jonathan Power

September 6th 2016

The French ambassador to the US from 1902 to 1924, Jean-Jules Jusserand, observed that distant powers could not easily threaten the US because “On the north, she has a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east fish and on the west, fish”.

The coming of the submarine-based nuclear missile has not changed that. Apart from the fact that no enemy would dare use them for fear of retaliation, and that there is no country in the world that feels that hostile to America (accept North Korea), the fact is America is too big and too far away to be invaded and dominated. There could not be a blitzkrieg by a foreign army across the mid-west or a Vichy America.

The real tragedy of 9/11 is just as a majority of the US electorate had settled into a post-Cold War comfort zone with the new president, George W. Bush, not being overly pushy or confrontational in foreign affairs, America was jolted so badly that a large proportion of its electorate – maybe half – has been paranoid ever since. Enemies are once again seen under the bed.

Enough of the electorate have persuaded themselves that they are insecure Read the rest of this entry »

On NATO S-G Stoltenberg’s wish for dialogue and NATO’s 2015 report

By Jan Oberg

February 9, 2016

Commenting on NATO S-G Jens Stoltenberg’s wish for dialogue with Russia – a bit odd after all the other provocative initiatives he has spearheaded the last good year or so.

I felt like saying something more general about this outdated paradigm – and why it is dangerous for us all – referring also to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955.

You may also see it as my statement countering the NATO Annual 2015 Report which lacks every intellectualism, theoretical/conceptual clarity, empathy, peace thinking and – naively – equates military build-up with ‘security’.

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.

Motivation

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.

Goals

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 »

TFF PressInfo # 334 – Getting Russia right

By Jonathan Power

Even today in many different ways the US and Russia remain close. There is cooperation in space, not least the International Space Station. The US regularly hires Russian rockets to launch its crews to the Station and to launch satellites. Russia sells advanced rocket engines to the US. Russia allows war material en route to Afghanistan to pass through its territory on Russian trains.

Russia worked hand in glove with the US to successfully remove the large stocks of chemical weapons possessed by Syria. It shares intelligence on Muslim extremists including ISIS. Conceivably it could enter the battle against ISIS.

It has encouraged Western investment including joint oil exploration of the Artic. Recently it stood side by side with the US and the EU as they forged an agreement with Iran on its nuclear industry. At the UN Security Council Russia and the US voted together for a resolution approving the agreement. President Barack Obama phoned President Vladimir Putin to thank him.

US diplomats are now conceding that Russia’s claim that the neo-fascist so-called “Right Sector” in Ukraine is wrecking havoc is true. The Right Sector in the eyes of many was a key – and violent – element in the success of last year’s Maidan demonstrations that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich.

When the Russian, French and German foreign ministers hammered out an agreement with the support of Ukraine’s parliamentary opposition for Yanukovich to step down at the next election the West totally “forgot” about it in the next few days as the Maidan demonstators drove Yanukovich into exile. Washington and other Western capitals supported the “democratic revolution” rather than demanding the fulfillment of the agreement. No wonder Putin was livid.

What is now needed in Western capitals is an acknowledgement that they have not always got Russia and Putin right. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 325 – Breaking the promise to Russia

By Jonathan Power

The Russian European dreamers have included Pushkin, Lenin, Gorbachev and, until relatively recently, President Vladimir Putin. They have all seen their country’s future as part of the “European house”. But history and events have not been kind to Russia. Napoleon’s invasion, revolution, two world wars, Stalin’s communism and, most recently, the expansion of NATO, have shattered the dream again and again.

At the end of the Cold War and with agreement on the NATO-Russia Founding Act it seemed that big steps towards that goal were being taken. First, Russia would have a seat at NATO’s table. Later it would join NATO. Later still, the European Union. Some said this would happen over ten years, others 20.

Then, smash, the dream came to an end as President Bill Clinton, bucking America’s academic foreign policy elite, decided to expand NATO’s membership to former members of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact. George Kennan, America’s elder statesman on Russian issues, commented, “It shows so little understanding of Russian and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then the NATO expanders will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.” He characterized it as the most dangerous foreign policy decision that the US had made since the end of the Second World War.

Defending Clinton and, later, George W. Bush and Barack Obama who continued the NATO expansion policy, their supporters have said that in expanding NATO eastward the West did not break its promise to Moscow not to.

But it did. Read the rest of this entry »

The West is threatening Russia

By Jonathan Power

What would the conservative president, Ronald Reagan, have done if the Ukraine debacle had happened on his watch? I suspect he would have made sure it didn’t devalue relations between the US and Russia.

It wasn’t him nor his vice-president, George W.H Bush, who inflamed relations with a post-Cold War Russia, it was his successor the liberal, Bill Clinton, who, together with a supine EU membership, decided to expand NATO right up to Russia’s doorstep, despite a solemn US promise given personally to the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, by George H. W. Bush’s secretary of state, James Baker, that it wouldn’t.

And today President Barack Obama won’t say clearly and out loud that the US doesn’t expect that Ukraine will ever join NATO, a move that could de-escalate the crisis faster than you could say: “At last Obama understands where President Vladimir Putin is coming from”. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo: Sverige – inte längre aktör för en bättre värld

Av Jan Öberg
Dr.hc., direktör för TFF
4 maj 2014

Eliten i Sverige är mer lojal mot Nato, USA och EU än mot sitt folk

• Under de senaste 25-30 åren har Sveriges militära, säkerhets- och utrikespolitiska elit vridit Sveriges politik 180 grader.

• Dessa grundläggande förändringar inleddes av den socialdemokratiska regeringen under Göran Persson och utrikesminister Anna Lindh och har genomförts praktiskt taget utan offentlig debatt.

• Omsvängningen till interventionism, militarism och USA/Nato på alla områden har planerats gradvis, i smyg och ohederligt – kort sagt på ett sätt som är ovärdigt en demokrati.

• Denna elit är mer lojal mot Bryssel och Washington än mot svenskarna.

• Om din bild av Sverige är att det är ett progressivt, förnyande och fredsfrämjande land med global inställning som försvarar folkrätten så är den – tråkigt nog – föråldrad.

Hur Sverige har förändrats

Sverige är inte längre neutralt och det är bara formellt alliansfritt; det finns ingen mer närstående bundsförvant än USA/Nato. Landet har upphört att utveckla en egen politik och positionerar istället sig inom ramen för EU och Nato. Landet bidrar inte längre med betydelsefullt nytt tänkande – det sista var Olof Palmes kommission om gemensam säkerhet (1982). Read the rest of this entry »

Far from good enough, Mr. Putin !

By Johan Galtung

History matters, not only law; like how Crimea and Abkhazia-South Ossetia–basically Russian-Orthodox–became Ukrainian-Georgian. Two Soviet dictators, Khrushchev and Stalin, attached to Ukraine and Georgia, so decided, by dictate. The local people were not asked, nor were Hawaiians when the USA annexed their Kingdom in 1898–by dictate.

The first referendum in Crimea was held last Sunday, 16 March 2014: an overwhelming No to Ukraine and Yes to the Russian federation.

Khrushchev’s 1954 transfer of Crimea was within the Soviet Union, and under Red Army control. But the Soviet Union collapsed and the Red Army became the Russian army; the conditions were no longer valid. George W. Bush wanted Ukraine and Georgia to become NATO members, moving the Russian minorities two steps away from Russia. Nothing similar applies to the other Russian minorities in the former Soviet republics. They are people living on somebody else’s land, not people living on their own land.

What happened to Crimea was a correction of what had become a basic mistake. Although Russia moving into eastern Ukraine could be–as the West says–invasion-occupation-annexation. But highly unlikely.

Unless civil war breaks out between Ukraine West and East and the Russian minority in the East–Donetsk–is in danger. Russia will not stand by watching, just as NATO would not if something similar happened close to the Polish border in Lvov.

This simply must not happen; nevertheless it is getting close. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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