Archive for the ‘Human rights and justice’ Category
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 »
By Johan Galtung
March 13, 2017
Wikipedia has much to offer under “aging”. Highly recommended are the 10 points by the world’s oldest living man, 114, Walter Breuning.
However, older persons, like me at 86, know their own aging best. Less trouble with “oxidant stress” as a major cause, having used anti-oxidants based on blueberry skin – no chemicals – for decades. 20,000 blood stem cells renew my blood, but they are dying. Problematic.
Rule no. 1: Keep mind and body active; maintain a good nutrition.
Obvious to counteract aging. However, equally important:
Rule no. 2: Be open to the positive sides and advantages of aging.
Bertrand Russell’s “On Being 90” in the Observer dispenses with the disadvantages as obvious, in favor of his advantage: the overview.
At the age of 5 he sat on the knee of a man who had fought Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The longer the lives we have lived, the more events have impinged upon us. An “overview” identifies some link, a narrative, a common factor.
That identification is often referred to as “wisdom”.
However: thigh muscles weaken, walking falters, fatigue, seeing and hearing impaired. Exercise helps, but aging is unavoidable.
Rule no. 3: At least do not fall; not breaking fragile bones, no ending up bedridden in a hospital, contracting new diseases. Equip the room, the home, the context with handles and handrails.
Then the mental aspects of aging: memories failing, not only of recent events, less ability to handle many and simultaneous stimuli.
As a result, many and more mistakes reinforcing the sense of aging.
Rule no. 4: Simplify the context, contract the circle of living. Be realistic, change the structure of daily life, narrow the circle to what can be handled easily: the ward, the village, the context, the home, the room–but then equipped with a maximum of music, books, social media, as enriching as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Videoinspelning av Jan Öbergs föredrag i Stockholm februari 2017
Inspelningen är uppdelad i två delar:
Del 1: Vittnesrapport från Aleppo
Del 2: Debatt och vägar till fred i Syrien
10-14:e december 2016 vistades Jan Öberg i Aleppo. Med sin unika erfarenhet från staden ifrågasätter han den gängse massmediarapporteringen, argumenterar för ett nytt sätt att se på konflikter på och ger förslag till den nödvändiga fredsprocessen.
Anders Björnsson, författare
Lördag 25 februari kl. 14-16, Bagarmossens Folkets Hus, Stockholm
Föreningen Syriensolidaritet, Folket i Bild Kulturfront – Stockholmsavdelningen, FiB-juristerna m.fl.
Jan Öberg rapporterar
– Jag kunde fritt tala med vem jag ville, och fotografera som jag ville. Jag gick omkring utan säkerhet, polis eller annat skydd. Många tackade mig för att jag var i Aleppo vid befrielsen.
– Förstörelsen av Aleppo är värre än jag någonsin trott – efter att ha sett Sarajevo, Mostar och Vukovar. Den stora förstörelsen är från gatustriderna – en mindre del ifrån luften.
– Ingen av dem många jag pratade med hade sett de Vita Hjälmarna. Däremot träffade jag frivilliga från Syriens Röda Halvmåne som var mycket professionella.
– De jag pratade med uttryckte sin glädje över frihet efter fyra års belägring och uttryckte tacksamhet över regeringens och ryssarnas insatser.
Se också Jan Öbergs fotoserier med bakgrunds- och förklarande text här.
TFF PressInfo och andra artiklar – av vilka många handlar om Syrien – finns på TFF:s blogg här.
By Jan Oberg
Three perspectives on the Syrian conflict formation
The Syrian conflict formation is hugely more complicated than we’ve been told by Western politicians (all mainstream in spite of democratic features) and mainstream/dependent media.
To some there are only internal aspects and it’s called a civil war only. That’s a necessary but not sufficient aspect.
The same goes for the only regional perspective focusing on e.g. the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran’s, Saudi-Arabia’s, Turkey’s roles and policies.
To others, everything can be explained from the point of view of Western interventionism/imperialism. That’s also a necessary but not sufficient aspect.
To understand anything of the Syrian conflict formation – and there are very many layers, dimensions and participants over the last 100 years – we need all three basic approaches.
But given that Westerners are likely to have been informed by Western media and politicians they are likely to grossly underestimate the third, the Western-global dimension.
And that narrative is likely to be politically correct, to underestimate the nasty sides of the West the last good 100 years in the region and present the West as basically good guys interested in peace, democracy and freedom.
This bias has been reinforced by what is probably the most massive marketing/public relation effort in any modern war – in the style of the fake news story about Saddam’s soldiers throwing out babies from their incubators in Kuwait City. In order words, pure invention/lies/planted stories/rumours and PSYOPs – psychological operations selling unverifiable stories to influence our hearts and mind in a single policy-promoting direction.
The US/CIA involvement in Syria over the last 68 years is well-documented and easy to access – but never pointed out by the intellectually lazy who think it is enough to just point out that everything is the fault of the “dictator” and his “regime”.
The US worked on deliberately de-stabilising Syria years before 2011 (as documented by WikiLeaks and others) when the peaceful demonstrations took place. The Western military support to RIOTs (Rebels, Insurgents, Opposition and Terrorists – most of the latter) was stepped up and while many point out that the US under Obama didn’t “do anything”, it can be argued that NATO countries acted in a variety of ways, too many and wrong-headed ways – none of them serving a politically negotiated solution, peace or democracy in Syria.
The agenda was foreign interference, promoted military foreign presence (aggression) in international law terms and regime change. One more regimes change, that is, after the earlier completely failed ones in Iraq and Libya.
A series of Western NGOs – no longer Non but NEAR-Governmental Organisations – were part and parcel of the policy, increasingly involved and funded by the Western/NATO/Turkish-Saudi-Gulf-Israeli strategy of de-stabilization – such as US-based Avaaz and French foreign ministry manufactured media outfits such as the Syrian Media Incubator Aleppo Media Centre, the SMART News Agency, the media work of the White Helmets which did humanitarian work only among RIOT fighters and relatives (and stole the name of Syrian Civilian Defence from Syria’s own organisation with that name from 1953).
They came in on the civilian media narrative-creating side. And there are others. Since the days of Yugoslavia, think tanks, human rights and humanitarian organisations have been drawn in – and accepted – to serve specific political interventionist agendas in spite of calling themselves independent, not-for-profit etc. This co-optations spells, potentially, the end of civil society as well as of the open and critical debate about governments’ policies.
All of this continued and was stepped up also after it had become clear that the legitimate, peaceful, democratic, anti-govenment opposition in Syria had been completely sidelined and/or overtaken by Syrian militants and foreigners with guns in their hands.
The West did not get cold feet, it stepped up it regime-change policies in all kinds of ways, regrettably also by massive NGO-investments in proxi- and other pro-war campaigns.
No one thought of the consequences for the huge majority of the innocent Syrian people who had never touched a gun, or thought of doing so.
And two more perspectives: Don’t focus on the violence and the evil guy only – it’s war-promoting
No one seems to even have asked the question Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
It’s probably unusual that a research organisation’s photos go viral – and do so in spite of the mainstream media’s manifest lack of interest in their story.
But the photos I took in Aleppo in Syria December 10-14, 2016 have been seen here by well over 100.000 people around the world, exclusively by organic, non-paid online sharing.
In addition they’ve been linked to and presented by media in the alternative press and social media in about 20 countries, sites such as Telesur, Heise/Telepolis and Pressenza literally reaching millions.
I am proud of having helped bring out the story of these people unworthy, as it seems, of the attention of the West. Because they were the majority from Eastern Aleppo who were happy to be liberated and remained in what is now government-controlled areas.
Keep focus on Aleppo – #keepfocusonaleppo
Aleppo’s liberation was a local, national, regional and global event. Why?
Because of Aleppo’s history, beauty, architecture and industrial importance (50% of Syria’s industrial capacity within the huge Sheikh Najjar Industrial City).
Because, before the war, it had swelled from about 2 million to some 3 million people due to the environmental crisis that hit Syria.
Because its Eastern part was occupied in 2012 by what I call RIOTs – Rebels, Insurgents, Opposition, Terrorists – most of the latter – who over 4,5 years created a living hell for the innocent citizens in that part.
Because of the complete and systematic destruction of this cultural jewel, Aleppo, predominantly by street-to-street fighting (max 5-10% of it caused by bombardments from the air).
Because RIOTs were supported with money, weapons and ammunition by the US, France, Britain and Turkey in particular – i.e. most of NATO – plus Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States – and most media reports have come from that side of the war.
Because Aleppo’s liberation was a turning point in this six years’ long evil war that has created the largest humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world since 1945.
What happened didn’t fit the dominant, deceptive Western media narrative. The large majority of people in Eastern Aleppo went to the dictator’s (” “) government-controlled side while a minority – the RIOT fighters/occupiers and their families – went to Turkey, Idlib and other RIOT-controlled areas.
More about the importance of Aleppo in TFF PressInfo # 405.
But do see the pictures of the incomprehensible, surreal destruction and of the victims of Aleppo. The victims who were happy to have been liberated from 4,5 years of hell. About these victims you have heard almost nothing since mid-December last year.
The photos are unique since I was among the first twenty or so to get in there and talk with and photograph these people – freely. I was the only person from Scandinavia.
No leading Western mainstream media were present there and then. They sat in Beirut, Istanbul and Berlin telling you stories about the likely “new Srebrenica”, massacres and even ‘genocide’ that would follow when Syria’s dictator again controlled Aleppo.
It turned out to be just that. Fake news.
My photos were Real news. You won’t see them at CNN, BBC, New York Times, Reuters, AFP, AP and those who repeat them.
(Please respect the © provisions of these images)
And more photo stories to come from Syria.
By Johan Galtung
February 13, 2017
What is the essence of democracy?
“Rule with the consent of the ruled” implies two classes of people, Rulers and Ruled; concretely State and People, Statism. “Free and Fair Elections” implies voting for a Parliament; Parliamentarism. Together, a three-tier power structure State-Parliament-People; with People controlling Parliament, and Parliament controlling State.
In 2016 some voting differed from what State-Parliament expected; leading to talk about elitist vs populist democracy – from statism and parliamentarism to peopleism. A crisis. And talk about post-democracy.
Another answer about democratic essence is “one-tier self-ruling units”; no rulers vs ruled, and decisions are made by general assemblies for all. This is often referred to as Anarchism, “no structure”. A misnomer: there is no State and no Parliament, but many assemblies. A concrete interpretation would be Localism, the units being local authorities – LAs, municipalities; the assemblies being their municipal councils.
A key dimension then becomes the level of state control of LAs. In Spain, with an anarchist ideological tradition, the LAs are strong.
A different, not institutional – more philosophical, intellectual in general – answer would pick up words like transparency and dialogue.
Democracy is a context with everything in the open, no closed doors, available to everlasting people dialogue: by way of the word, logos. Fine for people who are good with words.
How about those who are not, Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
Jan Oberg’s comment on Chancellor Merkel’s speech at the Munich security conference where she mentioned the duty Europe has to receive refugees and also reiterated that Germany will do its best to increase its military budget to 2% of its GDP.
Apart from this one can only get very sad and pessimistic when reading the comments underneath this sequence: Boundless hate against Merkel herself, racism, anti-Islam, anti-Semitism – and not one (of the first 70+ comments) on the issue of NATO, the risk of war or on what I brought up about the need for new, less militarist policies, less interventionism and better ways of handling the refugees.
Anger and hatred just under the surface, brought out mostly anonymously. No reasoning, just smear.
We still have a long long way to go in terms of public education…
The occupiers denied children education. Now they get it
TFF’s first four photo series from Aleppo have been seen by 95,000 people so far and been featured in online magazines from Vietnam to California, among them a German site with a million visitors daily.
Above is the fifth story.
It’s about the terrible, systematic destruction of this UNESCO World Heritage site but also about an Aleppo businessman who turned his damaged factory into a school for 1500 children.
It had been damaged by the Free Syrian Army and al-Nushra who looted it and then used it as HQ.
It’s situated in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo that – before the militant/terrorist occupation – represented no less than 50% of Syria’s total industrial production.
During two years, these children received no education. Now they do. And hope is slowly coming back.
This photo story ends with some “civilisational questions” by Jan Oberg who also took the photos.
This is the kind of story Western mainstream media don’t bring for reasons one must assume are political.
But TFF does. Because it is a free research think tank.
We focus on the conflict and civil society where media are obsessed with violence and war criminals.
We look at peace opportunities where others spend their energy on blaming one or the other but have no ideas on how to solve underlying conflicts and make peace.
TFF doesn’t work for this or that violent party but for the UN Charter norm of peace by peaceful means. That is, for the innocent, suffering people in Syria – the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945:
Such as these wonderful, innocent children whose story deserves to be told.
Comment by Jan Oberg
The Malta EU meeting is expressive of militarism, colonialism and racism in one. Is it time perhaps to call the EU the Evil Union? People outside, in the rest of the world sees this and will draw their conclusions.
And an – admittedly unconventional – proposal on what to do with the politicians who are responsible for the destruction of Libya.
February 1st 2017
In a press conference last week President Donald Trump said he believed in the worth of torture but then added most surprisingly that using it wasn’t going to be his decision. It would be decided by the Secretary of Defence, General James Mattis, who, as Trump said, is against torture.
Three years ago the US Senate Intelligence Committee published a summary of a thorough report on the recent American use of torture. Its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, said the 6,000 page report is “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the US.”
The report showed that the CIA did not provide accurate information on torture to Congress and also provided misleading information. The report also concluded that the CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making. While the report was being prepared the CIA penetrated the Senate Committee’s computers, arousing the fury of its members.
Bush and and his vice-president Dick Cheney were deeply involved in initiating the torture program. The Administration claimed that the waterboarding 183 times (the dipping of the head in water so that the prisoner feels he is drowning) of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, led to the foiling of a terror plot against Los Angeles’s Library Tower. But the Senate report concludes that the information could have been learnt without using torture.
The report’s primary focus is on discerning whether the use of torture gained valuable intelligence. It concluded that it did not.
When President Barack Obama was elected he swiftly moved to ban waterboarding and other torture techniques. However, he refused to authorize a full, in depth, Justice Department investigation which, if it had taken place, would doubtless have pointed a finger at Bush and Cheney.
In the UK it is alleged that Prime Minister Tony Blair Read the rest of this entry »