Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category
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…
By Gareth Porter
For all its grandstanding, Trump’s administration is just following an American tradition of coercing Iran and its ‘malign influence’
The first public pronouncements by President Donald Trump’s administration on Iran have created the widespread impression that the US will adopt a much more aggressive posture towards the Islamic Republic than under Barack Obama’s presidency.
But despite the rather crude warnings to Tehran by now ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and by Trump himself, the Iran policy that has begun to take shape in the administration’s first weeks looks quite similar to Obama’s.
The reason is that the Obama administration’s policy on Iran reflected the views of a national security team that adhered to an equally hardline stance as those of the Trump administration.
Flynn declared on 1 February that the Obama administration had “failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions” and suggested that things would be different under Trump. But that rhetoric was misleading, both with regard to the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran and on the options available to Trump going beyond that policy.
The ‘malign influence’
The idea that Obama had somehow become …
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
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?
A personal pledge provoked by the debates about Syria
About 95% of all debates about conflicts and war that we see in politics, mainstream media, the Internet and social media focus on the violence, who uses more or less of it and who is, therefore, the evil party.
This approach places direct violence – such as human rights violations, killings, bombings etc. – in the centre of the attention and that is unfortunate because violence is always only a symptom. I call this the simplifying or reductionist approach; invariably it has populist connotations too and usually ends up in mud-slinging.
I argue in this analysis that this reductionist approach is counterproductive and that – because of the defining characteristics of these debates – the underlying conflicts/problems that cause the violence are never in focus and that no international complex conflict can be explained even rudimentarily by asserting that one single individual’s personality or behaviour is the root cause, the problem or the conflict itself.
Secondly, I explain what makes the reductionist approach so typical and ‘natural’ in the eyes of Westerners. We have to be aware of the deficits of this entire approach to conflict which, I argue, is also related to Western ways of thinking, including Christianity. (You may jump this section if you are more attracted to practical implications than to philosophy).
The third section deals with the conflict and peace approach as an alternative – arguing that only through that can we arrive at the necessary dimension: How can the violence stop and how can the conflicting parties change their perceptions, attitudes and the problem/conflict that stands between them so that peace can unfold. Like the science of medicine, it has a focus on the disease and we do a Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment by finding the root causes rather than just treating symptoms.
Finally I make the pledge to never again participate in discussions within the reductionist discourse of the violence and who-is-good-and-who-is-bad. I will spend my energy, instead, on the constructive conflict and peace approach that is also the only one that will benefit the innocent victims in conflict zone, the people who have never even thought of taking up arms.
In short, it is a refusal to let the violence and ‘evil’ individuals take centre stage in any discourse and instead look at problems and their resolution together with peace-building and thus – Gandhian style – let non-violence and peace-making by peaceful means take centre stage:
Since this author is a peace and future researcher, I shall no longer participate in any discussion or debate about a conflict or war in which the main focus is on the direct violence and one or more participants point out that they know who the bad guy is and seek to frame or place me on this or that or the other side.
Under “PS” you’ll find my four-part view on matter of justice which of course is part and parcel of peace-building.
• • •
I’ve experienced it repeatedly over the last good 20 years, since the bad old days of Yugoslavia’s dissolution wars and I see it now, only more viciously, in the discussions about Syria in the old media as well as the social media:
If you are not clearly supporting party A to a conflict you must be a supporter of B.
From that follows:
Since I am in favour of the good guy A, you are a bad guy because you side with B (or don’t side with A).
This approach can be categorised as simplistic and reductionist. It prevents an understanding of what a conflict is about and hinders peace thinking and proposals.
It also amounts to legitimating more war.
This approach is wrong and counterproductive because invariably it:
1) builds on the assumption that there are only two sides in a conflict; that is never the case in complex international conflict;
2) builds on the either/or fallacy that you must be pro-B since you are not pro-A, overlooking the simply fact that one could also sympathize with party C and/or M and/or V; alternatively that all participants behave in such a manner that you sympathise with no one;
3) focuses on parties, or actors, and not on the underlying problems that make the parties fight each other;
4) satisfies people’s more or less narcissistic need for being right and being confirmed as being morally superior – irrespective of whether or not they understand the issues;
5) builds implicitly upon the assumption that the two parties represent Good and Evil and that all of the good ones are on one side, all of the bad ones on the other;
6) creates endless, sterile debates Read the rest of this entry »
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.
By Jan Oberg
I shot this simple video out of the window on December 13, 2016. I wonder about Aleppo and say #keepfocusonaleppo
© Jan Oberg 2016
Here in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo lived and worked 40,000 people. It had 50% of Syria’s industrial capacity.
Today – after the occupation by Western-backed militants and terrorist groups, this is what is left.
I wonder why the Syrian government did not destroy this industrial city between 2000 and 2012. We are told that all this destruction is caused only by that side and the dictator kills his own.
I wonder where the terrorists used the weapons and spent the money they got from NATO countries – Turkey in particular – Saudi and Qatar since they did not do any of this here – according to Western media and the White Helmet reporters and a series of humanitarian organisations.
I also wonder where the Western left is? Solidarity with the workers who lived here?
No many among them defend this and want to arm this or that group even more.
The more I study, the more I wonder.
And something doesn’t seem right.
David Swanson and Jan Oberg
Watch the video «On The Newsline: Trump’s Executive Orders: Trump Dictates The World: May Visits the U.S. & Turkey» uploaded by PressTV on Dailymotion.
By Jonathan Power
January 24th 2017.
The great flaw in ex-president Barack Obama’s record was his policy towards Russia. Going against everything he had said and written about before he became president, one action after another antagonised the Russians – his early proclamation that he wanted Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, his de facto coalition of convenience for a crucial couple of days with the anti-democratic, anti-Russian, neo-fascist, demonstrators in Ukraine, the further expansion of NATO, despite an earlier promise not to, made by President H.W. Bush, to the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, and his inability to cooperate with the Russians and Iranians over Syria.
No wonder the Russians are reported to be delirious that Donald Trump is now president, a man who has said nice things about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
If the two meet sometime soon maybe there will be an end to this unnecessary hostility. The Moscow-Washington relationship is the most important political issue in the world and this may well be the last chance to get it right.
Russia and the US have never fought each other in the 200 years of their relationship. Russia aided the North during the Civil War and sent warships to prevent England and France supporting the confederacy. During the World Wars the two were close allies.
However, they came near to catastrophic war during the Cold War when Russia armed Cuba with nuclear weapons. This will never happen again. It chilled the blood down to zero on both sides. But one can imagine limited armed clashes on the Estonian-Russian border, nuclear sabre rattling, a more intimate alliance between China and Russia, an urge to sabotage, as was done during the Cold War, any diplomacy or interventions made by the other and a continuation of both countries keeping their long-range nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.
Under H.W. Bush post-Cold War relations got off to a good start. Nevertheless, the US treated Russia as a defeated nation that could be taken advantage of. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
Commentinng on President Rouhani’s plea for tolerance and no borders on Press TV, January 28, 2017