Meanwhile, Manchester United…

By Johan Galtung

It usually came at the end of BBC broadcasts: now Sir Alex Ferguson is up front, main headline on the International Herald Tribune, first page. Truly impressive, 27 years as Man U coach and manager, sorry CEO; this is now a business enterprise owned by the Glazer family in Florida and the news of his retirement shock its shares at the New York Stock Exchange. Where have all the sports gone?

Up comes the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, with mainstream press harking back to years of greatness centered on strong personalities. She was with Ronald Reagan part of the mid 1980s counter-revolution, breathing short term life in stagnant economies through privatization, busting trade unions, de-industralizing, laying regions of their countries waste, crippling welfare states – ”Rust in Peace” they say. When accused of selling the family silver by privatizing, she said: Yes, back to the family!
Where has all the silver gone?

But she kept the Kingdom United by letting a hunger striking Irish freedom fighter die in prison, and, like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher showed the colors and sent the army for some islands, Malvinas-Falklands for Thatcher (over Reagan’s mild protest, Monroe territory), Grenada for Reagan.
Where have all the empires gone?

Up comes another ghost from the past, Hillary Clinton, possibly US presidential candidate in 2016; a much adored Secretary of State. Stephen Zunes (, 23-02-13) about her legacy: “supporting autocratic regimes and occupation armies–undermining arms control and defending military solutions to complex political problems–outspoken supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, lied about Iraq’s military capabilities–unleashed repeated attacks against the United Nations, opposed restrictions on land mines and cluster bombs–pushed for stronger US support for pro-Western dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain.”
Where have all these dictators gone?

Given the problems of the day, yesterday’s problems dwindle, yesterday’s messengers loom high. Consider this:

Sexual harassment in the US armed forces: 70 a day, 26,000 a year; they certainly need drones.
Where have all the soldiers gone?

Austerity measures: the GDP-Gross Domestic Product growth rate stays at a sluggish 2%, unemployment at 8%, rich people are also demoralized, sitting on liquidity; reducing fiscal debt is used for the golden opportunity to cripple the welfare state further.
Where have all the liberals gone?

Boston: terrible, atrocious, our hearts reach out for the bereaved. And they are countless in the countries hit by US-led coalitions in Muslim countries, by drones, by SEALs, by execution, and just as human as those watching a peaceful marathon; as Noam Chomsky (Nationofchange/Op-ed, 06-05-2013) and Richard Rubenstein on his blog point out. Moreover, there is a feeble-minded intellectual mistake at work here, seemingly beyond repair: yes, the enemy of my enemy may be my friend in some context, but not in another. People in North Caucasia have problems with Moscow, so does USA; people in North Caucasia are Muslim and may feel compassion for their brothers and sisters murdered – the USA does not. So they resort to all kinds of psychologisms, early childhood etc. to protect themselves against simple insights.
Where has all the common sense gone?

Libya: a strip of land similar to where the Italian, French etc. invaders-colonizing Africa come from, the rest Berber-Tuareg with their world views and Islam suppressed, attacking a consulate-embassy possibly also a CIA detention center to liberate their friends on 11 September 2012 (when Ambassador J.C. Stevens was killed), having attacked the ICRC-International Committee of the Red Cross 1 km away on 22 May: “the ICRC must take down their flag with the red cross/our italics/Libya is an Islamic State” (letter to Hillary Clinton from the US Congress 02-10-2013), twisted into a security and impeachment issue.
Where has all the empathy gone?

The biggest arms exporters: the G5+1(Germany)-1(China) account for 75% (Development + Cooperation, Vol 40 2013 No.2): USA and Germany to South Korea, Russia to China and India, Germany and France to Greece (that, weapons, they can afford), UK to Saudi Arabia and USA, keeping the world dangerous, armed to the brim. France has reduced the percentage of the economy devoted to the military–”defence” writes Le Monde 30-04-13–from 5.44 in 1961 to 1.5 for 2014 and 1.3 for 2025). The UN General Assembly failed to “approve the first-ever effort to regulate the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human-rights records of the buyers” (IHT 01-04-13). No consensus as Iran, North Korea and Syria “contended that the treaty had been structured to be unfair to them”. Internal armed suppression matters, it is important, but even more so is linking trade to use in wars, given that UN Member States are prohibited from going to war against each other (Charter, Article 2.4).
Where have all the arms gone?

The general, well-known, answer to the nine slightly rhetorical questions starting with “Where have/has” is: to the graveyard every one. But not the arms as they are used rather to produce corpses for graveyards; empathy, common sense and the liberals hopefully not. Many soldiers, dictators and empires, for sure. The silver and the sports may be recovered.

However, the basic points made is the contrast between nostalgia likened to some heroes of the West and the reality of their business, their economy-politics, the utter demoralization, the lack of opposition to policies of self-destruction, the primacy of force over common sense and solutions right around the corner, for those who venture that far.

Back to Man U. There is much beauty in that, found in UK, USA. But then do not deny it to others, like Workers United = trade unions (yes, there was abuse as in Business United, aka Reagan-Thatcher), Former Colonies United, Poor United, by helping them. Another word is solidarity, a winning formula. Meanwhile, Solidarity United!

First published here by Transcend Media Service.

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