Archive for January, 2014

The West contracting to “Middle Ages”? Fine!

By Johan Galtung

Alfaz, Spain

An optimistic prediction held by some; but what does it mean?

Let us define that “middle” as thousand years, 250-1250, from the start of the West Roman Empire declining (completed in 476 – 500), to the rise of the Hanseatic League transalpina as another Europe (completed around 1500 with protestantisms, Luther-Zwingli-Calvin; Anglicans).

Apart from the Crusades, 1095-1291, an early introduction to the “Modern Period”, this was a peaceful time in Europe due to the integrative forces of the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” – not Holy, not Roman, not German they say – and the Vatican – Holy? – hm; Roman? Yes. 217 of the 266 popes Italian, so far; No. 2: 16 French.

The Kings ruled by intermarriages, and the Popes by theocracy, in harmony till the 11th century investiture conflict: who appoints the bishops!? The war on Islam, the Crusades 1095-1291 (Pope Urban II) was also used to unify Church and State; and also against Orthodox Christians after the schism in Christianity in 1054 (Pope Leo IX).

Europe contracting into about 500 smaller entities, duchies etc., self-centered, self-reliant, self-sufficient, living lives centered on Afterlives through salvation. “Middle”, between what and what? Read the rest of this entry »

The emergent Palestinian imaginary

By Richard Falk

[Prefatory Note: this text is based on my presentation at the conference listed below, which brought together a wide array of scholars, media people, and persons concerned with the future of Palestine]

Second Annual Conference of Research Centers in the Arab World, Doha, Qatar, 7-9 December 2013, THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE AND THE FUTURE OF THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT.

A preliminary remark: A sacrifical peace

It is a welcome development that the theme of such a major conference as this one should have as its theme ‘the future of the Palestinian movement,’ so well articulated in the opening address by Azmi Bishara.

It is often overlooked that as early as 1988, and possibly earlier, the unified Palestinian leadership has decisively opted for what I would call a ‘sacrificial’ peace. By sacrificial I mean an acceptance of peace and normalization with Israel that is premised upon the relinquishment of significant Palestinian rights under international law. The contours of this image of a resolved conflict consist of two principal elements: a Palestinian sovereign state within the 1967 ‘green line’ borders and a just resolution of the refugee problem. This conception of a durable peace is essentially an application of Security Council Resolution 242, 338, and is the foundation of the initiative formally endorsed by the Palestine National Council is 1988.

It is sacrificial in both dimensions Read the rest of this entry »

New sanctions will backfire

By Farhang Jahanpour

Despite strong opposition by the White House and the States Department and despite the pleadings of some of the most prominent bipartisan US foreign policy luminaries who have warned that additional sanctions would jeopardize ongoing diplomatic efforts, (1) many US senators are pushing forward with a new resolution that is supported by the same neocons that brought us the Iraq war. (2)

It seems that the majority of Congressmen and Senators know very little about Iranian history or what is going on in Iran at present. Read the rest of this entry »

Who was Ariel Sharon?

By Jonathan Power

The Middle East has been living a nightmare, partly because of a man of Russian origin who became Israel’s greatest general and, later, prime minister of Israel: Ariel Sharon. What were the inner thoughts of this man? This is what Amos Oz, an acclaimed Israeli journalist, writer and novelist, with a world-wide reputation, helped us to discover in an interview published by the Israeli daily, Davar, in December 17, 1982.

“Call Israel by any name you like, call it a Judeo-Nazi state. Better a live Judeo-Nazi than a dead saint. I don’t care whether I am like Gaddafi. I am not after the admiration of the gentiles. ….I will destroy anyone who will raise a hand against my children, I will destroy him and his children, with or without our famous purity of arms…..

“We’ll hear no more of that nonsense about the unique Jewish morality, the moral lessons of the Holocaust or about the Jews who were supposed to have emerged from the gas chambers pure. As for Eyn Hilwe [Lebanon’s largest refugee camp] it’s a pity we did not wipe out that hornet’s nest completely.”

Sharon first stirred up controversy with the massacre at Qibiya, a Palestinian village. Read the rest of this entry »

Reconciliation and agitation in Macedonia: Success or failure of the RECOM initiative?

By Biljana Vankovska

Biljana Vankovska has decided to resign from the post of public advocate due to the obstacles she has faced as described below.

Strangely enough, it appears that the Republic of Macedonia, once the southernmost and poorest republic of the former Yugoslavia, has always lagged behind the rest, in weal or woe. If one considers the achievements of the states in the region, when success is measured by the degree of their integration into the EU, one gets the impression that, while the rest of them, including Kosovo, are making steps forward, Macedonia is retrogressing.

The violent conflict in 2001 was the last episode in the succession of wars and internal armed conflicts on the territory of the former common state. It was an unusual conflict by Yugoslav standards: in terms of duration, number of casualties and degree of destruction, as well as of the rapidity of the recovery.
When violence broke out in this former ‘oasis of peace’, as Macedonia was called in international circles during the bloodshed in Croatia or the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, some observers were alarmed and feared that an escalation without precedent would involve neighbouring states too (i.e. those that were not part of the SFRY).

Others, who looked at things with a cooler head, soon came to the conclusion that the conflict was the “biggest set-up in these parts since the war in Slovenia”. Be that as it may, its consequences for the people and the society in general are not negligible even today, although they have never been the subject of any serious public debate and concern. Read the rest of this entry »

Capucine Riom’s CV

Capucine Riom became a TFF Associate in 2013


2013 – UC Berkeley – Exchange Abroad Student. Economics classes (“Public Economics”, “Macroeconomic Policies”) as well as Law and Development and Philosophy classes GPA: 3.85 Read the rest of this entry »

Ten conflicts, solutions and conciliation

By Johan Galtung

2014: there are conflicts old and new crying for solution and conciliation, not violence; with reasonable, realistic ways out.

Take the South Sudan conflict between the Nuer and the Dinka. We know the story of the borders drawn by the colonial powers, confirmed in Berlin in 1884. Change a border by splitting a country – referendum or not – and what do you expect opening Pandora’s Box? More Pandora.

There is a solution: not drawing borders, making them irrelevant. The former Sudan could have become a federation with much autonomy, keeping some apart and others together in confederations-communities, also across borders. Much to learn from Switzerland, EU and ASEAN. Read the rest of this entry »

Beholding 2014

By Richard Falk
Written on December 31, 2013

2013 was not a happy year in the chronicles of human history, yet there were a few moves in the directions of peace and justice.

What follows are some notes that respond to the mingling of light and shadows that are flickering on the global stage, with a spotlight placed on the main war zone of the 21st century – the Middle East, recalling that Europe had this negative honor for most of the modern era except for the long 19th century, and that the several killing fields of sub-Saharan Africa are located at the periphery of political vision, and thus their reality remains blurred for distant observers. Read the rest of this entry »

Legalizing opium in Afghanistan

By Jonathan Power

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine who lived 460-357 BC, concluded that diseases were naturally caused and were cured by natural remedies. Opium, he wrote, was one of the latter. But he was also of the opinion that it should be used sparingly and under control.

If only our governments today could take such a sanguine and informed view of the use of opiates in medicine today.

No one needs a more enlightened attitude than the Western forces now operating in Afghanistan where for years they have been committed to destroying the peasants’ main source of income. Afghanistan produces more opium that anywhere else in the world.

Some observers say this eradication programme has done much to push country people into the Taliban camp. The West has long been shooting itself in the foot. Read the rest of this entry »

Tribalism lives, for better and for worse

By Jonathan Power

There was a time, not that long ago, when African leaders insisted that it was politically incorrect to discuss tribalism. Tribalism was the face of old Africa that the modernizers, inheriting their domains from the departing colonialists, refused to accept.

Today’s African leaders have learned to be not so glib. Southern Sudan is the latest turn of the screw that started with Katanga and Biafra and went on to Angola, Rwanda and Burundi with passing stops in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Senegal.

One hundred years of colonialism (less in many countries) and the subsequent creation of four dozen new states, each insisting on the sanctity of colonial boundaries as a sensible way of avoiding future conflicts, could not blot out over 1000 tribal boundaries.

On Africa’s left it has been a common jibe that the Europeans “divided” Africa. In fact they brought Africa together. Read the rest of this entry »


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