Archive for August, 2014

Make Russia a friend again

By Jonathan Power

August 26th 2014.

In his magisterial book “Europe”, Norman Davies writes, “Europe is a relatively modern idea. It gradually replaced the earlier concept of ‘Christendom’ in a complex intellectual process lasting from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries.”

Jean Monnet, the founder of the European Union, said, “Europe has never existed. One has to genuinely create Europe”.

“For more than 500 years”, continues Davies, “the cardinal problem in defining Europe has centred on the inclusion or exclusion of Russia. Throughout modern history the Orthodox, autocratic, economically backward but expanding Russia has been a bad fit.”

Nevertheless, Empress Catherine the Great announced in 1767 in St Petersburg that “Russia is a European state”. Dostoevsky, at the poet Pushkin’s funeral, eulogised Europe. “Peoples of Europe don’t know how dear to us they are.”

Muscovy has been an integral part of Christendom since the tenth century. Moreover, one can see that since Pushkin’s time Russia has created a larger part of the Western high cultural heritage than any other single European country and far much more than America. Think of the ballet (the best in the world by far) and the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres- and their protégés from Nureyev to Anna Netrebko. Think of composers: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. Think of the novel, poetry and drama: Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekov, Turgenev, Anna Ahmatova as well as Pushkin and Dostoevsky.

Lenin identified closely with Europe. Only under Stalin did Russia move away from Europe. In more recent times both Mikhail Gorbachev and President Vladimir Putin have talked of wanting to belong to the “Common European Home”- one day members of the European Union. Read the rest of this entry »

Three hard questions for Hamas

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

There is no doubt that Hamas has exhibited extraordinary resilience under the most difficult of conditions that have bedeviled its period of political leadership in the Gaza Strip that started in 2007.

It also seems clear as persuasively argued by Sandy Tolan in a valuable Common Dreams article – “Blown Chances in Gaza: Israel & U.S. Miss Many Chances to Avoid War”, Aug. 13, 2014 that Hamas pursued multiple initiatives starting in 2006 designed to achieve calm and quiet in its relations with Israel, and that these initiatives, including back channel reassurance about peaceful intentions, were rebuffed without even being acknowledged by either Israel or the United States.

It also seems the case that Israel acted to provoke the three most sustained military onslaughts directed at Gaza since 2008, and in each has relied on disproportionate force, inflicted numerous civilian casualties, and acted in a manner defiant of international humanitarian law.

For these reasons Israel deserves to be treated as an ‘outlaw state’ for reasons set forth by Akbar Ganji and I argued in a two-part article appearing in the online pages of AlJazeera English [“The Outlaw State of Israel,” Aug. 20,21, 2014].

And yet Hamas also has some explaining to do if it wishes to be more widely accepted throughout the world as entitled to full respect as a legitimate political actor. Read the rest of this entry »

Uniting for Peace, Building Sustainable Peace through Universal Values at the Centenary of World War I: Criminalizing War

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Keynote, 25th International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Conference
Istanbul, 11-14 August 2014

We have come of age, at 50; and I am the only surviving founder from 1964 in London, capital of a foggy island in the North Sea. Now we meet in the sunny capital of another empire; bridging three continents. One cloned itself all over; the other was more an Islamic umma, a community of togetherness-and-sharing, with millet islands of tolerance. And now: the superb IPRA program.

Uniting for peace. But we differ, disagree? Incredible how far we can come if we identify and focus on the good and the positive in Kiev, Donetsk and Moscow, or husband and wife in broken marriages rather than what is wrong, and build new relations on that.

Peace is a relation, not attributes of the parties. So also for conferences: focus on the best in paper, praise it; not on the dubious and missing.

Building sustainable peace. My formula in A Theory of Peace is:

Equity X Harmony

Peace = ———————

Trauma X Conflict

Four Roots of Peace

• for positive peace: 1) cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, and 2) empathy for the harmony of sorrow at other’s sorrow and joy at other’s joy;

• for negative peace: 1) reconciling trauma, and 2) resolving conflicts–avoiding violence, through skills.

Expansion of interaction – through means of communication and transportation – with rights and obligations has created vast zones with less direct violence. But without equity: more inequality, more structural violence, killing even more. Identifying violence with bullets is as naive as identifying disease with microbes, overlooking structural diseases like cancer, heart; and overlooking chronic violence, like the security state and security world, by the US National Security Agency. Better: make Ukraine a federation, relate West-North to EU and South-East to Eurasia, with both having access to the other! And clone Snowden.

Through universal values. I know only two for sure, basic to Buddhism: reduce dukkha, suffering, and increase sukha, fulfillment (wellbeing). Emotions more than cognitive values? Yes, hence more basic. Negative and positive peace. Be aware of both-and and neither-nor, the ambiguous and the bland, more frequent than either-or.

Democracy? As rule by the consent of the ruled, maybe; but not as multiparty state elections, too easily corrupted into bankocracy. As dialogue to consensus in smaller units? But many rule themselves or go for those smaller units, uninterested in “states” and “regions”.

Human rights? If enriched with collective, people’s rights, yes; but be careful. They are excellent goal-formulations for underdogs but very one-sided as conflict discourse. Where are the goals of the topdogs? Only to remain on top? Only their perennial “if underdogs come up they will treat us like we treated them?” Or also some justified skepticism about an alternative order with former underdogs on top in a majority democracy, given their numbers? We do not know in advance; give them a hearing – not guaranteed by Human Rights. Solve problems.

To be ruled by somebody of your own kind? Universal. Even if one’s own kind is unkind, it is better than the benevolence of somebody else.

The First World War at 100: To see the Sarajevo’s shots on 28 June 1914 as the cause of the Hapsburg Empire attacking Serbia on 28 July overlooks Austria-Hungary annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. The Serbs wanted to be ruled by their own kind. Self-determination was key. Nor was this a world war, all major battles were in Europe (17 of them in the French-Belgian corner). The massive killing was so insane that Europeans pushed it on the world.

The Second European war, rather, the First being the Napoleonic. The First World was, of course, Western colonialism from 4 May 1493 (Pope Alexander VI)–another atrocity to conceal.

IPRA at 50

What we wanted in 1964 was peace research recognized as a social science, member of the UNESCO International Social Science Council, bypassing turf-concerned Western universities. We got it.

Elise Boulding – role of culture, women – very active at the founding, saving IPRA several times afterward. Her husband Kenneth – the Image, stable peace, economic evolution – was in the background and Bert Röling – the youngest judge at the Tokyo Tribunal, disarmament, law for peace–became the first IPRA Secretary General. And then Galtung – at the time the health studies parallel and positive/negative peace.

We were from the world Northwest and IPRA has, like the world, moved East and South, with a Turkish Delight and a Sierra Leone Diamond as secretaries!

Prognosis: we will move on to Islam and China–India still needs time to grow with our Guiding Spirit: Gandhi. Then back to a more modest Northwest, circling on, as we should.

Criminalizing War

Massive murder, dukkha, inequity, disharmony, trauma leading to revenge, solving nothing in the longer run. The 1648 Westphalia Peace stabilized two Christianities at the price of a state system with the “right to war”. That institutional mandate has to go.

A centuries long process – jus ad bellum, jus in bello, human rights – to outlaw war except for defense, peace-keeping and “peace-enforcement” – recently as R2P (Responsibility to Protect) – opens countless loopholes, protected by anonymity and collectivity.

Personalize by naming the massive killers from top politicians to bottom soldiers – Nürnberg, Tokyo. Individualize by making them responsible, maybe following the Trans-National Corporations with amnesty in return for confession-contrition-compensation.

And remove that mandate from the Abrahamic god’s countless massacres via rex gratia dei – the King by God’s grace – transferred to the state – and via vox popoli vox dei – the voice of people being the voice of god–perverting democracies into killing machines.

Be careful! They may kill even more in order not to be arrested.

And we get further with positive and negative peace, and by fighting war as a social evil.

But the three approaches add up. We have work to do!

Originally published by Transcend Media Service here.

Strange regional alignments in the Gaza Massacre

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note

My post below, an earlier version of which was published in AlJazeera English as an opinion piece. It was written before I had the opportunity to read an illuminating assessment of the regional and global turmoil that culminated for now in the massacre carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza. I highly recommend “The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring” written by the learned Islamic jurist and scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, a distinguished professor at UCLA School of Law, with the link to the article below:

What makes Professor El Fadl profound essay particularly valuable is his ability to fit the regional pieces together in a convincing manner, showing how and why governments that rule in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, encouraged the overthrow of Egypt’s elected government headed by Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013 and more recently encouraged Israel to destroy Hamas.

He also shows that Hamas is not accurately perceived as a byproduct of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but has its own “very distinct pedagogies, objectives and methodologies.” In depicting the forces of resistance and transformation as opposed to the geopolitics of counterrevolution as constituting the core struggle taking place throughout the region it becomes clear why the alignments in the Middle East are assuming their current configurations.

It is telling and provocative for Professor El Fadl to situate the Palestinian Liberation Organization (and by implication, the Palestinian Authority) as de facto allies of Sisi’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE as well as being existential partners of the United States and Israel in subjugating the region to Western goals.

What has developed further since the end of the Cold War rivalry that long dominated the region should be considered a geopolitical protection racket that gained political salience in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The upheavals of 2011 shook the foundations of the old order, and led to renewals throughout the region of Faustian Bargains by which various authoritarian regimes receive protection, including help with the destruction of any political actor, whether Islamic or not, that dares to challenge this established order composed of ultra-rich native elites claiming dynastic privileges conferred by colonial powers then seeking native collaborators to manage exploited and oppressed populations.

While these elites appease Israel, the masses in the same political space remain passionately and symbolically dedicated to the Palestinian struggle as became evident in the September 9, 2011 attack by several thousand Egyptians on the Israeli Embassy shortly while the heroic memories of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak were still fresh.

Of all the complexities surrounding the reaction of the world to the horrifying spectacle of Israel’s severe criminality in Gaza none is more perplexing than the complicity of most governments throughout the Arab world.

What makes their political posture particularly bewildering is the degree of ethnic, religious, cultural, and historical commonality that creates such close ties of identity among the peoples of the region. And no single issue has been as unifying over the decades for these people than has their long intensely felt opposition to the injustice, suffering, and exploitation that the Palestinian people have endured for the past century as a result of the encroachments of the Zionist movement on their lands. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo: All Danish MPs now turn humanitarian aid into a military mission for Iraq

By Jan Oberg, TFF co-founder

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden August 25, 2014

Unless something totally unforseen happens, Denmark will begin to participate in the war against ISIS and Co., this week.

But a week ago it was only a humanitarian mission.

There is indeed something rotten in the – rogue – state of Denmark…

Iraq – the worst Danish foreign policy decision since 1945
Denmark’s participation in the Iraq war and as occupying power 2003-2007 is, without a doubt, the worst and most criminal piece of foreign policy since 1945.

It was decided by the government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen who afterwards was rewarded by being appointed to the post of NATO S-G.

Now a military transport for the U.S.
On Wednesday this week, the Danish parliament, Folketinget, will decided to continue this foreign policy blunder by authorising a Danish Hercules military transport aircraft to participate in bringing weapons into the Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq at the request of the U.S.

Humanitarian less than a week ago
Conspicuously, this operation was – less than a week ago – presented to the Danish media and public as an exclusively humanitarian operation.

The chairperson of the Parliament’s Foregin Policy Committee talked with passion about the need to help all the people who suffered, had fled and needed our immediate attention. At the time I thought it was a good idea.

All the political parties, from the extreme right to the extreme left are now behind the military operation. And unless something totally unforseen happens, Denmark will begin to participate in the war against ISIS and Co., this week.

The mission has been changed from humanitarian aid to weapons and is, according the Defence minister, ready to depart even Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »

Demand swells for straight answers on plane in Ukraine

By David Krieger and others

A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled “Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath.”

The petition is directed to “All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council.” And it will be delivered to each of them.

The petition reads . . continue here. And please sign it!

TFF PressInfo: Support Richard Branson’s Ukraine dialogue initiative

TFF PressInfo 273

By Jan Oberg, TFF co-founder

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden August 22, 2014

We are drifting towards a new Cold War. The reason isn’t substance because there is no reason we should not be able to live in peace in Europe – if we want and educated ourselves in handling problems.

No, the reason is the woefully incompetent way in which politicians and media focus on violence and ignore the underlying conflict and civil means – yes yes, of course there are exceptions.

Escalation doesn’t create peace

Here is just one example – NATO S-G Anders Fogh Rasmussen and NATO’s supreme commander General Breedlove (funny name given his anything but loving views coming rather from a Strangelove …) in the Wall Street Journal.

They tell you about all the escalation they have already done Read the rest of this entry »

At last the sword of justice has fallen in Cambodia

By Jonathan Power

Finally, finally the over-long, seven year trial of the leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge leadership of Cambodia, is over. The two defendants, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, were each given a life sentence.

Of the other three that were tried, one, the ex-foreign minister, Ieng Sary died in 2013, one, Ieng Thirith, the wife of Ieng Sary, was too ill with Alzheimer’s to appear and one, Kaing Guek Eav (“Duch”), voluntarily confessed three years ago and was sent to jail for 35 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestinian Open Letter to UNSG Ban Ki-moon on Gaza

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
Below is the text of an Open Letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon alleging his inappropriate responses to the carnage and massacres taking place in Gaza, and by his behavior undermining respect for and the authority of the United Nations and international law.

Given such a performance, the challenge posed to the highest ranking UN official is to revise his past comments on the Israeli attack or to resign his office. The peoples of the world, and not just the Palestinians, have a paramount interest in holding morally, legally, and politically accountable the UN and those who lead and represent the organization in response to such breaches of the peace and acts of aggression in accordance with law and justice, and never more so than when such unlawful behavior is directly responsible for a grave humanitarian catastrophe of the kind that has befallen the civilian population of Gaza since July 8.

Instead of supporting Israel spurious claim of acting in self-defense, Mr. Ban Ki-moon should have been using his office to insist on an immediate ceasefire accompanied by the unconditional lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza since mid-2007 that has constituted the essence of the collective punishment of the 1.8 million people encaged in the Gaza Strip without even a sanctuary for children, women, the disabled, the elderly, non-militants to escape from the combat zone by crossing the border or finding safety within Gaza itself.

The shelling of UN facilities being used to shelter those desperately seeking safety exemplifies Israeli criminal conduct during this savage military operation.

Please read the text below, prepared by Badil (an NGO devoted to Palestinian refugee rights that enjoys a world reputation for the quality of its work and the dedication of its staff) and endorsed by a large number of Palestinian civil society actors; please disseminate this text as widely as possible, and call independently for a response by the Secretary General, as well as further action if a response is not forthcoming.

Open letter to Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: stand for law and justice or resign!

5 August 2014

For humanity and the little remained credibility of international law:

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stand for law and justice or resign!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We, the under signed Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations are extremely disappointed by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes.

Until today, you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 13 June. Moreover, your statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes.

You have undeniably assumed a biased position toward the current attack on Gaza and Israeli violations in the West Bank by failing to clearly condemn Israeli unlawful actions in the OPT, while, on the other hand, not hesitating to accuse – sometimes mistakenly – Palestinian combatant in Gaza of violations of international law.

This bias can be noted in the following excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »

Rusland, EU og sanktionerne

Af Jens Jørgen Nielsen

Betragtninger 7. august, 2014

Vi lever i en interessant tid. Og den er ikke kedelig. Mange faste forestillinger ændrer sig. Det slår mig, at EU politikere og ditto amerikanske ved meget lidt om både Rusland og verden. Som EU borger kan jeg med beklagelse konstatere, at EU ikke har nogen politik i forhold til Rusland. Og højstemt forargelse og at snakke amerikanerne efter munden tæller ikke som en egentlig politik.

Hvilke forestillinger har EU politikerne haft om slutspillet i Ukraine? Hvilke forestillinger har de haft om virkningerne af sanktionerne? Hvilken viden og forståelse af hvilket land Rusland er, har de samme politikere haft?

Det er som om dæmonisering af Putin har gjort det ud for en politik. Jeg opfordrer ikke her til at man skal elske Putin. Men jeg opfordrer for det første til at finde ud af, hvad man ønsker med Rusland og for den sags skyld også med Ukraine. For det andet, at man gør sig overvejelser over, hvad sanktionerne betyder på både det lange og korte sigt.

Hvad har mangelen på overvejelser over egne interesser og mangelen på analyse af sanktionernes virkning ført til? Read the rest of this entry »


Subscribe to
TFF PressInfo
and Newsletter