Archive for June, 2015

The Value of Values to Build a World for the Common Good

By Kamran Mofid

Lecture at World Congress of Faiths, Annual General Meeting, London School of Economics, University of London, May 20, 2015

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today, and for giving me the opportunity to share with you my journey for the common good, a journey which I began many years ago, when as a young man I left Iran for England in 1972 in my search for life’s bigger picture.

Friends, I very much like to set the scene by reading a short statement, giving you a brief background to my presentation, my abstract, if you will:


This presentation is dedicated to the youth of the world, our children and grand- children, who are the unfolding story of the decades ahead. May they rise to the challenge of leading our troubled world, with hope and wisdom in the interest of the common good to a better future


Our country, the United Kingdom, like all nations of the world, despite many good works, deeds and actions by so many individuals, organisations, civil societies and more, is facing a number of major socio-economic, political, ecological, moral, ethical and spiritual crises.

However, I wish to argue that:

Our crises can only be addressed, reversed and resolved, and our goals can only be achieved, if we change direction, adopt new values and become concerned with life’s bigger questions. We must reconnect ourselves with nature and with our true human and spiritual values. Moreover, as members of the household of humanity, we must provide security, sanctuary and constructive engagement for all of our human family. Sustained by the bounty of all, called by the Sacred, and animated into action by the Spirit of peace, Justice, and Reverence for All Life, we must be guided by values and take action in the interest of the common good, empowering each other to build a better world, for all of us.

Continued here.

Pre-positioning heavy material in Eastern Europe – no good!

Jan Oberg commenting on the emerging new Cold War on June 15, 2015

It isn’t helpful to pre-position heavy materiel in Eastern Europe if it is peace you want…

US/NATO’s pre-positioning in Eastern Europe is grossly counterproductive

TFF director Jan Oberg commenting on US/NATO’s build-up in Eastern Europe, June 15, 2015

Meanwhile – with great narratives unfolding

By Johan Galtung

The decline and fall of the US Empire’s grip on the world; of the West; of the state system–with the rise of the TNC-IGO-NGO system, regions, nations, local authorities; the rise of the East and the South; of China–many details cross an editor’s desk; inspiring some rethinking:

Thus, in a pile of quotes not to be forgotten, from Balfour 1917:

“it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status of Jews in any other country“.

Very prescient thinking, not clearly understood. Time to rethink?

Bin Laden’s bookshelf has been presented to the media (Sy Hersh claims he was captured and imprisoned by the Pakistani ISI; the USA did not find him but was told and given access): he practices Sun Tzu’s doctrines; know your enemy, know yourself. “The US Intelligence Community does not endorse any of the publications in the list”. Of course not, US leaders have probably not even read them, a Chomsky, a Blum. It might have made them rethink deeply failed policies. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Middle East something America owns and can lose?

By Richard Falk

I was appalled by the embedded colonialism of a recent issue of The Economist [June 6-12, 2015], boldly proclaiming its mood of geopolitical angst on its cover titling its featured story “Losing the Middle East.” Any glimmer of doubt about the intent of the magazine’s editors is removed by displaying a somewhat bedraggled American flag on the cover accompanied by the sub-title “Why American must not abandon the region.”

The rationale offered for this political imperative within this most revered journal of intelligent establishment guidance strikes me as even more appalling than this provocative packaging giving the plot away before we even begin reading the story.

What The Economist proposes

The argument set forth rests on the colonialist assumption that the Middle East is America’s to lose, although not quite, as the lead editorial ends with an enigmatic distinction:

“The idea has taken root that America no longer has what it takes to run the Middle East. That it ever could was an illusion. But America has a vital part to play. If it continues to stand back, everyone will be worse of — including the Americans.”

We are never told whether the catchall ‘everyone’ includes the people of the region, Read the rest of this entry »

“Getting Away With Murder”

By Johan Galtung

“Getting Away With Murder” is the title of Susan George’s (as usual) brilliant analysis of the banking situation after the US banking 9/11, the 2008 crash (published by Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. If the West had freedom of the press the analysis by a leading expert on these matters, and her suggestions for remedies, would have been on media everywhere with detailed interviews. But, alas.

Picking one point among many: the operation of the European Central Bank to extend credits; at a generous 1%. In a Union of 28 states, we might imagine, it would go directly to member states with problems. Not at all, directly to banks, from them to states; at, for instance, 6%. In other words, the more miserable the situation in a country, the more banks and their top boards, CEOs and some functionaries will be thriving. This is EU oligarchs feeding EU oligarchs, not direct credit to states to cover pensions and salaries of civil servants (yes, there are still servants around, and many of them are civil).

At the same time most, not all, of the problems in the GIPSI countries – Greece-Italy-Portugal-Spain-Ireland – can be traced to their oligarchs having enriched themselves at the expensive of the rest. Protected by their media, in Greece by media fighting Syriza and Tsipras, let alone his brilliant finance minister – among other things simply too bright for the ECB-IMF-EU. The commentariate focus on what they understand, leather jacket, motorbike, no tie, not on his important words. What a shame, what a disgrace to EU public, to democracy; transforming it into oligarchy. Bancocracy.

All of this adds up to non-oligarchs paying for the misdeeds of oligarchs. Read the rest of this entry »

Greece versus Germany, the unplayable game

By Jonathan Power

The Greek clash with the EU continues. Jean-Claude Junker, the European Union Commission’s president, has publically taken umbrage at the Greek prime minister’s attack on him. In parliament at the end of last week Alexis Tsipras said Junker’s latest proposals were “absurd” and “irrational, blackmailing demands”.

Junker likes to think that he is a moderating voice in the confrontation between Greece, the EU and the IMF. But there is no middle way as long as Germany insists the EU be as hard as nails.

The blunt truth is that Germany has neither the facts nor history on its side.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and one of the key policy makers in the Clinton Administration’s “Goldilock’s economy”, pointed out this weekend that “Greece has met its creditors’ demands more than half way. Yet Germany and Greece’s other creditors continue to demand that the country sign on to a program that has proven to be a failure, and that few economists ever thought could, would, or should be implemented.”

He continues: “The fact is (under the reforms of the last government) the swing in Greece’s fiscal position from a large primary deficit to a surplus was almost unprecedented…….The demand that the country achieve a primary surplus of 4.5% of GDP is unconscionable.”

The European Central Bank, prodded by Germany, has cut off the Greek banks’ access to the unlimited cheap liquidity that other Eurozone banks enjoy Read the rest of this entry »

The situation in Burundi – will dialogue help?

TFF director Jan Oberg on the crisis as of June 5, 2015

TFF PressInfo # 325 – Breaking the promise to Russia

By Jonathan Power

The Russian European dreamers have included Pushkin, Lenin, Gorbachev and, until relatively recently, President Vladimir Putin. They have all seen their country’s future as part of the “European house”. But history and events have not been kind to Russia. Napoleon’s invasion, revolution, two world wars, Stalin’s communism and, most recently, the expansion of NATO, have shattered the dream again and again.

At the end of the Cold War and with agreement on the NATO-Russia Founding Act it seemed that big steps towards that goal were being taken. First, Russia would have a seat at NATO’s table. Later it would join NATO. Later still, the European Union. Some said this would happen over ten years, others 20.

Then, smash, the dream came to an end as President Bill Clinton, bucking America’s academic foreign policy elite, decided to expand NATO’s membership to former members of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact. George Kennan, America’s elder statesman on Russian issues, commented, “It shows so little understanding of Russian and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then the NATO expanders will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.” He characterized it as the most dangerous foreign policy decision that the US had made since the end of the Second World War.

Defending Clinton and, later, George W. Bush and Barack Obama who continued the NATO expansion policy, their supporters have said that in expanding NATO eastward the West did not break its promise to Moscow not to.

But it did. Read the rest of this entry »

A Warning against Kaplan’s Argument That “It’s Time to Bring Imperialism Back to the Middle East”

By Johan Galtung and Naakow Hayford

There is much to agree with Robert D. Kaplan’s 25 May 2015 publication in Foreign Policy in his well-informed analysis. And very much to disagree with, especially his wrong remedy.

Kaplan ascribes the present “chaos” – as if major changes can be orderly or take place under old much praised “order” and “stability” – to the break-down of imperialisms, in plural, starting with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. And he manages the incredible: not a single word about who gave them that death blow: Sykes-Picot, UK-France, helped by czarist Russia. Analysis?

However, he has much positive to say about the Empire-Caliphate as an order where diverse groups had very few territorial disputes (the millet system). But he does not draw the obvious conclusion: maybe there is a longing in the whole region back to that order–without Istanbul?

True, it is Sunni but do not leave out the possibility of some genius bridging the Sunni-Shia gap by creating a political-economic-military community including both Iran and a new Saudi orientation. Kaplan leaves no opening for any such potential, even though it is desired by millions in the region. More important than ISIS is the yearning for a caliphate. That is the driving force behind ISIS.

Rather, Kaplan sees the rise of the Islamic State as a result of the collapse of the European empire Read the rest of this entry »


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