Archive for February, 2016

Mrs. Clinton’s hard line foreign policy

By Jonathan Power

We in the world outside the US don’t have a vote in the US presidential election in November. But that doesn’t stop most of us having a strong opinion on who should win. Very few non-Americans would vote Republican – and probably not 51% of Americans.

After all President Barack Obama won two elections and has not given the Democrats a bad name. Many of us are being pulled towards Senator Bernie Sanders, a social democrat, who is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. But to be honest, once the primaries in the southern states start to roll, he is likely to be marginalized by Mrs. Clinton.

She will probably win the election for president.

Like it or lump it we’d better get used to a more right-wing and confrontational foreign policy.

Most of the time she was a good and faithful servant to Obama while his secretary of state but behind the scenes in internal White House discussions she would often argue against the president’s instincts and policies.

She was against Obama’s support for the Arab Spring in Egypt. She had long been close to Read the rest of this entry »

Around the world: Problems and remedies

By Johan Galtung

Let us have a look, and see what can be done.

[1] Economies. NYSE is falling; China is consuming, with problems; the West blames China, not itself, for all. The truth is over-reliance on one commodity, oil-gas, hitting vulnerable economies doubly. Steep fall in price: $120-130 to $30-20, close to 1973 from $1 to $10. Steep fall in demand for that globally toxic product; a sign of rationality (but, the other globally toxic product, derivatives for speculation?) The currencies of oil-producers tumble. stocks fall; in Norway to the tune of half the state budget in three weeks (Finansavisen 21Jan 2016).

And over-reliance on trade with vulnerable economies.

Remedies: To become less vulnerable, through [1] more self-reliance nationally and locally, indeed for basic needs like food, [2] fully-fledged economies with primary-secondary-tertiary-quaternary (care for people and nature) sectors. Simple, sustainable rules.

Beyond that: import-export, but with a wide range of countries.

[2] Inequality: The Master, Atkinson’s, analysis of the catastrophic consequences, both high up and low down, is the best. Spiritual aspect is hopelessness, apathy with no project low down; high up ego-centrism devoid of solidarity as project. Sick societies. In 2010 388 persons owned as much as half of humanity, in 2014 80, end 2015 62 (Oxfam).

Remedies: Lift the bottom up, FDR New Deal, welfare states, the Chinese way. Publish the ratio CEO:workers earnings; make above 10:1 illegal, punish, boycott. More cooperatives with CEO-workers rotation.

[3] The third industrial revolution: robotization. Frankenstein’s monster is coming. Another consequence will be massive unemployment.

Remedies: Humans, sapiens-faber-ludens, are creative, productive and playful. We are all three. But we may need life-long guaranteed income for all, covering all basic needs. Humans will reconquer the production, wrestle it from unnecessary-unwanted robots, and enjoy life.

[4] Davos. There they are, those who brought us these problems. Read the rest of this entry »

In Brazil the future can work

By Jonathan Power

“Brazil has a great future, and always will”, said Charles de Gaulle, the president of France in the 1960s. In truth it is not difficult to be cynical about Brazil. It is a large land of both great potential and many lost opportunities- and yet whenever I visit it, as I have regularly over 40 years, I find the positive changes are immense.

In my time I have seen growth rates year after year of 10% or more. I have seen the transformation of favelas- shanty towns- into solid working class housing. I have seen infant mortality rates plummet. (To capture the flavor of the lives of the poor a must read is the new top prize-winning novel, “Quarenta Dias” (Forty Days), written by Valeria Rezende, a nun.) And under Brazil’s last president, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, leader of the Workers’ Party I have seen the almost unbelievable- capitalist economic progress and socialist social progress storming ahead hand in hand.

Right now Brazil is in the middle of the kind of economic crisis profligacy, bad economic management, a sudden loss of export markets for its commodities and inflation have brought a number of times before. But this is perhaps the worse fall in economic progress since the 1930s. To compound Brazil’s problems is the Zika virus, which is spreading at a fast rate. Read the rest of this entry »

Syria talks suspended: Open Letter

By Jan Oberg

Open Letter
Sent to the chairman of the Syria Supreme Commission for Negotiations

Dear Dr. Riad Hijab

I’m very sorry to see that that is your decision and conditions as stated in your e-mail to me and at Al-Jazera here.

Without your participation in Geneva, there will also not be a chance of a better situation for the Syrian people.

There are grave faults and violent actions and killing by all sides who conduct politics by arms and killing.

To request that one side out of some 30-40 shall stop doing something bad as a precondition for participation is, I am sure you recognise, a path to even more destruction and human suffering.

Good old Immanuel Kant would say with his moral imperative: Ask yourself what would happen if all other actors did what I do now? In other words, do our own actions have such a quality that it could be elevated to a general principle practised by all.

And you may see what I mean.

Respectfully yours

Jan Oberg, dr.hc. peace researcher and mediator
Director of TFF


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