Archive for the ‘Kosovo/a’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 314: From preventing to making peace in Ukraine

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden, March 13, 2015

If the parties continue this way, there will be no peace in Ukraine but probably war in Europe. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, we could move in a safer direction.

You’ve heard everybody involved in the Ukraine conflict solemnly declare that there is no military solution.

And what do they all do? Right, they militarise the situation further, use bellicose language, speak bad about each other, take provocative steps, use propaganda and flex their military muscles. It’s thoughtprovokingly thoughtless.

These men – sorry, but the are all men – who are competent in war and other violence run our world. They are conflict and peace illiterates embedded with MIMACs – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes – which exist in both Russia, EU, NATO and the U.S.

It’s not about evil – they are probably all good spouses, nice to their children or grandchildren and enjoy literature, painting or music in their few hours of leisure. But the system they operate inside is as evil as it is dangerous for us all, for the world’s future.

Their problem – and thus your and my problem – is that they just don’t have a clue about peace-making. No education, institutions or advisers in civilian conflict-management.

And since they lack that they fall back on the convenient but proven illusion that peace will come if we just force “the other” to back down.

And since there is no lack of (tax payers’) money to fund weapons (only to fund social and cultural development) and these weapons are on the government shelves that’s what they use – instead of their intelligence and empathy. 

Far fetched?

If you think so, take a look at these facts: Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 292: Brisbane – A show of Western weakness

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

No matter what you may think of Putin and Russia this is simply not the way international politics should be conducted, particularly not at the personal level. If it wasn’t an offence to children, one would aptly characterise it as childish behaviour.

Western leaders ignored a brilliant opportunity to meet face-to-face with Vladimir Putin and move forward towards mutual understanding instead of signalling that they want a new Cold War.

Western leaders tell us that Russia is a ”threat to the world”. That obviously serves other purposes because you don’t bully someone you genuinely fear.

The G20 Brisbane should be remembered for its show of Western leaders’ personal display of weakness and conflict illiteracy.

Pummelled Putin punching bag

CNN reports that, during the meeting, Putin took ”pummelling” and was treated as a ”punching bag” by Western leaders from he set foot on Australian soil where his Australian host had sent a deputy minister of defence to receive him.

The Guardian reports that the Russian president approached Canadian Prime Minister Harper with his hand outstretched. Harper reluctantly shook it, then said “Well I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.” ”Bold words” – media called it.

Footage shows Putin sitting alone at a lunch table – like a naughty school boy put in the corner as by his teachers.

President Obama said that we are ”opposing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine which is a threat to the world as we saw in the appalling shoot down in the MH-17”. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 288 – Where it all went wrong and lessons were never learnt

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

On November 9, it is 25 years the Berlin Wall came down. Seventeen months later, Yugoslavia’s dissolution began and various concepts and policies were introduced that fundamentally changed international politics ever since – more so than the fall of the Wall.

These features can be seen in the conflict (mis)management in later conflicts.

By now we should have accumulated enough evidence of how effective the various ”teatments” of the ”patient” called Yugoslavia were. To put it crudely: A unique country was destroyed – yes from the inside too, but that doesn’t reduce the responsibility of the West/NATO in its role as ”peacemaker”.

Today, Croatia is ethnically much more clean; Kosovo remains a failed state; the constituencies of the Dayton Accords for Bosnia (1995) still won’t live together as one state, as elections have just shown us. Macedonia’s problems have only deepened. The split between Serbia and Montenegro was enigmatic. Today’s Slovenia is the only unit that can be said to be in a better situation now than when part of Yugoslavia.

It is high time we get a critical discussion going of what the international so-called community chose to actually do – no matter the stated intentions – to help bring about peace in former Yugoslavia.

All of it must be re-assessed and lessons must be learned for governments to introduce a little modesty and recognise that they are not born peacemakers but rather war makers. And we need such a debate to go down another road than the one we took since 1999.

TFF maintains that the crisis in and around Yugoslavia is much more significant for international affairs than hitherto assumed because e.g.:

• The international so-called community’s attempt at being self-appointed conflict analysers and peacemakers with no prior education or training right after being Cold War warriors led to miserable results on the ground.

• Closely related: the amateurish idea that conflicts could be understood and treated as two parties, one good and one bad. The bad guys were the Serbs, of course, and Slobodan Milosevic became the new ”Hitler of Europe” after the West had used him as an ally.

• During this crisis Russia was sidetracked and humiliated. But in the Soviet Union era no one would have dared touch the Yugoslav space. Now the West could do what it wanted and Russia could do nothing to oppose it.

Violent humanitarian intervention was introduced and persuaded many, Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo – The West’s hypocrisy in Ukraine

By Jonathan Power

April 29th 2014

When it comes to Ukraine the US and the EU are adopting a holier than thou attitude which, unfortunately, leads them not to worship at the alter of truth.

Take the issue of the fuss made over alleged soldiers wearing Russian uniforms. They are not dressed in the smart fatigues of the unmarked Russian soldiers in Crimea, about which President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged he misled us. What these soldiers, leading the Russian-speaking revolt, are wearing can be bought in any army surplus store. As for the photos Western intelligence has persuaded much of the media to use as evidence, they are hazy and would not be admissible in a court of law.

The Ukranian Security Agency announced that it captured 20 of its Russian counterparts. But then it reduced the number to 10 and then to 3. But the last figure received much less highlighting from Western governments and media than the first.

How all this “Russian interference” compares with the post Cold War expansion by Nato forces up to Russia’s borders, senior Western politicians’ (including the US ambassador) provocative support for a revolutionary movement that included a healthy contingent of neo-fascists who now have seats in the Ukrainian cabinet, and the funding of opposition forces and NGOs, is to be wondered at. (I’ve long been surprised at the tolerance for Western NGOs based in Russia and China. Imagine the reverse.) Read the rest of this entry »

The New World Order?

By Richard Falk

There is no more reliable guardian of entrenched conventional wisdom than The Economist. And so when its cover proclaims ‘the new world order,’ and removes any ambiguity from its intentions, by its portrayal of Putin as a shirtless tank commander with menacing features.

No such iconography accompanied the last notable invocation of the phrase ‘new world order’ by George H. W. Bush in mobilizing support for a forcible response to the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1990, the dirty work of Saddam Hussein. Read the rest of this entry »

The obsolescence of ideology: Debating Syria and Ukraine

By Richard Falk

I have been struck by the unhelpfulness of ideology to my own efforts to think through the complexities of recommended or preferred policy in relation to Syria, and more recently, the Ukraine. There is no obvious posture to be struck by referencing a ‘left’ or ‘right’ identity. A convincing policy proposal depends on sensitivity to context and the particulars of the conflict.

To insist that the left/right distinction obscures more than it reveals is not the end of the story. To contend that ideology is unhelpful as a guide for action is not the same as saying that it is irrelevant to the public debate. In the American context, to be on the left generally implies an anti-interventionist stance, while being on the right is usually associated with being pro-interventionist. Yet, these first approximations can be misleading, even ideologically. Liberals, who are deliberately and consigned to the left by the mainstream media, often favor intervention if the rationale for military force is primarily humanitarian.

Likewise, the neocon right is often opposed to intervention if it is not persuasively justified on the basis of strategic interests, which could include promoting ideological affinities. The neocon leitmotif is global leadership via military strength, force projection, friends and enemies, and the assertion and enforcement of red lines. When Obama failed to bomb Syria in 2013 after earlier declaring that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime was for him a red line this supposedly undermined the credibility of American power.

My point is that ideology remains a helpful predictor of how people line up with respect to controversial uses of force, although relying on ideology is a lazy way to think if the purpose is to decide on the best course of action to take, which requires a sensitivity to the concrete realities of a particular situation. Such an analysis depends on context, and may include acknowledging the difficulties of intervention, and the moral unacceptability of nonintervention. Read the rest of this entry »

BRICS: The real “Global South” today

By Johan Galtung

Keynote European Center for Peace and Development, Beograd, 12 Oct 2013

Two basic facts stand out in the world economic development, leaving aside military, political, cultural and social development:

* The BRICS – an acronym becoming a social fact–are emerging;

* The USA-EU are declining; not only as markets, also as producers.

Another way of saying this is that the West has been outcompeted, not by the Rest but by – so far – a select part. The world market is not constant but increasing sum, but much demand may be met by domestic production, not by import-export. As part of the story.

The West got the definition of development wrong, still clinging to economic development = economic growth (measured by annual GNP/capita increase). The BRICS understood development differently, adding economic distribution (measured by the ratio in acquisitive power between the top and bottom 20%, and between the CEO and average worker salary; at the macro and micro levels). No growth spells recession-depression, no distribution spells worse: death. For economic, like for geographic, positioning, at least two dimensions are needed. A professor in latitudes, or growth, only, is simply not good enough.

Development becomes increasing growth and increasing equality. Growth alone may lead to flagrant inequality at the expense of those at the bottom and nature–a system we know only too well–distribution alone may lead to the shared misery of some human past. We need both.

The map of the world was also wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Balkan integration process in a global framework

By Johan Galtung

Keynote, European Center for Peace and Development, Beograd, 11 Oct 2013

The Balkan integration process within, and the global framework without, are both parts of the story of empires that come, leave deep and bloody faultlines within and without, and then decline and fall.

Thus, the Balkans were doubly divided in the 11th century by the schism between the Catholics and the Orthodox in 1054, following the 395 split between the Western and Eastern Roman empires, Rome vs Constantinople; and the declaration of war on Islam by Pope Urban II on 27 Nov 1095.

The two dividing lines intersect in Sarajevo, the Bosnia and Herzegovina-BiH Ground Zero for Euro-quakes. The Hapsburgs from Northwest annexed BiH in 1908, and a shot followed in 1914. The Ottomans from Southeast defeated the Serbs in 1397 and were defeated in the 1912 Balkan war, leaving Slavic and Albanian Muslims. A little later, 1918, the Hapsburgs also went the way of Roman and Ottoman empires: Decline and Fall; over and out.

The Soviets came, and went the same way in 1991; the US Empire is following – by 30 years? – meeting their fates, not in the Balkans but in Afghanistan where empires are said to come to die. Today the Balkans are run from Brussels; by the deeply troubled European Union with “high” representatives, and by NATO, led by a bankrupt country, right now ridden by government shutdown and the threat of default.

A four factor formula for positive peace indicates four tasks: Read the rest of this entry »

Is Macedonia a state?

By Biljana Vankovska – Билјана Ванковска

Recently a short statement (from a longer interview) that “Macedonia and Bosnia are post-Yugoslav states that, in fact, are not states because Bosnia is a protectorate of some kind and Macedonia is a type of an ambiguously collapsed state which never united in order to be able to fall apart” echoed as an earthquake with the public.

Even “Vodno” [President’s office] was visibly upset and angered at the statement of one of the most authoritative professors and public intellectuals from the area of former Yugoslavia, Zarko Puhovski. He is one step away of being labeled persona non grata. The very fact that part of the establishment dramatically took to heart a media statement of a professor from a third country, as if said by an influential political factor or a center or power, is a clear indication of the accuracy of the thesis that we are not a true state. By the way, Puhovski had given statements such as: Serbia is “an unfinished state”, Kosovo is “ a caricature of the other independent states in the region”, and that there is more democracy in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China than in EU.

Can you imagine a serious state reacting to a media assessment of an intellectual, regardless of his influence? At the same time, our authorities are deaf to the criticism that comes from the citizens, the domestic intellectuals, and even those that come from EU, OSCE, and the State Department. Read the rest of this entry »

Hope, wisdom, law, ethics, and spirituality in relation to killing and dying: Persisting Syrian dilemmas

By Richard Falk

In appraising political developments most of us rely on trusted sources, our overall political orientation, what we have learned from past experience, and our personal hierarchy of hopes and fears. No matter how careful, and judicious, we are still reaching conclusions in settings of radical uncertainty, which incline our judgments to reflect a priori and interpretative biases.

As militarists tends to favor reliance on force to resolve disputes among and within sovereign states, so war weary and pacifist citizens will seek to resolve even the most extreme dire conflict situations by insisting on the potentialities of non-violent diplomacy.

In the end, even in liberal democracies most of us are far too dependent on rather untrustworthy and manipulated media assessments to form our judgments about unfolding world events. How then should we understand the terrible ongoing ordeal of violence in Syria? Read the rest of this entry »


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