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.
Take the Maghreb-Mali+ complex: a road to peace runs through Tuareg high autonomy and confederations of the autonomies, in addition to the state system. Proceeds from natural resources–oil, uranium, gold, metals–should benefit the owners, not former colonizers–the UN task is to make the West comply with the socio-economic human rights.
Take what is called the last colony (well, Ulster?, Palestine?): Sahraoui, Spain’s shame not having decolonized; the UN Charter Art. 73 formula is not perfect but differential treatment is unacceptable.
Take Ceuta-Melilla, “Spanish” enclaves in Morocco and Gibraltar “English” enclave in Spain: use the Hong Kong formula with sovereignty to the owners, flag and garrison, and leave the system as it is.
Internationalize them with Tanger, an archipelago benefiting all.
Geography and history matter; sovereignty for one, system for the other. Not a bad formula for Falkland/Malvinas or Northern Ireland, with a reborn Republic of Ireland in a Confederation of British Isles.
Back to Berlin 1884, institutionalizing the outrageous sociocide, with genocide and ecocide, perpetrated on Africans on top of centuries of Arab-West slavery. But, do not forget the Congress of Berlin six years earlier, 1878, doing the same to the Balkans, with the infamous Article 25 giving the Dual Monarchy, Austria-Hungary, the right to occupy and administer Bosnia-Herzegovina temporarily. On October 6, 1908 they did exactly that; Turkey and Russia both being weak. What do you expect when annexing someone’s land? A resistance movement of course, and ultimately, on 28 June 1914, the sacred date to the Serbs, having been defeated by the Turks 525 years earlier: Two shots in Sarajevo.
One century later “historians” (who pays their salaries, States?) see the shots as the cause of World War I, not what caused the shots; like seeing the terrorists, not what causes terrorism. Then as now the same two stories, nations made prisoners of states, and states-peoples made prisoners of empires. Sarajevo used against terrorism.
Wilson used self-determination to dismantle the beaten Prussian, Hapsburg and Ottoman empires; but not the victors’ empires as a young Vietnamese in Paris experiences, chased away from the US Embassy: Ho Chi Minh, claiming the same for his people. And the US Versailles delegation rejected that claim by Sudeten Germans against Czeckia; accepted by England, not to “appease” Hitler, but to rectify a wrong.
What a fantastic chance for German-Austrian foreign policy!! Start this 2014 centenary year preparing 150 anniversary conferences, in 2028 and 2034, apologizing for 1914, undoing some harm, letting Africans be Africans and Balkans be Balkans of various kinds, stop blaming their victims for being unruly, restless, terrorist and so on. The peaceful century 1815-1914: some peace! Don’t miss the chance.
But they were not alone. In 1905 USA-Japan, Taft-Katsura (later president and prime minister) agreed to US rule in the Philippines and Japanese in Korea, in the interest of “peace in East Asia”, their peace, meaning rule. A good century later the Obama-Abe (president and prime minister) uneasy agreement about Japan’s aggressive policy.
The solution to the Korean Peninsula conflict is peace treaty and normalization with DPRK-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Korean nuclear free zone and work on the open border-confederation-federation-unitary state continuum. If the USA fails to go along, why not go ahead, also multilaterally and via UN?
But they were not alone: in 1917 Balfour Jewish homeland followed the Sykes-Picot treason with four disastrous colonies. With a major difference, however, the Jews had been there before; some title to some land, but not to an ever-expanding Jewish state (one word away from “Jewish only”). The road to peace passes through a pre-1967 Israel with Jewish characteristics, Palestine recognized, a Middle East Community of Israel with border countries, an Organization for Cooperation and Security in West Asia, with Syria (an upper chamber for the many nations with cultural autonomy–Ottoman millet), Iraq (maybe confederation, with no US bases), the Kurds (autonomy in the four countries for some land, confederation of autonomies), Iran (an end to Netanyahu extremism, a moderate Israel, International Atomic Energy Agency-IAEA inspection).
Afghanistan? Full US-NATO withdrawal, an end to foreign bases, coalition government, Swiss-style constitution with much autonomy to villages and nations, and gender parity. But let Afghans be Afghans.
China’s claims on sea and air space? Too much, but the Chinese had been there before, 500-1500; some title to some sea, some air. And USA-China: direct cooperation for mutual benefit; make it more equal. USA is cheating itself, building warehouses, not factories.
US spying on the world: the point is not clemency for Snowden but to drop the NSA-National Security Agency and punish those, also allies, who broke human rights.
The West tries to get the moral high ground by changing discourse to something they think they have and others not: democracy. Running huge colonial-imperial system against their will? Some democracy!
Up comes a song based on a Russian folk tune By the Long Road (Those Were the Days):
Those were the days, my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d live the life we’d choose
We’d fight and never lose
Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.
Yes, those were the days; now almost gone. The road has been long.
First published at Transcend Media Service here.