By Johan Galtung
Here is a list of 15 current conflicts-violence relations, avoiding identifying conflicts with violent conflict arenas:
USA-Japan-South Korea vs North Korea vs China
USA-ASEAN vs China-Taiwan and Japan vs Korea over China Sea islands
USA-NATO-Japan vs China-Russia-SCO over encircling
USA-EU vs Russia over Ukraine-Georgia membership in NATO-EU
USA-led coalition/NATO vs Many, diverse parties in Afghanistan
USA-led coalition/NATO vs Many, diverse parties in Iraq
USA-Shia-Iran(?) vs Arabia-Sunni-caliphate/ISIS-Turkey(?)
Kurds vs Turkey-Syria-Iraq-Iran over autonomy
Israel vs Palestine over The Holy Land/Cana’an
USA-Israel vs Arab-Muslim countries over Israel vs Palestine
USA vs 134 states over terrorism using state torture-sniping-droning
USA-UK-Canada-Australia-New Zealand (“Five eyes”) vs the World, spying
USA vs China (USA-EU vs Eurasia) over the shape of geopolitics
USA-UK-France-Italy-Norway vs Libya-Mali-Sudan-Somalia etc. in Africa
USA vs Latin America/Caribbean over equality of the Americas
The most striking feature is, indeed, the presence of one country, USA, in almost all of them. Why? Well, that is what world hegemony is about. There could be resistance, and increasingly unwise and desperate US efforts to hang on.
The only bright point is the last one – normalizing relations with Cuba – if that could be followed by recognizing Palestine and North Korea and UN conferences over Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine it would help a lot. May it happen!
A remarkable feature is the US lack not only of clout, but of basic understanding; Washington doing a lousy job intellectually.
Take one, the “US-led coalition in Iraq”: from supporting Saddam to attacking-chasing him out of Kuwait and executing him, bombing more than a decade, sanctions, invading in 2003, withdrawing, ISIS, and so on.
International New York Times 23-12-2014: “Iraqis see little hope for uniting a divided land”. There are different flags all over; not strange as “modern Iraq was created nearly a century ago by the fusion of three Ottoman provinces–Basra, Baghdad and Mosul”. Not a word about the Sykes-Picot cancer and two UK foreign office civil servants doing the “creation”. Yes, the Ottoman empire had been crumbling for some time, was doomed; but that does not mean that one can pick up three pieces and glue them together into a country. Shame on anyone who did not predict this kind of break-up, from the beginning in March 2003.
What kind of glue across Sunni-Shia, Arab-Kurd divides do they offer, right now? “Promoting mixed marriages between Sunnis and Shias by offering cash incentives” and “mandatory military service bringing communities together”. Money, money, money; force, force, force: a US intellectual horizon, devoid of any respect, even understanding, of culture, religion, language, history, future together, dignity.
OK, the US leadership lives in a bubble of well filtered single-minded people. But how about the allies, many are carriers of such values as transparency and dialogue, creativity, democracy?
They have stomached not only the highest level of violence by any single state in history, now close to 250 military interventions since 1805 to bend others to their interests. Can anything make it snap, breaking that US-ally relation? Analytical mistakes like the one mentioned, present in all the other 14 conflicts above? No, to them USA has knowledge hidden to the rest of us, guided by values and force at a higher level – and the only one for protection against communism-terrorism-Islamism, Russia-China.
Does this remind us of something?
Oh yes, Germans and others in Nazi-Germany and its allies in 1933-1945. Many felt uneasy; very few – communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, aristocrats worried about the fate of nobility should USSR not USA-UK conquer Germany – did anything. What the USA does is, in numbers, even worse. So West, watch yourself.
Of course, US democracy benefits from forgiveness for all sins, gets impunity, and dictatorships are wrong whatever they do. What matters is not whether the USA really is a democracy – with most of the population voting for parties with different world-social views – as long as it does not deny that it is; not whether countless civilian non-combatants are killed as long as it denies any intention – only collateral, “tragic”, damage. And the allies buy most US allegations against Russia-China-Islam, with no independent, public checking.
Washington knows this and uses it cleverly. They use professional killing at a distance – certainly not decapitating anybody on videos. Photos of torture of one or two are more dangerous to USA than killing one or two hundred thousand who remain anonymous; numbers! Giving them names, identity, like the USA does with the 9/11 victims, would change that.
And yet things happen: parliament votes, non-binding, recognizing Palestine; Sweden doing it. No doubt a number of allies are close.
Hitting Russia’s relation to the West will make Russians come closer together than ever, like the West creates ever more Islamism. The cards are stacked against the allies; there are many players.
The tragedy of 2014 was the lack of true friends telling USA: look, this is not going to work–better change; take better care of your own wonderful society, and your neighbors, retract.
The hope for 2015 is that many allies will do that. The problem is the same as for Israel: regime change is badly needed, reducing the violence, building the peace; entirely possible for all 15 conflicts above. The list shows very clearly that the world has one major problem: the USA.
With that, this column wishes all our readers a Good New Year. Good in the sense of being neither anti-American nor anti-Israeli, but bringing the best to both and their neighbors. New in the sense that a New Beginning, a New Start is needed. Year in the sense that it can all be done, and should be done, quickly.
May all good forces unite!
May we remind you also of Richard Falk’s thought on the year 2014