Remembering Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927-2014 – also former TFF Associate

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

TFF wants to express its gratitude to Yoshikazu Sakamoto who served for many years as TFF Associate.

Prefatory Note

This post is dedicated to my remembrance of Yoshi Sakamoto who died recently. Yoshi was a deeply valued friend and an important public intellectual in Japan who exerted a strong influence on the post-war generation. His political orientation, rejecting extremes of right and left, while questioning the militarist premises of the Cold War and Japan’s willingness to become America’s Asian poodle, gave him a distinctive political profile.

I am sharing these words of appreciation, and hope that anyone from Japan who comes across this text will contact me, especially if they have a way of putting me in touch with either Yoshi’s family or Japanese media. I would like to believe that ‘an American appreciation’ of Professor Sakamoto would be of interest to those who knew and admired him.

I first met Yoshi in the mid-1960s when he came to visit me at Princeton, expressing his concern about the Vietnam War and knowing of my anti-war activism. We bonded quickly and marched in a peaceful demonstration in New York City a few days later, and somehow managed to keep in fairly consistent contact until Yoshi’s death on October 2nd.

Yoshikazu Sakamoto 1927 - 2014
Read More »

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 More »

Epistemology: On the use of dichotomies

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Sometimes the use of dichotomies, simple cuts, male-female, democracy-dictatorship, negative-positive peace is criticized: the world is more complicated. That the organic world with life, individual and collective, is complex, there is no doubt. That a simplistic us-them division of the world in two blocs or poles, polarization, is a step on the way to violence and war, is clear.

On the other hand, the dichotomy is a frequent form of thought; today’s digital world is even based on 0,1. We cannot live without right-left, forward-backward, up-down, North-South, East-West, etc.

For this author, with many dichotomies in thought-speech-writing, they are indispensable building-blocs for a complexity that can mirror some of the complexity of the real world,Read More »

TFF PressInfo: Cold War warnings 1998 – 2014

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden August 11, 2014

Quality research leads to better predictions

One criteria of quality research is that it predicts the future better than incompetent research.

Because TFF is independent of governments and coroporations it doesn’t have to take political considerations or exclude certain theories, concepts or values. This free research enabled it over the years to make fairly precise predictions about for instance former Yugoslavia, the Iraq war and East-West relations.

In 1998 – 16 years ago – we warned that NATO’s expansion would lead to future problems with Russia. Read it here.

NATO should never have been expanded

We backed this prediction up with 46 arguments and argued that so many other things would be wiser than containing Russia from the Baltic republics to Georgia – a strategy pursued by Bill Clinton in contravention of all promises given to the Soviet Union/Russia at the end of the Cold War about ten years earlier.

That counterproductive and insensitive expansion has now hit Ukraine. A new Cold War is gathering over Europe. It should have been predicted by advisers, intelligence agencies, big research institutes and columnists.

But it wasn’t.

At the end of the Cold War, NATO/the West got everything it could ever wish – and without war. But it wanted more: keeping Russia down, making NATO bigger and “peace-making” as well as finding new enemies to keeping its Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC) alive and well: Saddam, Milosevic, the Muslim world, terrorism and – now re-cycling – Russia.Read More »

Structural violence re-explored

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

The essay “Galtung’s Structural Violence and the Sierra Leone Civil War c. 1985-1992” by Philip Leech [TMS-Analysis 14 Jul 2014],–of all the commentators the deepest–is a very welcome opportunity to clarify and develop further some of the underlying thinking. By and large his comments, based on Peace by Peaceful Means (PBPM, SAGE, 1996); the concepts have been developed further in A Theory of Peace) are very positive. I focus on the questioning and critical, and not on Sierra Leone, having no direct mediation experience. Leech is familiar with the conflict.

Leech says repeatedly something that meets with my full agreement: “No theoretical concept can tell the whole story”. Indeed, how could a string of words match the ever evolving complexity of reality? A sharp edge–by a Marx (means vs modes) or a Toynbee (challenge vs response)–may reveal some deep aspects but never “the whole story” which, in addition, is revised all the time–with new sharp edges.

In my efforts toward nothing less than a new culture to come to grips–diagnosis, prognosis, therapy–with conflict, violence and peace, structural violence is only one component. Read More »

Time for BDS to oppose Israeli war crimes

By Jake Lynch

Jake Lynch - Photo Jane Dempster. Source: The Australian

“This is not war – it’s a massacre”. The slogan has appeared on placards at demonstrations around the world, calling for an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza. The ‘Dahiya doctrine’, named after the suburb of south Beirut where it was first applied, is in operation: an attempt to turn the population against an armed group – Hamas, in this case – by destroying civilian infrastructure. That is why the civilian death toll – including children – has mounted so rapidly.

Pitted against Israel’s hi-tech killing machine are rockets with all the efficacy of a peashooter. These are indiscriminate by nature, and firing them therefore also constitutes a war crime. It can be of little comfort…

Continue reading at Transcend News Service here.

Here is a background to the case from 2012

TFF PressInfo: If militarism continues, humankind is doomed

By Jan Oberg

Both NATO and the EU has just announced that their members will now invest more in the military. It’s indicative of the lack of creativity in both organisations, it is self-defeating and counter-productive.

But have you seen it put on top of any agenda and debated? You haven’t, it is so normal – and the argument is that we are threatened. That’s called fearology: Making tax payers pay even more by making them scared.

The military sector is a parasite on society

The military sector produces much less employment than the civilian per invested dollar. It’s a huge burden on the economy because it swallows creativity, research and development badly needed to solve humankind’s real problems.

Weapons don’t belong to a market, there is no competition – the state is the only buyer – and thus tax payers must cover the systematic cost overruns.

We are told that there is economic crisis and we must cut down on hospitals, schools and human care everywhere. But this we can afford?

But what if the military did solve our problems?Read More »

Citizenship in the 21st century – reforms versus radical structural change

By Richard Falk

[ This post was previously published online at the website of the Global Transition Initiative, which is dedicated to promoting “Transformative Vision and Praxis.” It responds to an essay on global citizenship written by Professor Robert Paehlke, who cogently advocates the formation of a Global Citizens Movement, including indicating how it might become effective.
What seems important about such dialogue is the recognition that given the realities of this historical period, it is increasingly necessary for political thought and action to proceed by reference to human interests as well as being responsive to national, local, ethnic, and religious interests and values. A feature of modernity that is being rightly questioned from many angles is the presumed radical autonomy of human interests, especially the modernist illusion that the co-evolutionary dependence on nature and the environment was being superseded by the marvels of technological innovation.
One way back to the future is to rethink political community – its boundaries and essential features – from the perspectives of participants, with citizenship being the secular signature of belonging and engagement, and ultimately, the sustainability not just of the community, but of the species.
]

Reading Robert Paehlke’s carefully crafted essay on global citizenship provides the occasion both for an appreciation of his approach and some doubts about its degree of responsiveness to the urgencies of the present or more specifically its adequacy in relation to the call for ‘transformative vision and praxis’ that lies at the heart of the ‘Great Transition Initiative.’

Paehlke is on strong ground when he ventures the opinion that the planetization of citizenship is an indispensable precondition for the establishment of global governance in forms that are both effective and fair. His insistence that global governance to be legitimate must address ethical issues as well as functional ones associated with sustainability is certainly welcome. He is also persuasive in advocating the formation of a global citizens movement (GCM) that takes advantage of the networking and mobilizing potential of the Internet, combining an initial focus on local challenges while nurturing a global perspective.

His deepest sympathies clearly lie with a pluralistic and decentralized GCM that operates, at least for the foreseeable future, without leaders or a common program of action, and as such is likely in his words to be “less threatening” to the established order (p.3). But here is where my analysis and prescriptive horizons departs from his: if a transformative global movement is to emerge from current ferment, then it seems strategic to become more threatening, not less. Flying below the radar is not the kind of praxis that will awaken the human species from its long and increasingly dangerous world order slumber.Read More »

Peace Studies: Ten Basic Points

By Johan Galtung

Foreign Policy Studies, University of Malmö, Sweden

Thanks for wanting a summary of key points in “Galtung Peace Studies”. I was just honored with a “Lifetime Award” by world sociology, 60+ years; in short, time for summary with an author’s caveat: no substitute for reading books.

[1] 1951: Peace studies=peace theory+peace practice; applied science, with an explicit value–peace–with practice-indicative theories and theory-testing practice; like health studies, unlike social sciences. Model: peace to violence as health to illness; Diagnosis-Prognosis-Therapy produced health by weakening pathogens-strengthening sanogens; try the same for peace by weakening bellogens-strengthening paxogens. Mantra: through interdisciplinary, international, interlevel research.

[2] Like in illness violence=suffering of body-mind-spirit, also of the bereaved; unlike in illness, an intended act of commission, a perpetrator-victim relation, a crime, epitomized by aggressive war. Body wounds may be healed but stigma, shame, humiliation, hopelessness, hatred, fear, revenge may settle in mind and spirit as trauma. To judicial approaches, sentence and punishment–against theft of cherished property, violence to the body and sexual violence – add victim – and context-oriented approaches like having less property, more company, no provocation and context-oriented approaches as for instance un-uniformed citizens as vigilantes in public space, etc.

But the antidote to violence is peace: a structure of positive interaction, a culture of nonviolence, focus on the positive in the yin/yang of others and on change from violent to peaceful relations, rather than on party attributes; relations carry more causal weight and are irreducible to attributes: see relation logic-buddhism-daoism.

[3] Peace was liberated from the state focus to cover five levels:Read More »

TFF PressInfo: Psyko-politik i tiden för imperiets nedgång

Av Jan Öberg

Lund , Sverige – 23 maj 2014

Tiden för rationell politik, om begreppet någonsin funnits, är över .

”Realpolitik” har blivit en blandning av marknadsförda ord, propaganda och ledare som gör uttalanden som gränsar till absurd teater. Tunnare och tunnare länkar till Realiteten.

Detta är vad som händer när man förnekar nedgången.

Alla imperier går ner. Det amerikanska imperiet är på nedgång. Makrohistoriker (se t.ex. British Arnold Toynbee’s 12–volymarbete 1934-1961) berättar att det finns många skäl till att imperier faller:

• militarism med konstant krigföring;

• överutvidgning – försöka kontrollera mer än vad du kan hantera;

• förlust av legitimitet i andras ögon;

• strukturella ekonomiska kriser;

• moraliskt förfall;

• förlust av intellektuell och teknisk innovation;

• andra maktstrukturer ökar i styrka över tid och göra saker på nya, kreativa sätt .

Efter 1945 ansågs USA vara starkt på en rad olika maktdimensioner: militär, ekonomi, politik, legitimitet, kultur, innovation. Idag är de bara nummer ett på den militära dimensionen. När alla andra indikationer går ner, blir militären en stor börda som bara accelererar nedgången.

USA är på tillbakagång och i förnekelse. Så är även de flesta av dess allierade och sympatisörer .

Deras utrikes politiska beslutsfattare verkar tro att allt är bra och de kan ändå leda och forma världen enligt deras intresse och världsbild. Det är fortfarande i grunden en missionär .

Här är några delar av vad den består av:Read More »