The global power imbalance

By Johan Galtung

Dear Reader: This editorial 444 – the number calls for attention – is dedicated to a global overview, the world “right now”, so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps.

Let us start with two major relations: Nature-human, the US-the Rest.

Look at the human-nature relations.

We are used to being on top, killing and taming animals, protected against many of nature’s hazards including micro-organisms. But nature comes up with ever smaller viri, and larger, or more, tsunamis and earthquakes, and an erratic climate.

We oscillate between blaming ourselves, including military scheming, and the anthropomorphic “Mother Nature is angry” (Evo Morales).

If nature is angry, she has good reasons for a good riddance of us. And we are slow at a deeper human-nature relations respecting and enhancing both.

Nature is on top and our natural sciences are simply not good enough, taken by surprise all the time. Meteorology is good at covering the whole Beaufort wind range from 0-12; others not.

Maybe we have desouled nature and besouled ourselves too much to establish our own Herrschaft (rule, dominance), at the expense of Partnerschaft (partnership).

Unless this changes, imbalance with nature on top, and surprises, will continue.

Maybe the opposite holds for the US-Rest imbalance; that US exceptionalism serves USA as badly as humans above nature serves us?Read More »

Are we heading toward global autocracy, ecological collapse and political malaise?

By Richard Falk

What follows are preliminary reactions to both the BREXIT vote and the world according to Trump, but also a commentary on the related alienation of large segments of the public that are being badly served by both the established elites and their demagogic adversaries.

The failures of neoliberalism, the successes of digitization, the scourge of random violence, and more broadly, the dilemmas posed by late modernity are among the root causes of this global crisis of legitimate governance, which is deepened while being mishandled by unprecedented ecological challenges, extremely irresponsible geopolitical leadership, and a variety of ultra-nationalist backlashes against the encroachments of economic globalization.

Imagining the World After the Cold War

After the end of the Cold War there were various projections that tried to anticipate the likely future of the world in broad interpretative strokes. Three of the most influential conjectures by three prominent American authors received attention in the public sphere: those of Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and Robert Kaplan.

Fukuyama challenged conventional political imagination with his provocative claim that with the collapse of the Soviet version of state socialism and the triumph of capitalist liberalism the world had reached ‘the end of history.’ It was also somewhat dubious that Fukuyama validated his views by reference to the Hegelian contention that history is made by the march and interplay of ideas rather than through the agency of material forces.

In this respect history came to a supposedly glorious end because there was no grander possible political vision than that of market-based constitutionalism, epitomized by the American political system. Even the most casual observer of the global scene must have noticed the befogged Western optic through which Fukuyama saw the world.

Huntington, no less provocative or biased, although less comforting for the West, anticipated a ‘the clash of civilizations’ as the sequel to the Cold War, especially stressing the confrontation between the liberal West and the non-West or simply ‘the rest.’ His suggestive emphasis was on blood-soaked fault lines between states, civilizations, and peoples associated with Islam and the Western polities descending from the Enlightenment tradition as it unfolded in Europe, taking root in North America and elsewhere.

Kaplan, also punctured the Fukuyama triumphalist tone of geopolitical serenity, by writing Read More »

Mass migration, the EU and European nationalisms

By Johan Galtung

Antwerpen & Alfaz

We are dealing with mass migration, basically into EU, and European nationalisms, many in favor of exits from the EU.

Why this mass migration, maybe to the point of Völkerwanderung, mainly into EU – but then what kind of EU? – and why the European nationalisms now found one way or the other in many member states?

The forecast for migration from Africa into Italy in 2016 is about 100,000; 28,000 already arrived in the first quarter, with 1,000 drowning in the Mediterranean (INYT, 6 May 2016). Big numbers. They knew the risks they were taking, so the push away from Africa and the pull towards Italy, and beyond, must have been considerable.

Better think in terms of 50 million migrants over 50 years, from regions considered uninhabitable to inhabitable regions. There seem to be five major causes underlying this basic world asymmetry:

Slavery, four centuries, depriving societies particularly of able-bodied males, by Arabs, then Westerners, cross-Atlantic transportation mainly by the English (Liverpool);

Colonialism, by Muslims after the death of the prophet in 632, from Casablanca to Southern Philippines, till the end of the 15th century, close to nine centuries, then by Christians close to five centuries, till colonialism was officially ended in the 1960s;

Robbery Capitalism, stealing or paying next to nothing for resources processed into manufactured goods, pocketing the value added;

Wars, mainly initiated by the West, killing millions (the USA more than 20 million in 37 countries after WWII), destroying property;

Ecological Factors, like depletion-pollution, often toxic for humans or nature, erratic climate partly due to climate gases, NOX, CO2, CH4.

These are the causes of poverty in some parts of the world but also of wealth in others; Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 372: Drop the Just War theory and abolish nuclear weapons!

By Mairead Maguire

Press Release 19th April, 2016

Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, co-founder of The Peace People and TFF Associate, says from Rome:

“I believe we are at an important and hopeful turning point in human history – from violence to nonviolence and from war to peace”

Laity and religious meeting in Rome appeal to Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace and for the church to no longer use or teach ‘Just War theory’

It was a joy for me to join eighty people from around the world meeting in Rome 11-12th April, 2016, to contribute to the important discussion ‘Nonviolence and Just Peace Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence’.

Members of the three day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Catholic Peace Movement Organization, Pax Christi, strongly called on Pope Francis ‘to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace; and on the Church to ‘no longer use or teach ‘just war theory’; and continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons’.

The statement of Appeal to the Pope also said:

‘We believe there is no ‘just war’. Too often the ‘just war theory’ has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a ‘just war’ is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict’.

The gathering in Rome consisted of lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests and bishops from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania and the welcoming address was given by Cardinal Turkson of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who read a Statement from Pope Francis.

The Final Statement Read More »

A nonkilling, nonviolent world is not unrealistic – We can choose!

By Mairead Maguire

Address by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and TFF Associate, to Rome Conference on NATO
Friday 29th January, 2016.

Dear Friends,
I believe we, the human family, have no less a task before us, than transforming our thinking and mind-sets of violence and war, and moving to a demilitarized Europe and World. Einstein once said that everything has changed but our thinking. However, there is hope as indeed our thinking is changing and there is a growing consciousness that violence, whether it comes from State or non-state actors, is wrong, violence does not work, violence is not the way.

However, around the world, we, the people, are in danger of being overpowered and dis-spirited by increasing violence, militarism and war. Many people can see that many Political Leaders can no longer imagine a just peace, and under the guise of allegedly ‘just wars’ and unbounded preparation for war, they are leading us into repeated cycles of violence profoundly counter to the spirit of love and friendship residing in the heart of humanity.

But there is Hope and it resides with the People, who are great and are mobilizing and uniting across the Globe to bring about much needed change, and rejecting violence and war.

The World Health Organization has said that ‘Violence is a preventable disease’ and people are not born violent, rather we all live in cultures of violence. This can be changed through nonviolent peacemaking and the pursuit of ‘just peace’ and nurturing of cultures of peace. Using active nonviolence, based on love of enemies and nonkilling, can bring about a real peace that is just, inclusive and sustainable.

In Northern Ireland we faced violence from all sides, for over thirty years, as we lived in a deep ethnic/political conflict. This violence only ended when everyone acknowledged that militarism and para-militarism could not solve our human problems, and only through unconditional, all inclusive dialogue and negotiations could we reach a political agreement based on nonviolence, forgiveness, compromise and co-operation.

We spoke to ‘our enemies’ and made peace with them, because we recognized that without Peace nothing is possible, and with Peace, everything is possible.

We also began to tackle the root causes of our violence, by making painful policy changes.

Today in Belfast, it is good for all its citizens to live in a City at Peace, but we all acknowledge that our Peace process is a work in progress and we continue to work on justice forgiveness and reconciliation.

We meet at a time when, I believe, Europe is facing a cross-roads and hard choices regarding policies and priorities have to be made by all. Today’s refugees, migrant challenge, has shown the best and the worst of European values, via television beamed onto our screens to the world.

The best have been the compassionates response Read More »

Review of “The Need for a New Economic System”

Review of John Avery’s book by Dorothy Guyot

A Scientist Presses for Action on Many Fronts: A review of the book

The Need for a New Economic System
By John Scales Avery
Selected Works Volume 1, 291 pages
Irene Publishing
Sparsnäs, Sweden 2015

The Need for a New Economic System by John Scales Avery is an important book for everyone concerned over the future of humanity. The urgent voice of the book stems from Dr. Avery’s seeing the discontinuity between the loving care that people bestow on their children and their failure to reduce the harm to their children from a destructive economic system, climate change, resource depletion, and war.

This book of advocacy demonstrates the need for solutions to problems created under the present economic system. Political-economic analyses of the causes of the problems and of solutions are outside of the scope of the book. Scattered through the book are a few general policy suggestions. At the center is Avery’s assessment sector by sector of the critical problems that must be solved to avert disasters.

The book first demonstrates the impossibility of sustaining growth economies on our finite planet. The central three chapters analyze the damage from climate change and war. Globalization, population growth, and the food crisis are the last problems Avery analyzes.

He builds toward his conclusions by sketching the nineteenth century cooperative movement and Gandhian economics. The concluding chapter revisits the problems to advocate change.

The premise of the book is that when people face up to the extent and nature of world problems, people can act creatively and effectively.

John Avery is thinker and writer. Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 369 – A Sunni-Salafist-Zionist Coalition Changing Middle East?

By Jan Oberg

Please try Google “Gulf states want nuclear weapons against Iran – Israel “ and only one Western mainstream media will appear, an excellent article by The Telegraph’s Raf Sanchez in Jerusalem.

The only other media carrying the story is Russia Today and Vigilant Citizen and MintPress News also carries the story and offers a wider background

What is this about?A new coalition?

So the usual Western media filter, meaning it must be interesting. And it is a quite sensational story: Saudi Arabia and Israel are up to a nuclear mischief against a country that has just been prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons by means of a huge legally binding document, UN Security Council endorsement and extremely tight monitoring mechanism. What’s it about?

It’s about Israel’s defence minister Moshe Ya’alon saying in public at the recent Munich conference that Arab states are “not willing to sit quietly with Iran on the brink of a nuclear bomb”.

He thinks that Iran was liable to break the agreement as their economic situation improves with the lifting of international sanctions. Ya’alon is quoted as saying that “I speak about the Gulf states and North African states too…For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes. They are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms.”

So not only Jordan’s monarchy and Egypt’s dictatorship but also Gulf and North African states: A coalition lead by Saudi Arabia and Israel – Israel as the only nuclear weapons power in the region and Saudi Arabia as the most likely next nuclear weapons state.

For much too long the world’s attention has been on Iran’s imagined nuclear weapons, not on the dozens or hundreds real nukes that Israel possesses as a non-member of which is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

One can say that Israel and Saudi Arabia lost the political battle against the nuclear deal with Iran concluded with the five permanent UNSC members and Germany last year – and now will do their utmost to use Iran’s non-nuclear weapons status as a pretext for others going nuclear against, predominantly, Iran.

Propaganda hysteria dominates in an age where knowledge plays a diminishing role

The problem for them, however, is that Iran will be difficult to sell as a real threat – but we live of course in Read More »

Reflections on the Brussels attack

By Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
A much abbreviated version of this post was published in Al Jazeera English on March 24, 2016. Although the essential analysis is the same, the reasoning here is greatly elaborated. The themes addressed and the policies proposed are advanced in a tentative spirit. Debate and reflection are urgently needed with respect to the political violence that is being unleashed in various forms in the West and non-West.

This latest terrorist outrage for which ISIS claimed responsibility exhibits the new face of 21st century warfare for which there are no front lines, no path to military victory, and acute civilian vulnerability. As such, it represents a radical challenge to our traditional understanding of warfare, and unless responses are shaped by these realities, it could drive Western democracies step by step into an enthused political embrace and revived actuality of fascist politics.

Already the virulence of the fascist virus dormant in every body politic in the West has disclosed its potency in the surprisingly robust Trump/Cruz run to become the Republican candidate in the next American presidential election.

Perhaps, the most important dimension of this 21st century pattern of warfare, especially as it is playing out in the Middle East, is the will and capacity of violent extremists to extend the battlefield to those perceived to be their enemies, and to rely on acutely alienated Europeans and North Americans to undertake the suicidal bloody tasks.

The British Independent struck the right note in its commentary, Read More »

Iranian elections: Another milestone in reformist advance

By Farhang Jahanpour

Since the latest Iranian elections held on 26th February 2016 for the 290-seat parliament (Majles) and the 88-member Assembly of Experts there have been many negative comments about the election results from the usual suspects.

Some people who are fundamentally hostile to Iran, criticize everything that Iran does, regardless of outcome. When the leading Iranian reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami won a landslide election in 1997 and initiated a series of important reforms at home and advocated a dialog of civilizations and even made a remarkable offer to the United States to reach a grand bargain over all the issues of contention, some pro-Israeli groups dismissed him, saying that he had no power.

However, when President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad made a number of outrageous comments, not only were his statements taken out of context and exaggerated, it was said that he posed an existential threat to Israel and the West.

Some people are at least honest about their real motives. During the controversial election in 2009 when Ahmadinezhad was declared the winner over the reformist candidate Mir-Hoseyn Moussavi, some American neoconservatives and Israeli commentators openly said that they preferred Ahmadinezhad because they could demonize him more easily.

“Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership,” said Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University. “If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image.” The then Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: “If the reformist candidate Moussavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat.”

Recently, the staunchly anti-Iranian lobby, The Israel Project (TIP), produced a promotional video showing the leader of the terrorist group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, denouncing the latest Iranian elections. This is despite the fact that before some right-wing pro-Israeli groups had decided to promote this terrorist group as a popular opposition group, in 2011 TIP director Josh Block had described the group as a terrorist organization. (1) Nevertheless, now his organization calls upon the same group to denounce the Iranian elections.

However, despite all this negative propaganda, the results of the latest Iranian elections exceeded all expectations. The elections set another milestone in the desire of the Iranian people for change and reform following the 2013 presidential election that resulted in the victory of the centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani.

Ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution, the government has held flawed, but competitive and relatively free and fair elections. In order to appreciate the significance of the election results, we should look at some of the obstacles that had been placed on the path of the reformists and moderates.

The right-wing Guardian Council, formed by six clerics appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six appointed by the head of the judiciary, who is himself appointed by Khamenei, has the job of vetting all the candidates who run for high office in Iran. In the absence of organized political parties, anybody can declare himself or herself a candidate in presidential or parliamentary elections, and normally many unqualified people do so.

Therefore, there is a need for a vetting organization, but the criticism against the Guardian Council is that it does not act in a fair and impartial manner.

During the recent elections,Read More »