Stop giving the West a bad name!

By Johan Galtung

Milano

There it is, that fantastic duomo, the fourth in size in the Christian world, honoring their God, exuding self-confidence, and the beauty of the marble stones of the huge façade. Founded six hundred years ago, took five centuries to build, a marvel of engineering and architecture. A major concert with a choir does not manage to fill the inner space of the dome, but of the listeners, yes, with awe.

Conceived in the “dark ages” as those masters of cultural violence, our historians, call them, the “middle ages”, presumably between two “shiny ages”, the Roman Empire and Western colonialism, “modern times”. Will anything built today be visited by people in five hundred years, filling them with awe? Some banks, corporations? Some corrupted national assemblies? Some stadiums, shopping centers sloppily made, collapsing, built with no love, except for money? Some huge missile ramps to sow death and harvest hatred and revenge?

Do they ever think of that, the “leaders” in the most aggressive parts of the West, Anglo-America, UKUSAF–adding F for that center of “enlightenment” and “modernity”, France – do they think of the harm they do to all of us, in the West? To our past, to our legacy?

But soon it is over; they are losing Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Mali–no democracy, no economic growth, no human rights arising from the ashes of the most basic human right, to life, insulted. All over even mainstream media are filled with negativism; crying failure.Read More »

NSA and the fall of the U.S. Empire

By Johan Galtung

The linchpin of an empire is the link between two elites, one in the imperial center and the other in the peripheries. Symmetric alliances exist, but not with a superpower in the center.

The periphery elites do jobs for the center: killing, say, in Libya, Syria, when so wanted; securing the center economic interests in return for a substantial cut, serving as a bridgehead culturally–called americanization–delivering obedience against protection.

For this to work the elites have to believe in the empire. They put words up front–like democracy, human rights, rule of law–serving as human shields. However, the costs may be heavy, the benefits decreasing; they may have difficulties with restless students, working classes, other countries. Or worse: they may sense that the empire is not working, heading for decline and fall, and want to get out.

And even if this is not the case, the US elites – the policy officials – may suspect it to be and spy on empire-alliance leaders:

[Director of the NSA] General Keith Alexander: “NSA–was asked by /US/ policy officials to discover the “leadership intentions” of foreign countries. If you want to know leadership intentions, these were the issues” (english@other-news.info 01-11-13).

Clear from the beginning, beyond “threats to privacy”, “they all do it”, “it was technically feasible”, and similar smoke screens. Spying on intentions of enemy leaders–the “humint” (HUMan INTelligence) to complement capabilities–is an obvious part of the state system. But on allies?

Even more so. There are allies and allies; empires may decline. Foreign leaders may not offer full obedience in return for protection. Or may not accept US views as accurate, but have their own. They may even explore options. Their real intentions are crucial, and nobody can spy and supervise better than their own secret agencies – coordinated by CIA-NSA–and in their own language. Alexander said the obvious: “policy officials” (ambassadors, etc.) and alliance agencies spying together on policy-makers. The real power elite inside the elite.

Look at this through Angela Merkel’s eyes. She hated the DDR-Deutsche Demokratische Republik Stasi surveillance. But they were amateurs; these people are professionals. A decade went unnoticed, till Snowden. Imagine her rage, comparing.

And imagine the non-rage over the same in Spain: beyond Franco, yes, but Rajoy’s party (Partido Popular) is the – highly corrupt –successor to Franco.Read More »

Criminalize war!

By Johan Galtung

Nobody has brought this simple message to the world like the Perdana Global Peace Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As the leader, Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysia’s fourth prime minister says:

“Peace for us simply means the absence of war. We must never be deflected from this simple objective”.

So they organize compelling exhibitions and conferences to highlight the atrocities and horrors of war, starting with World War I, often in cooperation with Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta University in Indonesia. A very clear message from the Southeastern part of the world to the Northwestern part: Stop It! All your rules of war add up to its legitimation; wars get ever worse as measured by the percentage of non-combatant, civilian casualties; from about 10 percent in World War I to 90 percent in the Vietnam and other wars at the end of the 20th century. They dare refer to crimes as “unintended consequences”, “collateral damage”.

Take Norway, a “peace nation”, as example; not the USA an Israel with their gods, the idea of being chosen, and exceptionalism. See what Norway does against the spirit of UNSC-United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect civilians, promote cease-fire and mediate a political solution in Libya. And against the UN Charter Article 2 outlawing war.

According to testimony by pilots on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation “Brennpunkt” (In Focus), 25 percent of the bombing was planned with goals selected in advance. Read More »

A New Year’s wish: Go beyond !

By Johan Galtung

Yes, go beyond, transcend! That is our message, New Year or not.

Take the US school shootings. The National Rifle Association’s vice president on TV: “the only person who can stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun”. That statement struck many cords.

There is the deep US culture of Dualism – two kinds of people – and Manicheism – one bad, one good. There is Armageddon in the class room, the teacher or resident police pulling out the gun–bigger, better, more accurate–for the final battle, for the final and only solution. The NRA is riding on this DMA (Dualism/Manicheism/Armageddon) ground swell from below, and so are millions of others. It is concrete, feasible, and could start January 2013.

There is confirmation from above: this is US foreign policy. The only way to stop a bad country with arms is a good country with arms; the only way to stop evil terrorism from below is good state terrorism from above. Balance of power, countless bases, search and destroy.

We agree about the critical focus: school shootings–the USA committing suicide! – must not happen. But what do we know empirically to be constructive, creative? The answer is wrapped in ambiguity.Read More »

SABONA – from the Kindergarten to world politics

By Johan Galtung

Kongsvinger is a small town in Eastern Norway, close to Sweden, with a small dedicated group working in kindergartens, elementary and more advanced schools to convey conflict and social skills to children from one to twelve years old. Recently they presented their experiences for a very grateful audience of children, teachers and parents.

Enters a teddy-bear, a key ‘person’. Child 1 grabs the bear and beats Child 2 shouting, “He is mine!” The teacher reports: “Of course I could scold, saying beating is not allowed. But that is not good enough.” So I said, “He is neither his nor yours, but the kindergarten’s. You wanted to hug him? OK, but no beating. You could have asked”.Read More »

Conspiracies: Theories and hypotheses

By Johan Galtung

Conspiracies exist. They are a part of social reality, have always been, and will always be; as confirmed conspiracy theories, as unconfirmed conspiracy hypotheses, as suspicions, as allegations.

As usually conceived of, conspiracies involve several persons or actors; the plan of action is kept secret or at least not made public, except afterwards if it is successful. Conspiracies are about power[i] – economic-cultural-political-military — and are usually negative for somebody.

Let us start by criticizing this definition.Read More »

The Nordic countries in a world in crisis

By Johan Galtung

Talk at the Nordic Peoples’ Parliament in Jondal, Norway

Let us start with the crisis.

It is not a world crisis but a Western crisis. The root is simple: the Rest is catching up, and partly overtaking the West; China is catching up, and partly overtaking the USA–recovering from the blow received around 1500 from the Portuguese and the English destroying 1,000 years of buddhist-muslim trade from East China to Somalia via the rest of Asia; ending in Macao-Hong Kong (there are no Chinese enclaves in Portugal-England).

The West is outcompeted. The crisis is partly economic and partly a desperate Western effort, indeed Obama’s effort, to cling to hegemony.Read More »

Breivik: Living in the historical present (Part II)

By Johan Galtung

The police explores concrete logistic collaborators and-or ideological support; like Peter Mangs in Sweden, the “laser man” who killed what looked like immigrants, wrote a rightwing manifesto and an autobiography; or “Fjordman” with 111 mentions.

Breivik was a member of a Norwegian rightwing anti-immigration party, Fremskrittspartiet – a legal stand in a democracy – but left. He also left the Free Masons, with the following Compendium comment:

“Being a Free Mason myself I know that /the Freemasons are a Zionist organization/ is not only a false claim but actually quite ridiculous. The Freemasons is not in any way political (I wish the organization was, believe me) and it is true that they have a positive view on Jews. However, this is from a Christian religious context where solidarity to Jews and Israel is important. The Freemasons is a Christian only organization and no Muslim or Jew could become a member even if they wanted to. There are no political bodies within the organization nationally or internationally” (p. 1369).

However, the Freemason lodges Gladio and P2 were behind the 2 August 1980 Bologna massacre, and oaths of loyalty among members may matter.

But Breivik seems to live so much in past history that it attains reality, competing with, even replacing contemporary reality. His references are numerous. There are errors; but more important is to understand his reading of the meaning of history, his history.Read More »

Arne Næss – the next hundred years

By Johan Galtung
Speech given in Oslo on January 27, 2012

Norway’s by any comparison greatest philosopher was born one hundred years ago today, and died close to the age of 97. A world philosopher, a human being with an incredible radiation. Nobody who came close to him remained the same.

Arne Næss 27 January 1912 - 12 January 2009

What was his basic theme? In one word: nonviolence, but in a broader and deeper sense than most approaching demanding idea.

Arne Næss was very sensitive to verbal violence in debates; his answer was objectivity. He identified physical violence in political struggle; his answer was Gandhian nonviolence, strongly inspired as a student in Paris early 1930s by Indian students strongly convinced that nonviolence was the way. Read More »