World History Unfolding I

EDITORIAL, 31 Jan 2011

#149 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service

From New York

And then it happens, right there, for our eyes.  The pattern, above all a product of the US-Israel alliance (inspired by Jesaiah 2:1-5), is unraveling.  The pattern was always the same, by force or bribes or both to create “friendly governments”, “allies in the peace process” as VP Joe Biden–Obama’s foreign policy expert–says. These hours, these days.  Some process.

The pattern has five layers: Palestinians inside Israel; Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; Israel’s Arab neighbors (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt); the rest of the 22 Arab states; the rest of the 57 Muslim states.  Knowing that 350 million Arabs and 1,560 million Muslims cannot be controlled directly they go for indirect control via the governments.  Anything but serious efforts to solve the conflict(s), bombastically even referring to this low level policy as a “peace process”.  A hopeless project, at most a short lasting unstable equilibrium.

The unraveling has no precise starting point in space or time. Rather, it is a process, “peace by pieces”, resisted from the beginning. Palestinians inside Israel have been ambiguous, partly bribed into accepting 2nd class citizenship in a theocratic state.  Palestinians outside have been divided, PLO/Hamas being an important dividing line, West Bank/Gaza another.  After the revelations by Al Jazeera and The Guardian 24 January of the moral corruption of PLO negotiators Hamas is stronger than ever, with a base in Syria that never boarded the US-Israel Titanic.  Lebanon is increasingly ruled by Hizbollah; in Jordan, where CIA outmaneuvered the peace oriented Crown Prince Hassan in favor of Abdullah, there is revolt.  In Egypt much more so, Yemen and Somalia revolted long ago; things happen in Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, Mauritania.  And behind and above looms a (neo-ottoman?) Turkey.

Of course, there are at least two other issues at work, not only the machinations of the US-Israel alliance.  There is the political issue of multi-party democracy with free and fair elections vs. dictatorship by one party, or autocracy by one ruler; of human rights vs. crushing the freedoms protected by them.  And there is the economic issue of increasing misery and unemployment and inequality vs. sharing. The linkages between the three issues are often pointed out by demonstrators on posters about US-backed dictatorships and exploitation, about autocratic cliques and royal houses enriching themselves, etc.  Which of the three is more important?  All of them of course, it is a solid US-Western-Israeli nexus with such crucial points as London establishing a Jewish “homeland”–not defined in international law–in Palestine, cutting Palestine into two with Jordan serving as a buffer state protecting the oil of “mandated Iraq” and that very same Churchill using gas against Iraqi “barbarians” threatening civilization in their struggle for their homelands-all familiar themes.  Till an Israel declared itself a state more afraid of a peace that could set limits to its zionist expansion than of war for expansion.

Till history catches up with them, these weeks, these days.

Which of the three factors the demonstrators, the rioters, choose to spin their rhetoric around will vary, like with the distance to Israel.  Another is the longevity of the autocracy, like 20, 30 years. Yet another is pure tactics, how to make more allies, by denouncing the USA or by downplaying that theme? Some US commentators are celebrating no “down with US imperialism” in some revolts, and the focus on democracy and human rights, maybe planning how to manipulate elections and bribing with freshly printed Fort Knox bills.   Investment will be promised, known to benefit the rich more than the poor.  Soon we will hear from China.

But right now let us celebrate.  By and large nonviolent revolts in most of Maghreb and Mashreq reveal the fragility of even global and regional superpowers.  They now face moments of truth with WikiLeaks truths that no doubt inspired and ignited the masses up front. US commentators with unfailing talent for choosing wrong levels of analysis point to demonstrators being mostly young, educated and unemployed. Give them fellowship and jobs?  Maybe they need some agility to jump up on a water cannon tank, some education to see through the massive propaganda, and be unemployed to have time off for political work in the streets, no fear of losing a job? Being denied expression in free elections maybe the demos, the people, find ways of reclaiming power?

I remember a meeting in Cairo 18 December addressing Cairo University professors on world trends, including in and around Israel and the USA, and rising inequality, predicting revolts.  They said, our poor get poorer by the hour, but police and military make revolts impossible.  I said that they might join being themselves repressed, exploited and alienated.  And exactly that seems to have happened–and not only in Egypt–after initial brutality. A shock for the powers-that-were, now collecting their gold for oasis life in Saudi Arabia.  Also soon to go.

And the USA?  And Israel?  An Israeli general recently revealed plans to attack Hamas and Hizbollah in Gaza and Lebanon.  But many more plans are needed.  Attacking a Muslim Brotherhood guided Egypt?  Maybe too much even for Israel and the USA, given that both hegemons have very serious polity and economy problems.

Or, could this wave of people reclaiming foreign policy, the polity and economy from the clammy hands of small groups come to–miracle of all miracles–hit the hegemons themselves?  And open for a real peace process, involving everybody concerned?  Inshallah.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 31 Jan 2011.

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5 Responses to “World History Unfolding I”

  1. Samson Ogunloye says:

    Well, let me put it precisely, the 21st century is without doubt one of change.The early part of it, will bring about different changes than we were used to. That means to begin with, alternatives to many status quo, just as we are now seeing. First of all, I do not think it serves any intelligent purpose, to have a president in office for more than eight years, neither do i subscribe to the philosophy that,a president that has been voted out of office should entertain any idea to come back. I often wonder,for what purpose and is it for self interest or to correct past misdeeds? But one thign for sure, ” the evil that men do, lives after them” may be such element is part of the equation in the “mid. east”. What ever it is, changing time, will take its course. And the 21st century will make its mark.Conclusively, America cannot be made to apologize for every change that occurs in any part of the world, for America actually has never in history directly opposed to change, it has always accepted positive change in the direction of democracy, and so will this also be accepted. Samson ogunloye.

    • Dear Mr. Ogunloye,

      I beg to differ. The U.S is not what you think it is.
      Read through this website alone with care, use the search function as I do and you will find more than ample material to undo your claim according to which The U.S has never opposed change. Who killed Lumumba? Who supported Mobutu? Who killed Kabila’s father? Who killed Saddam Hussein? ok. Now: Who installed him in the first place? Who trained him? Who financed Mobutu? Who labeled Mandela as a terrorist? Who is the only nation to ever have used the nuclear bomb? Who invaded Irak and killed 1,5 Million people directly and indirectly on the basis of lies? Who did not ratify the Kyoto accords? Who did not ratify the ICC statute? Who stripped human beings of their human rights in guantanamo bay? Why Mr. Ogunloye do you chose to defend a state that has been more murderous in the past 50 years than any other state in the world. I strongly advise you to read: FREEING THE WORLD TO DEATH by Mr. William Blum. It will awaken you from your naive slumber. The U.S is your blood-loving belligerant ennemy. Wake up: Visit my website.

  2. I agree with a Mr. galtung opinion.

  3. Jonfkessler says:

    Thanks for your post Prof Galtung – your 2020 prediction might be too late! JFK from Charlottesville VA USA

    from recent comment by Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant US Sec of Treasury:

    “The murderous American-installed dictator in Tunis was overthrown by people taking to the streets. Rebellion has spread to Egypt and there are also street protests against the US-supported rulers in Yemen and Jordan.

    These uprisings might succeed in ousting puppet rulers, but will the result be anything more than the exchange of a new American puppet ruler for the old? Mubarak might go, but whoever takes his place is likely to find himself wearing the same American harness.

    What dictators do is to eliminate alternative leadership. Potential leaders are either assassinated, exiled, or imprisoned. Moreover, anything short of a full-fledge revolution, such as the Iranian one, leaves in place a bureaucracy accustomed to business as usual. In addition, Egypt and the country’s military have grown accustomed to American support and will want the money to keep flowing. It is the flow of this money that ensures the purchase of the replacement government.

    Because the US dollar is the world reserve currency, the US government has financial dominance and the ability to financially isolate other countries, such as Iran. To break free of America’s grip, one of two things would have to happen. Revolution would have to sweep the Arab world and result in an economic unity that could foster indigenous economic development, or the US dollar has to fail as world currency.

    Arab disunity has long been the means by which the Western countries have dominated the Middle East. Without this disunity, Israel and the US could not abuse the Palestinians in the manner in which they have for decades, and without this disunity the US could not have invaded Iraq. It is unlikely that the Arabs will suddenly unite themselves.

    The collapse of the dollar is more likely. Indeed, the policy of the US government to maximize both budget and trade deficits, and the policy of the Federal Reserve to monetize the budget deficit and the fraudulent paper assets of the large banks, have the dollar heading for demise.

    As the supply of dollars grows, the value diminishes. Perhaps the time is not far off when rulers cease to sell out their peoples for American money.”