Two Human Made Disasters: Japan and Libya

EDITORIAL, 21 Mar 2011

#156 | Johan Galtung, 21 Mar 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Mother Earth, angry or not, has shown her strength.  Pacific tectonic plates move under the Japan plate and the crashes show up as the heaviest earthquake in recent Japan history. 9.0. Not unexpected, but the precise when and where they are still unable to predict.  Animals seem to know, but with short warning time.

High rise buildings and 55 low rise nuclear energy plants were built, like the cherry tree branch yielding to let wet snow slide off. Through tons of tons of steel and cement.  Flexible and robust. All over buildings oscillating with low amplitude and low frequency, but finally standing straight and unmolested except for things falling out of cupboards, off shelves etc.  Buildings  shaking on shaky ground in order not to be shaken.  Good job, up to a point.  But the warnings from the people who suffered nuclear genocide on two cities, Hiroshima-Nagasaki, fell on muffled ears.

They placed those power plants mostly on the beach for easily available sea water for cooling, now more than ever. In the country that gave the flood-wave in-the-waiting its name, tsunami. Ground Zero–a word that like earthquake obscures seaquakes–was 130 Km off the coast.  The tsunami–up to 7 meters high speed 700 Km/h–hit 650 Km coastline and up to 10 Km inland.  Slowly entering, crashing everything in its way, killing, demolishing, reaching inland, the million-people city Sendai; slowly receding, carrying houses, cars, trucks, buses, planes, factories, houses, corpses, live humans in their last minutes, cracking bridges and roads, depositing it all whence it came.  The Pacific quiets down, ready for the next job.  With Fukushima Nos. 1, 2 etc. destroyed more by flood than by quake.  With Japan braising in horror for a possible 4000-degree meltdown.

Scientists who knew tsunamis yet did not shout, cry, DON’T DO IT!! to the nuclear enthusiasts committed criminal neglect.

Once a student of chemistry and physics myself I know their deep skills in unraveling nature’s riddles, and their incredible narrowness and arrogance. These thunderous acts of omission cry to the heavens. And yet I expect as little reflection as from all those heads of state and “security experts” who orchestrated the “nobody could have predicted this” refrain when an oil price shock hit in 1973, the Cold War broke down in 1989, some buildings were hit in New York-Washington 9/11 2001. All highly predictable.

There were warnings for ears muffled by strong interests, and money to be saved and to be made.  Hidden by power plants nuclear weapons can be built.  Japanese hawks, salivating for this way of normalizing Japan, kept the conflict with North Korea hot. Capital, Westinghouse, General Electric, were hit by the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979–did Japan’s government invite them to reduce the trade surplus?  Anyhow, scientists have prestige and power.  Shame on their silence.  Animals know better, escaping on short warning.

We weep in our hearts for the victims and with the bereaved.  We know Japanese resilience.  The cherry tree will rise, there will be a sakura.  There will be a reconstruction nourishing the economy if short-selling finance hyenas are kept off a Japanese stock exchange artificially open to “globalization”.

We pray, we hope: no Chernobyl 1986.  Stop! this is enough.  We know enough to end all nuclear plants.  There are alternatives.

*    *   *  *  *  *  *

Far away from the Japanese coast is a Libyan coast where the Israeli-English-French war on Egypt in 1956 is now reenacted, minus the key actor Israel, plus the major actor USA, plus seven UN Security Council members; and USA again getting Clausewitz by all necessary measures into the text.  Minus five UNSC members who abstained from voting: Russia, China, India, Brazil (BRIC) and Germany; the coming victors?

The key western powers have been salivating to get at Gadhafi ever since he deposed King Idris in September 1969, and we notice that his old flag–with the French tricolor–is now in Benghazi.  Who supports the anti-Gadhafi forces we shall soon see.  They have good reasons, but he who only sees Libya as an uprising against a brutal dictatorship is like those who think earthquakes without tsunamis.  Nothing historical in using the UN for Anglo-American-French politics, with or without humanitarian pretexts.  A no-fly zone over Bahrain, let alone Gaza two years ago, would have been historical.  But UN was not made for that; and today even less so.

The acts of omission of the African Union and the Arab League are shouting to the heavens.  Libya is a major country in both.  They could have offered mediation from the very beginning.  If rejected they could have authorized the entry–from land, the sea or from the air–of peacekeeping, not “peace-enforcing”, troops.  They left the game to well tested, dilapidated, suspects.  Shame on them.  Do better next time.  There will be many of occasions.

A ceasefire was rejected (they go for him, not his daughter, like in 1986?) in a country seething with contradictions and an Arab world (minus some elites) reeling in anger over one more Western intervention, with poodle puppy Norway–now on its third war against a Muslim country–joining.  “Mission accomplished” will elude them, like it does in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ten years war in Libya, with countless killed?  We fear yes.  We hope not.

BRIC + Germany are now called upon.  Abstention is not good enough.  Be on the side of history, and that means: be on the side of the Arab liberation from Western European-US-Israeli dominance, and an economy causing ever more inequality-misery, and autocracy.  The Abstaining Five have experience in fighting such pathologies.

BRIC+G, A5: The ball is in your court.  Play it well.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Mar 2011.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Two Human Made Disasters: Japan and Libya, is included. Thank you.

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10 Responses to “Two Human Made Disasters: Japan and Libya”

  1. Two excellent articles. Simply excellent. Will read again.

  2. monica says:

    me gustaria saber el nombre de las placas tectonicas que Originaron la desgracia en Japon

  3. L B Thapa says:

    Every hard-working people in America has been contributing a major chunk (percentage) of their tax money to support the killing of people, destruction of a foreign country and their people’s property, rebuilding of the property to destroy, burying of the young, youth and old men and women and then restocking USA planes, tanks and bombs for the next ones. The fact is; for every 4 years of American History USA has spent 3 year at War or Conflict to every 1 year of Peace. USA has been taught it’s children that war is the best answer in their books by putting presidents or generals who have started wars up on a pedestal as heroes. International Law is the vanishing point of jurisprudence, it is applicable to only them who worship might is right soon after down fall of Berlin Wall and downfall of former Soviet Union under the naked leadership of NATO (No Action Talking Only about peace) . USA is being a bulldog over United Nations (UN) since it has been paying a major chunk of administrative cost from people tax money, which is never a fair.
    Neither USA believes on human rights nor peace. If it is true why there is second grade treatment and discrimination in the applicable of trade and labour law to the black people and women within USA? How can USA talk about gender
    discrimination in another country? Like UN has double standard about good governance since it’s HDR reports have been allegedly that UN special agencies have been misusing it’s resources. UN has succeeded to maintain so called fake peace in those countries where USA has a vested interest over those countries. So called peace maintain high level UU special agency UNMIN returned from Nepal from it’s mostly failure? Why similar organization has not been able to return from the boarder of Pakistan and India? The similar two of the organization have been
    working in Afghanistan and Iraq but they do not have any guts like Lebanon, Bosnia Herzegovina UN has no it’s existence. Only spending a trillion dollar over US solider but it has it’s something other vested interest over oil in Arab countries and being allured to capture over South Asian countries precious biodiversity and environmental resources. In my view UN is being the Dividing the nations under the puppet leadership of USA. Lets’ not talk about 90s attack over Iraq and in recent days in the same place and Afghanistan.. There is no inch difference on attack through it’s fighter planes in the name of maintain peace on Libya. It is bull sit idea to attack over other countries nobody has given any threats to internal politics of USA but why to attack in another country by USA leaded nations. Is it not the way to divide the nations approach keeping mum by so called UN?
    The future of the United States as it is now will continue to fight wars until the Nation falls from either financial burden or we are overthrown by the world community for our aggressive behaviors. In the past few months we have seen a mad rush to CUT money for Education, Healthcare, NPR (one of the few not-for-profit news and entertainment programming) New Infrastructure, creating Jobs in America, School to tax Girl Scout cookies. USA is going to now Stop Funding The United States Institute of Peace. In other words, we will now spend Only money on war and spend Zero dollars on the prevention of war.

    If just “1” war could be prevented, just think of all the lives and money we will save. Stopping wars, I guess, is now Not an Option. The United States Institute of Peace is an organization that is full of professionals who are experts in the art of conflict resolution. In other words they are the best suited to able to defuse problems before they happen and also defuse problems after they had already started. We are taking the yard duty lady off the playground and letting the kids fight it out among themselves.
    It is no accident that the United States Institute of Peace has been targeted. There is plenty of profit in war for select companies and individuals and they are not going to let Peace get in the way of their profits. There is 10 times more profit and prosperity in peace if it was ever allowed to take hold around the world but there is a select few who do not know how to earn money any other way. So the rest of the world is at their mercy. We all celebrate people like Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King etc. as a speaker and a promise of peace on earth. But now when people talk of peace publicly they are often shot down figuratively and literally. The warmongers are winning and have the money to control what we are, hear and do. As a tax payer, I would like a portion of my money to go to the chance of peace before war. Let’s not let them take the last chance of peace away from the people because if you do What Do We Have Left?
    L B Thapa

  4. Satoshi says:

    I would agree completely with Prof. Galtung!

    As “9/11” remains permanently as a traumatic event in the hearts and minds of Americans, “3/11” will surely remain permanently as a traumantic event in the hearts and minds of Japanese.

    Didn’t Japanese learn lessons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Learned lessons but not enough? Didn’t Americans learn lessons from Vietnam and Afghanistan? Learned lessons but not enough? Examine their learning curves, especially of their leaders and scientists!

    May peace be with you all! May all the victims (not only of those of “9/11” and of “3/11” but also those of any kinds of violence and of their relevant tragic events) be comforted and healed!

  5. friend says:

    NATO committed suicide this weekend.

  6. James Fraser says:

    I am wondering if the ongoing violent shakes in New Zealand, my home country, which is also on the Pacific ‘rim of fire,’ in which the central business district of the second largest city, Christchurch, was destroyed, are related… Seems so. The question might then be, where along this tectonic border the next quake emerges.
    Interesting article, highlighting the large man-made component of these disasters.
    Peace be with the victims, and courage with those who can bring about a better future.

  7. I would agree completely with Prof. Galtung!
    I pray for more and more health and good luck and peace Of victims.
    Put love heartily.

    • A correction.

      I will agree to professor galtung perfection!
      I pray the victim’s soul may rest in peace by more health and good luck and peace.
      I love it heartily, and can enter.

  8. I enjoy reading the articles of Johan Galtung Father of Peace Studies always. His enlightened thoughts and insights cover the contemporary world’s pains and grievances. In may cases in the world, we are experienced that development and disaster (men made or natural)are the two sides of the same coin.

  9. Akifumi Fujita says:

    To think Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Fukushima simultaneously in a historical context is a very precise consideration.The severe accident of the nuclear power plant has long been predicted in Japan and finally been actualized at this particular time. Yes, this is completely human made. But no one can predict how it will unfold at this point of time. In terms of politics in Japan, Okinawa and Fukushima have some characteristics in common.The US military bases in Okinawa and the US-made nuclear power plants(GE boiling water reactors)at Fukushima. What implications do they have to Japan and to the rest of the world? Subjugation of a country by another bigger country of the same kind in terms of the military and the economy. Civilian US support to save the victims would have been much better. Ca we find a way out? I’m sure of it on the condition that peace studies will play an indispensable role in it.