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.
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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.
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