Stop Giving the West a Bad Name!

EDITORIAL, 16 Dec 2013

#304 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service


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.

Be careful; do not fall into the trap of confusing the real goals with pretexts.  Among the real goals in Iraq and Syria was destruction of a Ba’ath Arab socialism, challenging reactionary Gulf monarchies exploiting immigrants and others, but delivering fossil fuels and support to USA-Israel. To hell with alphabetization and welfare state.  As a US State Department man put it: “We did not care how they treat women as long as we got the Caspian-Indian Ocean pipeline”.

And the bases.  Encircling Russia-China in Afghanistan and Iraq; for Africom in Libya and Mali.  For Western supremacy economically against the worst threat of them all, an aging, psychopathic Gaddafi, but with an excellent scheme for Africa, their own Monetary Fund, a common currency, lifting the bottom up, respect for nations brutally suppressed by Western colonialism–Berbers, Tuaregs among them.

Better face it: UKUSAF has won the first round. Libya destroyed, the proud projects for Africa shelved for now, decentralized Islamic Courts compatible with the complex clan structure in a Muslim country, Somalia, destroyed; the same rights for Pashtuns and Tuaregs to have their own lands with imposed borders lifted as for Jews in the Middle East, destroyed.  Bases all over–to be kept beyond “withdrawal” for a possible war with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  And to secure Africa against the sneaky, subversive Chinese tricks of paying for resources extracted by building roads, railroads, dams, helping lift the bottom up as opposed to Western economics increasing inequality.

True, the giant railroad now financed by the Chinese runs East-West, from Mombasa-Dar to Kinshasa and the Atlantic coast–and from there container ships to South America. South-South-South trade in the best tradition of Third World politics–not against North-South trade in the worst tradition of colonialism; but adding to it.

Anglo-America and France winning?  The first run yes, but a Pyrrhus victory with defeat built into it. They probably think they are clever promoting security for Americans and wealth for Britons, with an incredibly brainwashed, monopolized media betraying the freedom of expression–with the laudable exceptions of The Guardian and the Washington Post for information about Anglo-America and the other three of the “Five Eyes” betraying the best of the West by spying, insulting privacy, spreading fear and apathy, undermining democracy instead of promoting transparency and dialogue about all these issues.

A US client country, Norway, did a major part of the bombing in Libya. Did the handful of decision-makers believe in the pretexts, and then apologized for the highly predictable result, the opposite?  Certainly not. Did they believe in the real US goals, promoting them by killing?  Probably not.  What did they believe, then?

In double obedience: internationally to their chosen superpower; nationally to the foreign policy-military hierarchy. “The banality of evil”, in other words; “thoughtlessness”, Hannah Arendt’s way of characterizing Adolf Eichmann.  And that after the Nürnberg and Tokyo judgments ruled out “obeying orders from above” and “ignorance of what those below were doing”. But was this democracy against dictatorship?  Was it?  All decisions behind closed doors with the people not knowing the premises for the decision or any debate?  Against a dictator, yes.  Does that justify massive killing for predictable anarchy?

That same country responded to the chemical arms issue by giving a Nobel Peace Prize to an NGO for the prohibition of chemical weapons; in line with Nobel’s testament, reduction of standing forces. But why not shared with Putin, the politician who focused on the arms not on “who done it” (with two good candidates), and WMD-Weapons of Mass Destruction to boot, when Obama had nothing but missile attacks on Assad strongholds to offer? But no; a NATO country gives a prize to the West, not to Russia.

Nevertheless, Mandela they all celebrate as universal icon.  Forgotten is the past, not a word, no apology, no awakening, no “how could we have been so wrong”. Massive governmental support for Apartheid against ANC-African National Congress and Mandela till the last decades–but then came Cold War, anti-communism against both (for instance for a Norwegian prime minister).

Well, better late than never. But when will the West show its beauty rather than its ugly, violent–military and economic–face?  Why not cut off the last imperial tentacles before forced to do so? Opting maybe more for the better middle than for those two imperial ages?


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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