The Year 2015: First Third Report

EDITORIAL, 11 May 2015

#375 | Johan Galtung, 11 May 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

The 19 January editorial “The Year 2015-What Are We in For?” identified four unfolding, dramatic processes: the West will continue fighting unsuccessfully and violently to keep their world grip; Eurasia will expand and consolidate successfully and nonviolently; Islam will expand and consolidate partly violently; Latin America and Africa will expand and consolidate, spearheaded by Brazil, South Africa, BRICS.

A third of the year 2015 has now passed; let us take stock.

Headlines in the International New York Times tell the story:

18-19 April [2015]: “U.S. is said to risk losing economic leadership”; “–a divided nation shedding hard-won clout”, “We’re withdrawing from the central place we had on the world stage”. And for the UK:

29 April: “Britain’s drift from the world stage looms over the vote”.

These are statements about leadership, about being the center as a model to emulate; controlling world stage politics; not about economic growth. Losing leadership and drifting away may actually increase growth: control is a costly, non-productive endeavor for most businesses. Sensing that may accelerate the decline as world power.

However, the West fights and trains Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians to kill their compatriots. They take the money and the arms, fight miserably, not at all, or join the revolts. The West builds alliances to sow ISIS corpses for peace, and harvests more fighters. Better use their forces defensively, to protect groups exposed to terrible ISIS violence–maybe even as a neutral zone between Sunni and Shia, rather than using one against the other; now this one, now that one.

Moscow took the 1954 Crimea gift back without war, but fights to protect Russians near the Ukraine border–with less violence than Kiev bombing–in favor of federation and ceasefire. They got ceasefire in Minsk by excluding USA that wants war. NATO cracking weakens the West further; also over USA using the allies’ spy agencies–to spy on allies!

At the same time Eurasia is consolidating, negatively helped by the USA-EU sanctions against Russia, positively by Eurasia-building. The AIIP (Asia Industrial Infrastructure Bank) has many more USA-leaning founding members than USA is able to get together in TPP-Trans Pacific Partnership.

Nevertheless, more telling is the major infrastructure breakthrough: the (so far only freight) railroad newly opened from East China to Madrid (and on to Cadiz-Sevilla, for both Africa and Latin America); connecting eight countries: China-Kazakhstan-Russia-Belorussia-Poland-Germany-France-Spain. The president of China follows the rails, now signing treaties of friendship and cooperation with the first three, aiming at the next four along this aorta for the Eurasia organism.

How about these four EU members along the “silk railroad”? Where are bold initiatives to project economic leadership and clout–even if the infrastructure is built by China it is but open to all? Beyond Spanish wine-olive oil-ham? Why did they not build that railroad long ago? Probably because they think too much North-South and too small, too bilaterally, too divide et impera. They did not even build the Cairo-Cape Town railroad. The Chinese now seem to add that to the railroad from one ocean to the other, East-West, as they are behind the Nicaragua canal project–for the end of 2015. We shall soon see; the Chinese strategy is clearly to build infrastructure on the ground.

China is proactive in the EU and US “backyards”; making gains nonviolently when others lose violently by inaction and exploitation. Why? Maybe China sees rising Africa-Latin America as more competitive than declining EU-USA; thinking big, long term, as they do. However, China may underestimate the two continents: their populations exceed that of China and are much younger. Even if the Chinese are better at making productive use of older people than the EU and USA, that counts. And sooner or later both will get single currencies, development banks and monetary funds: Gaddafi’s unfulfilled dream; killed by the West.

The background for all of this? A major factor was the USA seeing the Cold War as something they won because the Soviet Union broke down, treating Yeltsin-Russia as a defeated country; appointing Islam as the new enemy; encircling Russia-China, coming very close, just off the coast (imagine Chinese warships off Los Angeles); getting former Soviet countries into NATO, inviting Ukraine and Georgia.

Till China and Russia said Stop, said SCO, and gave a huge Muslim country, Kazakhstan, a major role. Russia played down the violence in Chechnya, China tries unsuccessfully so far in Xinjiang, while USA is stepping up anti-Black violence from city to city. The world watches.

What remains of the US empire is less NATO and more re-confirmed USA-Japan alliance, opening for Japanese combat support if the USA so wishes anywhere in the world. The economic infrastructure for this asymmetry is Japan enrolled in TPP. Will it ever get off the ground?

A major factor is illegitimate Chinese maritime policy in the East and South China Sea and along its ancient “silk” lane from East China to East Africa. China behaves as if the UN Law of the Sea, initiated with the UNCLOS-United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea in Caracas in 1974, does not exist. Nevertheless, military posturing is still far away from bombing-droning-sniping.

China could manage disputed waters-islands-shoals in South China Sea jointly with ASEAN, and East China Sea islands with Japan. USA needs these conflicts for their military projection. If China solves them, as they solved problems with Russia, the US military role dissolves, as it does in Ukraine. Maybe also the US-Japan alliance?

Being more guided by reason than the USA, removing the issues may be the Chinese way out. Like Russia-France-Germany try in Ukraine.

What about Israel? Watching with one concern: itself. Forecast: change of alliance partner, to solvent China, also with one concern: itself. A foothold gained for China, and lost for the USA. In the Middle East.

Will the next two thirds of 2015 be equally dramatic? At least.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 May 2015.

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4 Responses to “The Year 2015: First Third Report”

  1. Thomas Krogh says:

    Dear Johan Galtung

    I’m pretty sure what you tried to conclude with the above article (yes, I’m aware of the very very heavy anti-West slant of your world-view), but the facts on the ground point in so many other directions that it basically pulls the rug from your position.

    To name a few things:

    1) “However, the West fights and trains Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians to kill their compatriots.” Well that may certainly be true, but the West’s influence on this is much much less than you presume. The Syrian conflict to name just one, is the direct result of more than 40 years of intense discrimination and frequent massacres fueled by, and using weaponry, from Soviet/Russia and Iran. Yet you completely ignore that much more important part of the understanding. Why this extremely prejudiced and very short horizon? Doesn’t it fit the narrative?

    2) Moscow didn’t “take af gift back”. The broke the UN charter, the OSCE foundations and basically every rule in the book, by their invasion and annexation. With arms, and after a very long preparation. Actually Putin admitted that the plan was draw up long before the fake “referendum”, as a part of Russia’s war aims:

    May I ask why you wholeheartedly support Putins crime, and want to reward him for the annexation? I think we both know how your reaction would have been if a Western country had done something similar. Don’t we?

    3) Which leads us back to one of your starting claims “Eurasia will expand and consolidate successfully and nonviolently”. Uhm no. Russia is – violently – persuing a war in Ukraine with heavy arms support to their allies, as well as regular soldiers on the ground. This is – as the criminal annexation of Crimea – yet more war crimes, and is today the most bloody war in Europe since the Yugoslav implosion. And if the continuing North Caucasus insurgency is anything but a permanent war I’d like to know what and why?

    4) “while USA is stepping up anti-Black violence from city to city” Uhm? Are you suggesting a conspiracy that the “USA” as a country is actively increasing violence against blacks? Might it not be so that what we see is the opposite – that the country at large is opening these cases and highlighting them in order to eradicate police violence? Or is this also incompatible with your narrative?

    5) “China could manage disputed waters-islands-shoals in South China Sea jointly with ASEAN, and East China Sea islands with Japan. USA needs these conflicts for their military projection.”

    It may certainly be so that China could do that, but China has done the exact opposite. And – contrary to your claim – the USA has no more interest in China in this conflict. China has decided to persue a violent and aggressive course towards its neighbors. The responsibility lays fair and square in Beijing. Not in Washinton. And not in Hanoi, Tokyo, Seoul, KL, Bangkok or any other Capital that is on the receiving end of mindless Chinese aggression.

    6) “And sooner or later both will get single currencies, development banks and monetary funds: Gaddafi’s unfulfilled dream; killed by the West.”

    Uhm no. Gadaffi’s “dreams” was killed by himself. The hatred against his violent and unhinged dictatorship trigged the uprising against him. But again you skip all the complicated stuff in order to paint your own narrative.

    I could go on, but I’ll leave it there. You are a smart and well-travled man Mr Galtung, but your quest for a narrative that fits your own ideology has caused you to forget the most important thing any journalist or blogger should do. And in the end your arguments and narrative collapse like a card house in the wind.

    BR/Thomas Krogh

    • Antonio Rosa says:

      Reply from Prof. Johan Galtung to Mr. Thomas Krogh’s comment:

      Dear Thomas Krogh: Thanks for your two replies.

      However, you misunderstand both editorials, in January about 2015, what we are in for, with four predictions; and in May taking stock, finding them confirmed. Prognosis, not who is right and who is wrong, not anti-West or anti-USA, nor pro-Russia or pro-China. Watching the tides: they are against EU-USA, in favor of Eurasia with Russia-China-Islam; against the most violent.

      Being anti states or nations is against peace studies; in theory and practice directed against violence as policy, not against a state or a nation as such. The prognosis for 2015 could be summarized as follows: Western violence is counter-productive and expensive and will make the West decline further; Russia being less violent and Chinese only posturing combined with constructive policies will strengthen them further. Islam, with ISIS is in-between; Africa and Latin America are slowly emerging.

      Peace studies include therapy, not only prognosis and analysis, so policies are suggested that may change the tides. Like defensive military strategy and negotiations for the West, trying to help, not anti-West; the West stands for indispensable values in a globalizing world; with other civilizations. I critiqued Russia, in another editorial, not for using the Western referendum based Kosova policy as a precedent for Crimea, but for repeating their mistake. Kosova could have been a federation with high autonomy for the Serbs; Crimea could have accommodated high autonomy for Tatars. Russia favors a federal solution for Ukraine and should practice what they preach at home, for Tatars, Chechens and many others.

      In the May editorial I critiqued China for its maritime policies, trying to recover ancient control over the East and South China Seas against the UN Law of the Sea–and I have repeatedly proposed East Asian and South China Sea join Communities, with Korea and Japan, and with ASEAN, as a solution. The present Chinese position is untenable.

      But I am not optimistic about the Western switching to less violent policies. One reason is their ignorance: they are badly informed by their own filtered media (compare CNN with Russia Today and CCTV for where you can learn most about the real world) and mistake facts about SCO and Eurasia–hardly mentioned–for propaganda. Another is their arrogance: incapable of admitting mistakes they think they still are in command, that any problem will pass away with some evil “leaders” on the other side; as if there were no lines behind them queuing for promotion–like in the West.

      I find more rationality and knowledge on the Chinese than on the Russian side but China may be in command; and I find more rationality and knowledge on the EU French-German side but USA may still be in command. However, very recently the US bond market is yielding to reality, weakening the dollar, making expensive US violence even less feasible.

      Syria is a former colony ruled from Paris like Libya from Rome; keeping them together calls for dictatorship–hence the effort to return to the Ottoman wilayat, provinces, also in Tunisia. The former colonies are all untenable, which does not mean that ISIS has the solution.

      White USA has feared black revenge for 400-year slavery , now in alliance with impoverished whites. Lift both up. Killing does not help.

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