From Security to Peace: A Paradigm Shift

EDITORIAL, 27 Jul 2015

#386 | Johan Galtung, 27 Jul 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

The TRANSCEND peace formula focuses the attention on four tasks:


Cooperation, togetherness, trauma conciliation and conflict solution. Moving on, from a narrow focus on security, on capability = weapons; positively, constructively, buoyed by optimism because it is feasible.

Take the “Iran deal” as an example, even if far from a done deal.

Swapping no bombs for lifting sanctions makes sense; but narrow, and may backfire given the double nail-haystack problem. There are hawks on both sides. One side may hide nails in Iran, large and three-dimensional; the other may plant a nail in Iran, and say, look here!

The arms focus mobilizes energy for cheating and for abrogation.

The deal was between Iran with 0 bombs and the UNSC 5+1 + EU with 16,565 (20 US bombs in Germany, 240 in EU, and Israel, 80? behind). In a deal there is usually give-and-take on both sides; Iran gave, they stopped beating with sanctions, and gave nothing. We will be told that “sanctions work” and get more of that very negative approach.

A conflict between eight haves, and one have-not with no-bomb neighbors invaded, and nuclear Israel not with a status quo, “security”, outcome. Iran can now be inspected, bombed, invaded, no nuclear retaliation.

The peace formula says, Go beyond!, eg., by building togetherness across the have-have not faultline; a Middle East nuclear-free zone. In addition, security through peace for Israel, not the unfeasible opposite. The formula says: clear past traumas, open for future projects. Not in the same document, different experts negotiate, but parallel.

In the table the Iran case is spelled out in more detail. And then three more cases are added: Greece near a stalemate with civil war and Grexit on the horizon; Ukraine in civil war with superpowers involved; and the complex newcomer IS, Islamic State. Four cases; four tasks.

Iran/ USA-Israel Swap no nukes for lifting sanctions Iran: 1953
USA: 1978
Alternative energies, less oil Middle East Nuclear Free Zone
Greece/ Euro-zone EU Swap bailout for austerity “the poor pay”
Debt softening
Debt relief
New partners: Russia, China, Islamic world
1942-49: Civil war, also UK USA
1967-74: CIA coup
1453-1830: under Turkey fighting
With Russia: gas, oil
With China: tourists
With Islam: Islamic banking
Reinforce Orthodoxy relations
Mutual benefit
Ukraine Federation: West EU leaning East to Russia Nonaligned Russia: USSR loss
Ukraine: Crimea loss
Swapping EU trade with Russia gas Long term work on Orth-Cath fault-line
IS UK-France: Iraq-Palestine
Israel with USA
Saudi Arabia: Two Mosques
Shia Islam / Sunni Caliphate
Sykes-Picot 1915
Colonization, Expansion 1948 1967
Iraq war 2003
Military defense;
Negotiate based on Riyadh 2002
joint enemy
Long term work on West-Islam fault-line;like for Ukraine best
by economic, military, political

The table can be read horizontally for the four cases; vertically for the four tasks eventually to be done; and both, as is done here.

Conflict means incompatible, which means something has to be made compatible in an acceptable, sustainable way. Being signed, something is acceptable in the Iran deal; if sustainable, it remains to be seen.

The Greece deal is not acceptable to large portions of a people who voted 61% Oxi (No); and in the Troika debt sustainability is doubted. The third bailout will be spent, the debt will be softened with longer time spans and lower interests, and much debt relief, forgiveness. Argentine and Iceland will serve as models, and the formula opens for better relations to others, outside EU; like to Russia, China, Islam.

A Ukraine deal, status quo being unsustainable, is not on the table, and for the Islamic State there is not even a table. There is open war, IS against one more US-led coalition, more or less willing.

Can the other three tasks open some light in the tunnel, and how?

Look at the trauma column; the issues of the past. Iran, one of the world’s oldest civilizations was greatly humiliated by the CIA-MI6 coup in 1953, and now by a “deal” singling out Iran as the problem. And USA, the most powerful, was humiliated by the Khomeini revolution. And so on, all the way down. Something must, and can be, done.

One useful approach is an international truth commission about what really happened; better an exchange of their narratives with dialogue; best a violent party wishing what happened undone.

Apology is universal, but forgiveness is not, very Christian.

Look at the cooperation column: designing relevant projects.

For Iran-USA: cooperation on less oil-nuclear, more on green energy.

For Greece: revenue from new trade parties as Greece-EU has gone sour, for less austerity–one in five cannot afford a meal–and more debt service based on cheap oil-gas from Russia till deposits in Greek EEZ-Exclusive Economic Zone viable, millions of well-endowed Chinese tourists, and some Islamic banking to make Greek banks less vulnerable. Good for Europe.

For Ukraine: exchanges between the parts, each of them giving the other some access to its big neighbor.

For West: to stop killing IS, actually producing more IS, use arms to defend those threatened by IS brutality, negotiate, based on Riyadh 2002, also signed by Iran (Ahmadinejad).

Look at the columns for harmony-togetherness across faultlines.

For Iran and Israel: a Middle East nuclear-free zone could serve joint interests across deep faultlines.

For Greece Orthodoxy: togetherness with Russia; with China, mutual benefit; with Islam, identify the good in bad old relations.

For Ukraine and IS long-term work: bridge gaps with economic-military-political projects; theological work may follow.

The formula is an agenda for never-ending work. The EU, based on that logic, was a success–making war unthinkable; today hit by deep attitudinal faultlines and economic inequity. Add EU to the cases.


* Malise Ruthwen, in “Inside the Islamic State”, The New York Review of Books, 8 July 2015, reports that “In an online poll conducted in July 2014, a formidable 92 percent of Saudi citizens agreed that ISIS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law”.


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.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Jul 2015.

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