Comments to Paris Atrocities Editorial – A Reply


Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Violence In and By Paris: Any Way Out? TMS Editorial 23 Nov 2015

Time has passed since the November 13 atrocities against a city we all love. Was I “wrong to attack and criticize President Hollande for defending France and the free world (Ada Aharoni)”? Yes, I criticized the war declaration on IS, saw it in the light of French culture and belligerence; and as far from an adequate response to the atrocities. It was never clear that IS was the perpetrator, and military experts say that ground war, not only bombing, is indispensable. The wrong approach in the wrong direction.

In this, there is no defense of the atrocity, of the actors, of IS.  Some people believe that if one criticizes one party in a conflict then one favors the other.   I am against the violence of both, searching for ways out.

Where I was wrong was to read too much into Tony Blair’s Iraq apology. There were three countries behind Sykes-Picot-Czar in 1916; they have run full circle, all three are bombing–Russia, like the Czar, less clear.

Paris must be understood in its own right, as also the Islamic State.  IS is many different things to many people.  Brutality to some.  Undoing Sykes-Picot in Iraq-Syria to others.  The West picks up on that. To others, IS as a unified Islamic State undoing Western colonial fragmentation. And a caliphate to still others.  However, the EU is unified Christian, now more secular; the Vatican is a Catholic community.  Hence hard to argue against.

I grew up in Norway, forced into Christianity, dedicated to Western colonialism to spread Christianity, and fought both. Against the same from Islam, I favor using the military to defend the many exposed to IS brutality.  But not to kill and escalate by using their approach. And in favor of negotiation based on understanding both.


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 4 Jan 2016.

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One Response to “Comments to Paris Atrocities Editorial – A Reply”

  1. rosemerry says:

    I live in France, and found the response to the Nov. 13 attack quite over the top, like the excessive concentration on the Charlie Hebdo attacks. France has very selective laws on freedom of speech, and the Charlie “cartoons” as well as the treatment of French citizens of Arab descent, are readily discernible to a fair observer.

    Since October, over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in “clashes” where many children and youth allegedly stabbed, or tried to attack Israelis, even killing some of them. Observe the reporting of these events compared with attacks in Europe.