Meanwhile, Around the World

EDITORIAL, 3 Oct 2016

#449 | Johan Galtung

The Debate: Somebody said the problem is Trump possibility and Clinton probability. A very poor choice between an autistic person in his own bubble and a war criminal even privatizing her warfare?

The debate was short on concrete politics and long on ad hominem. But Trump favored no first nuclear strike, Clinton not. The rich will accept neither Clinton taxes nor Trump stopping trading to plug leaks. In the first half a “presidential” Trump had as good “facts” as Clinton–their facts-in the second Trump was babbling from his bubble. The best that can be said is that they complement each other and could make a good coalition, but the rule is either-or, not both-and.  The worst is a landslide in favor of one or the other. The hope is for electorate participation below one third reducing the legitimacy of either ruler.

The media after-focus was on “who won”, not on any new policy.

An EU military headquarters and EU army: The Bratislava EU summit approved this founding members Germany-France-Belgium-Luxembourg idea of 2003 so that Europe is not ‘dragged into America’s wars’—“without Britain to veto, France and Germany won approval for a joint European military headquarters;-Britain vows-to play its full role in NATO”. (“EU weighs joint defense out of NATO”, INYT, 24-5 Sep 2016).  A key intra-West rift, like Latin America vs Anglo-America, now Europe vs Anglo-America (+ evangelical Denmark-Norway-Sweden-Finland-Estonia?).

Josef Joffe, editor of Die Zeit ( 29 Aug 2016): “not European culture but convenience and Americanism hold Europe together–watch what Europeans eat, wear and listen to.  The lingua franca is English with an American accent.” But scared by possible-probable US Presidents.

Norway: has voices for a Ministry of Peace, like ministries of the environment bringing key issues to the key table. Rejected in 1964 by the foreign minister who argued that his ministry worked for peace; recent warfare in Afghanistan and Libya now prove the opposite.

“The U.N.’s Record in urgent global issues” (INYT, 21 Sep 2016): takes the UN to task for being unable to handle major issues: a record 65 million displaced worldwide because of violent conflicts, wars left unsolved because veto powers favor one of the parties, unable to settle human rights issues in for instance Yemen and Sri Lanka, still unable to define terrorism–but championing lesbian and gay rights and gay couples and with the Paris climate agreement, with powerful USA and China, both veto powers, behind it, to its credit.

Mauritania: holds the world slavery record according to the Global Slavery Index at 4% of the population, followed by Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar, India, Pakistan–both at 1.1% adding 16.1 million slaves.

Washington: 14% of US teenagers believe USA had been ruled by France, and more than 20% did not know the declaration of independence from Britain in 1776. Well, France held on to a major part in the middle, but the teenagers are seen as ignorant of history.

Russia Far East–Amur, Khabarovsk, Primorsky–is under populated: in 2015, only 4.3 of the 143.5 million Russians–divided between 185 peoples, declining to 120.5 million by 2050–live in these 2.4 million square miles along the Chinese border and the Pacific coast.

On the Chinese side 26 million Chinese–or Manchurians rather?–fishing and farming in Russia, “reaching 10 million by 2050, making them the predominant group in the Far East”.  Old Manchu territory; like Mexicans who move into the USA move into old Mexican territory.

China Takes Its Place on the International Stage (Mahoud Hassan in The Daily Star, 23 Sep 1016): Xi Jinping used G20 to talk with USA (the South China Sea and the Paris Climate Agreement), with India (its “logistics” agreement with USA) “to work with India and further advance their cooperation,” with Britain (“closer economic and trading relations”), Brazil, Turkey &c.  China talks with all sides of all conflicts, exploring mutual benefit?

Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and $1.3 trillion “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) make Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” yield to an Asian pivot to Asia, and a Chinese pivot to the world that China now seems to be joining. The West is choosy–the USA even more so–in honoring others by talking with them; China seems to brush that aside.

OXFAM: reminds us of the state of the world: 1% owning more than the other 99% is old news; the 62 richest persons owning more than half of the world poor, who suffered a decline of 41% 2010-2015 when the 62 added $500 trillion.  Nothing is being done to reverse this.

South Asia: “Cross Country Differences in Income Inequality” by Selim Raihan, Dhaka ( 1 Sep 2016) compares the inequality in 1980 with 2015: of 207 countries, 18 experienced ‘no or very small’ changes in Gini indices, 109 experienced increases and 80 declines-in South Asia Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal. China increased from low to very high inequality, South Korea declined to low inequality.

But better than low Gini is to lift the bottom up if suffering.

Dag Hammarskjöld’s Death, Patrice Lumumba’s Death (Olof Palme?):  The UN may reopen the investigation. The late Norwegian general Björn Egge headed military information in the UN peacekeeping operation in Congo in 1961 against Katanga and Union Minière. The plane with Hammarskjöld, staff and guards to Ndola for negotiation with Katanga stranded, and all 17 were killed. Egge saw the corpse with a hole in the forehead, later removed from photos, and the autopsy report was removed from the file (his article in Klassekampen 11 August 2005).

Lumumba: Larry Devlin, the CIA station chief in Leopoldville: “President Eisenhower said, indicated in one way or the other, ‘let’s get rid of this man'” ( 21 Oct 2000).  Palme?

How artists change the world” (INYT, 3 Aug 2016): today artists are seen as making the world more transparent than clergy and lawyers, sociologists, politologists and military, as the new experts.


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. Prof. Galtung has published 1669 articles and book chapters, over 400 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and 167 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 3 Oct 2016.

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