Meanwhile Around the World

Prof 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 1670 articles and book chapters, over 450 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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La Nucia, Spain: The Centro Social invited all lonely men above 65 and women above 60 living in Comunidad Valenciana to a free stay at a hotel through Christmas, 23-27 December 2016.  May many copy that one!

Waterberg, Namibia:Germany Grapples with Its African Genocide” (NYT, Norimitsu Onishi, 29 Dec 2016). A cemetery for German soldiers who under Lothar von Trotha 1904-05 killed 80,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama cattle herders, resisting German colonization.

TRANSCEND was deeply involved around the centenary. Germany had a myth: genocide only under Hitler. France and England wanted no German apology as they had done worse. Lawyers feared compensation claims.  The result was to appeal to shared Christianity, admitting nothing. Waiting down the line: admission of guilt, wishing it undone, decolonization.

Around the world, particularly in former Yugoslavia:Coca-koloniseringens död-The Death of Coca-Colonization”, the thesis that in countries with Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and CNN, US democratic values would wipe out belligerent ideas (Klassekampen, 3 June 1999). The thesis died when NATO attacked Yugoslavia in March 1999.

That thesis was madness. The country with most of all four, USA, is the most belligerent. CNN’s “defining events of 2016” leaves out a defining process: US Special Forces killing all over, deployed to 138 countries (Salon, Nick Turse, 6 Jan 2017).  Maybe the less powerful can only react with events?

Norway:Norsk grunnskole dreper kreativiteten–Norwegian elementary schools kill creativity”, Klassekampen, 27 Sep 2016). The recommendation is “drama-theater” into elementary schools.

Children know; they play drama-theater, assigning roles, conquering the adult world by playing-acting themselves into it.  Let them continue their way, gently giving them some props, advice, ideas.

Children ask incessantly, and get answers called knowledge from a teaching plan, but not to their questions. Let them ask; answer them.

Like all parents, I have had children by my hand with a stream of whys?! Not always so easily answered. A teacher may be tempted to control, even stop that stream, in order not to expose his/her ignorance.

Syria:The Syrian cease-fire agreement has shifted the balance of power to Assad“(The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, 30 Dec 2016). For sure; but victory by either side is not the same as a solution. At the root is Israel’s policy of fragmenting neighbors, preferring a majority Sunni to a minority Alawite Shia (Iran) regime; supported by USA in the name of democracy; with Al Qaeda and Salafis fighting for their visions of Islam. And IS–not ISIS, nor ISIL; IS is not limited to Iraq-Syria, nor to the Levante–probably getting the allegiance of one imam-mosque-sharia court after the other. IS is not only about land and soldiers, but also the soul of Islam. Syria is now Assad-Russia-Trump USA against IS.  That does not spell peace. How about dialogue?

Spain:6.5% flere boliger solgt i Spania–6.5% more houses sold in Spain” (Spania-posten, Dec 2016), comparing October 2016 with 2015; including empty houses from the 1990s/2000s building boom. Growth?

“Oh, why don’t they ever learn?”  Spain has been through this many times, with booms leading to busts because builders and-or buyers accrue more debt than they can serve; bad loans spelling bankruptcies.  And now even more so given the 55% level of unemployed youth. They start families and look for housing.  Maybe better improve-expand existing houses with modest loans? Or less vulnerable cooperative housing with support from local communities and local savings banks?

Geographically, Spain shares time zone with England, but Franco wanted to share it with Hitler’s Germany.  Government and opposition now want a reversal for more sun during working hours, away from most of EU. But they also want to align with EU shrinking the lunch break, making 6pm the normal end of work.  Spain works 1676 hours per year, the OECD average is 1757 hours, Norway 1424 hours; and Mexico, 2246.

China: “Belt and Road initiative acknowledged warmly by UN” (The Weekly Mirror, Nepal, 16 Dec 2016); the General Assembly encouraging member-states support for economic development. From East China to Western Europe through Mongolia-Russia, through India-Middle East to Greece; filling the gap created by the Western focus on North-South.

China and Norway are now normalizing diplomatic-political ties after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, “one of the rudest interferences in Chinese internal affairs by the West”,  “Norway has deeply reflected upon the issue and learned its lesson”, and “attaches high importance to China’s core interests and major concerns”. (The prize could have been given to their Charter, not to that person).

The West:How Stable Are Democracies? Warning Signs Are Flashing Red” (NYT, Amanda Taub, 29 Nov 2016). Army rule and “anti-system” getting more support but elections/referenda not–as elites want and predict. Although it could be also a deepening of democracy. The test is what happens afterwards; will there be still elections-votes?

Washington, DC: John Pilger predicts all-out US war against China (The Coming War on China, New Internationalist Magazine, 4 Dec 2016). Under Hillary, yes. But China is an ally of Russia and Trump-Putin ties seem solid. Or so we hope.

All over: the USA sidelined, no longer invited to key meetings.  Not strange, given its claim to be exceptional (Obama at the UNGA), heavily inclined to violence-war; and others trying to find solutions.

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic: former Spanish colony of West Sahara, 75-80% occupied by Morocco and Mauritania, like Palestine by Israel: some recognition by the European Court (Klassekampen, S. Henriksen, 23 Dec 2016).  Missing: a UN Security Council resolution like the one against Israeli “settlements”; with France not vetoing but abstaining.

Spain, Safari Aitana: flocks of 24 different species of animals coexisting peacefully in the open; as opposed to humans portrayed in movies like the terrible “Short Term 12”.  May humans learn more from animals!

Credits: TMS: Meanwhile Around the World

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