Sunday, June 10, 2018


Time to recognize that Hawaii has a political system unique among US states

With each election cycle, it becomes more difficult to take Hawaii Republicans
seriously as a major political party. –Volcanic Ash, 6/10/2018

by Larry Geller

One can argue that it is a good thing to have a “loyal opposition,” and that Hawaii’s state government has not had that for some time. So should the state Republican Party be revived somehow? It’s actually too late, the GOP expired here some time ago. Some still cling to its ghost as though it still were alive.

Since each of us became adults we have been used to the two party system that the Constitution requires (wait… you say that’s not in the Constitution??).

It’s always been elephants vs. donkeys with a few strange animals at the fringes.

The GOP’s irrelevance is most apparent in the Legislature, where it now holds none of 25 Senate seats for the first time and a historic-low five of 51 House seats.

[Star-Advertiser, Top-two system offers better choices than party primaries, 6/10/2018 (paywalled) ]

There have actually been no GOP members of the Senate for several years now. When there was only one, the Senator was respected but powerless as he took ideologically-based positions on each bill under consideration.

It’s time to move on. Like it or not, we have something different here.

Hawaii is uniquely positioned to demonstrate that the failed rivalry between Republicans and Democrats is not the only, and certainly not the best, model of state government.

The parties still caucus separately and hold their conventions as in any other state. Candidates still receive some national support because the two-party system is alive, if not well, nationally. Also, the two-party mindset, which has been with us for countless generations, is difficult to dislodge. It’s hard to visualize a political system without that convenient split.

So what do we have instead?

We have a political system free of polarizing ideologies. A nominally Republican House member supports renewable energy and the environment. A nominal Democrat (who used to be a Republican) opposes marriage equality. We do not condemn them for not toeing party lines. The ideologies can be held by anyone.

The closest model I can find is the ancient Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan. It was a system based on accumulating power and rank, not by party divisions.

Senate as a feudal system[5]

There’s an emperor up on the fifth floor—the Governor—but the extent of his power is questionable.

The real power is wielded by the shoguns (Speaker of the House and President of the Senate) and the major daimyos (feudal lords, the chairs of the powerful Finance, Ways and Means, and certain other committees).

This is far from an ideal arrangement, but it could be at least the beginning of something better than the two-party split. It will take public pressure and rule changes to end the abuses of the current system. Perhaps a constitutional convention, if one is held soon, as is a possibility, could straighten out the kinks and tame the power of the lords and ladies.

There’s no question that there are major abuses including blatent ethical violations and constitutionally questionable procedures. Those in power, as we see so vividly on a national scale, don’t feel very much bound by ethics or even the law.

No fewer than a reported 77 fundraisers were held during the just concluded legislative session, perhaps a record number. Usually these are held not in a representative’s district but in a handful of Honolulu restaurants convenient for lobbyists and business interests to attend. The per-plate donation requests are often way above the budget of ordinary constituents.

Of course, bills are still moving through committees that these lobbyists support or oppose, hence the ethical issue.

Those in power here seem to have a disdain for political ethics (and there are other examples).

The state constitution requires that a bill have three readings but in each session many suffer a “gut and replace” procedure that replaces the wording of a successful bill with one that did not make it that far but which the leadership wishes to advance anyway.The successful bill effectively dies. So far there has been no remedy in the courts, and the judiciary is perhaps unlikely to interfere with legislative procedure. The maneuver is hidden on the state capitol webpage so as to shroud it from public view.

This session saw the Shogun [Speaker] of the House pull conference committee members at the last minute when it looked like bills he didn’t like would pass, thereby trashing the many hours of testimony submitted during session supporting those bills. It costs real money for Neighbor Island residents to fly to Honolulu to attend committee hearings—their time and investment (and perhaps willingness to participate further in the legislative process) is hijacked for who-knows-what purpose. This is not how a fully-functioning, healthy democracy is supposed to operate.

Even the constitutionally-required “three readings” are a sham.

So we could do with some work to improve our system of governance, but the raw material is there and the obstacle of the two-party division is gone.

We can build on what we have instead, improving it, perhaps with a top-two voting system as David Shapiro suggests in his column today, along with other safeguards to eventually end the feudal power structure.

The opportunity is here for us to create a truely democratic state government.

Instead of lamen

Monday, June 04, 2018


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Meanwhile, Around the World

Meanwhile, Around the World

4 Jun 2018

#537 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service


The world may be losing a peace opportunity in the USA-North Korea conflict.  With NK nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching mainland USA something close to “balance of power” had been obtained, by many seen as the key to peace via “mutual and balanced” disarmament even to “general and complete disarmament” (GCD).

Whether this ever happened is unclear.  States tend to see “balance” as having more than the other and suspecting that of him.  But something else may happen: distargeting, not aiming at each other.

However, in all these formulas there is an element of equality, of the symmetry that may be a condition for peace. But symmetry is unacceptable to USA. That state does not see itself as being on an equal footing with anybody in the world, and certainly not with small, even if very powerful, North Korea.

The same applies to “negotiation” as a mutual give-and-take.  USA as “the most powerful in the world” is ready to take, not to give. Their sense of a “summit meeting” is informing the other what to give, with Kennedy-Khrushchev over Turkey-Cuba in 1962 as an exception.

North Korea had developed a nuclear capacity as bargaining card for its three goals: turning the armistice into a peace treaty, normal diplomatic relations with Seoul, Tokyo, Washington, and a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, duly inspected by United Nations.

This has a symmetry taste of peace, but to the USA the stench of equality. And North Korea is forced to give up one after the other.

North Korea–today much less vulnerable–may have been threatened with a repetition of the 1952 US Air Force bombing, killing 3 million.  USA, extremely vulnerable, must eliminate any threat, even bargaining cards. And that may look like the end of the story.

The only thing remaining is the unsolved USA-NK conflict, and the next violence or threat of violence.  A sadly missed opportunity.

It also looks as if Japan will do nothing to solve its contested islands problems, with Russia, (the) China(s), and the (the) Korea(s). Mutually acceptable solutions might include dividing them, or, as this author argues, sharing ownership, dividing the revenue equally.

Akifumi Fujita, a nuclear scientist turned peace researcher, argues that it is because of their intellectual attachment to the state system, as a zero sum game with (threat of) force as ultimate arbiter. All efforts to go beyond that, with cities cooperating directly across conflicts to mention one example, pass unnoticed.

PM Abe now militarizes Japan much more, with offensive capacity, possibly nuclear, accepted as “normal” for states. USA holds back, worried about a Japanese revenge. Joseph Nye: “Japan’s image hurt by Abe’s militarist facade” (Japan Times 5 Apr 2014).  Well, more than a “facade”, stark reality; more than hurt “image”, hurt peace.

Roberto Savio’s “Ten reflections on today’s crisis” ( include:

“Ten years ago, 852 people has the same wealth as 2.3 billion people. Now there are eight”; “we are-breaching the 2 degree temperature limit beyond which our planet-undergoes irreversible changes; “financial transactions on any given day is forty times higher than the production of goods and services around the planet”; “political participation has declined from an average 86% in 1960 to 64%”.

More inequality, insults to nature, speculation; less politics.

In December 2011, Chávez, treated for cancer, wondered “have they invented a technology to spread cancer, a day after Argentine’s leftist president Cristina de Kirchner had been diagnosed,–after “three other prominent leftist leaders, Dilma Rousseff, Fernando Lugo, Lula da Silva.

“With Unemployment So Low Why Are Wages Stagnant?”–“decline and war on trade unions” (David Schultz Counterpunch 8 May 2018).

China expands economically, politically in the sense of shaping others (including the USA, more than Americans are aware of), now also militarily–but culturally?  Not really. There is much talk about Confucianism, but very little about the more important Daoism.

“Is China’s Silk Road project the new colonialism?” (NYT 5-6 May 2018).  The article has an answer: “Or is it presenting an alternative model of development to a world that could use one?”

The answer is, of course, both-and.  Ever stronger East-West rail and road links built by China for mutual benefit and cooperation can also be used like the North-South shipping and air links made by Europeans for their conquest and colonization of Africa and Asia.

And by a small group of Polish Jews, the zionists, focused on the Middle East.  Their colony, on Arab-Muslim lands with Jewish history, the “Jewish Homeland”, is now celebrating 70 years as a state.

“What keeps Xi awake at night?” (NYT 14 May 2018) according to Xi brings up “winning the technological race, taming the internet, racing for military edge, hidden financial risks, unrest over pollution”.  He is probably not alone among statesmen being awake over those issues.

A more basic issue and not only for statesmen: “You are going to die.  Just face it” (NYT) about a book by Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, 2018.  The way we live “every death can now be understood as suicide”.  Reviewers Chris Buckley and Paul Mozur: there is also “the obvious point that most Americans suffer from a lack-not excess-of access to basic health care”.  The obvious matters.

Last selected article this month: “Does math make you smarter” by Manil Suri (NYT).  The general tone of the article is a cautious “no”. “Knowing more math” is not the same as “smarter”.  But knowing about creating new mathematical realities, like negative numbers, fractions, may be useful.  How to transcend limitations, in other words.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Monday, April 09, 2018


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe (video): Breaking the Cycle of Violent Conflict

Johan Galtung: Breaking the Cycle of Violent Conflict

9 Apr 2018

University of California Television – TRANSCEND Media Service

A noted pioneer in the field of Peace Studies, Johan Galtung makes the case for incorporating human rights as key to successful peace building around the world.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Apr 2018.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Monday, March 19, 2018


How to easily monitor bills in the Hawaii state legislature using your Android phone

by Larry Geller

The January thru May legislative session can get frantic if you’re following several bills. It’s easy to miss a hearing, and time consuming to check all the testimony and committee reports. The website doesn’t help you much—you can sign up for hearing notices via email, and that’s about it.

An app developed as part of a thesis at the University of Hamburg has come to my rescue.

I used it for the first time this session and can recommend it as very efficient and fairly easy to set up. There are a few steps (which I’ll describe below), but in less than four minutes I can set it up to watch bills for me. After that, it puts a notification on my phone as an alert.

The app tells you what has changed as well. It does everything I need to effectively follow the progress of a bill.

The app puts alerts in the notification area on my screen. Different versions of Android handle this differently.

I can use any of a number of other apps if I want a text or email sent, but I’ll leave that explanation for another time, it’s not simple.

Step 1: Get the app.

unnamedWeb Alert is available from the Play Store here or from the Play Store app on your phone.

Step 2: Start the app. Go to the Capitol website,

You will be entering the bill number here:


Step 3: Enter bill number and push the Go button.


You will then be on the status page for that bill.


Step 4: Verify that this is the correct page

At the top it says “Recorder”. If the page is the correct one, push the check mark at the top.

It will then change to “Selection”. This is where we will tell the app what to monitor for changes.


Step 5: Make your selection.

For this example we want to watch for status changes. A status change would include committee assignments, votes, or other actions on a bill.

The status of a bill is given on the left side of the page, arranged by date.

Push someplace in the status listing. You’ll get a box offering (among other choices) to expand your selection.


Keep expanding until the entire status area is selected. It only takes a couple of pushes. Select only the status area.


Then push the check mark at the top.

Step 6: Rename the alert with the bill number.

You’ll be back at the main screen. The entry you just made will be labeled “” but you’ll probably want to change that to the bill number.


Long-press on the entry. You’ll get this menu.


Select Edit and change the name of the alert.

Now you’re done!


If you want to follow testimony and committee reports, create a new alert but select the right part of the bill status page instead of the left. Select all the boxes (committee reports, hearings, bill text, etc.). Then push the check mark at the top.

There are other tweaks to the app, such as setting the frequency of monitoring, which you can explore from its settings (the gear icon at the top).

As you see from the illustrations, I’m following a few bills right now. The list used to be longer but some bills died (that is, were killed!). I deleted them to save data and CPU time. No need to have the app follow dead bills that will never change.

Now, when the status of a bill changes, you’ll get a notification. Push on it to see the changes. Scroll up and down with your finger to find all the changes. This is very handy!


With the arrows on the bottom you can go forward or backward in the change history.

Clicking on the “world” icon at the top takes you to the status page on the Capitol web site for further exploration.

Let me know how this works for you, or if you have another easy way to follow bills at the lege.

Monday, February 26, 2018


Rusti announces run for Governor of Hawaii--again

by Larry Geller


Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Follow Rusti’s campaign on Twitter. Click here.

In a surprise announcement, Rusti the Orangutan announced he will be resigning from the Honolulu Zoo to devote his full time to campaigning for governor of Hawaii. This has a familiar ring to it: it’s exactly what Rusti said eight years ago. But at the last minute, Rusti couldn’t get a ride to file his papers, and gave up.

Is Hawaii better because Rusti didn’t run in 2010? You answer the question.

Disappeared News questioned Rusti in 2010 about his campaign plans and hopes for Hawaii. We bring you an exclusive interview again this time. I’m quite happy to repeat some of the questions I asked then—times have changed, although Rusti hasn’t.

DISAPPEAREDNEWS: I understand that you’ve decided to throw your hat into the ring once again for this year’s race for governor.

Russian MAGARUSTI: I now have many hats. I noticed that hats matter in national politics. Some say “Make America Great Again” in different languages.

One of my platforms is that Hawaii should have a hat. Why is it that none of our politicians wants to make Hawaii great again? It’s always the same-old same-old. Homelessness was a crisis in 2003, it’s still a crisis in 2018. Hawaii’s state tax system dates from the 19th century, I understand, though they have updated it to use the Chinese abacus quite recently, I heard.

I want to make Hawaii great again. Whatever that takes. I can do it—I’m as capable as that guy Trump who I understand is now our president.

Somebody left me a banana wrapped in a newspaper article from last year claiming that Hawaii is already great:

The state granted women legal abortions in 1970, predating Roe v. Wade. In 1972, it became the first state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. And in 1974, it became the first to mandate employer-sponsored healthcare with the Hawaii Prepaid Healthcare Act.

Hawaii just became the first US state to pass a bill supporting basic income

This demonstrated to me the unique power of bananas to convey information.

DN: I asked you last time you ran. Why would you leave your cushy job at the zoo for the thankless and unrewarding position of governor?

RUSTI: My answer is the same: Neither of the other two candidates can offer what I can: to turn Hawaii into a true Banana Republic. Only by realizing our true potential can we truly aspire to greatness. We should give up trying to become the “high tech hub of the Pacific” and aim to maximize our natural strengths.

I believe our strengths are our people and our bananas. This is because so many people have given me so many bananas.

I am the candidate best equipped do this because I understand bananas. Isn’t that simple enough? Don’t laugh—we have more varieties of banana here in Hawaii then they have in (say) Washington, DC. Ask at your local farmers’ market, they’ll tell you all the different kinds they have.

But we don’t capitalize on our natural advantages. By running for governor I can capitalize and capitolize at the same time. First, though, I need a hat with a slogan…

DN: I challanged you last time: you’ve never held elective office… you never served in Congress, you’ve never been mayor… and you copped out last time you said you would run for governor.

RUSTI: That’s still the greatest advantage I hold over my opponents. With inexperience one can go far—it’s a fact!

If I win this election I promise to serve out my term, but after that… I can see myself in the oval office. I firmly believe that the American people would welcome my inexperience and deep understanding of fruit.

DN: In 2010 you had your choice of running mates. What do you think of today’s field of candidates?

RUSTI: I will endorse one candidate for Lt. Governor. It will matter because I am the 800-pound gorilla that everyone has heard of.

So far, none of them have paid me an official visit. I demand loyalty, and also begging to be chosen.

I know that they secretly want to move on to the governor’s mansion next time around, so they better also bring some decent gifts if they want to succeed with me.

In addition to loyalty and tribute I will be looking for someone weak enough not to challange me for re-election if I decide not to run for president next time around.

My wife Violet is thinking of trying for that office, and she outweighs me.

Follow Rusti’s campaign on Twitter. Click here.

Did you know that orangutans are endangered as the rainforests are cleared for palm oil production?

Support programs to protect orangutans and other endangered species. See the Orangutan Project.


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Not War on Terrorism but Dialogue for Solutions

…West of whatever type, will you please stop invading us!

…And then: Afghanistan is not a Western unitary state with capital in Kabul, that is a Western illusion.  Afghanistan is a co-existence of 8 nations–7 of them also in neighboring countries–and 25,000 villages, very poor, very autonomous.  And invincible: there is no central point from which an invader can conquer the whole country.

Not War on Terrorism but Dialogue for Solutions

26 Feb 2018

#523 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

I am sitting somewhere in Afghanistan. Across the table are three Taliban; Pashtuns like most Taliban.  My opening question is standard:  “What does the Afghanistan look like where you would like to live?” with some equally standard follow-up questions:  “What is the worst that happened to you?”, and “Was there a good period in the past?”

And they talk, and talk, and talk; it sounds like no Westerner ever asked them questions about what they think.  For them the answers were obvious, and they were very eager to explain the obvious:

And then: Afghanistan is not a Western unitary state with capital in Kabul, that is a Western illusion.  Afghanistan is a co-existence of 8 nations–7 of them also in neighboring countries–and 25,000 villages, very poor, very autonomous.  And invincible: there is no central point from which an invader can conquer the whole country. Maybe a loose federation with villages as the basic unit and a small capital; maybe a community with the neighbors in spirit, Islam and language; the economic priority being the positive, not punitive aspect of Sharia, basic needs for all, all nations, both genders.

And there we have made terrible mistakes, now learning from more advanced brothers and sisters in Muslim countries.  We are improving.

We are very violent so we need some peacekeeping by our more advanced brother and sister countries, Tunisia, Turkey, Indonesia.  And then, West of whatever type, will you please stop invading us! Nobody has defeated us, but it has cost us millions of lives–.

Yes, it was better before Durand and in the periods between the invasions.  What we need now is a coalition government, a loose federation, a community with the neighbors, basic needs priorities for all, peacekeeping by brothers and sisters.  The Afghanistan we want.

I remember myself during my first visit to Afghanistan January 1968 asking myself my standard question, what does this country remind me of?  The answer was, of course, Switzerland; not 8 nations, but 4 (one only Swiss); not 25,000 villages, but 2,300 local communities, a federation with no nations running the country alone, permanent coalition government, neutrality since taking a stand in favor of one or the other neighbor would tear Switzerland apart.  A Swiss model?

I am sitting in the office of David Kucinich before they managed to gerrymander the major peace spokesman out of the US Congress, with 8 of his fellow representatives: “Professor Galtung here is back from Afghanistan and talks with the Taliban; up came a possible solution”.

The reaction in the major “state terrorist” country in the world?

“Very interesting.  But we are elected representatives of the US people and they are not interested in solutions.  They have elected us for this, V for victory, then we will tell them what the solution is.”

I said that victory would elude the USA given their devotion, and unlimited time perspective as opposed to an “administration” or two; that retreat with honor leaving behind a regime to the US taste would also elude them; why not help with a federal constitution and Central Asian Community, becoming their friends?  Answer: not our mandate.      Me: then you are heading for something worse than defeat and retreat.  They:  What?  Me: Becoming irrelevant.  The ball is in other courts.

I am sitting in State Department asking my standard question: “What does the Afghanistan look like that you would like to see?”  And the answer, predictable since it is US world policy: “with democracy in the sense of fair and free multi-party national elections, and a free market”.  And an Afghanistan that cannot attack us–9/11.

I am sitting somewhere in Southeast Asia, in front of me are Al Qaeda.  Me:  “What does the world look like you would like to see?”

I am in Madrid at a Dialogue of Civilizations conference; in  front of me is Hamas with a tape-recording of Bush saying that God has chosen him to bring democracy to the Middle East. Bush?  A blasphemy.

I am sitting in an adjunct of Pentagon with a two-star general, charming and well informed:  it costs them US$10 to make an IED, a bomb–they can go on forever.  Our problem: no Plan B.

He was forbidden by a higher level from talking more with me.

A conference at a think tank in Washington.  An excellent talk by a State Department consultant on the history of Israel-Palestine-USA talks.  Question from the moderator: “And the solution?”  “No idea.”

So I am brought in to present the Transcend 1-2-6-20 plan–Palestine recognized also by Israel, with some Israeli cantons on the West bank and some Palestinian  cantons in Northwest Israel; cooperation between the two; inside a 6 state community of Israel with its five Arab neighbors; surrounded by an Organization for Security and Cooperation in West Asia, adding neighbors’ neighbors and some of their neighbors–about 20.  Silence.  No alternative Plan B.

Up come two State Department experts, the task of one being to disseminate US style democracy, of the other a federation.  The former got the I-culture/we-culture answer and in addition that you may need a federation first and then democracy in each part to prevent the most numerous nations from dominating all.  And for the latter: for a federation they must also identify something that binds them together, not only what divides them.  Maybe they want independence, ask them.

Conclusion I:  What the “terrorists” say is not unreasonable; what is unreasonable is not knowing what they say.  I know no case where there is not a basis for a reasonable–accepted, sustainable–solution.  The “state terrorists” in Washington seem so dedicated to military planning and execution that there is little time or manpower left for any Plan B; either nothing at all, or not thought through.  The insensitivity to cultural and structural factors is remarkable.

Conclusion II:  This has to change for the sake of all involved.

And all it takes is dialogues, preferably public, with all parties.

Let me now get into more detail on Afghanistan-Pakistan-USA. Washington, Carnegie Endowment, 18 April 2012:  Ladies and gentlemen, first, thanks to American Muslim Association Foundation for organizing a forum on this controversial topic in the heart of Washington!

You have given me the global perspective on this panel, taking into account much space and time; kind of einsteinian.  Seeing the world from above I sense five grand trends as a backdrop, a context, for the theme: the fall of the US empire; the de-development of the West; the decline of the state system to nationalisms from below and regionalisms from above; the rise of the Rest; and the rise of China.

And then, spiraling down toward the ground, we see those three actors and the countless sub-actors in deadly embraces, so well described by Ahmed Rashid in his Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  Let us highlight some aspects.

We see a wound, a 1400 miles border dividing Pashtuns, today 50 millions, carved in 1893 by Durand–an English foreign secretary of “British India”–between the Empire, today Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Thus, Pashtuns crossing the line are not entering a “safe haven”, but are at home.  The “treaty” was in English, which Afghanistan’s emir did not understand.  Another signatory was sovereign Baluchistan, later invaded by and incorporated in Pakistan.  The Pashtuns were not included.

We sense the US reification of conventional world maps of states, like the two mentioned.  Yes, they have governments, more or less of, by and for the people, not only for 1 %, and they have more, or less or not at all failed states, presidents or prime ministers.  But they throw a veil over more important maps of nations, more informative today given the decline of the states.  And maps of civilizations, like Arabs, Muslim, Christians, Jews.  Not only Muslims have the dilemma of who am I, a citizen of a secular state member of the state system, or a believer in a faith, the ummah for the Muslims.

We sense Pakistan’s concerns: internal divisions among nations,  and the conflict with India, above all, but not only, over Kashmir.

We sense Afghanistan’s concerns: others invading, occupying, conquering, from Alexander the Great via the Mongols and three English invasions, one Soviet, and now USA-NATO in a US-lead coalition; with varying pretexts.  Like hiding the search for a base close to China (Bagram), and for oil from the Caspian to the Indian Ocean, under a pretext of 9/l1 coming from Afghanistan in general, and bin Laden in particular; without delivering any public proof of that assertion.

We sense the USA committing the same elementary mistake again and again: the enemy of my enemy is my friend; working well for some issues, but that friend may also have some other points on the agenda.  Use bin Laden to beat the Soviets, but maybe he is against secularism in general, not only the Soviet variety?  Use Pakistan to beat Islamists on their own ground, but maybe on top of their agenda is to beat India in having influence in Afghanistan, and hence protecting Pashtuns, Taliban, and housing the key enemy bin Laden?  Leading to a de facto war, the Pakistani secret service, ISI, taken by surprise(?) by Obama ordering a US SEAL extra-judicial execution on their lands.

And in the background Ali Bhutto’s Islamic bomb, adding to the evangelical, anglican, catholic-secular, orthodox, confucian, judaic and hindu bombs, competing for god-like omnipotence.  Israel’s goals, to eliminate that bomb, and stop one in Iran, become US goals.  The tail wagging the dog?  Partly, but even more important is how the two countries came into being, taking over somebody else’s land in the name of their faith, killing, pushing inhabitants into exile, or into reservations.  The much longer history of India can also be read in such terms.  Maybe a basis for the USA-Israel-India alliance in the area: if one of us falls so does the other, from illegitimacy?  Well, they are not the only ones, look at much of Latin America.

How about US-Pak relations?  Agendas that coincide only on some points and diverge wildly on others will drive them from one conflict to the next as they have for a decade or two.  But Afghanistan, and Pakistan in general and ISI and the Army in particular, also use the USA as a milking cow–Pakistan to the tune of $3 billion a year or so.

Some cow.  These are the meager, not the fat, cow years.  Milk is printed, comes as vouchers, old arms.  Not a lasting relation anyhow, and even less so in an Afghanistan where they have to create army and police for the milk transfer.  Not strange that the more or less willing partners and US civilians cooperate to have dialogues with the Taliban to get off the hook, the US military saying “give us only X years more and we’ll beat them”.  With drones and SEALs.

USA and NATO will withdraw and bones of the US empire will be buried on Afghan soil. Maybe NATO too.  That game offers no solution.

We are back to the grand trends of the opening: power moving to the south and the east, states yielding to federations and regions.  Pakistan can probably only survive as a federation with very much autonomy for the parts, and as part of a Central Asian community with eight Muslim neighbors including Afghanistan.  The more open the border the more will the Durand wound heal, not by Pakistan or Afghanistan yielding territory to the other, or as a new Pashtunistan. And that region will be more interested in good relations with China–already owner of enormous resources in Afghanistan–than with the USA.

And the USA?  Hopefully withdrawing before the war with Pakistan becomes hotter.  Into the same, the fate of the times: maybe into a North America region.  Or a USA-Israel Judeo-Christian civilization, with all the problems that will imply?  A true federation for WASPs and for dominated nations in the USA?  A conference with Pakistan to exchange experiences, compare notes from the period 2001-2012?

Where love is missing, separation may be better.  Even divorce.

*                           *                           *

In conclusion some words maybe guesses, about 9/11 2001.

The Arab/Wahhabite goal was probably justice, by executing two buildings in public space for alleged sins against Alla’h and lack of respect for Islam. The US goal was and is status quo, with free trade.  Even to talk about bridging the gap is today taboo.

And yet the key parties, let us call them Washington and Al Qaeda, not 1.4 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims, will have to start doing exactly that, through dialogues, secret and public.  They cannot go on eliminating each other in the search for the elusive “roots” of the Evil on the other side that would make them victorious.  Wiser people on either side–probably some steps removed from the two over-focused, and very similar, top figures–Obama and Osama–may already have started feeling their way into dialogue processes.

“No attack on the USA in exchange for US military withdrawal from Muslim countries that so want” could serve as an example of a possible deal.  Another would be to explore the concept of “globalization-free zones”; like no US economic penetration in the Muslim ummah.

But the basic approach would be mutual exploration to identify the legitimate elements in such goals as “free trade” and “respect”.

Cultural violence stands massively in the way of positive structural peace and in the case of 9/11 2001 even in the way of negative direct peace, simple absence of violence.  In the case of 9/11 2001 the culture of violence goes beyond racial prejudice, bringing in such pre-modern, pre-Enlightenment Puritan and Wahhabite figures of thought as Chosenness, by God for Self and by Satan for Other, with visions of glory as God’s reward and trauma as punishment, and of the final battle, Armageddon, where whoever is not with us is against us.  Maybe one day Enlightenment will strike in both cultures.

And one day even reconciliation.

In the meantime let us drop the terms “terrorist” and “state terrorist”; as a beginning put them in [” “], quote unquote. Of course they stand for something: very often hitting defenseless people not in uniform, from the ground or the air.  People in uniform hitting each other, also known as inter-state wars, are dwindling with the state system, and also because the wars are too risky for the combatants, they prefer defenseless victims.  Up came the “terrorisms”.

However, more basic than their violent strategies of various kinds is something deeper: conflicts, contradictions between parties, incompatibilities.  Name the parties, identify their goals, explore incompatibilities and compatibilities for conflict and cooperation, and turn the former into the latter: through dialogues for solution.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

If you enjoyed this article, please consider a donation to TMS and click here.

Share or download this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Auditor’s report pinpoints mismanagement of funds in the Hawaii Tourism Authority

… in the case of AEG’s contract to transition the management and operation of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, we found  concrete instances in which HTA approved improper, extravagant expenses disallowed by the terms of that contract.

As the just-released audit of the Hawaii Tourism Authority emphasizes, the HTA is semi-autonomous and exempt from the procurement code. The audit report just released describes abuse of that independence, for which, of course, the Hawaii taxpayer is charged.

The report is easy to read. The one-page summary is worth skimming—it won’t take long for the news to pick this up, but you don’t have to wait. Recent audit reports are remarkable for their use of plain language and the inclusion of explanation. By design, they are accessible to all readers. The use of sidebars and visual material educates and enlightens. Check out the summary or the full report, or browse other easy-to-read reports on the Auditor’s website.

We found that HTA reimbursed millions of dollars to contractors without receipts and other required documentation; reimbursed costs, such as first-class airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, and other extravagant expenses, that were expressly prohibited by contract; and consistently failed to enforce contract terms that are intended to protect the State. HTA has disregarded its own procurement policies and procedures, awarding sole source contracts based on questionable justifications, paying contractors without existing contracts, and voluntarily waiving ownership of intellectual property that the State paid to develop. In response to a statutory change reducing the amount of the Tourism Special Fund that can be used for administrative expenses, HTA shifted some expenses to other budget lines and to HTA programs, but did not significantly reduce its costs.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Spectrum’s plan to move `Olelo and Capitol TV channels into upper digital oblivion will affect seniors most

by Larry Geller

I learned quite a bit as a board member and past president of a senior advocacy organization (Kokua Council): many elders don’t tweet, many don’t access the Internet very much or at all, and some still have flip phones.

This will change as the generations advance, but it’s where we are now.

And those who want to stay active politically in Hawaii depend on the public access channels for information and to monitor legislative hearings.

Now it seems that Spectrum, which gobbled up Oceanic Time Warner, wants to snatch the analog `Olelo channels (including Capitol TV) and banish them to upper digital assignments with new numbers.

2018-01-31 15_56_36-HMS, HMS_CPH_PSM, HMS_CPH 1_31_18 Ch55Capitol TV broadcasts are listed on the state capitol website (here) and many people, particularly those who live far away or who have mobility issues, depend on these broadcasts for information on what our lawmakers are up to.

In the past it was a rule (federal?) that the public access channels had to be available to the lowest tier of subscribers. That’s still analog—those who have one or more TVs without digital access. These days Spectrum is still subject to regulation, but whether the regulating body, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), will stick up for cable users is not known. At least they should hear the voices of the users on this plan.

The issue is on the next agenda and public testimony is accepted in person or via email.

The meeting is Friday, February 2, right in the magical “news hole” of 5 p.m., the time when politicians release statements they don’t want to see in the next day’s paper. In Hawaii it’s pau hana time on an Aloha Friday. I suspect they hope few people will show up.

I’d rather be elsewhere, but I’m going to the meeting to urge that the DCCA not allow the cable channel move. Won’t you join me?

Written testimony can be sent to DCCA Cable Television <>.

If you didn’t know about this change, you’re not alone. It could start as early as February 6. I have not been notified by Spectrum but did see an op-end in the Star-Advertiser (which is locked behind their paywall, sorry).

I did call Spectrum and learned that digital adapter boxes will be required for TVs that do not already have them. Here’s where many older people will get cut off. Most of us will have no trouble installing the boxes, but some people will not be able to cope. Imagine grandpa or granny, who do not yet even have a cell phone, wielding a wrench and arranging one more electrical power connection. They may not even have that wrench.

Or granny or grampa can pay $49.99 for installation.

Undoubtedly, some viewers will choose to just do without.

Spectrum could (and should) just leave the channels where they have been for around 20 years.

If you think the channel move is wrong, send a comment to DCCA Cable Television <> before the hearing. If you can, come down to the meeting location (see agenda) and weigh in personally.

Oh… I nearly forgot. In the future Spectrum could begin to charge for the digital adapter boxes. Isn’t your cable bill already creeping up a few bucks every so often? If they can charge, they will, and older folks are often on a fixed income.

Your voice can make a difference. Please send an email or come to the hearing if you can.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Meanwhile, Around the World

Meanwhile, Around the World

29 Jan 2018

galtung_side#519 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Nobody less than Lawrence Summers writes (WP 11 Dec 2017): “Don’t Expect the Economy’s Sugar High to Last” in spite of economic growth of 2.3% and stock market rise by more than 25% after election and the tax cuts.  Where workers’ take home pay is concerned, there are two missing measures: raising productivity and raising equality.

David Leonhardt (NYT 8 Sep 2017) “A Broken US Economy in One Simple Chart”: the poor and middle class annual income growth dropping from 3.5 to 1.2%, with the “very affluent” (0.001%) rising from 0 to 5.5%.

One thing is wealth, another is life expectancy: Japan and Spain are Nos. 1 and 2, Norway No. 14, USA No. 25.  No doubt the Japanese diet based on le cru, not le cuit, and the Spanish Mediterranean diet, also based on the sea, the plains and the mountains, play major roles.

That leads to the “Hartford Aging Index” based on productivity, well-being, equity, cohesion, security, with 18 top countries on each.  If we add the ranks on those five dimensions Norway scores 23, Spain 29, Japan and USA both 42.  Sorry for being personal, but it looks good for a Japanese-Norwegian couple living in Spain.  Please join, at least as tourists, Spain being No. 1 in tourism as part of GNP.

Also on a personal note: it was drawn to my attention that the concept of structural violence—I introduced in 1965 to show racial violence in “Rhodesia” even if there had been no direct inter-racial murder since domestic independence 1923–scores 1.4 million hits.

The concept seems to have fallen on fertile soil. It makes the world look different when properly understood: violence with no subject, but with zillions objects, starving, dying for lack of care.

A small but important signal from La Nucia, neighbor municipality to Alfàs del Pi in Spain: no more permits to build new houses for some time. La Nucia wants to stop growing.  30,000 inhabitants in 2030 is the limit; with no limitation on restoration, beauty, art, well-being.

“Outlawing war? It actually worked”, an article by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro (NYT 5 Sep 2017) refers to the 1928 Kellogg-Briand pact that brought “an end to the right of conquest and changed the way states behave”. The pact did not abolish war but tried to make it illegal–except for self-defense, a concept that can be stretched–making war for conquest a crime. Like slavery, like colonialism.  And yet their countries engage in warfare, France in Africa, USA all over.

The pact should have brought in its wake a flood of court-cases.  It did not, but that is now coming with the ICC.  High time.

Somehow Israel always comes up, one way or the other. Not always as Israel vs Palestine but, for instance, as “American Jews vs. the Israeli government”, by Richard Cohen (WP 6 Dec 2017). He points out how Jewish students on US campuses often play a leading role in the criticism of Israeli conquest-colonialism in general and its treatment of Arabs in particular, finding it increasingly difficult to support Netanyahu policies.  Their sharp critique is joined by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently calling “the Netanyahu government ‘irrational, bordering on messianic'”. The critics will team together.

Sooner rather than later that will have an impact on US policy, and with that on the test of the West.  But the US bipartisan policy fact is today treating almost all of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, followed by its client state Saudi Arabia.

However. That policy is obviously based on somebody–guess who!–having been able to manipulate president Trump with unlimited appetite for headline-causing sensations.  Gone Trump, gone that policy.  And that may happen sooner rather than later with Trump’s “America First” shedding international treaties, in fact making “America Last”, less and less being invited to participate.  Others do not follow Trump, but stick to old agreements and make new ones. The more Trump the more self-inflicted US isolation.  But a saner USA will be welcomed back.

Meanwhile, meanwhile what?  The rest of the world, some 95%, is too small to attract much Western media attention.  Like the 24 November 2017 talk by Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Moscow–from the biggest in population to the biggest in territory–downloaded from RIAC, the Russian International Affairs Council.  His headlines convey a lot:

And the talk ends with “aligning Belt and Road initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union”.  Quite a lot.  Better read the talk.

China, whatever its basic motives, expands its model in circles centered on its capital–like it did for millennia–with some kind of partnership the West needed centuries to develop.  Even among Western nations and states; EU is still heavily France-Germany dominated.

What else?  Kashmir again: 225,000 km2, with India dominating 101,000, Pakistan 86,000 and China 38,000 km2. An overriding KAFTA, Kashmir Area Free Trade Association, could move toward independence.

The major issues, nuclear war and rampant inequality are explored by Russell Goldman, “There is No Button” (NYT 3 Jan 2018) and Roberto Savio, “Of Billionaires, Fiscal Paradises, World Debt, and the Victims.  Goldman’s point: Trump, Kim Jung-Un can order nuclear strikes alone; decision-sharing indispensable. Savio’s points: the 500 US richest grew 2017 23% to 5 trillion (US budget 3.7 trillion) taken from the rest as no more money is printed. China now tops USA in billionaires. World debt is 226 trillion-3 times global annual output. The poor pay.

Norwegian parliament 5 Dec 2017 on the Nobel Peace Prize: not on peace of which with one exception they know little, but nomination to the prestigious committee.  Miracle: sometimes the prize makes sense.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Maui Environmental Court rules in favor of Native Hawaiian waterman and against the state Board of Land and Natural Resources

The following is from a statement by attorney Lance Collins, representing Native Hawaiian fisherman Malama Chun. An OCR copy of the judge’s order is here. Note that the OCR process may introduce some errors.

Wailuku, Maui –  Maui Environmental Court Judge Joseph E. Cardoza ruled in favor of Native Hawaiian waterman Malama Chun and against the state Board of Land and Natural Resources regarding his petition challenging DLNR's Division of Aquatic Resources practice of issuing licenses to foreign fisherman who have been refused permission to land in Hawai'i by U.S. authorities and have been ordered deported.

The BLNR had denied the petition on the grounds that Chun lacked standing to file the petition. The Court reversed that decision, finding he had made a sufficient case to establish standing and remanded it back to the BLNR to decide the merits of Chun's petition.

State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States.” Foreign fishermen working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also ordered deported. However, using a loophole, they authorize the fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is restricted.

Malama Chun said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the Environmental Court for upholding my civil rights. I hope the Land Board will do the same for these less fortunate fishermen on these boats.”

Chun's attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “The statute is clear. The practice is illgeal. We look forward to a timely decision on the merits by the Land Board according to law.”

The Court had previously denied the Hawaii Longline Association's attempt to intervene in the case.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


Hawaii Emergency Management declined to dedicate a Twitter account for emergency notifications

by Larry Geller

Kokua Council’s November 2017 meeting was on the subject “Disaster preparedness—can we protect our seniors?” The panel never got around to that topic, instead holding a typical “organize your emergency kit” presentation.

At the end there was space given to questions from the audience. I asked Vern Miyagi why HEMA did not have a Twitter account dedicated to emergency notification.

If they did, and if they publicized it, people across the state could follow the account and have the messages sent to their smartphone or handset. Yes, even the older technology is capable of receiving SMS (text) messages.

While there is no substitute for HEMA sending a proper cancellation notice after a false or real alert (say, if the missile misses or if it is blown up in flight), a widely followed Twitter account can reach many people. And those people can spread the word to neighbors, for example.

Miyagi said they have a Twitter account. To that, I countered that it is useless for the purpose because they are using it for all manner of frivolous messages.

I don’t want all the “Happy Aloha Friday” messages sent to my phone. Only the emergency messages, please.


Caldwell nixes Nixle notification service

As long as you’re here – did you know that Honolulu Mayor Caldwell has removed the island from the Nixle warning system? That system also could have been used last Saturday to let people know about the false missile alert.

From a Wikipedia page:

Nixle offers free and paid notification services for local police departments, county emergency management offices, municipal governments and their agencies within the United States. The Nixle service allows government agencies to send messages to local residents via phone, email and web. Information is delivered almost instantly. Nixle serves government agencies and organizations in all 50 states. By June 1, 2017 over 8,100 government agencies and over 3,000,000 subscribers were registered to use the Nixle location based service.

I think you see what I mean.

Miyagi didn’t. They still don’t have an account dedicated to emergency notification.

My suggestion is not perfect, it’s not intended as a cure-all. But it is very easy to do. Real easy. Then they can publicize it. They can use their existing account to spread the word. They can create public service messages. Newspapers will report the account to readers, as will the local cable TV news and radio news and talk shows.

Now, especially, after the false alarm last weekend, people might flock to follow a dedicated emergency account.

But Hawaii EMA just doesn’t get it. I don’t think they understand.

So let’s not fire the operator who “pushed the wrong button.” Let’s replace anyone in management who is found not competent to hold the position.

Cancelling a missile alert should not be rocket science.


What was MSNBC doing in the bunker before the Hawaii missile scare?

by Larry Geller

What was an NBC news crew doing at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency on Friday and perhaps Saturday, the day of the false nuclear missile alert?

What was their interaction with the computer operator, and could it have contributed to the “human error” that resulted in widespread panic in Hawaii?

An NBC "Left Field" camera crew was present at the Hawaii Civil Defense Diamond Head bunker on Friday morning and perhaps on Saturday, the day of the false nuclear attack warning. I tried to get more information. NBC, however, at least those I queried, did not respond.

Jacob Soboroff on the beachMSNBC producer Jacob Soboroff spilled the beans during his report via cellphone during the panic on Saturday. He mentioned the “Left Field” visit during his report.

There’s no doubt that the crew visited HEMA on Friday, the day before the alert, because videos are still on the web of their report. Here’s a screen cap of one:

InsideYou can even see what may be the now infamous Post-It sticky with HEMA’s password on it – look at the lower screen, second from the right. There it is, at the left corner of the screen.

As Hawaii News Now noted, there should certainly not be a password visible when a news crew is present. Or at any other time, of course, but that’s an illustration of how computer savvy the HEMA folks may be.


There is no way, without an investigation, to know what the interaction between the news crew and HEMA staff might have been. What might HEMA have changed or modified for the interview? As the state reacted to news reports, it turned out that it had faked not one but two screen shots of the computer system menu that was involved in the incident:

screen fake

Were one or both of these created to show to the camera crew? Curious minds want to know. Was the alert software modified for a demonstration?

When I learned from a tip that a news crew may possibly have been present in the command center, I tried to learn more. I was not successful, so it is possible that there is no news here, nothing of concern. But I am chagrined that NBC ignored my inquiries.

I did what I have done before when I wanted to contact a news team or reporter when there was no email available—I emailed NBC’s media office for assistance on Monday. But after a bit, there was no reply, so I called them only to get a voice mail message.

Ok, it was a holiday. So I called again on Tuesday, asked my question, and did not get help—they advised me to email. So I emailed again. No reply. I also sent a message via the Signal app to their tip line, which is always monitored. Again, no reply.

Now, Disappeared News is just this little blog. If a professional journalist had been asking, perhaps NBC would have responded.

Most likely there is nothing interesting in this, but it would have been reassuring to get some reply from NBC. As this incident is investigated by various state and federal agencies it would not hurt to check if HEMA might have been showing off for the camera crew, for example, and in some way set themselves up for the false alarm incident. Remember, they gave more than one version of what their menu looked like, by way of explanation for the “human error.” We need to know why there were multiple versions of this menu.

As to the “human error,” the death threats the operator has received and the calls for the employee to be fired, I think it’s been established by now that the design of the emergency alert system and its supervision by Hawaii EMA management was totally defective. What is dismissed as “human error” is very often defective design.

I can add to that my evaluation that the lack of a quick and easy way to send a cancellation message was a failure we should be concerned about if we care about our state government’s apparent inability to create modern computer software systems. Suppose a missile was launched—and blew up enroute. Suppose it landed way off target. Suppose it was a false alarm from the get-go. You’d think the system could routinely handle those and other situations by transmitting the cancellation. But no.

Finally, I’m also mildly curious why some NBC reports formerly available on the web can no longer be accessed. Here’s one that I googled again just before writing this article:

Google hit

When I clicked on the link, I found that it is no longer publicly available:

Not authorized


Monday, January 08, 2018


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam

American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam

8 Jan 2018

#516 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Foreword to Michael Haas’ Book

pic-Johan-st-gallean-2016-150x150What is that American Diplomacy, after US bombing killed 3,5 million in Pyongyang in 1952 and the US Army killed 3 million in Vietnam from 1961 (Kennedy) to 30 Apr 1975 (Ford)?  Softer?

This very rich, well researched book by Michael Haas–a senior, major US political scientist–gives detailed “softer” empirical, factual answers in Part II.  Indeed, highly recommended.

In this foreword, however, I will explore US deep culture implications for US foreign policy, close to “American Diplomacy”.

The US self-image as successor to Israel as MFN–most favored nation–by God, with Chosen People-Promised Land, CPPL, status, is from 1620, on Mayflower. Since about Year 70 Israel clearly no longer enjoyed CPPL status; that was under King David and under King Solomon.

The position as CPPL was empty, may those with credentials apply. Puritan Pilgrims from East Anglia via Leiden in Holland, did, and according to themselves successfully so. London, with no chosen people but command of the Promised Land was beaten in a War of Independence 1775-1812 for Promised Land for Chosen People, ushering in 141 years of wars for “unconditional surrender”. The USA looks invincible.

Till 1953. The Korea war 1950-53 with a Uniting for Peace UN mandate ended not with victory but cease-fire, armistice, DMZ; strongly resisted by Northern Korea and China. The war in Vietnam 1961 till 30 April 1975 ended with the US Army withdrawing unconditionally.

Four stages can be recognized in this very recent history:

  1. French then Japanese colonization of Vietnam, Japanization of Korea;
  2. Defeat of Japan, Vietnam back to France, Korea divided USSR-USA;
  3. Nationalisms in both against France and USSR-USA, for independence;
  4. USA belligerence against that; keeping South Korea, losing Vietnam.

The role of “American Diplomacy”?  To justify US warfare, and, if it does not work, to justify “softer approaches”, like negotiation.

The role of “American Democracy”?  A real life story about that.

Dennis Kucinich, House Representative (D) from Ohio before he was gerrymandered away–another aspect of US democracy, FAFE [Free And Fair Elections] in practice–called a meeting in his office suite in the building across the street from the US Congress. I was asked to tell some representatives about a meeting with leading Taliban in Afghanistan.  To them, the problem was the 1893 Durand Line between the British empire–now Pakistan–and Afghanistan, cutting in two the lands of the biggest nation without a state, the Pashtuns.  Making Pashtuns and Taliban almost synonymous.

Solution: eliminate that line; create a Central Asian Community, border-free, with Afghanistan-Pakistan inviting the other “stans”, Iran, Assad-Kashmir; all in Afghanistan and Afghanistan in them.

A Representative said: “Taliban may think like that. But I am an elected representative in US democracy. The people elected me for this–he made the V sign–then we will tell them what the solution is.

A decade later the USA is still fighting, with NATO allies, for a victory and solution in Afghanistan they will never obtain, because:

This unequal fight may tempt some in USA to use nukes against a very invulnerable country, leading to revenge in vulnerable USA.  The outcome will be more isolation, decline and fall of the US Republic.

That process has already started, as witnessed by the many major conferences to which the USA is no longer invited. The ball is in other courts: in Russia, India, China–in BRICS in general.

“American Diplomacy” seams to go through four stages:

  1. Telling other states what to do; if they comply, that is.
  2. If they do not comply, attack them as anti-American enemies.
  3. If winning, see to it that they comply and reward the compliers.
  4. If not winning, try “softer approaches”, negotiation, diplomacy.

What will happen if US thinking about North Korea and Vietnam is at the same level as for Afghanistan?  CIA?  “Central” no doubt, and “Agency”, but how about the “Intelligence”?  USA withdrew badly wounded from Vietnam and is now heading for the same in Afghanistan.

North Korea: there seems to be a stalemate, with 8 million or so in and around Seoul being as hostages to North Korean artillery should there be a US attack.  North Korea will not launch a first strike, but they want to show USA-Japan-the World that they are equal to USA in offensive capability with an invulnerability of force and value–people–unmatched in human history. Mantra:  “1952” NEVER AGAIN!

Peace is around the corner if American Diplomacy were able to think-speak-act peace. Take North Korea on their word. Ask them for the details of converting an armistice to a peace treaty; of normalizing diplomatic relations with Seoul-Tokyo-Washington; of an UN-inspected nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  And then: Negotiate.  Much “American Diplomacy” is used to fight this; USA wants to control South Korea.

Vietnam: the US defeat was total as opposed to in Korea; there will be no war in the foreseeable future in spite of theories about how that unwinnable war could have been won.  But there was some basis for the imposed division between North and South Vietnam; how Vietnam overcame it may teach a USA divided North-South some lessons.  Vietnam improved its karma with USA; USA may learn to improve its karma with the world.  Peace is around the corner.

Conclusion: the general problem is a US deep culture as Chosen People with a Promised World.  Time has come, USA, to become normal.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Monday, January 01, 2018


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Two Ways of Being Western: Christianity and Science

Two Ways of Being Western: Christianity and Science

1 Jan 2018

pic-johan-hd-class#515 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Farewell Seminar SCAR, George Mason University, Arlington-VA 6 Dec 2017

Two basic institutions in Western history and individual lives: Christianity offering Salvation to those following Laws, Commandments, and Science offering Truth to those who believe in scientific laws.

After Enlightenment ushered in a godless world, one is waning and the other vexing, seen as antithetical to each other. Is evolution being contested by “intelligent design”? By “diversity and symbiosis”? Neither one nor the other?  Or both? We do not know, nor do we come to grips with evolution beyond homo sapiens. Neither did Christianity.

But we are used in history to successors carrying the imprints of predecessors, and vice versa.  We are used to plus ça change plus ça este la même chose (the more it changes, the more it stays the same). And the more intended Italian cambiamo le cose affinche se mantengono le stesse (we change the things so that they remain the same).

Christianity and science have both been marked (and marred) by the heavy institutionalizations known as churches and universities. They are certainly Western in the sense of carrying the trade mark of competitive individualism: to bishop-archbishop-cardinal-Pope in one, to professor-dean-rector-Nobel in the other.  But that is not our focus, however Western. Our focus is how they both relate to Time.

Western time is often seen as linear or curvilinear upwards, progressing, even exponentially, or logistically petering out. However, for Western history this is much too simplistic. There are declines with falls, and discontinuous jumps, upward or downward. Western history is dramatic, with Antiquity and Modernity being so similar and different from the “Middle Ages” that we have used the term “Occident I” for the former and Occident II for the latter.

The task is now to spell out some time aspects of the predecessor Christianity, and then show how Science followed in its footsteps.

One way is to postulate a Western Time with six recurring phases:

  1. Normality
  2. Decline and Fall
  3. Awakening
  4. Progress
  5. CRISIS: make it (normality) or break it (decline and fall)
  6. If “make it:” new decline and fall; if “break it” new awakening.

And so on and so forth, as long as West exists, because:

          Western time is finite; it has a beginning and an end.

Other civilizations postulate time from eternity to eternity, also Hinduism with its complex recurring patterns and some similarity to the West.  Not strange, given the Indo-European meta-civilization.

Science followed the Christian universe; Creation beginning with a Big Bang beginning, and like Christianity did not answer in which universe the Creation or the Big Bang took place. Ex nihilo?

Science followed the Christian Armageddon ending with a 2nd Law of thermodynamics conversion of big bang energy to entropy, chaos.

There is no final, definitive “Christianity”, but Christianities in accordance with Western Time: of the Gospels, of St Augustine, of St Thomas Aquinas, of Luther-Zwingli-Calvin-Anglicans &c, evangelists including the US National Evangelism (like the First Baptist church).  Each was-is tapped to exhaustion for its salvation potential.

The Catholic-Orthodox gap was bridged by Pope Francis-Patriarch Kirill at the expense of deepening the gap to US-UK-Nordic evangelism, deepening Anglo-America/Russia rifts in circles of mutual causation.

Science followed suit, changing paradigms for thought-discourses for speech (Thomas Kuhn), tapping to exhaustion their truth potential. From Aristotelian stasis with everything in places commanded by nature to Galilean dynamism according to laws of nature; from 3-dimensional space in time to einsteinian 4-dimensional spacetime; from continuity to planckian discontinuous quantum jumps (Einstein protest:  Natura non facit saltus); from Euclidean points-planes-spaces to strings. There will be more, also as West opens up for other civilizations.

Then, exploring science for deeper understanding of Christianity.

Science has produced many laws of the Y=f(X) type, like s=1/2gt2, with chronological time as variable and g as parameter, also variable. The number of parameters knows no limits, some known, others unknown, still others unknowable, beyond limited human comprehension.

Science tries to beat the parameter tyranny by locking two of them in the standard context of [0C-760mm].  Chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, close to that are non-toxic, inflammable, ideal for fridges.  Released into the ozone layer they are broken down by ultraviolet radiation, freeing chlorine to make holes in the ozone layer; the planet–with humans in it-is seriously damaged by that radiation.

That raises the question of a “normal” context for the Creation. It must be in God, and we get a glimpse in Genesis 1:30: God was a vegetarian. He created animals and humans, and they should all be herbivorous, not carnivorous. In other words, God defined a normalcy for humans and other animals. Animals basically obey God’s intent. Judaism-Christianity-Islam share Genesis, so all believing Jews, Christians and Muslims should be vegetarian. They are not.

The point is the idea of normality for Christianity and science.  God could have been different.  So could [0C-760mm].  Christianity and science, both, could have been different.  We have made choices.

We got from those two a salvation with no truth to it, and truth with no salvation in it. Fortunately there is more to Western reality.

People create salvations and truths by choosing countless values-goals, and building NGOs for their realization.  Like TRANSCEND, for peace as salvation from violence, pursued pragmatically-empirically.

But we are not limited to empirical reality. Between that and unreality are potential realities to be created.  By humans, as gods.

The strength of the West lies in that multiplicity of the goals pursued in a pluralistic society.  May it long last.


* I am grateful to Hajo Schmidt for a critical-constructive reading.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Sea level rise vs. the Honolulu rail project—what a new report portends

by Larry Geller

A Star-Advertiser story (paywalled) this morning (12/30/2017) announced the release of the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report.

Expecting grim reading, I was not disappointed. From the news article:

With 3.2 feet of sea level rise, Oahu stands to potentially face $12.9 billion in structure and land loss; the displacement of 13,300 residents; and the loss of 3,800 structures, including hotels in Waikiki, and 17.7 miles of major roads due to flooding.

The beaches and hotels at risk are already there, and they will have to deal with a new reality creeping up on them. All of Hawaii will have to deal with the spectre of a dying economy due to greatly reduced tourism as Waikiki is gradually washed away.

What separates Hawaii from some other Pacific island nations known for trading with stone money is that we have had, so far, a booming hospitality industry. With hotels flooded and beaches washed away, we could be headed for a real wipeout.

We do, however, have a choice about how we plan and execute new development. It’s not rocket science, and we didn’t have to wait for this new report to reveal the hazards of ignoring climate change (see: Welcome to Honolulu 2050, Venice of the Pacific, 9/20/2015).

Nor do we have to wait for 3.2 feet of sea level rise—the website has a helpful visualization tool which can be set for 0.5, 1.1, 2.0 or 3.2 feet of rise.

New Yorker climate change cover 20150706[8]The first question that came to mind as I read the newspaper article was what will become of Honolulu’s fearfully expensive rail project. Will some of the stations be standing over flood waters? (In New York City, the answer is likely yes, since many stations are close to the water line. But our rail line is not yet complete.)

Cranking up the report’s visualization tool, it appears that no station will be threatened by the ocean even with a 3.2 foot rise over the present.

But wait: the tool also has a layer illustrating flooding. The potential flooding area exists today, but flood events will be more frequent and more threatening as the seas rise.

Here is the blank map from the report website for Ala Moana:


Next is the same area but with the Flood Hazard overlay turned on:


The flood zones are derived from FEMA data. It’s not clear, and perhaps not yet known, how often the hazard area will be flooded. But kiss the Ala Moana rail station goodbye when the floods happen.

Here is the same area with the 2 foot rise economic loss layer activated. Note that the Diamond Head side of Ala Moana Center is pretty much wiped out economically. What this means for the station, I don’t know, but why have a station there if the destination will no longer be desirable?

map4 economic loss 2 ft

Note also the potential loss of those pricey condos facing the ocean on Ala Moana Blvd.  Sorry, snowbirds.

Even the economic loss at 1.1 foot of sea level rise would have some impact according to this overlay:

map5 economic loss 1.1 ft

Moving on now to Pearl City, where another rail station is to be located:

map6 Pearl City

The rail station is planned for Kam Highway near Kuala Street, just to the left of where it says Pearl City on this map.

Here’s the flood zone map for the same location:

map7 Pearl City flood zone

The rail station is just inside the edge of the flood zone. But remember: this is today’s data. The zone is not going to shrink.

The station is just at the edge of an area marked for economic loss – even for as little as a 0.5 foot sea level rise. The loss area increases as the higher level overlays are selected. Check it out.

Certainly, predictions are better crafted by the experts. We, the taxpayers, who are being made to pay for this project, have an interest in hearing, from a neutral source, what the projected effect on so-called “Transit Oriented Development” will be as the sea encroaches on Oahu.

I don’t know the implications of siting a rail station at the very edge of what is to become an economically blighted area, but I think it’s safe to say that developers are not going to be willing to build any “affordable” or any other housing there.


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?