Monday, January 23, 2017


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Donald Trump Inaugurated as President

You have inherited from your predecessor a USA on high alert under the formula “war on terrorism”. You are surrounded by triggers. Do not satisfy their lust to be pulled.


Donald Trump Inaugurated as President

23 January 2017

#464 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

galtung_sideAnd the first question to the 45th US president: Will you kill, abroad?  Predecessor Obama was in the US tradition that killed more than 20 million in 37 countries since WWII, bombing and droning.  His Special Forces seem to have killed in 138 countries.  And a shocking majority voted for Hillary Clinton with her warfare record of even privatized warfare. Will you make America “Great” the same way?

Or make America Greater by breaking this morbid tradition?

The 22nd US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has summarized his experience in some statements (in Wall Street Journal 7 Jan 2017, from Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. Knopf):

Strong words, based on his experience and spoken with frankness.  What is missing is, of course, the alternative; in one word, diplomacy. Your word is “negotiation”.  The US political market is now yours, a monopoly on U.S. power, by verbal means.  For some of them you have to apologize in one way or the other.

But the world political market is not yours; but for give and take. The world is watching with apprehension. There was much aggression in your speech.  Will it be followed by aggressive action?

Another new world leader, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “highlighted in his first address to the Security Council the need to rebalance the approach to world peace and security, avoiding conflict beforehand instead of responding to conflict. Security Council members pointed out that conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen proved to be difficult to resolve” (The Weekly Mirror, 13 Jan 2017).

Exactly. “Avoiding beforehand” means “resolve”, that is the word. And “difficult” means exactly that; in other words, “not impossible”.

The Russian leader Putin organizes resolution conferences without USA.  Time has indeed come for USA to focus on conflict prevention by resolution, not conflict response by war or threats of war. Your turn!

But you still seem to want a wall between the USA and your neighbor Mexico–from which your predecessor James K. Polk stole 53% of the territory in the 1846-48 war.  Imagine you go ahead, that you are not only telling Mexico, improve your border control, or else–a wall!

That means a wall between Anglo and Latin America, between two civilizations in a world crying for dialogue to understand and for mutual learning and enrichment. How do you think Mexico will react?

By turning inward, developing its own country the hard way, doing it yourself also learning from China, becoming more of a competitor.  Including growing its own apples instead of harvesting yours–at the risk of being expelled before they are paid.

And by turning southward and westward, cooperating, integrating, solidifying the budding community of Latin American-Caribbean States; opening all those borders ever more to compensate for your closed one.

They will now probably do both, given your insulting rhetoric.

Of course you have the right to control illegal immigrants, and to expel criminal immigrants that have already arrived–with care. However, if you want to close the border with a wall do it on your side and pay it yourself. They will not do it.

A much better policy would be to make legitimate expulsion credible as a warning to others; and to give those jobs, better paid, to your own people badly in need of them.  The USA has a right to develop, so does Mexico.  But the de-developing embrace we witness is not a good policy.

As strong or stronger than your rhetoric against Mexico is the one in favor of Israel, including its choking hold on  US autonomy, AIPAC.

Again, it could be your way of saying “we will not betray you”, “we recognize fully the right of Israel to exist, but not Netanyahu’s wildest dreams.”  You know perfectly well the solid world majority against the illegal Israeli settlement policy, even privatizing it to escape responsibility. You really want to challenge the world?

True, you may improve your US media support by such means, but at the expense of turning most of the rest of the world against you.  Putin has another policy, friend with all sides, except IS.  And Putin has a strong ally, China, whom you have challenged by relating to Taiwan. That is certainly your right; one thing is to talk with a president, another is full recognition, UN membership, etc.

But maybe a better policy is simply to withdraw that aircraft carrier off China’s coast and encourage China-ASEAN cooperation in the South China Sea, including finding formula for Taiwan’s presence, e.g., together with other parts of China?

Your opening to Russia, cutting through the present US paranoia, harking back to the 19th century with US-Russian amicable cooperation, is brilliant.  But maybe you underestimate the solidity of China-Russia, SCO, friendship-alliance, as a reaction to the policies of some of your predecessors?  China and Russia are closer to each other than to USA.  Mildly speaking, alienating Russia in the Middle East, and China in East Asia, is a risky game, precisely because that game has been played before, and may freeze all parties into the past.

You have inherited from your predecessor a USA on high alert under the formula “war on terrorism”. You are surrounded by triggers. Do not satisfy their lust to be pulled. Insist on multi-party choice in Cuba, but accept their insistence on basic needs for all; they will benefit from the former, you from the latter.  Insist on non-nuclear Iran, but accept their insistence on a nuclear-free Middle East.

Give and take on both sides. Is that not what business is about?


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.

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


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