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

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