johan galtung interview on DN! – my take

“I Love the US Republic, and I Hate the US Empire”: Johan Galtung on the War in Afghanistan and How to Get Out – second part of Amy Goodman’s interview with Johan Galtung. Known as a founder of the field of peace and conflict studies, he’s spent the past half-century pursuing nonviolent conflict resolution in international relations. His latest book is The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?: Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming?

watch interview here.

my comments:

i found the galtung interview interesting but i had major problems with how he started off.

the occupation of afghanistan cannot last because colonization has never lasted anywhere. of course afghanistan is even harder to occupy than most countries on account of how afghan society has always been loosely structured, with no strong central govt. we find the same social set up in pakistan’s northern regions and that’s why the pakistani govt had never interfered in their business – they had always been quite autonomous – before and after british colonial rule, pre and post partition. but galtung chooses to focus on islam as the reason why afghanistan cannot be colonized. he talks about muslims all over the world fighting for afghan independence, falling in the common trap of treating islam as a monolith and buying into the class of civilizations. he goes further and uses islamic theology to back up his claims – the followers of “allah” will never capitulate to “infidels”. that is so franklin graham! first of all, christians and jews r not infidels but people of the book in islam. secondly, since when have the followers of jesus or moses liked to capitulate to muslim infidels? the simple fact is that no one likes to have their country occupied. period.

i agree with him on 9/11. i don’t think that al qaeda had much to do with it. in fact, they issued a statement right after 9/11 saying as much (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/inv.binladen.denial/). most people don’t remember that. 9/11 was probably carried out by a small group of disaffected, mostly saudi men. again, i don’t think it was just about an oil treaty or about what the prophet said when he expired. i think the presence of american troops on saudi soil is a huge problem as is american foreign policy.

it’s true that conflict resolution is outside the purview of u.s. foreign policy, that the u.s. might become increasingly irrelevant and that turkey could become an imp world player. i have always talked about the need for more cooperation b/w the islamic world and latin america because they have v similar colonial histories and r still the victims of nefarious post colonial interference. the rapprochement between turkey, iran and brazil seems to be in line with that idea. i also agree with what he says about india – their alacrity to align themselves with america and israel and with the lethal combination of the “war on terror” doctrine mixed together with aggressive capitalism does not bode well. they will end up on the wrong side of the split between the present world order and its eventual replacement.

afghanistan will certainly be another vietnam – it’s self evident. people talk about differences but in fact the similarities r quite stunning. the result will be the same – as soon as we leave the country, the puppet govt we have propped up will collapse and the taliban will take over – they already control most of the country anyway.

also, totally agree about al jazeera being multi-angle. it’s real journalism vs what we have – corporate media where news looks like an advertisement stuck in an endless loop.

galtung is absolutely right that the word terrorism, as applied to national resistance movements, is preposterous.

but then sure enough he returns to his comfort zone of infidels and ummahs. i’m glad he mentions some concrete issues tho. when the west became insistent on crediting al qaeda for 9/11, bin laden did use that opportunity to become a spokesperson for the monolithic islam conjured up by the west. he came out with a statement of issues the muslim world had with the u.s. including palestine, somalia, chechnya, kashmir, lebanon, the devastating sanctions on iraq, jerusalem as the capital of israel, the theft and exploitation of resources found in muslim countries, etc. galtung is right that no effort was ever made to talk about any of these concerns.

his recommendations which include trading for equal economic benefit, pulling out of military bases, creating a dept of peace, putting an end to political arm twisting,
and forgetting about a separate mandate from god in favor of dialogue r all spot on.

johan galtung