“Let us say you have one million Tamils in the Tamil diaspora. They used to collect money for the LTTE. They collected a lot of money. Let me put it in very plain simple terms: these one million work on the media of the world and make the story better known,” said 84-year old Peace Studies Professor Johan Galtung, in an interview to TamilNet-Palaka’ni last month. Acknowledging that the Eezham Tamils face genocide and structural genocide, identifying the Mahavamsa mentality in the Sinhala-Buddhists as the impediment for solutions, and at the same time blaming the armed struggle of the LTTE as a mistake, Galtung stood by “federation with a high level of autonomy,” which he had advocated and failed during his 34 visits to the island at the time of the peace talks.
Tamils should come out with a campaign of vision that doesn’t threaten anyone, especially the Sinhala Buddhists, Galtung underlined.
“It is by having a positive, constructive vision that doesn’t scare the others that you go forward.”
Tamils should cooperate with the media in making non-violent protests very visible.
You have to somehow make it a UN issue. And if you could make it a UN General Assembly issue, not a Security Council issue, it would be useful, Galtung said.
Further comments of Professor Galtung summarised, full transcript follows at the end:
The agenda of the Co-Chairs during the peace talks was not to resolve any conflict, but to get rid of the LTTE Army, because of the doctrine that each country could have only one army. The method number one was to strengthen the government side.
The United Nations is a trade union of governments. So, the trade union may defend government interests.
The USA and the West today are not only concerned of China and the Islamic world, but also of Latin America and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), in which China and India alone have 37 per cent of the world population.
Like the Sinhala Buddhists, the USA, Israel and Japan are inherent with the ideology, ‘chosen people with a promised land’.
You can predict that the United States and Israel will be supporting the Buddhist majority against the Tamils, and Japan will help the Americans, which they do by providing logistics in the Indian Ocean.
Obama’s United States is reputed today for the killing inside in 134 countries in the world. You can get the local government to do the killing for you. One government after the other do it.
For the English, whose education was earlier disseminated in the institutions of colonial Ceylon, “Federation is an F-word […] The word you should mention is Union,” as in the United Kingdom and Union Jack.
If those English professors had been better at home and made in 1801, a Federation of British Isles, they would have saved thousands of lives.
Indian government is as brutal as anybody in its fighting against Naxalites, which is a class warfare.
[Nation and class are the two issues of conflict faced by the 200 odd States having about 2000 nations in the world. While federation is the solution for nation, more equality is the solution for class, Galtung said].
* * *
The Chinese are playing the wrong game [at the UN].
This is because they are hungry for resources. I think they are badly informed. The Chinese know a lot about the world, but at some times they are badly informed.
“I would send a high-powered delegation to China, may be also to Russia to make it very clear what happens.”
“You will realise of course that if you take United States and European Union, you have three of the permanent members of the Security Council. But, today it is called 5+1, because Germany for some reason has managed to get into it. That means the European Union has three countries out of the 28 in the Security Council.”
“On the other side you have Russia and China.”
“I think —to be quite frank — your hope is that Russia and China could speak your voice. I will put emphasis on that. But, I will not threaten with violence. I will have vision written on the wall.”
* * *
Born in 1930 in Oslo, Norway, Professor Johan Galtung is a mathematician turned into sociologist and political scientist in his doctoral level academic achievements in the 1950s.
Founding the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo in 1959, the world’s first academic research centre focussed on peace studies, he is regarded as the Father of Peace Studies.
While he conceived and developed the idea of Peace Studies, to the competitors it is ‘Security Studies’. The latter is an Anglo-American philosophy originating from the “institutionalised paranoia” seated in London and Washington, Galtung says.
Recipient of over a dozen honorary doctorates, professorships and many international distinctions, and authoring or co-authoring more than 160 books and over 1600 articles, Professor Galtung has coined terms such as structural violence, sociocide etc., to cenceptualize the contemporary State-humanity phenomenon.
He predicted the downfall of Soviet Union at Berlin wall, several years ago the collapse took place.
He also has made similar predictions on when the United States will be losing its position as a super power.
He has mediated in over 100 conflicts between states, nations, religions, civilizations, communities, and persons since 1957.
Professor Galtung, with a lifetime mission of peace philosophy, and basing his activities in several parts of the world, has cut an image transcending any State or nationality of his own.
As a non-State NGO mediator, Professor Galtung visited the island for nearly 34 times during the peace initiative of 2002-2006.
Professor Johan Galtung with LTTE’s Political Head S.P. Thamilchelvan in 2005 in Austria
He says that he failed in convincing both Colombo and the LTTE over a federal solution.
He says that Thamilchelvan of the LTTE was a very good personal friend of him. “I miss him. He and I disagreed completely about the Federation idea,” Galtung said.
“He [Thamilchelvan] said, if we get federation then it would only be one more way the Buddhists will suppress us.”
“The Buddhists say if we get federation, the Tamils will declare independence next day,” Galtung said.
* * *
Comments from veteran Tamil political observers and activists to certain observations made by Professor Galtung:
The Tamil diaspora “is one reason why the Norwegian government got involved, and if I may say so — I think they listened a little bit too much to you than to listen to the other side too, and the Muslim side. When the Buddhists have the feeling that the Norwegian government was sort of leaning in favour of you, I think they were right,” Galtung said in the interview.
It is like the old myth of saying that the British were favouring the Tamils in colonial Ceylon, the Tamil political observers commented.
“New Delhi was wise enough to give Tamils a Tamil Nadu, a Tamil State [in India]. You may remember before that it was a very strong Tamil independence movement. When they got Tamil Nadu, that movement went down. Because, you saw your self in the name of the place you were living, and you liked it, Galtung said.
“If Colombo had been wise enough to take the Northern Province and may be half of the [Eastern] province, because the [Eastern] province is more problematic. Let us put it mildly. And if they had been wise enough to give that autonomy and call it Tamil Eelam […] But, they didn’t have the wisdom and the Tamils were too violent,” Galtung added in the interview.
Unlike British Ceylon, the very origin of India was federal, with the three Presidencies (Calcutta, Bombay and Madras) as its nucleus. Only the linguistic tag of federalism was conceded in the 1950 and 60s as a larger policy in a multiplicity of linguistic nations and there was nothing exclusive to Tamil Nadu. The comparison, in the context of the two nations in the island, is inappropriate, and there is a subtle attempt to detract the chronic issue in the island by projecting it as “Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims and a thin over layer of Christians.” This is exactly what the US resolution at Geneva attempted, the Tamil political observers were commenting.
* * *
Federation is the solution to genocide, Professor Galtung was reiterating throughout the interview.
“That is what I was arguing as an NGO-mediator in my 34 visits to Sri Lanka. Total failure, I could say. But I stand by the solution, a loose federation.”
“I have nothing against Tamil Eelam. It means the Tamil homeland.”
“I have nothing against the word Liberation. You could have chosen a more peaceful animal than Tiger perhaps.”
“Very important in that regard was of course Gandhi. I could of course say that if the Tamils in Sri Lanka had been fighting non-violently you would have got your autonomy long time ago. The military LTTE, to my mind, was a mistake,” Galtung said.
But, Tamil activists sadly observed that the Tamils had been waging a peaceful Gandhian struggle for 30 years, for nothing but federalism in the island. The struggle for federation started in 1949, has only brought in the response of Sinhala Only in 1956 and the pogrom against Tamils in 1958 – all before the foundation of the Peace Studies institutes. But, international peace initiators thought of looking at the issue only when the Tamils were inevitably forced to opt for the armed struggle, the activists said.
Advising Tamils on pooling their resources earlier spent on the LTTE now on a positive, constructive campaign with a vision, Galtung said:
“Please be so kind and have the story accompanied by a vision, which does not threaten the Buddhists, but it does say to the Buddhists, okay, okay, you are the majority, we recognise that, but give us our piece of autonomy where we can rule our piece in the Tamil language in the Tamil way. We will cooperate with you at the top of a federation. We will do that. Bring the story to the world, and you will make it. It will take some time.”
The interview of Professor Galtung itself should give a vision to Tamils all over the world on the need for a better enlightening campaign and on the lacuna in the world in grasping the ground realities in the island, veteran Tamil activists who have seen the text of the interview commented, citing the 2005 interview to TamilNet by the doyen of Eezham movement, Mr V. Navaratnam.
It is not just wasting the meagre resources of a small nation, contrary to “lot of money” ostensibly projected by others, on the corrupt international media in the hands of the same system, but acting in an intelligent, unblemished and democratic way, so that none of the concerned parties including the media and the peace activists could escape from accepting the realities, the Tamil activists further commented.
Professor Johan Galtung was interviewed in Spain last month, before the commencement of UNHRC sessions in Geneva and before Russia annexing Crimea following a referendum. He was interviewed by Sasithar Maheswaran for TamilNet.
Full transcript of the interview with Professor Johan Galtung follows:
TamilNet: Obviously you are following several conflict scenarios across the world. In the unfolding global scenario at the moment, do you think that there is a confrontation or distrust between Peoples and States has sharpened to a sort of crisis point?
Johan Galtung: You know we have about 200 States in the world; 194 members of the UN. State is an organisation. Inside all States, more or less not quite all of them, you have two basic fault lines. Nation and Class.
There are about 2,000 nations in the world – an average of 10 per State. But, some of them are Nation-States in the sense that, literally speaking only one nation, like for instance Norway, Italy, Japan, Germany – interestingly enough.
But, certainly not France, Spain and United States and Sri Lanka – certainly not where you have – some people say three – you have Buddhists, Tamils and Muslims, and there is a thin over layer of Christians at the top very much linked to the West.
So, you have nation as one, then you have the Class as the other.
As you all know inequality is increasing in the world, and it is increasing inside the countries. So, that one is getting worse. I would fix the attention on Nation and Class.
The question is whether the governments are able to handle these two. That was your question I think.
* * *
TamilNet: When we look at Nations, as you pointed out that there are 2,000 Nations in the world and there are about 200 States. When particular nations are facing the threats to the degree as genocide, how do you think, what sort of the solution you envisage for such nations that are facing the threat of genocide?
Galtung: You had the genocide against Armenians by the Turks; against Jews by the Germans; against Tutsis by the Rwandans including so-called moderate Hutus – also by the Hutu Rwandans; by the Muslims in Indonesia against the Chinese. I can mention many more, but they are exactly what you mention. That brings up of course the problem that you are indicating what is the solution to that.
The solution is extremely is very simple – the federation. You simply give autonomy to the nations to rule themselves, particularly in terms of language, religion, worldview and the way they look at history.
Now, these are three aspects, they usually also have a geographical attachment, like sort of saying that these hills are ours. And, somebody else saying “no they are ours”. And you have a clear incompatibility, in other words a conflict coming up.
Autonomy in education, autonomy in local economy…
Federations usually come together at the top where they have a joint foreign policy, joint security policy – military or not depends on their taste, joint finance policy, and today we would say joint logistics – particularly the Internet and things of that type – but, also the old ones: traffic by road and rail, by ship, by flight.
This is the solution and the mother of all these solutions is of course Switzerland.
I remember the first time I was in Afghanistan. I was asking myself what was this country remind me of?
Clearly, a Switzerland.
Eight nations in Afghanistan; four in Switzerland. 25,000 quite autonomous villages in Afghanistan; 2,300 in Switzerland, which is the mother of federations.
But, governments don’t like it because they feel that they loose some of the control. They often prefer unitary States, run from one single point and having everything under control.
United Nations is, let us call it a trade union of governments.
So, the trade union may defend government interests.
Let me add to that one more problem, since you are talking of genocide.
When you have 10 nations in a country / in a State on the average, then there is always one dominant nation.
In Sri Lanka, it is the Buddhists, the Sinhala-speaking and in Norway it is the Norwegians, the Norwegian-speaking and not the Sami, as you know perfectly well since you know my country.
What very often happens is that the nations that are not dominant want to have the sun shining on them. They don’t want to be overshadowed by the others. They don’t necessarily want independence. That is a little bit old-fashioned today, to get a new State. But, they want autonomy.
They don’t get it.
They get more and more angry that they start throwing bombs. One such bomb hit the court system in Islamabad yesterday, for instance.
And suddenly, they have an Army.
Here comes the aspect that is the doctrine that in one State one Army’ — not two or three. In other words, you can easily mobilise other governments, ‘trade union’ (United Nations) or governments, against that other Army. That is when it starts getting genocidal proportions.
In your country, I will say that the end of the whole thing was touching genocide, by the Buddhists, by the Sinhalese against the Tamils.
But, you have to understand that there was an ideology behind it.
The ideology is known to everybody, but not spoken about so often — the Mahavamsa — the idea of being a chosen people with a promised land.
That the Lord Buddha, around minus 500 by the Christian Reckoning, had promised Sri Lanka to the Buddhists as their land — highly unlikely I would say. Being born in Nepal and stretching out of India, I don’t think his knowledge of Sri Lanka was excessive. But, let us leave that point aside.
“Chosen People with a Promised Land”. Israel, chosen people with a promised land. The United States — chosen people with a promised land — since the Jews didn’t make it, we will make it. The Japan — chosen people by the Sun Goddess — Amaterasu-ōmikami — with a promised land.
So, what can you predict on that? You can predict that the United States and Israel will be supporting the Buddhist majority against the Tamils!
Japan has limited support power because of Article 9 prohibiting offensive military action, but they can help the Americans, which they do by providing logistics in the Indian Ocean.
Without going into that in detail, I am just saying that the Mahavamsa Doctrine made it very difficult to find a solution and it still make it difficult. The solution is obvious, it is a Federation.
That is what I was arguing as an NGO-mediator in my 34 visits to Sri Lanka. Total failure, I could say. But I stand by the solution, a loose federation. But, I think also that the LTTE made a number of mistakes.
I had talks with everybody except Pirapaharan. The day the talks were set-up, something happened the day before, a floodway of Tsunami, that wiped up some of the military capacity of the Tamils; wiped up everything of the Aceh in Sumatra in Indonesia, made it very easy to make peace since there were no weapons left. That was not the case with the LTTE.
But, I have indicated something about Nation. Now, I come to Class.
Class is structural violence. People die of starvation. My daughter made a PhD thesis — her name is Irene, which means peace — and before that a master thesis titled, 852 million starving equals 852 million court cases, because all these governments have signed the document called the Human Rights Declaration, where right to life is essential. Now, out of those court cases you had, as far as I understand from my daughter, essentially one in India, and the Indian government has lost it.
The bereaved said you should have provided food for the population one way or the other, and out of that came School Lunches in India. In other words, there is a room for a legal approach — to put it that way.
But the usual approach is struggle, violent or non-violent, and the genocide is structural. It is Structural Genocide.
We can reckon if you will – about 140,000 die every day, 40,000 of starvation and 100,000 of totally preventable and curable diseases. But, to prevent them and cure them you need medicine and the people at the bottom don’t have the money. Of course that made a scene and the prevention or the cure could be made available very cheaply by the government. Many governments don’t do it. Norwegian government does; The French government does; The Spanish government is shaky and they don’t have money right now and people start dying at the bottom. In United States they die incredibly at the bottom. 16% of the US population do not know whether food comes for next day. As I have told couple of times, very many of them are un-insured and do not have the medical safety-net.
So, all this differs around the world and I would then respond to this very quickly saying Class and Nation are the two major forces.
For Nation I indicated Federation and Confederation, because sometimes you have own Nation that is in the shadows in the neighbouring country. You have Tajiks in Afghanistan and in Tajikistan; Uzbeks in Afghanistan and in Uzbekistan; You have Dari speakers in Afghanistan, in Iran it is called Persian; in other words you make a community to put together those that are tied by nations and you make a Federation inside so that Nations that don’t want to become too close, can be apart, and then for Class you make for more equality. I can come back to that.
* * *
TamilNet: You touched on the topic of Mahavamsa, which is quite important from the Tamil perspective as well, it is the Mahavamsa mindset of the Sinhalese that is allowing for continued Structural Genocide of the Tamil nation even to date. There are several countries in the United Nations, which choose not to look into this issue of Mahavamsa. They rarely speak of it and they rarely even acknowledge it.
Galtung: I mentioned three of them. United States, Israel and Japan. You have many before. If you go a little bit back in time, when I talk with Englishmen of my age in the eighties, they say when they were younger in their 20s, 30s, they were not for a second in doubt that the England had been chosen by God. When did that disappear? Well, it started disappearing at the end of the war when the colonialism came to an end. They started doubting their own right to have colonies.
Very important in that regard was of course Gandhi.
I could of course say that if the Tamils in Sri Lanka had been fighting non-violently you would have got your autonomy long time ago. The military LTTE, to my mind, was a mistake.
I have nothing against the word Liberation. You could have chosen a more peaceful animal than Tiger perhaps.
I have nothing against Tamil Eelam. It means the Tamil homeland.
New Delhi was wise enough to give Tamils a Tamil Nadu, a Tamil State [in India]. You may remember before that it was a very strong Tamil independence movement. When they got Tamil Nadu, that movement went down. Because, you saw your self in the name of the place you were living, and you liked it.
If Colombo had been wise enough to take the Northern Province and may be half of the [Eastern] province, because the [Eastern] province is more problematic. Let us put it mildly. And if they had been wise enough to give that autonomy and call it Tamil Eelam.
But, they didn’t have the wisdom and the Tamils were too violent.
* * *
TamilNet: Looking at the situation as it is at the moment, there is structural genocide going on against the Tamil nation in the name of ‘development’. And we have, not only Colombo, but also Washington, New Delhi, London and Beijing involved in the processes at the moment. Any sort of ideological mobilisation against this structural violence which is taking place in the name of development is being characterised as or being put down under the counter-insurgency mechanisms of these powers. Specially the younger generation of youths are being made to be subservient to the powers and the Establishments, not to question them for the risk of being branded as ‘terrorists’. How do you think that, especially the younger generation, can come up and raise that voice against the Establishments with an ideology?
Galtung: I get the point. I will give you an answer, which I will repeat at least three times, as my Japanese wife’s advice: “Johan, don’t say it only once; say it three times”.
The younger generation of Tamils have to produce a vision of what they want; not only what they don’t like. If they only critique and criticise and say what is wrong — I am not denying that they have good reasons for doing so — they will saw the seeds of violence in the other side. They would be perceived as dangerous, as potentially violent and when you are critiqued, you are not in a mood to say, ‘OK, I see your point. We have been very bad. We will change our manners.’
It doesn’t happen that way.
I will tell you which way it happens.
During the 34 visits, my constant spiritual struggle with the Tamil side: Produce a vision acceptable also to the others!
Now, the Tamil side produced their vision of Tamil Eelam in an island with the rest of the island was white as a non-settled land. Well, it happened to be settled by a quite a lot of Buddhists and there were Muslims around and others. You have to take the ‘other’ into consideration.
You will understand that I will stand by the same argument I had before, a Federation with a high level of Autonomy. I will mention what I mean by that high level of autonomy.
Let us say that you have that part, the Northern part. Let us say that you decide your capital to be in Jaffna. I think you should have a right to have a Consulate in Chennai. I mean, obviously Tamil Nadu is very close to you. And you should have a right to have a Consulate there, but not to have an Embassy — that is when an independent country.
But, the Consulate will handle peoples’, Tamils’ affairs, Tamil businesses — and what happens when somebody dies in Tamil Nadu, but wants to be buried in Tamil Eelam — to have all of that organised in your own language. This is not a threat to Sri Lanka in any way, and you don’t change any borders. But, you may have the right and put it forward that in your Sri Lankan passport, you might have the right to have Tamil Eelam written at the bottom of it. You are still a Sri Lankan, but from the Tamil Eelam part.
You might be interested in arguing a federation of nine provinces in Sri Lanka as a total and this should be one of them. And you should be very considered to the Muslims, what they might like. It might be that the southern part of the [Eastern] province would be mixed Tamil – Muslim – Buddhist province, may be it could have a model character in showing how the three could live together.
I mentioned a lot of points now, I may repeat it again: It is by having a positive, constructive vision that doesn’t scare the others that you go forward. By having a positive-constructive vision.
You may agree or not agree with what I have said now. We should write it out in detail and put it forward. It will not be accepted immediately.
The point is that the visions are written on the wall. And they are — what the Americans call ‘compelling’ — if you have made a good vision.
I have done this about 30 times in my life, and the visions have been realised, and it was ahead of time.
The first vision was a vision of what peace research or peace studies could look like.
Psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and international relationists, all attacked it and said: ‘this is nonsense, we handle all of that’.
We had a vision on the wall!
Here it is! All over the world now!
All over the world, it’s competitors call it ‘Security Studies’, which to my mind is some kind of academically institutionalised paranoia. It is seated in London and Washington and it is an Anglo American philosophy.
If you think you have enemies, you will produce them just by thinking it. It is by having a vision that we could live together that you create friends.
* * *
TamilNet: When we talk about the on-going structural genocide against the Eelam Tamil nation at the moment, very larger aspect of that is to do with land. Land grabs by the military of the Sri Lankan State.
Galtung: They squeeze Tamils into the margin into a marginalised existence. I think also because they want to [make Tamils to] migrate to Tamil Nadu.
* * *
TamilNet: This is the key issue facing the Eelam Tamil nation at the moment, the structural genocide by land grabs, being carried out by the military of the Sri Lankan State. How would you think that particular issue can be addressed in terms of securing the territorial integrity of the Tamil homeland so that the land is not threatened? And also restricting the military from being able to carry out as it pleases within the area that it occupies at the moment?
Galtung: You have to somehow make it a UN issue. And if you could make it a UN General Assembly issue, not a Security Council issue, it would be useful.
The Chinese, to my mind, are playing the wrong game.
That is because they are hungry for resources. I think they are badly informed.
I would immediately send a high-powered Tamil delegation to Beijing to try to explain to them the situation.
The Chinese know lot of about the world, but at some times they are badly informed.
I would then recommend non-violence of course.
I would cooperate with the media on non-violent protests very visible.
I think what happens to the Tamils now, as far as I can understand, is that one part of them would migrate to Tamil Nadu, where they get the identity — lots of unemployment, India is poor, but still more dignity and maybe a piece of land. Although one should pay attention to the fact that the Indian government is as brutal as anybody in its fighting against Naxalites, which is a Class warfare, a basic Class warfare. On behalf of the Pariahs and the Sudras and the tribals against the three casts at the top and where the Indian government is using drones and so on. It goes all the way from Assam to Kerala, but in a sense got Tamil Nadu. One could be save from that.
The other part is of course the Tamil diaspora all over the world, not at least in Norway, not at least in Northern Norway — and that is one reason why the Norwegian government got involved, and if I may say so — I think they listened a little bit too much to you than to listen to the other side too, and the Muslim side. When the Buddhists have the feeling that the Norwegian government was sort of leaning in favour of you, I think they were right. So, you can see from my thinking that I try to be very symmetric in the approach to it.
But, the Norwegians made a very basic mistake. They have a tendency to confuse Ceasefire with Peace.
So, they monitored the ceasefire agreement and they were not even aware of that fact — as far as I can understand — cohabitation.
You have a system with Prime Minister from one party and the President from the other. If you make an agreement with the Prime Minster, you have a built-in guarantee that the President will be against it. And they got on the signature of the Prime Minister. Terrible. I mean, there is a limit to how uninformed you can be!
But, leaving that aside, we are in the basic Tamil situation.
Then you have the Tamils who are accepting the situation and playing with the government in trying to get the best of it. If they are leaning over backwards to be with the government, they may get a reward.
Then you have the Tamils who are apathetic, just desperate.
And you have the Tamils sitting somewhere, preparing revenge. I am not sure that they will use suicide vests next time, there are more powerful weapons in the world.
Only one thing I can say for certain, the present structural genocide, the present oppression of the Tamils will not last forever. But, it depends on how you behave too.
* * *
TamilNet: We have about more than 100,000 Tamils who did go to Tamil Nadu several decades ago and they are still lingering in camps without any basic necessities, without being allowed to get jobs under very cruel circumstances. The aspects of Tamils that flee Tamil Eelam finding any space in Tamil Nadu seems very slim. When it comes to the Diaspora Tamils, they are repeatedly told by the Western powers where the Tamil diaspora is mainly based, that the West is pre-occupied with the Islamic world and China. But, when it comes to actual conflict, we can see that the West is actually involved quite deeply. How do you explain this, especially when we ask about solutions or talk about solutions, the West quite preparedly or as it was pre-prepared talks to diaspora that we are quite occupied with the Islamic world to China. But, that doesn’t seem to be the reality in causing the crisis to begin with?
Galtung: If you go little back in time, the British Empire covered 25% of the surface of the land of the world, an enormous territory. If you add to it the French, the Italian, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch and the Belgian, it was an enormous power.
All those colonies are gone. The West has lost enormously.
Now, they are concerned of losing more. And, now comes the second point, the West has been outcompeted economically.
China and India alone has 37% of the world’s population and can produce 120% of what the world needs of industrial goods – any bit of a same quality as the West, for much cheaper prices, outcompeting.
That is China and India and that is only the two of the countries in the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
BRICS spans four continents: you have South America, Africa, Asia and Russia from Europe. They have the second concern.
On top of that is the absolutely nightmarish concern of the Americans to lose the dollar as the world’s so-called reserve currency, which they will sooner or later. They will lose it.
Up come, as you have rightly pointed out, the Muslim world and China.
But, I would like to add Latin America.
In Latin America, the United States used to have one enemy, Cuba.
Today, they have may be one friend, out of the 33 countries. There is CELAC, the Council of the States of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a fantastic achievement. I have been arguing that one since 1962 and I was one of the first outsiders to argue that.
But, they also took great pains saying not threaten North America: equal terms and equity. CELAC has a discussion with North America on equal terms. So, the West has more than enough to worry about.
The West does not dare attack China. They would love to do it. The US would love to do it.
That is why they attacked, in my mind, Afghanistan in year 2001, 7 October. It had nothing to do with 9-11. That attack [on Afghanistan] was decided long before. I heard about it in February 2001, meaning in other words 9 months before 9-11. I heard it from a top official in Afghan. I was mediating in Peshawar the whole Afghan situation. We came up with a 5-point solution that I still stand by.
The point about the story is that he told me and the whole conference that the United States, he told in February, had prepared the war to attack Afghanistan in October to get a base – and he put his thumb on a map – to get a pipeline. I lifted his thumb, it was Bagram, of course.
In other words, don’t be confused by their propaganda. The US policy is to have their so-called permanent interests — no permanent friends, no permanent enemies; they will drop friends at any moment — I am quoting Lord Palmerston — but permanent interests.
One of the interests is to be number one in the world.
They have an instinctive paranoia against any number two. They have appointed China number two.
When I talk with the Chinese leadership and I have quite good access as I have been twice invited to give talks at a party school for the Supreme Council of the Communist Party of the Peoples Republic of China! One of the talks was actually about the possible decline and fall of the communist dynasty.
The Chinese say very explicitly: we don’t want a world empire; we have enough with our own dynasties. There are empires over time and they go like that, they are born, declined and born, declined and so on. We want harmony with the rest of the world. Then sitting and discussing how one can get that.
So, they [the US] have attacked the Muslim world. I mentioned the attack on Afghanistan. I am not of the opinion that their approach is in any way peaceful.
Obama’s United States is reputed today to be killing inside 134 countries in the world. If you have a good functioning Empire, you wouldn’t have to do that, you can get the local government to do the killing for you. One government after the other uses to do it.
Right now they are trying to establish a government in the Ukraine that can do that kind of job.
The Empire is crumbling. Crumbling, crumbling, crumbling…
So, up comes then the lack of vision of the West. My advice when I give talks at these capitals, why don’t you produce a vision of a more modest West?
A more modest one, which will still be totally acceptable. You will find that your population are not interested in expansion, wars and battles.
They want a good life. They want a safety net and they want culture. They want the identity; they want meaning.
They want you to focus on more economic growth; they want more economic equality.
Just ask them! You have public opinion polls, and produce the parties that can give them this. You will get a happy contented West that threatens nobody.
I come back to my wife’s point: for the fifth time I say that the essence is to have a vision – compelling vision – on the wall.
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TamilNet: When it comes to United Nations, the United States and the EU for example. Since 2009, they have been issuing statement after statement welcoming the end of conflict in the island of Sri Lanka and in some way congratulating the government of Sri Lanka for ‘bringing about a peace’. Do you think that it is the case in that island? Do you think that the conflict has ended and the peace has come?
Galtung: Here you see this horrible Anglo-American use of the word conflict. They can welcome the end of violence and they can have their opinion that is the only way to do it, it is an opinion, it is not mine, but it is an opinion.
The conflict is more than ever.
Let us thus be very careful. Conflict means having incompatible goals. The Buddhists have Mahavamsa. ‘We are in control because we were given this island promised to you by nobody less than the Lord Buddha.’ To believe in that is an act of faith.
The Jews and many, many Evangelical Americans and many Japanese have the same act of faith about their own States.
So, the Tamils have an undisputable human right to autonomy.
If you just look at the human rights catalogue — I am not thinking of the 1948 Declaration — because it is not an international law.
I am thinking of the Convention of 16 December 1966, where you find exactly the same. The right to you own language, the right to your own worldview and so on.
The only thing that can guarantee it is that you yourself are the rulers in your own house, but that doesn’t have to be an independent house, could be autonomy of some sort.
So, I will again and again say there is a conflict. The conflict has not been ended. Since that has not been ended in all likelihood, the violence will come up again.
What happened was a brutal genocidal attack.
But, I must also say that the LTTE behaved violently till the very end. So, it is about two sides to the issue. You have got my view on that.
Look at the Tamils in Sri Lanka, you have the long time settlement in the North and the link to India. Then you have, the tea plantation Tamils, the tea-pickers, you have them in the hills.
Then you have the Tamils, very many, in Colombo, intellectuals, professionals of top quality. And you have also on the Buddhist side a top quality and they have been to the same universities very often. They have been taught by the same English professors.
I mention that because, to English professors, Federation is an F-word. It is a word that you should not mention. The word you should mention is Union.
That you know is United Kingdom, Union Jack and as I say, Manchester United and all of that! The Union usually means something with the London at the top. And the Buddhists love that, because that means Sri Lankan Union with Colombo at the top.
If those English professors had been better at home and made in 1801 a Federation of British Isles, they would have saved thousands of lives.
But, there had to be a Union! The United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland!
Well, the Northern Ireland has more or less disappeared. The Great Britain, the greatness is up for a vote in Scotland about possible status of independence — I think the Scots make a mistake, they should ask for advanced autonomy and negotiate the rules. But, that is not their vision. What is left will be London with surroundings; to put it the way Tony Benn puts it. You see the dynamism of the world, nothing is stable. It is all dynamic.
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TamilNet: You briefly touched upon the peace process, which took place between 2002 to 20008 until the Sri Lankan government withdrew unilaterally from it. During that time you had the so-called Co-Chairs to the peace process, the United States, European Union, Norway and Japan, who were trying to prevent the resurgence of violence by finding a solution. But, during that period, Washington held a donor conference where they invited the government of Sri Lanka and the government of Sri Lanka only and promised them millions of dollars. Then, we have the EU, in 2006 that proscribed one of the parties, the LTTE, as a terrorist organisation. In the same year, they channelled attack helicopters, multi-barrel rocket launchers and all sorts of weaponry to the Sri Lankan military. How do you view these contributions of these world powers? How would you describe what they did?
Galtung: Very simple. I was of course aware of this. During this period, I was so often in Sri Lanka.
Before I give the answer, I remember once the whole newscast by the State television one evening was actually given to me, a half-an-hour talk about the Federation. So, I cannot complain that no attention was paid.
But, I think that the Co-Chairs had a totally different agenda.
Their agenda was not resolve any conflict.
Their agenda was to get rid of the LTTE Army, to simply get rid of it, because of the doctrine: for each country, one Army. Monopoly of ultimate power. The ultima ratio regis, the last argument of the King, or the last argument of the Government or the Secretary General in communist countries. The last argument is that there should be only one.
OK, If you have a Nation or a Class, sufficiently desperate, they will not respect that doctrine; and the Tamils didn’t and they organised the LTTE.
Thamilchelvan was a good personal friend of mine. I miss him. He and I disagreed completely about the Federation idea.
He said, if we get federation then it would only be one more way the Buddhists will suppress us.
The Buddhists say if we get federation, the Tamils will declare independence next day.
I said, look, 40% of humanity lives in the 25 federations, two or three of them are broken up because they were badly made – Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. I can give a list ways on doing federation. You can make them so attractive that the Tamils will stay and you would prefer to have them inside.
But, leaving that point aside, the Co-Chairs were not interested in such things. Their primary concern was just to get rid of the [LTTE] Army. Method number one, to get rid of the other Army, was to strengthen to the government side. You mentioned some ways it was done.
I am sad that China was on the wrong side. I have said something about, who I think otherwise is well on that side.
You should be aware that in European Union too, there are some concerns. France is concerned that the Corsicans and the French in Normandy and Swan might start throwing bombs. The Germans have all kinds of concerns about violence for good reasons and you can take one by the other, Italians have some small minorities that are sort of restless — you can find some of them in the islands.
So, they [States] will have a tendency to go the governmental line: One State, One Army. That is what they were concerned.
The other one was to de-legitimise the LTTE. There of course, they have the catalogue of terrorists [these] countries. I wish the world had a similar catalogue of State Terrorist countries.
The terrorists are people not in uniform, killing people not in uniform. State terrorists, usually – not always, have a uniform as this is an envoy of this government. And he may sit in his uniform high up at 10,000 meters, 30,000 – 40,000 feet pushing buttons and having the bombs kill all kinds of people kill underneath. Or, he or she may sit in a computer room in Washington and fire the drones. That is State terrorism. The people who die are mainly without uniform.
If you have people without uniform attacking people in uniform, it is called guerrilla, it is a Spanish invention from the early 1800, 1806.
If you have people in uniform fighting people in uniform, it is called a war.
Ok, it is called a war.
We have fewer wars now; we have more of the other three: Guerrilla, State terrorism and Terrorism.
I am against all three of them. I favour a non-violent fighting.
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TamilNet: The Co-Chairs who were deeply involved in seeing through what happened in May 2009, the genocide then, are now excusing that with the activities of the Sri Lankan State again. They are still refusing to acknowledge that the Tamils are being subjected to a campaign of genocide. They still decline to acknowledge that the Tamils face specific threats that need solutions. How do you think that the global humanity can potentially approach these States and the combinations of them, which is the United Nations, which carry on seeing everything through geopolitics?
Galtung: Look, let us say you have one million Tamils in the Tamil diaspora. They used to collect money for LTTE. They collected a lot of money. Let me put it in very plain simple terms. These one million work on the media of the world and make the story better known.
And, please be so kind and have the story accompanied by a vision, which does not threaten the Buddhists, but it does say to the Buddhists, okay, okay, you are the majority, we recognise that, but give us our piece of autonomy where we can rule our piece in the Tamil language in the Tamil way. We will cooperate with you at the top of a federation. We will do that. Bring the story to the world, and you will make it. I will take some time.
I would also send a high-powered delegation to China, maybe also to Russia to make it very clear what happens.
You will realise of course that if you take United States and European Union, you have three of the permanent members of the Security Council. But, today it is called 5+1, because Germany for some reason has managed to get into it. That means the European Union has three countries out of the 28 in the Security Council.
On the other side you have Russia and China.
I think —to be quite frank — your hope is that Russia and China could speak your voice. I will put emphasis on that. But, I will not threaten with violence. I will have vision written on the wall.
TamilNet: Professor Galtung, thanks a lot!
Galtung: My heart is with you; my brain is with you. But, it is also with the other sides that are also for peace!