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Forum Post: Norway’s Johan Galtung, Peace & Conflict Pioneer, Reflects on Norwegian Massacre, Afghan War

Posted 2 years ago on April 18, 2012, 9:54 a.m. EST by flip (5408)
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AMY GOODMAN: As the trial continues in Norway, we turn now to a Norwegian sociologist, mathematician, who’s regarded as the founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. Johan Galtung is the recipient of many awards, including the Right Livelihood Award and a number of honorary doctorates. He is founder and head of Transcend International. His granddaughter was on the island when Breivik attacked. Johan Galtung joins us now from Minneapolis.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Johan Galtung. Your thoughts on this day, the second day of the Breivik trial? And how is your granddaughter?

JOHAN GALTUNG: Well, she is doing fine. She’s a strong young woman, a wonderful person. Thanks for having me.

Well, the mass murderer is now in court. There’s a lot of talk about his psychology. I find that less interesting. Much more interesting are the deep motivations, always thinking politically. And in order to get into that, you can start with the date he chose. That was 22nd of July. Twenty-second of July, 1099, the Knights Templars liberated Jerusalem for the Christians, later on for the Jews. The 22nd of July, 1946, King David Hotel was exploded by what was at that time Jewish terrorists. Some of them later became prime ministers of Israel. So the day is not quite by chance. He has deep, deep anchorings in Judeo-Christian mythology and the myths of the Knight Templars.

So the question is, are there many people like that? Well, he is quite well read, you see? He’s an intelligent man, autodidact, very hard-working. And the nonsense that he was paranoid schizophrenic, they got rid of, and they have declared him normal.

He is politically, I would say, as misguided as anybody can be, but not much more than the Norwegian government killing Afghans in Afghanistan. I do not get very popular in Norway for drawing that parallel, and I stand by it. So we have a case now where the court has to maneuver in such a way that the similarity between Breivik’s killings and what the Norwegian government does as a part of a U.S.-led coalition does not come up. It’s quite a difficult maneuvering. They will probably focus on his psychology, whether he breaks into tears, whether he shows signs of remorse. Well, I haven’t seen so much remorse from the Norwegian government, either, for the killing in Afghanistan. And they have human feelings, too. They may be as concerned about the people they have lost as Norwegians are, and as I would have been, had my granddaughter been among the victims.AMY GOODMAN: Talk more about this parallel you’re making, that doesn’t make you popular in Norway right now, with Norway part of the NATO team in Afghanistan. By the way, Australia has just announced they’re pulling out a year early from Afghanistan, starting very soon.

JOHAN GALTUNG: Well, it’s the coalition of the unwilling, you see. They know perfectly well that—I mean, I talk with them, I talk with many, and I’ll tell you the result of my talking with Taliban. They know that it is a lost cause, they have no chance at all. You have to understand what kind of country Afghanistan is. As Taliban tell me, it’s a very, very decentralized country, 25,000 very autonomous villages, and let us say six to eight nations, depends on how you count it. And I remember when we in Transcend, an NGO for mediation, had our first effort there in February 2001, long before 9/11. Then, I was asking myself, "What country does this remind me of?" which I always do when I mediate. And the answer was Switzerland. Switzerland is the model. Switzerland is a very federal country with very high autonomy down at the local community. Let us say they have 5,000, not 25,000; they have four nations, not six or eight. And Swiss policy is to be neutral, non-aligned, and to be a very, very deep federation. I think Afghanistan’s future will be heading in that direction.

The Taliban tells me that this is a very Muslim country. "We hate secularism. We hate people coming, trying to win hearts and minds by digging wells and giving us water not blessed by Allah." I think, of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Afghanistan may be among the countries with the highest percentage of Muslims. To win heart and minds through secular activity is a nonstarter. It has been from the beginning.

Now, in addition, they hate Kabul as an overblown, over-bloated kind of capital carrying the illusion of a unitary state. It isn’t. And I think that they would prefer to see a very small center of the country and very high level of autonomy.

In addition, they are sick and tired of being invaded. It started with Alexander the Great. You know, this is the place where he became Alexander the Small. And they were invaded by the Mongols, three times by the Britons, one time by the Soviets, and now by the U.S.-led coalition, as you said, NATO forces. So, for them, this is also a war to fight being invaded, the war to end wars.

And finally, very important, the Durand Line drawn by the British Empire through Pashtun territory, 40 million Pashtuns, maybe the highest minority in the world which doesn’t have a state. They don’t recognize that line at all. They are not foreigners crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan. That’s some kind of Washington illusion. They’re in their own territory, Pashtun territory. Now, how do solve that one? Pakistan is not going to give territory to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not going to give it to Pakistan. You solve it by having a Central Asian community, making the border irrelevant. So, Central Asian community, a deeply federated Afghanistan, neutral, non-aligned, with security forces cooperating from OIC and the United Nations Security Council, I guess that’s the future.

Now, I’m sitting here in the U.S., a country I love, and it’s so sad to see that the U.S. sees only enemies everywhere, instead of putting its wonderful minds to solving the conflict. They could sponsor a conference, without running it, to explore a Central Asian community, non-alignment and things of that kind. And they could cooperate with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, in doing so, somewhat less India because there the concerns about Kashmir come up. Why does the U.S. have to see enemies everywhere and always react violently? The solution is at hand. It’s not at all complicated.

And these people, Taliban, they don’t want to kill people in the U.S. They want to preserve their own autonomy and be themselves. And they’re struggling for that. I must say, when I talk with them, I find them rational. Sometimes their Muslim terminology is difficult for me to understand, but I find it very easy to talk with them. I have more difficulties getting good contacts in Pentagon and State Department. That is where the doors are closed. But I had contact with a U.S. general. It was stopped, for some reasons that somebody higher up may know. Found him very intelligent, very sensitive, very compassionate, too.

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