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As US Carpet Bombs Afghanistan and the Media White-Out of Alternatives to War Continues, an Hour with the “Father of Peace Studies,” Johan Galtung

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The London newspaper The Guardian reported yesterday on its front page that British support for the war against the Taliban has significantly dropped in the past two weeks, and a majority now believe there should be a halt in the bombing to allow aid convoys into Afghanistan. [includes rush transcript]

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this week that nearly nine out of ten Americans still “approve of the military attacks led by the United States against Afghanistan.”

Neither paper asked people whether they supported killing innocent civilians. And neither paper asked if people would support other ways of dealing with the al-Qaeda network, such as using mechanisms of international law, conflict resolution, economic justice, or working toward justice in the Occupied Territories.

Given both polls’ lack of alternatives, maybe we can only intuit that both Americans and Britons want decisive action, a solution to the terrorist problem and some kind of justice for the thousands of innocent civilians who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks.

But since September 11, there has been a virtual media white-out of any discussion of this kind.

A couple of weeks ago, Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies, led a weekend-long workshop on peaceful conflict resolution and reconciliation at Pace University in New York.

When we first played his speech, we got an overwhelming response from people and demands for an encore. Here it is.


  • Johan Galtung, widely known as the founder of the academic discipline of peace studies. He has served as professor of peace studies at the University of Hawaii and universities around the world. Galtung established the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. He has published over 1,000 articles and 100 books on peace studies and conflict resolution. Johan Galtung is a consultant to several UN agencies and recently founded TRANSCEND, a global network of 150 experts trained in conflict resolution who do field work around the globe. He is also a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (the “Alternative Nobel Prize”). Johan Galtung has helped mediate forty-five major conflicts around the world over the past four decades.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The London newspaper The Guardian reported yesterday on its front page that British support for the war against the Taliban has significantly dropped in the last two weeks, and a majority now believe there should be a halt in the bombing to allow aid convoys into Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that nearly nine out of ten Americans still, quote, “approve of the military attacks led by the United States against Afghanistan.”

Neither paper asked people whether they support killing innocent civilians, and neither paper asked if people would support other ways of dealing with the al-Qaeda network, such as using mechanisms of international law, conflict resolution, economic justice or working towards justice in the Occupied Territories. Given both polls’ lack of alternatives, maybe we can only intuit that both Americans and Britons want decisive action, a solution to the terrorist problem, and some kind of justice for the thousands of innocent civilians who lost their lives in the September 11th attacks. But since September 11th, there’s been a virtual media white-out of any discussion of this kind.

A couple of weeks ago, Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies, led a weekend-long workshop on peaceful conflict resolution and reconciliation at Pace University in New York. When we first played his speech, we got an overwhelming response from people and demands for an encore. Here it is. This is Johan Galtung, served as professor of peace studies at the University of Hawaii and universities around the world. He won the Right Livelihood Award, considered the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, and has helped mediate forty-five major conflicts around the world over the last forty years. Johan Galtung.

    JOHAN GALTUNG: I would like to start with a public opinion poll, which you may know, but it’s also quite likely that you don’t know it. It was made in thirty-one countries, and it was made about ten days after September 11. It was a Gallup poll, published in many countries, but I have never heard that it was published in the US. The people were given the choice between two options, and you may describe the options as police action and military action. And the police action would have as its goal to apprehend the responsible, arraign them in the court, and, if possible, sentence them. And the military action would essentially be retribution, retaliation, but also possibly extermination. The overwhelming majority in the world, about 80 percent, were in favor of police action. There were only two countries in favor of military action. That was Israel with 77 percent and the United States of America with 54 percent. The most belligerent country, in that sense, in Europe was France, with 29 percent. England was way below that.

    Now, what this means is a little bit interesting. This is as close as you can come to a globalized democracy. We have nothing closer. The world opinion is not in favor of what is currently happening. They are in favor of apprehending the responsible and bringing them to justice. And the way this is done, in due process of law. They’re not in favor of an all-out retribution. As I mentioned, that was only two countries. If the result of the public opinion poll had been the opposite, this would have been on the first page of all US newspapers and all Western newspapers. Now, there is something in that which is a little bit sad, and that is, of course, the first victim of war, which is truth, so I take that as a point of departure.

    Since I’m now going to, from a TRANSCEND point of view, design the policy, that policy is on two tracks. And track one is police action. Track two has as its point of departure this scheme, and it says we’ve had a major act of unpardonable violence, a crime against humanity, where we not only feel sympathy for the victims, located so close to here, but also feel very strongly that there is something called justice, and they should be brought to justice. But that doesn’t mean that we stop thinking, and that we stop asking ourselves, why did this happen? And along the line here, they have, of course, the idea of polarization and dehumanization, and the enormous amount of dehumanization underlying this act, and before that, the untransformed conflict. So the second track would then ask the question, which of these conflicts? What dialogues can we have? What possible solutions exist? Or transformations? What would be the first steps? And what would be the possible reconciliation that could bring us out of it?

    Now, that would be therapy. Before we try to engage in therapy, we usually do diagnosis and prognosis. But in this case I will turn it around; I will start with the therapy. So the recommendation are the following six steps, but it has as a point of departure the text left behind by the perpetrators, because they left behind a text. And the text was not written in English or in any other language. It was written in two buildings. And the message was that they had something against economic USA and military USA. They did not bomb the Statue of Liberty. It was not against Congress. It was not the White House. It was not Arlington Cemetery. It was not against any cultural monument of the US. It was against exactly economic America and military America. One can speculate about the fourth plane. If the fourth plane were heading for Langley, Virginia, it would complete the equation. I don’t have the slightest basis for saying that was the case, nor did Washington have any basis for saying that it was heading for the White House, or even Air Force One, which even at their level of ability would have been somewhat difficult.

    So, the kind of moves that would have to be taken would have to address economic America and military America, in terms of foreign policy. That, of course, requires that you buy into a model of this type, namely, that violence is caused. And as we all know, discourse A today is not that discourse; discourse A is the terrorist discourse — namely, it is not caused by anything, except to be evil. I think the President of the US used the word “evil-doer” nine times in his first speech. In other words, the point was made very clearly. The other side uses a similar figure, Great Satan. It’s also a way of cutting out rational thought by just simply etiquetting the antagonist in a way which deprives the antagonist of motivation, rationales.

    We then have to address one problem: if we now say that they had reasons, does that mean that we justify what happened? No, it only means that we tried to understand. We tried to understand what those subjective reasons are. We may not agree with them; we may agree with them. But the point is that if we want this not to be repeated, we might contemplate the idea of removing the causes. So, removing the causes of a heinous, violent act is one approach. The other approach is to define them as terrorists, as vermin to be exterminated, and that approach is today the approach that is being pursued.

    So let me now, after that brief introduction, take six, maybe seven, policy steps. Step number one is US troops out of Arabia. And I, on purpose, do not say Saudi Arabia. I say Arabia. I think it has to be understood that to station US troops in a holy land, with the two holy places, is the moral equivalent of having the NATO headquarter in Napoli move to the Vatican City — there are certain things one doesn’t do — that it is an insult, and it does not help the slightest that that insult is accepted by the government. The government is not seen as an Islamic authority, the government in Arabia. Now, that insult can only be removed by removing the troops. Even worse is using military bases, air bases, for bombing another Muslim country. Continue along those lines, and the wounds will become even deeper, and the traumas even deeper, and it will continue. Remove the troops, and it will serve as a signal that the message has arrived. That’s number one.

    Number two, lifting the sanctions in Iraq, and simply engage in a dialogue with the hated — also by very many Iraquis — regime. In 1991, they had four very concrete issues that all could be solved. It was when they encountered a total lack of willingness to listen to their issues, that out of rage, the leader of the country, Sadam Hussein, made a fascist step in his invasion of Kuwait. I find that very often happening, that a major cause of violence is when one side comes to conclusion that violence is the only language they understand. And it’s not because they haven’t said things, but it’s because nobody has listened. And that was my purpose of the dialogue I tried to act with an Indonesian general. The five points he made — even if the language was harsh, the five points were entirely rational: “We might consider, perhaps, East Timor independence, but you have to understand that we are apprehensive about the military, economic, cultural, social and political implications.” Now, the moment you pay attention to that, everything becomes different. So, under the logic of one side being an evil-doer, you’re not going to listen, because how should — why should anybody listen to an evil-doer? He’s only out to do evil anyhow. There’s no reason to do it. The word “terrorist” is a communication that I have cut off my intellectual faculties, I’m not going to listen, I’m just going to act, and my basic canon of action will be search and destroy. So I am saying there is still an opening for dialogue with Iraq. Some of this has to do with the oil field shared with Kuwait and under the border, so that the country that is most intact can scoop up most of the oil. A division formula for that has not yet been designed.

    Point three, in connection with lifting the sanctions in Iraq, there is a statement by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which is probably the statement I most often hear quoted in Muslim countries. As a response to a journalist’s interview in 1996 to the question, “500,000 children have been killed by the sanctions, they say; is that really worth the price?” she responded, “It was a very hard choice, and yes, it was worth the price.” Now, if you’re willing to sacrifice 500,000 children for some political gain, it is known as fascism. An apology is due. That apology, since she is no longer Secretary of State, will have to come from higher forces.

    Point four, President Khatami of Iran, some years ago, issued an invitation for dialogue, at the top level, between Iran and Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to a speech by Johan Galtung, founder of the discipline of peace studies, given at Pace University several weeks ago. We’re going to continue with that speech when we come back here on the War and Peace Report.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies.

    JOHAN GALTUNG: This is not a question of negotiating some concrete settlement or concrete things today. It is a question of going through history, from 1953, at least, when the US toppled the Mossadegh regime, which was reasonably democratically elected, and put in place the Shah regime. Again, an apology is in order. But I think the basic point is the dialogue. When one has a dialogue, you will have to stomach that some things will be said that are not so agreeable. You may also have a couple of points to make. There may be an exchange — one big apology in one direction, a smaller one in the other direction. And you can discuss the size. But after that, you come to the next stage, namely “Where do we go from now?” But you have to tolerate that there is a first phase, a phase one. The strong will tolerate that; it’s only the weak who escapes from it and cannot stomach it.

    Point five, when it comes to Afghanistan, I would, based on TRANSCEND’s experience with mediation in Afghanistan, suggest a five-point formula.

    Point one, a coalition government, broadly based with Talibans, not without Talibans. Hundred percent Talibans is unacceptable; zero percent Talibans is also unacceptable. There are many percentage points between zero and 100 that can be recommended. To be quite precise, there are 99 points, so there’s much to choose from. Why not zero percent? Because the Talibans have much to their credit in Afghanistan. They’re carriers of order. They have the abolition of the opium planting. They have the toppling of an even more hated regime, the Mujahideen, that are at the nucleus of the Northern Alliance. Now, that’s already important. Religiously, they represent the same branch of Islam, the Wahhabite, as the Saudi, and in this case Saudi Arabian, regime. They are dogmatically the genuine children of Saudi Arabia. The treatment of women is the same, exactly the same. It’s only that Saudi Arabia does it at a higher level of material living. Material living, due to the oil. Now one country has oil; the other one can, at most, have an oil pipeline. The case for zero percent Taliban is not what we heard, even from their very clearly declared enemies.

    The Taliban being indispensable, you then move on to point two: what’s the purpose of such a coalition government? To satisfy the basic needs of the Afghan population. That means law and order for survival. It means adequate food supply, medicine, education material — and here the external world will have to help. And they accept help particularly from UN agencies, not from the Security Council, for a reason I’m coming to, and from the Organization of the Islamic Conference. There doesn’t have to be any contradiction between those two. The third basic need is freedom, particularly freedom of election and the freedom of the press. The Taliban is incapable to guarantee anything of that, as incapable as its mother regime in Saudi Arabia. The fourth basic need is identity. They are, practically speaking, all Muslims, but they talk very different tongues. The Pashtuns, the Hazara, the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, the Farsi-speaking could point to a federated Afghanistan, a federation instead of a unitary state. In this federation, the Northern Alliance has no place, for three reasons. One is the very heavy load of Mujahideen, and I repeat, a more hated regime than the Taliban. The second reason is the preponderance of Uzbeks and Tajiks — in other words, minorities — and its weak representation among the Pashtuns and other groups. And the third reason is the connotation of being an instrument of external powers.

    That moves us to point three: Afghanistan is for the Afghanis. And that means a stop of meddling, meddling from external powers. That has been — that started in 1842, and it’s been going on all the time. It’s called, cynically, by the powers that be, it’s called the Great Game. The Afghanis are sick and tired and revolting against it. That doesn’t mean that some of them cannot be bought, but I am deeply convinced that those will only be small minorities and that the majority of the Afghani people want Afghanistan for Afghanistan.

    That brings us to point four: they want cooperation in the longer run with surrounding Islamic countries. But that will have to be on the basis of some kind of confederation, some kind of community — in other words, a Central Asian community. It will be Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and, in other words, the five Central Asian former Soviet Republics. It would mean Iran, Pakistan, part of Kashmir. This will take time, and that time is not yet ripe. That may take long time.

    Point five and last point, they want to connect to the world but do not accept the United Nations Security Council, for a very simple reason that very many people, unfortunately, are not reflected upon. The UN Security Council has an upper house of five veto powers. Four of these powers are Christian; one is Confucian and sometimes confused. The four Christian powers are Protestant United States, Anglican England, Catholic France and Orthodox Russia. It is worth asking the question, how seriously we would take a Security Council with four Muslim countries and one Confucian country, sometimes confused? We would probably not take it very seriously. There are fifty-six members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. They are all neglected by the Security Council. This is an untenable situation. Many of the Security Council-mandated sanctions are against Muslim countries. There is not one against a Jewish state and few against declared Christian countries. Now, that doesn’t mean that one wouldn’t like to be linked to some kind of security arrangement, and the thought that I heard several times was an organization for security and cooperation for the Asia Pacific, a regional organization like the OECE for Europe, that would have Russia as a member, obviously. It will not have US and Canada as a member. They are members of OECE. It is not quite obvious that Canada is a European country, nor the US. Those are things that can be revised. An organization for security and cooperation in the Americas obviously has Canada and the US as members. So, having said that, I am reflecting the near consensus outcome of one week’s mediation with 100 Afghanis, and I can, in a sense, challenge people to come up with a better expression. One thing they were particularly bitter about were mediators who only contacted top people. How about the King? How about Mohammad Shah? Not impossible, as a symbol, to launch a loya jirga, the grand consultancy round of sheikhs, particularly. But not if he’s seen as a US puppet. Since he is increasingly seen as a US puppet, it will probably be problematic.

    So I have now said something about Arabia, two points about Iraq, one point about Iran, one about Afghanistan. I then come to point six: Palestine. We just pick up one point, the recognition of Palestine as a state, and this is where Washington has made a move. It’s interesting, when I said exactly this list the same day as September 11 — because I’ve been working on this for many years, so I know more or less where the sticky points are — and I gave this list, people told me, “It is totally unrealistic. It will never happen, particularly the point about Palestine.” Well, that’s exactly the point that happened. Don’t ever say “never.” Things that will not happen today, or not tomorrow, may happen the day after tomorrow. You increase the likelihood by putting it on the list of wishes. Now, I’ll not elaborate on the Palestine, since that was what we did just before this. And there are many, many, many, many more things to be said. I only want to welcome and hope for the sincerity behind the possible recognition of Palestine as a state. It would take some of the poison out of the relationship.

    The last point, globalization-free zones in the world. Pay attention to the fact that economic America was hit: the World Trade Center. In absolutely no way can the blame for all the ills of the world economically be laid at the feet of America. That’s not the point. But the US has a slightly unfortunate habit of referring to itself as the leader of the world. Now, if you do that very often — let us say, for instance, fifty times a day — it may happen that some people believe it, and you attract attention. It would be in the US interest to disperse that leadership a little bit. It may be that others will say, “No, for heaven’s sake, keep it. You are the leader, you are the leader, you are the leader!” For obvious reasons that I’ll not elaborate on. Globalization-free zones would be politically the same as the Kyoto Protocol, where the third world is exempted from the strictures of the Kyoto Protocol. In other words, there is the idea that there are measures that have to be taken, but some parts of the world are more fitting for these measures than others.

    The reason why 100,000 people die per day cannot be covered by the term “globalization,” but it can be covered by the term “monetarization.” If you earn less than $1.7 billion — one dollar per day, and that’s the case for 1.7 billion people, you cannot buy land, you cannot buy seeds, you cannot buy water, you cannot buy artificial fertilizer, you cannot buy access to a hospital if all medical services have been privatized. And the combination of globalization and privatization means monetarization. If you don’t have it, you don’t get it. So what do you do? You buy a bottle of Coke and one cigarette. You use those in order to soften the hunger pains. And you die. Now, if 100,000 persons do that, be not be surprised if some negative feelings arise at some points. That’s every day. That’s between 30 and 40 million per year. If each one of them leaves behind ten persons who are bereaved, most of them illiterate, often apathetic, very poor, don’t be surprised if some of them develop slightly negative feelings.

    So these are six measures that can all be done. They are all possible, and they would cost considerably less than $40 billion for warfare. Can I guarantee that they will solve the problem? I cannot. But I can guarantee that the other approach will not do it.

    So let us then go into diagnosis and prognosis, since I have indicated what I think would be a solution. The diagnosis then is that this is a chain of retaliation in a conflict that has lasted for very many years, but let me take 1945 as a point of departure. And the name of the conflict is class struggle. It is class between countries and between people — class struggle. It is not clash of civilizations. If the US had been engaged in clash of civilization against Islam, mosques would have been hit. The basic cultural sites of Islam would have been hit. Instead, what the US consistently has done in Muslim countries has been to hit countries that have been a little bit progressive and progressive people within non-progressive countries. By progressive, I mean people who are working for distribution of the wealth and are working for the satisfaction of the basic needs at the bottom.
    One example of a slightly progressive regime, in spite its dictatorship, was Iraq. One example of a very progressive group inside Iraq was Basra. It was Basra that was hit and not Baghdad. Basra is a major town in southern Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Johan Galtung, widely known as the founder of the academic discipline of peace studies, speaking a few weeks ago at Pace University in New York. We’ll go to the conclusion of his speech when we come back in one minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue with the speech of Johan Galtung. And if you’d like to get a video cassette copy of it, you can call 1-800-926-3921. That’s 1-800-926-3921. This is Johan Galtung, the founder of the discipline of peace studies, speaking just weeks ago at Pace University in New York.

    JOHAN GALTUNG: It was sometimes defined as Soviet expansion, but was more often defined as Marxist subversion. So you can say that the basic slogan under which
    the counterattack took place was Marxism rather than communism.

    The third stage was against Muslim countries. The perennial factor has been Palestine and the inability to give support to the Palestinian struggle for independence and statehood and dignity. But added to that came the Iranian Revolution, the possibility and potential and effort to use Iraq to beat the Iranian Revolution, and then Saddam Hussein turned against the US at the end of that war, an extreme hatred of Saddam Hussein, the utter stupidity, dictatorship and fascist tendency of Saddam Hussein in his attack on Kuwait, and then, finally, the atrocities in the way that struggle was fought.

    And the next step is Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the basic thing that happened was the use of Afghanistan to beat the Soviets. The architect of it was Zbigniew Brzezinski. Two million Afghanis lost their lives. After ten years, the result was not only that the Soviet Union withdrew, but it was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union found its Vietnam. Now, there are many of us who think that the Soviet Union disintegrated for other reasons. The Afghanis are convinced that they were the major reason. So if they claim 95 percent of the honor, I, as an analyst, will give them about 45 percent. But that doesn’t matter much. The point is that nobody ever thanked them. They didn’t get one word of gratitude from the West. This has left a bitterness in Afghanistanis of all kinds, from top to bottom. It is almost unspeakable. Here you enlist us. You use us. You give us weapons, yes. And after we do the job — because the job was a ground forces job, it was not a job that could be done with Stinger missiles — after all of that, we don’t even get a word of thanks. Now, that was that stage. In that stage, the Talibans, that were supported by Pakistan and carriers of Saudi Arabian doctrine, and the offshoot of the Mujahideen, supported by the US and they themselves trained by the CIA, came into existence.

    Where does bin Laden fit into this? I don’t know. I know that he’s from Saudi Arabia. I know his speech, which I think is a very important document and should be read by everybody. And in that speech, I would like just to pick out one sentence, and the sentence is the following. I, myself, am amazed, since I was in the US when this happened, that I haven’t seen one single commentary on what I think is the most important sentence holding the key to the whole thing. So it says the following: “Our nation, the Islamic world, has been tasting humiliation and degradation for more than eighty years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked, and no one hears, and no one heeds.” Now that was a self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe.

    More than eighty years brings us back to the period between 1915 and 1920. That means when the Arab nation was encouraged by the Allies — meaning England, France and Italy — to arise against Ottoman rule — the Ottomans being the allies of Germany — they did. They succeeded. The Ottoman Empire was defeated. Germany was defeated. And the reward they got was English, French and Italian colonization and the right of return for the Jews. Now, one cannot do such things. I, being fairly well at home in the Arab and Islamic world, I cannot travel any place and finding anybody, a school child, who doesn’t know about this, and the Sykes–Picot treason of 1916. The amazing thing is how few people in the West know it. And particularly amazing is the inability to take up this point.

    It should then be noticed that the 15th of November, 1988, the Palestine National Council nevertheless declared a two-state solution as a possibility — in other words, conceding the right of an Israeli state. I concur that’s a very small thing. But they did not give any right to a British state, a French state or an Italian state, but to a Jewish state. So let us then accept that as a fact of life. It’s a part of the Middle East.

    I think the apology for the Sykes-Picot treason is still something that should happen. It’s never too late. Now, it comes from two of the most arrogant countries in the world, England and France, I think more arrogant than the US, and that has to do with the following. England and France is ruled by aristocrats whose arrogance is very, very deep. At the top of the US there are some people who have some doubts. That doubt is unknown in the French Foreign Ministry. It doesn’t even appear in dreams. Now, having said that, one could quote much more from that speech. The load is heavy. So I repeat, this is class struggle. And I repeat again, it’s not clash of civilizations.

    So how, then, do I define class? I have four dimensions of class. I define class as the relationship between the powerful and the powerless. Class and power are, to me, identical terms. There are four types of power: political power, economic power, military power and cultural power. Political power: who decides over whom. Military power: who kills whom. Economic power: who screws whom. Cultural power: who codes, encodes whom. There is no doubt that we are dealing with a one-way relationship here, in all essentials. Nor do I think it is very difficult to imagine that there is limit to how far one can go along those lines.

    My problem is not to explain September 11. My problem is to explain why it didn’t happen before. And I can almost challenge anybody to try to explain it. You can say they tried, but it took some time to concoct that particular way of doing it. So, if you now assume 11 million killed and 500 million hating Washington, doesn’t that mean that he who says it, namely I, am anti-American? No. I can, with a hand on heart, say exactly what so many people around the world say: I love America, and I hate Washington’s foreign policy. And it’s extremely, totally possible; it’s not the slightest contradiction. I can detest Quisling, and I can love my own country Norway. I can dislike Hitler and Nazism without being anti-German. It’s entirely possible. You need two cells in your brain to think that thought. If you have only one cell, it becomes too complicated. In that case, you release your certificate for anti-Americanism a little bit prematurely.

    So, having said that, let us now go into prognosis. What will happen? Well, I have said there are essentially two discourses. There are two ways of conceiving of what happens. So one is to say they are simply evil, they are terrorists, they have no motive, they will continue killing and destroying regardless of what grievances are redressed. Moreover, if you redress a grievance, you are encouraging more terrorism. So let me now give, let us say, five percent credence to that statement. And let me give 90 percent to the one I believe in: a chain of retaliation within a class struggle. That leaves me with five percent, two alternatives. Some forces in the US brought it upon themselves. So there is the idea of a CIA plot against Pentagon, out of old rivalries. I find it slightly cranky. But on the other hand, I was in the US when the Oklahoma federal building was bombed and remember it very well. And all kinds of Washington experts came on TV and said, “It’s typical Middle East terrorism.” One ambassador came and said, “I see the signature of Middle East terrorism in it. And the only approach is to find which country it is and bomb it, as usual, into the Stone Ages,” which is the destination point, where Afghanistan has been for a long time, so there is no distance to go with that one. Now, it turned out to be the Midwest — not the Middle East, but the Midwest — from which part of the United States Timothy McVeigh hailed.

    AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]

    JOHAN GALTUNG: Yes, but he came — before he did that, he came from the Midwest. And he’s a New Yorker originally, so that means a very extensive bombing campaign inside the US in order to teach them a lesson. Now, that has not been proposed, and shouldn’t be proposed, but it is a little bit important to think the thought, just to see the insanity of the way of thinking.

    So, having said that, there is one little point that should be made very explicit. The destructive power of the US is, of course, much, much greater than the destructive power of something I would call “the other side.” So I just call it, not US, but OS, other side, since I don’t know what it is. I would not underestimate the solidarity among these four clusters, and the orthodox, by the way, is the war against Serbia, against the orthodox part of Macedonia, and I’m afraid that the common target is Russia. Read Brzezinski, The Great Chess Game, about that. Don’t underestimate the solidarity and that one group may feel they act on behalf of all four. Now, the US destructive power is immense. The other side is much less. But the US vulnerability is also immense, and the other side’s vulnerability is much less. So, if from the destructive power of the US you subtract the vulnerability, maybe the equation runs the other way. And maybe what happened on September 11 was the dawning realization that the strongest is not necessarily the mightiest, that the sum total of the vulnerability could make for a chain of retaliation that could go on, for instance, 196 years.

    Now,196 years would be the upper estimate. That is jihad number one, against the Crusades. And George Bush mentioned the word “crusade,” which was very, very unwise. It was attempted eliminated by going to a mosque the day after. It’s not quite sure that that will efface the image left behind by the “crusade” word. Now, the lower estimate would be ten years, which is the duration of jihad number three. There have, as far as I understand, only been three great jihads — there have been many small jihads — against the Crusades, 196 years; against Zionism, so far undecided; against communism in Afghanistan, ten years. The Muslims won number one and three. So let us then say that it will last between ten years and 196 years, using history as a guide.

    Under what condition will that jihad be released? On the condition that it is perceived as a war against Islam. Under what condition will it be perceived as a war against Islam? Well, that is exactly the distinction between police action and military action. If this action had been mandated, not by the Security Council, but by the Royal Court, had consisted of 100,000 international soldiers who would simply have gone through Afghanistan from one corner to the other the way a police guard fans through a forest, hunting for the responsible, arraigning them into court, exposing them to due process of law, this would not be seen as a war against Islam. The way it is turning out, it is just at the border point. Add to that country bombing of Iraq, the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, some additional bombing in Libya and Sudan, and the measure is more than full. This is playing with extreme dangers. In other words, the prognosis is not very positive.

    So let us then take the prognosis of the other course of action. My prognosis would be that if those six policies were enacted, a couple of hundred million Muslims would embrace the United States of America. There would be embraces all the way, even, in a sense, for less than the kind of thing I said. But you see, it’s not a question of parcels of food. It’s a question of acknowledging that you have a point, we have got the message, we understand, we have done something wrong, we are apologizing for something, we are moving some steps.

    Would that then come to the hard-core, those who may be so deep-frozen in their hatred that there is nothing the US can do that would move them? I don’t know. There might be a such a residual hard-core. I will not leave it out as a possibility, but I would think they would be very isolated, and I would think they would have their own turn against them. I do not think that that necessarily is the case today. It is one reason why bin Laden has not been handed over. A little trimming of his beard, and he could hide among the two million in the immediate diaspora. If he extends the diaspora, he has four million, he could trim his beard a little bit further, maybe do something to the hair too, and he would probably be relatively difficult to recognize.

    You may have other strategies, considerably wiser than what I suggest. At any rate, I find it utterly stupid to add to the stupidity of the word “terrorism” the stupidity of pinning it on one person. It’s an excessive Western individualism. The construction does not tell well about the IQ level of those who construct it. Frankly speaking, it’s an insult to talk to the world like that.

    So, let’s now get one step further, and I come to the end. The end is reconciliation.

AMY GOODMAN: Johan Galtung, founder of peace studies, speaking several weeks ago at Pace University in New York. If you’d like to get a cassette copy, a video, of this speech, you can call 1-800-926-3921. That’s 1-800-926-3921.

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