The US is preparing to launch further strikes against pockets of resistance still holding out in South and East Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the first concrete sign that the US is planning military action against Iraq, CIA officers have surveyed three key airfields in northern Iraq. [includes rush transcript]
But as Robert Fisk reports from Beirut in the British Independent, not a single Arab king, prince or president will endorse a US attack on Iraq. Even in Kuwait, where Vice President Dick Cheney arrives today before going on to Israel, an opinion poll suggests that more than 40 percent of its citizens are hostile to Washington’s policies. In every Arab capital, Cheney has been politely but firmly told to turn his attention to the Palestinian-Israeli war and forget the so-called “Axis of Evil” that Bush declared in his State of the Union address, until the US brings its Israeli allies into line.
As Cheney arrived in Saudi Arabia, one newspaper carried a front-page article condemning US policy in the region, while editorials in other Gulf papers uniformly condemned any assault on Iraq.
The feelings of Arab leaders toward a US invasion in Iraq come as no surprise to Johan Galtung, world-renowned founder of the academic discipline of peace studies. He says the US assault on so-called “terrorism” in the six months since September 11th is simply state terrorism. Galtung, who has helped mediate in over fifty international conflicts, has been working on conflict transformation with Afghan leaders in the region.
This weekend, Galtung was at Pace University in New York holding a workshop called “Deep Culture: An Approach to Conflict and Conflict Transformation.” We turn now to a talk he gave on ways of looking at September 11th. It was taped by Matthew Akers.
- Johan Galtung, world-renowned founder of the academic discipline of peace research and director of TRANSCEND, a global peace and development network.
AMY GOODMAN: The US is preparing to launch further strikes against pockets of resistance still holding out in South and East Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the first concrete sign that the United States is planning military action against Iraq, CIA officers have surveyed three key airfields in northern Iraq.
But as Robert Fisk reports from Beirut in the British Independent, not a single Arab king, prince or president will endorse a US attack on Iraq. Even in Kuwait, an opinion poll suggests more than 40 percent of its citizens are hostile to Washington’s policies. In every Arab capital, Vice President Dick Cheney has been politely but firmly told to turn his attention to the Palestinian-Israeli war and forget the so-called “Axis of Evil” that Bush declared in his State of the Union address, until the US brings its Israeli allies into line.
As Cheney arrived in Saudi Arabia, one newspaper carried a front-page article condemning US policy in the region, while editorials in other Gulf papers uniformly condemned any assault on Iraq.
The feelings of Arab leaders toward a US invasion in Iraq come as no surprise to Johan Galtung, world-renowned founder of the academic discipline of peace research. He says the US assault on so-called “terrorism” in the six months since September 11th is simply state terrorism. Galtung, who has helped mediate in over fifty international conflicts, has been working on conflict transformation with Afghan leaders in the region.
This weekend, Johan Galtung was in New York holding a workshop called “Deep Culture: An Approach to Conflict and Conflict Transformation.” We now turn to the talk he gave on September 11th, ways of looking.
JOHAN GALTUNG: Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to look at September 11 six months later, and I will call it a mid-term review. It’s a little bit too optimistic, because this is going to last more than one year. So let’s have a look at ways of looking at it, and more particularly, three ways of looking at what happened. Three discourses, as we say, three ways of talking about something, three paradigms, which is the way we say when we are thinking about ways of thinking about it. And all of this is immensely important, because it has to do with ways of acting.
Now, let us start with what I assume to be the fundamentalist Islamic side. In other words, buy into the assumption that they are the authors of what happened September 11 and into the assumption that they were in fact nineteen Arabs — fifteen of them from Saudi Arabia, four from other countries, none from Palestine — and that they were hitting two buildings — that is very clear — one of them a center of US capitalism, another one a center of US militarism. Now, having said that, one has already said something, I think, important, which is missed in the debate, lost sight of, namely that we are dealing with a relationship where there’s a nucleus — Saudi Arabia — against US capitalism and militarism. In no way should one say that that’s the whole thing, but if one loses sight of it, it’s guaranteed that we have not understand what happened and how we could possibly get out of it.
So the first way of looking at it would be an effort to try to construct an Islamic image of what happened. And in that image, I will not use the most misused word “jihad,” which does not mean holy war at all. It means “exertion” for the true faith. And the fourth stage of jihad is known as defense, defense of the faith. I would rather use the word “justice.” I think that what happened was an effort by somebody not to bring America to justice, but to bring justice to America. In other words, what happened, I think, was very similar to the way President Bush is describing what is happening: bringing justice to the authors of September 11.
Now, to bring justice means that there are some people who are of the opinion that the United States of America has committed basic sacrilege, not only political, military crimes, but sacrilege. And since there are fifteen Saudi Arabians among them, I think it stands to reason that one brings up the circumstance that Saudi Arabia is a sacred land. It is not only Mecca and Medina that are sacred. Saudi Arabia is the home of the prophet chosen by Allah as the one to convey the true teachings, the two holy sites inside a sacred country. Now, this country is at the same time the home of one particularly ascetic, puritanical, one might say fundamentalist part of Islam — in other words, the teachings of Wahhab, of ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, 1703 to 1792. And his teachings have some similarities, which I will not carry too far, but some similarities, to the puritanism that came to the coasts of what became the United States of America in the 1620s. One can say that there is an absolute submission to the will of God. There is an ascetic life. There is a subordination of everything to the will of God, the will of Allah, and that this carries over to the way in which a country is run and ruled in a theocratic manner, which was also the beginning of this country. If one now looks at that, one can say that a sacrilege of Saudi Arabia alone would explain some of the things that were committed. That, in itself, is a point of departure. And it doesn’t take so much imagination to empathize with the kind of mind that does this.
One will then inevitably ask, what is their strategy? What is it they are after? Do they want to run the world? No. They want to bring justice to America. But I think they have a theory, and there is not the slightest doubt that the means they used were terrorist. The definition of “terrorism” is violence committed against civilians to spread terror for political ends. That violence can be committed by other people in uniform or without uniform. If it is in uniform, we usually call them state terrorists or governmental terrorists; if it is without uniform, just terrorists. It’s important.
But there is more to it than that. The experience is that almost all terrorists have a theory. And the theory is important in this context. And the theory runs as follows. Our enemy is overwhelming; we cannot win. But we can do one thing: we can have them clamp down, repress. And when our enemy starts repressing, then people will rise up against them. And as they rise against them, we might eventually create a force that might bring them down.
I would just like to say that this was the theory of the Baader-Meinhof, the Rote Armee Fraktion, and their theory was more precisely expressed, that if we commit terrorism against leaders of German capitalism, the German police will reveal its true class character. It will repress, and the German working class will rise as one man. The theory proved out to be extremely bad sociology. Nothing of this kind happened.
What, however, has happened in the US is quite a lot of repression. I’m reminded of one particular interesting document — and there are many documents of that type. It’s a sermon that is read in one particular place on the West Coast. It’s actually Americans for Democratic Action, University of Southern California, that has distributed it. It’s a prayer for America. How can we justify canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceable assembly? How can we justify canceling the Fourth Amendment, probably cause, the prohibition against unreasonable search? How can we justify canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process? How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial? How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel, unusual punishment? Now, one can have debates about all these points. The point is that the first thesis by the terrorists who attacked on 11 September may come true — namely, that the arch enemy engages in repression.
Does that mean that the American people will revolt against the US government? Hardly. It’s the second thesis. The American people, to a large extent united, not against the American government, but against those who hit them. And this in itself is rather important and very much to be expected by a famous study made by the Office of Strategic Studies right after the Second World War and in conjunction with the Second World War of the effect of the US Air Force bombing in Germany and Japan, killing in the millions, and with the theory that if they do that, people will rise against Hitler and against Tojo in Japan. In fact, there is not the slightest sign that they did so. They felt great resentment against the US for killing them. That was later on handled in various ways. But I just want to point it out, because there is a theory underlying this, and it’s probably wrong. But it may work in other ways that I’m coming to.
One can then again come back to the question, what do they want? Maybe that is not their question. Maybe their question is what does Allah want?
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Johan Galtung. He is the world-renowned founder of the academic discipline of peace research and director of the organization Transcend, a global peace and development network. We’ll come back to the speech he gave at Pace University in New York over the weekend.
You’re listening to Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We go back to the speech of Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies, was involved with mediating fifty international conflicts, spoke this weekend at Pace University in New York. Professor Johan Galtung.
JOHAN GALTUNG: One may call this fundamentalism. In that case, they are not alone. I could, for instance, say that I’m not convinced that the Hiroshima, Nagasaki bombs were dropped in order to save GI lives in a war that was already won or in order to frighten the Russians. I think they were rather dropped in order to punish. And the punishment of Japan was made by their own country in the formula God’s own country. Even if this is not the official doctrine, one could nevertheless have that as a rather strong hypothesis. So we have an image of the other side, and one could ask the question, what would make them stop? Obviously, if what they consider a sacrilege is stopped and if they consider that punishment has been done, that justice has been carried out.
Now this is a tough situation, and it’s interesting to make one little reflection. The United States has, since 1945, intervened militarily in about sixty-seven countries around the world. It came in three phases. The first phase was in East Asia — Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia. The second phase staged in Latin America. And the third, in West Asia. The methods used included bombing, assassination, torture, perverting elections.
It was West Asia that reacted. And they reacted — Muslims, Arabs — one might assume, because they were neither constrained by a Buddhist assumption of a karma that had to be corrected through acts of reconciliation after horrifying wars or the Latin American — Christian, Catholic — in spite of all they might have objections against the US, nevertheless submitting to the strongest country in Christianity. In West Asia, the US was protected neither by any effort to improve the karma nor by any submission to the country chosen by the Christian god.
So let’s now jump and let’s look at the other angle. What was the reaction by US, and what kind of theory do they have, and how does it work? It was as fundamentalist as the reaction on the first side. By fundamentalism, then, I mean a particular way of thinking, very dualistic, two parts, on the world: you are a believer or an infidel; you are for me or against me. Very many can. Our side is good; the other side is evil-doers. Even an “evil axis.” The choice of words is religious, fundamentalist. And the third element, the Armageddon, the idea of the final battle, the battle that will decide it. Now, the similarities between bin Laden’s speech and George Bush’s speech is, of course, what the world has noticed. It’s not brought up in the US main media, but you’ll find it referred to everywhere else.
Since the diagnosis of the US is terrorism, the response is state terrorism. One can then say that as a response to nineteen Arabs, fifteen of them from Saudi Arabia, attacking two goals in the US, one starts bombing Afghanistan. Now this sounds feeble-minded, so one has to then look into it. Why? There is, of course, the theory that this is the al-Qaeda headquarters. Now, that has a very particular assumption, namely that al-Qaeda is a vertical organization with a leader at the top and a pyramidal kind of structure. If anybody is running any kind like a militant organization about the strongest power in human history, that would be about the most stupid thing one could do. It’s much more reasonable to assume that the structure of al-Qaeda, as Egyptian specialists point out, is essentially horizontal, it’s essentially consisting of small, mutually not-very-much-communicative cells, that these cells are connected by a very strong faith, and that no vertical leadership and no central figure is needed. They know what they want to do. They need no particular message, need no information. It is even possible that the nineteen who attacked on September 11 was a self-contained unit and erased all traces of their action by annihilating themselves. In German, that’s called Selbst-Aufhebung, annihilation of yourself. You negate yourself through your act. Now, I am certainly open to the idea that the truth could be somewhere in between, but the idea that this is directed from a cave in Afghanistan, that that’s where the switchboard operator is sitting and handing out his instructions, sounds feeble-minded. Nobody has been convinced about it, and the usual trick of saying that we cannot reveal our evidence because that would reveal our sources doesn’t work. Nobody believes in that; it doesn’t go down around the world. It only creates laughter.
So, what then else is going on? Blind rage, killing — according to the report that comes from the center in New Hampshire that has been working on such things, the Herold Report, about 3,800 by December in Afghanistan, civilians, innocent bystanders. Could be seen as revenge. They killed 3,000 of ours; we’ll kill at least 4,000 of theirs. Probably an element of that. It brings to the mind the remarks shortly after September 11 in leading US media: if there is collateral damage, so be it. There is, of course, the alternative theory that this was not done for that reason at all, but it was done in order to secure what was the US goal, and had been for a long time, a military base and two pipelines. Now, that’s important, because here comes a very basic point in the whole thing. The attack, September 11, was against US capitalism and US militarism. What then happened, some months later, is that US militarism establishes a base in Kandahar, and US capitalism, two pipelines from the Caspian region and Central Asia through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. In other words, what the US has managed to do is not only to kill 4,000 civilians, but in addition to that, to do the most dangerous thing you can do in a conflict of that type: confirm the other side’s hypothesis about you. The other side has a very basic idea that the US is just about exercising military and economic power, whereupon the US confirms it.
This is then brought out in the public opinion poll conducted by CIA shortly after the first ending of the Afghan campaign, that was some time ago, a couple of weeks ago now. It was conducted in Saudi Arabia on Saudi Arabian youth, and they were asked where they stood on al-Qaeda. So this was after what was supposed to be the shock effect, the punishing action of the war in Afghanistan. The result was 95 percent in favor of al-Qaeda. Now, that is not a triumph; that is simply the first indication that it was a blatant failure, according to the stated goal. It is like an antibiotic used against a microorganism that kills some microorganism at the center of impact and then has the particular feature that it feeds the rest, so that in fact you get more microorganisms out of it than you had in the beginning.
But in addition to that, the leadership escaped, or what was designated as the leadership. I’m not quite sure that I have criteria. What was quite sure that was Omar, Mullah Omar, and bin Laden escaped, and that in the much-touted scorecard that President Bush has in his office with the photos of twenty-two heads, presumably the leaders, and a cross over the one that has been reported killed, there are only six crosses. Now that means a score of about 23 percent. It’s not very high. It’s remarkably low. He was asked why he kept such a card, and he reported that he was a baseball fan, and he was used to scorecards.
So we are then, of course, in a sense, seated with the assumption that either this war was out of touch with reality, the wrong goal and the wrong methods, and for that reason, unrealistic, or it was done for another purpose, which was very different from the stated purpose. That’s, of course, what most people around the world think, for economic, military purposes. And in that case, it was successful. There is a base. The pipelines will come. Unocal, the particular company, gets what it wants. And Unocal had a consultant on Afghanistani matters in Washington, a consultant who talks very good English. His name is Karzai, and who’s today the prime minister of Afghanistan. And he’s installed from the outside. In other words, the old story.
But it is not quite that simple, either, because it’s more than the old story. When I was mediating in Afghanistan in February on behalf of TRANSCEND — very much guided by a Canadian Afghan physician who had spent three years of his life in prison under a communist regime and very much wanted to do something for his country to try to bring it together again — I was seated in a room like this with 100 persons in front of me. There were thirty Afghans who were sheikhs from various national groups — I avoid the word tribe. Thirty of them were former cabinet members. Thirty of them were professors. And ten were ladies; women had a special table. Now, they went through a number of exercises on mediation process. They had very different views. But one of the things they came up with is that the only way to succeed in Afghanistan is through a coalition government with Talibans. None of them wanted 100 percent Talibans; none of them wanted zero percent talibans. Now, that’s important. And why did they say that? Because they said the Talibans also have something positive to contribute. I’ll not go into detail about that. I’ll just say that the people on the spot did not have the black-white painting that the US, and to some extent supported by its allies, have engaged in.
So, having said that, we don’t have to ask what is the hypothesis of the US state terrorism, because it spreads panic and terror among civilians, and it kills civilians for political purposes. Well, interestingly enough, it has exactly the same hypothesis as the terrorists do. Namely, if we, in addition to hitting military goals, do like we did in Serbia, we hit civilian goals — infrastructure, factories, clinics, educational establishments, electricity, energy, and so on — then the people will say “Who is responsible for that? Why does this happen? That’s because of Miloševi?.” And they will rise against Miloševi?. They did that later, but not at that time. What they did at that time was to hate the US even more. There are reliable reports, among others, by probably the world’s best journalist, Robert Fisk, The Independent
, of the enormous hatred in Afghanistan against a country that provoked this. But that, again, is only one aspect.
I would like to go further, and that has to go a little bit back in time, because the US is not only after a military base and two pipelines. The US has a strategy, which comes from the beginning of last century, and nobody has put it more clearly on the table — on the paper than Zbignew Brzezinski, in the book [The Grand Chessboard]. And the strategy is the control of Eurasia. Now, the basic way of controlling Eurasia is to expand NATO eastwards, and UNPO — the security arrangement with Japan, with South Korea and Taiwan as honorary members, de facto members — westward.
Now, who are caught in the middle if you do that? Caught in the middle are, first of all, three very big countries: Russia, China, India. Secondly, of course, North Korea. Then a number of Muslim countries: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, to mention some. I now mention eight names caught in the middle; seven of them are on the list of possible recipients of new nuclear devices in the report that was leaked recently. The seven recipients are Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China. The only one missing is India. Now, why is India missing from the list? Because India is reliably anti-Muslim. Now India has three reasons for that. One is the enmity to Pakistan. The other one is the struggle over Kashmir. The third is that India, inside itself, has 146 million Muslims, which is the largest agglomeration of Muslims in any part of the world except Indonesia. And we have seen signs that spell civil war recently.
In the public opinion poll that was done, I think, two weeks after September 11 by International Gallup, people were asked, what is the appropriate response — military attack or international tribunal? Of thirty-seven countries, there were only three that said military attack: India with 77 percent; Israel with 73 percent, if I’m not wrong; United States with 54 percent. Now, that is interesting, because the moment you have an alternative, the percentage supporting the military attack policy goes down. We will notice that India was reliably high, from the point of view of supporting the military action. India, Israel, United States. The typical answer in the rest of the world was an overwhelming majority in favor of international tribunal. That would mean police action — could be a gigantic police action, could be a dragnet that the world has never seen the like of, but clearly directed against the possible culprits.
Noam Chomsky has drawn attention to a certain similarity with Britain. When there is a bombing in London, the US does not — the UK does not respond by bombing Belfast and by bombing Boston — Boston, which on St. Patrick’s Day traditionally contributes quite a lot to IRA and, according to the doctrine — who pays the terrorist is himself a terrorist — they would be in for bombing. The British response is, however clumsily and however easy to criticize, due process of law. It’s interesting that the overwhelming majority of the world population wanted some kind of due process of law. And this was no belittling of the importance of what had happened.
Now, this is the closest we come to a globalized democracy, is an international public opinion poll. In a country that loves globalization and loves democracy, it is probably important to pay attention to it. And in doing so, it should be pointed out that if you look at the Washington Post-ABC poll, the typical formulation that is used in that poll is, “Do you support or oppose the US military action in Afghanistan?” Well, this used once to be my kind of specialty. One doesn’t formulate a question like that; you give alternatives, because if a country is in a crisis like the US is right now, this is a country — this is a question, “Do you support or oppose the US?” That’s what it says. You’re a citizen of that country. You support it.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Johan Galtung. He is the world-renowned founder of the discipline of peace research, peace studies. And we’re going to continue with his speech in a minute. If you’d like to order a cassette copy of the program, you can call the Pacifica Archives at 1-800-735-0230. That’s 1-800-735-0230. Back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to Johan Galtung. He is head of the organization TRANSCEND — and you can find that on the web at transcend.org — giving a speech this weekend at Pace University in New York called “Deep Culture: An Approach to Conflict and Conflict Transformation. Professor Galtung.
JOHAN GALTUNG: So, having said that, we are now back to a very important thing. There are two things going on, though, or three things. So, one is the effort to identify, locate al-Qaeda, and then do as Colin Powell said, “crush it.” The second thing is the idea of serving military-economic interests. And the third thing is the continuation of the old geopolitical strategy of encircling Eurasia with, for the time being, India and Pakistan exempted — India because of its clear inclination against Islam, Muslims; Pakistan just for the opposite reason, namely because it is Islamic and Muslim, but at the same time directed against al-Qaeda.
Where will this lead us? As it looks right now, it leads us to, practically speaking, endless warfare by the US. One can talk about the time perspective, like 100 years, and the likelihood of bringing in nuclear weapons. There is no end. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. The reason for it being that the methodology chosen will create even more of the enemy than one had before. But now we can say, but look, if these people try to get a plane, highjack a plane, if they try to get weapons smuggled in and so on, this is a wake-up call. There was a $30 billion establishment of intelligence that didn’t function. There have been scandals, like the applications for visa and so on. Now the country’s on high alert. It will not happen again.
Well, just to mention one thing, global economic boycott of the United States of America. It’s a different way. The more antagonism one produces, the more likely that kind of result. It’s being whispered all over the world. I think it’s far away, but I just mention it because it’s a different kind of thing. And it’s not quite obvious that the drones, the mini-nukes, the missile shield, will be very effective against economic boycott. The decision is taken by the individual customer in a shop — looks at a product, turns it up and down, finds out where it comes from, puts it back again. So, having said that, this is not a very beautiful thing to contemplate.
Let me then turn to the third approach. And, of course, since the third approach is the one I stand for myself, and I think very many people stand for it — I would imagine the majority of the world — so I’m, in a sense, just swimming with the stream. But I find something democratic in that. And one can say that I then have prepared the position by trying to talk badly about the two alternative ways of looking at it, which is a well-known technique. And that’s absolutely correct. That’s exactly what I’ve done.
So, let me now try to outline the third one. The third one takes as its point of departure a very simple principle, which is found in social science and in Buddhism. An act of violence is a relation between A and B. Now, if you want to understand it, stick to that relation and find out what went wrong. If you have an act of violence inside a couple, a married couple — a man beats his wife — then you can, of course, try to explain it in terms of the nature of men, or the nature of women. But it may be a good beginning to start by trying to explain it in terms of what happened yesterday between that man and that woman. Now, if you neglect that but just talk about fundamentalist men, from the beginning, you’re probably missing a couple of points. By that, not having said that one shouldn’t also look into gender characteristics. I’m just saying that a relation, to start with, is best explained by that relation. The Buddhist way of talking about that is to say, “OK, the relation has developed a bad karma; how can we improve that karma?” Karma being its characteristics, its destiny, where it stands right now, what can we do together to improve it? The methodology being each party meditates over it, an inner dialogue, and then they engage in an outer dialouge between the two of them.
Let us look at the situation: nineteen Arabs, fifteen of them from Saudi Arabia, two buildings. Something went wrong in the economic-military relations. Well, that brings up, of course, the text by bin Laden where he says that “you are now suffering the humiliation that we suffered more than eighty years ago.” Now the rest is a question of arithmetic. You take 2001 minus eighty, and you come to 1921, but then he said, “more than,” so we had to add a number, X. Now, if you add five you come to 1916, the Sykes-Picot betrayal. I had a trial interview for BBC the other day, where the person who did that usual job to sort of first find out what kind of questions shall be asked, and the person said, “Sykes Picot? Who’s that?” Now, if that’s the BBC level of doing it, it is shameful. I must say that my reaction was “You have a very good book in your country called the Encyclopedia Britannica. Why don’t you consult that one and call me up afterwards.” Now, that’s arrogant and professorial, but sometimes that is an adequate response. Sykes was the foreign minister. Picot was the French foreign minister. They had promised the Arabs that if they stand up against the Ottomans, allies of the imperialist Germany at the time, we’ll give you freedom. Instead, they gave them colonialism. The foreign minister of Britain was a part of the colonization of Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt, and the foreign minister of France saw the colonization of Syria and Lebanon. Egypt was already a colony. It’s called the Sykes-Picot treason, an enormous humiliation. After that came the Balfour declaration. Balfour was at that time the foreign minister of Britain, and his declaration on behalf of her Majesty’s — his Majesty’s government was the willingness to establish a Jewish home. Now, if you look at the totality of that, this is what Bin Laden meant by more than eighty years.
But why then do you hit economic building and a military building? And why didn’t you hit the foreign office in London? Well, because in recent years US economic aggression and US military aggression have been much more overwhelming than any UK initiative. And if one should try to date it back to something, it would probably be the Franklin Roosevelt-Ibn Saud agreement from 1945. Franklin Roosevelt, very, very much impressed with the importance of oil in winning the Second World War and cutting off the resources for Germany and Japan, getting resources for America and her allies, wanted to eternalize that situation by securing a steady oil flow. Engineers had told him that Saudi Arabia is the place. Standard Oil had been prospecting since 1933 for black gold. And the agreement was, you will have access, unlimited access, under one condition, that you protect the royal house against its opposition. In other words, the US military got the role as watchdog for the royal house. The royal house in Saudi Arabia is today split, divided among itself. When it comes to the tactics about how to handle a situation, the opposition is enormous. The figure quoted, 95 percent, is one indication. It should be mentioned they are all Wahhabite, and so are the Talibans, and so is bin laden. And everything that is mentioned against the terrible human rights situation in Taliban-run Afghanistan applies equally, for exactly the same reason, to the terrible human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. The difference is one has oil, and the other has only the basis for an oil pipeline. So, having said that, which today is a rather trite argument, it’s relatively well known, but it is important and should be remembered, because many people, surprisingly, don’t know the Roosevelt-Ibn Saud agreement. If you say that, then you have immediately a recipe for how to exit from the situation. And, of course, the beginning of an exit from the situation is to solve the Saudi Arabian situation.
So, how does one do that? Pull out the troops. Saudi Arabia has indicated it already. There must have been a lot of arm-twisting behind having them not repeat it. In doing so, they are struggling for their own survival — the price they have to pay to the opposition. The US argument that we’re not stationed in Mecca and Medina is a wrong argument, because, according to the Wahhabite faith, all of Saudi Arabia is sacred, and Wahhab, before he died, said there should be no two religions in the sacred land, only one, the true one. Pulling out, will the royal house survive? Probably not. The task of the West would then be to support a democratic human rights-oriented regime. Since the royal house insists on Wahhabism and Islamic doctrine, any opposition group, in order to be able to survive, has to become Islamicist. It has itself to operate inside Islam. That has created an artificially high adherence to Islam. Much of this will probably crumble relatively quickly.
How about oil? Maybe one reason why the US is trying to find oil in other places. But there is one thing which is a little bit further down the line. To get out of this crisis, obviously, the world has to find other ways of fueling automobiles. There are a number of alternatives open to us now. Full steam ahead on those alternatives would be in itself a way of getting out of the retaliation cycle we are in right now.
When bin Laden said “more than eighty years ago,” he was not thinking of Saudi Arabia. He was thinking of Palestine. So that brings up the second nucleus of the conflict. I’ll go into it immediately. I’ll just say one thing, but what happened to fundamentalism? Well, fundamentalism is there. There is Wahhabite fundamentalism, which is very callous when it comes to taking life. Capital punishment is very important in Saudi Arabia and in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. There is puritan Christian, probably Southern Baptist, fundamentalism, very callous on violence, very prone to go to capital punishment. In Texas, where the President, former governor, was executioner-in-chief, the parallel is overwhelming. There is no doubt there is fundamentalism. The only point about it is that it is bilateral and that one fundamentalism feeds the other. So, in no way am I disregarding that. I’m just saying we still are dealing with a nucleus, and the second nucleus is Palestine-Israel.
And the question then is, what to do? I think the Saudi Arabian initiative recognizing Israel, which of course implies its right to exist, which I think was done, 15 November 15, 1988, already by the Palestine National Council. But the Palestine National Council is one thing; another thing is Saudi Arabia. And In return, total Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. That means, incidentally, not only West Bank and East Jerusalem and Gaza, but it also means the Golan Heights, so there’s a Syrian part of the equation. Probably the Saudi Arabian government does this to placate its opposition. That is a major part. But the third being the reason it’s an excellent opening for what might be a still better plan, and I’ll try to put it the following way. In 1945, there was a problem in Europe. There was a hated country in its midst, Nazi Germany, which had occupied eighteen countries and tried to exterminate two nations — the Jews and the Sinta/Roma.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Johan Galtung, and we’re going to bring you the end of that speech tomorrow on Democracy Now! Johan Galtung is the founder of the discipline of peace studies. If you’d like to order a cassette copy of this program, you can call 1-800-735-0230. That’s 1-800-735-0230. He spoke at Pace University in New York.