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Vol. XVIII, Number 1                                         Fall, 2003

WORLD DEVELOPMENTS

 

     Although there are some positive developments, with the coming of fall, the world is facing an expensive harvest from the seeds of unilaterally rushing to war in Iraq, by the Bush administration. It is now clear, that to a considerable extent, the U.S. population was sold on undertaking the war by the Bush White House relying on reports that much of the intelligence community did not find credible (as critics of President's policy pointed out at the time), and by distortions of more believable information. Even the most veracible claims, that Saddam retained large stocks of ready for use biological and chemical weapons. have proven to be false.

    Interestingly, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who appears to have been less guilty of fabrication and distortion, so far, has had more political trouble over his statements on the need to rush into war than has President Bush.

    While a terrible dictator has been removed from control of the country, it is not clear that the Iraqi people are better off. Electricity, water and other services have been very slow in being restored, with bombings, like the one that severed a main water line into Baghdad in August, delaying the restoration. International aid work has been restrained by fear of attack, especially after the bombing of UN headquarters, which killed 14 people including the UN's highly respected and talented envoy Sergio Vieira De Mello.

    Amidst a serious security situation, the economy remains in shambles with many unemployed, and relatively little oil yet flowing, with attacks on pipelines contributing to the slowness of progress. A guerilla conflict is now expanding so that occupying forces that were suffering one or two casualties a day, in July, came to receive about ten casualties a day in September. A U.S military that was able to over run Iraq rather quickly, in now mired like an invading fly on flypaper, from an appallingly obvious lack of foresight by the White House and civilians at the Pentagon (the generals and the State Department appear to have had a much better grasp on the reality of Iraq) that has provided too little person power and resources to do the job. Bush insists  that international forces are only welcome if they accept complete U.S. control of decision making. This has, so far, made it impossible to obtain needed international help in returning Iraq to peace and freedom, though there are about 5,000 troops from several small countries, and Brittan is adding over 1,000 troops to its small force. Negotiations amongst the U.S. and permanent members of the Security Council, on going at this writing, may yet bring a major U.N. roll into the reconstruction of Iraq, with more troops, funds and civilian assistance from the international community.

 

     The economic drain on the U.S. is damaging to its economic future and its ability to play what could be a needed constructive role in the world. Donald Rumsfeld has testified that the war in Iraq currently costs U.S. about $3.9 billion a month, and more is needed for reconstruction. An additional $1.1 billion for U.S. fighter jets patrolling the U.S. in case they are needed to shoot down hijacked airliners brings the bill for U.S. taxpayers to at least $5 billion per month, with no end or exit plan in sight. Thus, the projected fiscal deficit for 2004 of $475 billion will add up to an increased tax burden of $281 for every person in the country, and it is likely to grow from there (See David R. Francis analysis of the numbers in the Christian Science Monitor August 25, 2003, http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#cost).

    These figures were calculated prior to Bush's asking Congress for $87 million additional dollars in appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism, on September 8, raising the U.S. coast of the Iraq war to about $160 billion, so far (An article in the Economist, September 8, says that another $20 billion is needed, just for what Bush is asking for now). The Congressional Budget Office's detailed analysis of the extent to which U.S. troop strength is being stretched by deployment in Iraq, of September 3, states that the Army lacks the manpower to rotate troops in Iraq beyond next March. It could sustain a force of 67,000 to 105,000 troops indefinitely after that, but at a cost of $14 to $19 billion a year. Training and equipping two additional divisions to meet the demands of Iraq would cost up to $19 billion and take 5 years to accomplish, plus operating costs for the new divisions of $6 billion a year, plus another $3-4 billion annually to deploy them in Iraq. The ongoing war, of course, has been very profitable for several giant U.S. corporations, several of which have close connections to individuals in the Bush White House (as is detailed in a special report by the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center, August 2003. http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#corporate).

 

     The financial cost to the U.S. (which has considerable international implications), is only a small part of the problem that has been created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As many commentators predicted, a "U.S. army of occupation" in Iraq raises the specter of growing U.S. Middle East imperialism, for many in the region, weakening the U.S. diplomatic position, while swelling the ranks of supporters and fighters in terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda. The coming of such fighters into Iraq across porous boarders to join (either independently or in collaborative action) Sunnis loyal to Saddam and more extreme Shiites and Sunnis to undertake guerilla warfare against the U.S. occupation and reconstruction is a growing security problem.

    Acts of terror, such as the August bombing of a Mosque killing many including a leading Shiite cleric (which many blamed on Saddam supporters, who are Sunnis), could create an extremely difficult to contain civil war, that could destroy the integrity of Iraq and undermine the stability of the region. Where there was merely a bad regime with only a minimal connection to international terrorists, al Qeada or otherwise, before, President Bush has created a presence and source of al Queda recruiting. One possible unintended consequence of the war could be the formation of a very large Shiite block with considerable influence on Middle East affairs. The U.S. going it alone in Iraq also has been distracting it and taking away resources from other concerns, including those which previously were, and still may be, more serious. Therefore, it would seem imperative that United States develop international collaboration on Iraq and a wide range of other issues. Under political pressure, Bush stated on September 7, 2003 that he would seek U.N support in Iraq. The question is whether he is willing to share decision making authority sufficiently to obtain it.

 

     In Afghanistan, where the U.S. has never provided enough support for the Afghans (or others) to build adequate security, keeping Al Qaeda and the Taliban in check and allowing for economic development, and where adequate international assistance with rebuilding the economy has yet to be provided (although the U.S. said on July 28 that it would send an additional $1 billion), the Iraq war has diverted attention and possible resources allowing the Taliban and Al Quaeda to have a resurgence, both in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, while several local leaders with more powerful forces than the central government struggle among themselves, marked by an increase of fighting between the relatively small contingent of now NATO led international (including about 8500 U.S. troops, as of September 9) and Afghani forces and those of Taliban-Al Queada. The stability of the rather fragile Karzai national government is now coming into question. At the same time, attacks by the Talibanm-al Queda, focused on foreigners, have caused international aid groups to cut back, drastically, on assistance.

    The International Crisis Group recommends that a new constitution needs to be put into place soon with a debate directly involving the public, if the regime is to have credibility. Pointing out that the current drafting of the constitution is suspect, largely because it is being carried out in secret, the Crisis group suggests that plans for adopting a new constitution at another Loya Jirga in October be dropped, in favor of a national referendum that actually stimulates a political debate.

    In April, the Karzi government announced plans to set up a 30 person commission to receive public input on the draft constitution. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a 101-page report, "Killing You Is a Very Easy Thing for Us," in July that Afghan warlords and political strongmen supported by the United States and other nations are engendering a climate of fear in Afghanistan that is threatening efforts to adopt a new constitution and could derail national elections scheduled for mid-2004. The report warns that growing violence, political intimidation, and attacks on women and girls are discouraging political participation and endangering gains made on women's rights in Afghanistan over the last year. In April, the UN announced that it would begin a difficult three year attempt, in July, to remove major weapons from 100,00 fighters across Afghanistan. In the current situation, that may be impossible.

 

     Seymour Hersh wrote in the July 22 edition of the New Yorker, that until the U.S. took a threatening public position against Syria over supplies going to the Iraqi military during the initial stages of the current war, and the Pentagon began insisting on direct Syrian involvement in the attack on Iraq, the Damascus government had been providing unanticipated help to the CIA in tracking down al Qaeda operatives, following al Qaeda's linking itself to militant Syrian groups who seemed likely to cause trouble for the Damascus regime. This seems consistent with the Bush administration's general lack of understanding of diplomacy, and of the complex situations it is dealing with abroad. Marc Lynch, in an October article in Foreign Affairs, reflects that two years of the Bush approach for the dealing with the Middle East have brought anti-Americanism in the region soaring to its highest point since the beginning of the last century. According to a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, "the bottom has fallen out of Arab and Muslim support for the United States." This is not only because of suspicion about American motives in the region, but also a result of the administration taking an increasingly contradictory approach to Arab public opinion. While publicly touting democracy, administration officials have repeatedly snubbed the rapidly expanding and increasingly independent Arab media, while placing a greater reliance on a show of force, in contrast to engaging in dialogue.

 

     Recent reports indicate that Iran has secretly increased its efforts to develop an atomic bomb, perhaps out of fear of U.S. intentions, as illustrated by the invasion of Iraq. A recent UN inspection showed traces of enriched uranium (needed for nuclear weapons) on some recently imported Iranian equipment. Iran claims that the equipment arrived with those traces, and that it is not developing nuclear weapons. Questioning these claims, the UN atomic energy agency wishes to make a full inspection that Iran is resisting. As of September 16, it appeared that Iran was willing to allow continued, and follow up, UN nuclear inspections. At the same time, Iran has influence over many Shiites in Iraq. Some intelligence agencies argue that moving against Iran's nuclear capabilities would stabilize the Middle East and pressure North Korea to collaborate on nuclear issues. Others fear that such a move might unleash a much wider war. Some Iranian specialists state that the Bush administration's harsh rhetoric against the current Iranian regime, combined with a reduction of dialogue and other reconciliation actions, is strengthening the hand of hard liners and slowing reform in Iran.

 

     During the operation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Bush administration promised considerable aid to the neighboring countries in Central Asia. Since the war in Iraq commenced, the promises of development assistance have been mostly forgotten. One consequence is that Tajikistan, one of the world's 20 poorest countries, has become a center for drug trafficking and a potential breeding ground for Islamic extremists, according to an International Crisis Group, April 24 report. In June, the Group released a study indicating that the Central Asian Party of Islamic Liberation, the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, is non-violent, but has a radical agenda which calls for the overthrow of secular governments throughout the Muslim world, and the installation of a pan-Islamic state. Repression, especially in Uzbekistan, is radicalizing its followers, and pushing them to even more extremist positions.

 

     Over the last four months major acts of terror by al Qaeda and other groups have been wide spread including serious bombings in Casablanca, Morocco, Indonesia (where there have been at least 5 major bombings), Manila, Philippines, Russia-Chechnya (related to the continuing Chechen conflict), India (particularly two explosions in Bombay, blamed on militants by Police, who they claim are supported by Pakistan, while Pakistan condemned  the bombing and denied involvement) and Saudi Arabia. Yet, the U.S. State department found in May that in 2002, world wide terror attacks dropped to 199, causing 725 deaths, from the 355 such attacks in 2001 which killed 3295 (mostly on September 11). There are reports that until the recent attacks, there appears to have been a quid pro quo between Saudi Arabia and al Queda, with the terrorists restraining from making war in the country in return for relative freedom to operate clandestinely. It is said that some prominent Saudis, including a number of members of the royal family, occasionally visited al Qaeda camps abroad. Janes reported in May that Saudi bombings were the opening of an al Queda campaign to oust the royal family, establish their own hard line Islamic government and take control of the Holy sites in Mecca and Medina. Further East in Asia, however, the Asia Times stated, on August 19, that it would be a mistake to reduce the rise of Jemaah Islamiya to simply an outgrowth of al-Qaeda, warning that the Islamist movement in Asia emerged in response to local political and social conditions, which continue to spur its growth.

 

     Fareed Zakaria argued in the August 25 issue of Newsweek, that suicide bombing is not simply the product of brainwashing and can't be stopped simply by tougher policing. He points out that the examples of Turkey and Chechnya show that the rise or decline, of suicide terror follows from the wider social and political circumstances of the populations involved. While it has escalated considerably in Chechnya over the past two years, under the weight of a brutal Russian crackdown, leaving young Chechens with little hope of a political solution, or even of a future, it has declined among the Kurds of Turkey, as the government has moved to accommodate more of the cultural aspirations of their Kurdish population.

 

     Although President Bush's announcement of a three staged Israeli-Palestinian "road map" to peace, developed by the U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia, and supported by some quite visible, but mild, diplomatic effort from Washington, has raised some hopes and, at least momentarily eased the situation, yet the actions of extremists on both sides, but especially of the Sharon government, continue an Israeli-Palestinian war, that in some respects is now intensifying. While the suicide bombings by Palestinians against Israeli civilians spur the Israelis to respond repressively in ways that only anger more Palestinians into attacking Israelis (although some attacks are prevented by the repression), Sharon has consistently ordered assassinations of Hamas leaders, that also kill innocent Palestinians, that are timed to undermine movements by Hamas to call truces, or to continue truces in force.

    For example, when Hamas, at the urging of members of the Palestinian authority, was on the verge of agreeing to a cease fire, the Israeli military killed a Hamas leader in a blast that also killed uninvolved Palestinians. Only diplomatic efforts, including the intervention of Egyptian diplomats, eventually convinced Hamas to declare a truce. Then the Israelis assassinated another Hamas leader, causing deaths and injuries to innocent Palestinians. Hamas responded with one of the most horrendous suicide bombings of the intifada, blowing up a crowded bus in Jerusalem, which was not only abominable in itself, but a considerable provocation. However, Hamas did say that this was a one time response, and that it was otherwise continuing the cease fire, and indeed did not react to deadly Israeli troop raids in search of "terrorists."

    Then, when there was a suicide bombing, clearly carried out by another group, and not by Hamas. the Israeli military responded by killing a leading Hamas civil leader (not a member of the Hamas military wing) and others who happened to be bystanders. That led to Hamas declaring that the Israelis had terminated the ceasefire. Indeed, throughout the "road map" process, Sharon has insisted that Israel will continue the assassinations in its "war" on Hamas and other violent groups, without concern for whom else is killed in the rocket, bomb or shell assaults, despite mild protests from the U.S. that these acts are counter productive. After a failed assassination attempt of a Hamas leader by a rocket that demolished his house and killed several others, in mid-September, Hamas replied by saying that it would begin to bomb Israeli apartment buildings. Unfortunately, Sharon's indiscriminate assassination policy tends to legitimate suicide bombings, especially for Palestinians.  (For more on this issue see the Letter of Uri Avnery, via Gush Shalom, "A Drug for the Addict".)

 

     At the time of the beginning of the "road map," a Yediot Aharonot poll indicated that, only a third of the Israeli public considered the liquidations to be in Israel's interest. Opposition to the assassinations was particularly connected to giving a chance to the new Palestinian administration to act toward peace. 58% of Israelis called upon Sharon and Mofaz to suspend the killings, at least temporarily, in addition to the 9% who just demand an end to the liquidations. The shift in pubic opinion also touches other issues.  The war in Iraq, the appointment of Abu Mazen and the Akaba Summit have had far more influence then expected. Cynicism and skepticism gave place to hope and a willingness to give the new processes a chance. For example, the number of Israeli citizens who regard the army as a willing pawn in a cynical power game equals those who believe in the validity of the generals' professional judgment. The army seems to have developed a credibility problem which it did not have at any previous moment of the ongoing intifada. Also, the loaded word, "occupation", which prime ministers previously rejected, is now widely accepted in the Israeli pubic as a fitting and accurate description of the situation in the territories, with 67%, of Israelis accepting the assertion that "the occupation is bad for Israel". It will be interesting to see more recent poling data indicate.

 

     Meanwhile, some of the internal reform of the Palestinian Authority, insisted on by Bush and Sharon for the "road map" to be implemented, took place, in April, with the creation of the office of Prime Minister, and the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abbu Mazen, to that position. Abbas, whom Sharon was willing to meet at Akaba, was undermined by the Israeli Prime Minister's policies, which destroyed the cease fire by Hamas he took leadership in arranging, and made other work toward peace virtually impossible. Abbas was also weakened by the power politics of Arafat, who was unhappy with the creation of the Office of Prime Minister, which weakened his power as Palestinian leader, especially with being forced to appoint Abbas, who was not a close colleague of like political mind.

    Thus Abu Mazen resigned, complaining that without a firmer hand by the U.S. in getting Israel to live up to its obligations under the "road map," he could accomplish little. Ahmed Qureia, speaker of the legislature, then became the new Prime Minister, in September, saying he would only serve if Israel would cease attacks on the Palestinians, and live up to their "road map" obligations, including accepting Arafat as a legitimate Palestinian leader and negotiating partner. Qureia is considered a more wily politician than Abu Mazen, a moderate, a supporter of the peace process, and an acceptable choice by Arafat to whom he is fairly close. It remains to be seen how acceptable he is to Sharon, and even if he is, whether Israeli politics or international pressure will move the Israeli government to actually engage in a peace process. It appears unlikely that Queria, any more than Arafat or Abu Mazen, will be likely to yield to Israeli demands to forcefully suppress the violent organizations, so long as Israel continues a repressive occupation. Most Palestinians would view that as collaborating in the oppression, even when they oppose violence. Diplomatic attempts at restraint are likely to continue at what the Palestinian Authority leadership deems appropriate moments, and, in July, the Palestinian authority did formally outlaw groups that espouse and use violence. Some commentators say that Sharon is especially happy to be engaged in a "war" at the current time, to detract public attention from his involvement in a political scandal, There are rumors that if the U.S. does not soon take more leadership toward facilitating Palestinian-Israeli peace, that the European Union might take an active role in attempting to do that.

 

     Since last Spring, the Israelis have pulled back from some of their earlier occupations and blockades of Palestinian areas. released some jailed militants, usually shortly before they were due for release, who have not been charged with taking part in killings, and dismantled a few illegal settlement outposts (some of which were replaced by settlers in nearby locations) as part of the "road map," even as assassinations have continued, and recently increased. In mid September. the Israeli cabinet gave the Prime Minister permission to remove (deport or kill) Arafat at the appropriate time. However, following Palestinian demonstrations showing that the action increased support for Arafat, Sharon stated that killing the Palestinian leader was not a government policy. Many international observers and governments (including the U.S.) have objected, strongly, both on principal and because they see such an action as a serious tactical mistake. Some believe that while Arafat is not an ideal leader for bringing peace, his removal would only increase violence, partly in reaction, and partly because Arafat has been a restraint on the militants that Sharon conveniently blames him for encouraging.  Meanwhile, the Palestinians might have heard about Israel's easing conditions for travel, but they haven't seen this on the ground. In fact, there are signs that nothing at all has changed. The Israeli Parliament passed a law, in July, making it illegal for Israelis to bring Palestinian spouses into Israel. The building of the wall to separate Palestinians from Israelis continues, with Israel unilaterally expanding its territory to include settlements on its side of the wall with no compensation for land and structures seized from Palestinians in the process [A map of the separation wall is available at: http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/hebrew.html and http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/index.html (English)].

 

     The Israeli government has been cracking down more harshly on demonstrators, including internationals, who oppose the taking of Palestinian property for the wall and the demolition of Palestinian houses because a family member allegedly has been involved in violent activity against Israel. The Israeli crackdown on internationals included the killing of American Rachel Corrie, and the shooting and seriously woundings of Tom Hurndall and Brian Avery in circumstances that eye witnesses say were neither justifiable or ordinary accidents. The government has been blocking the entry of suspected international demonstrators and observers into the country and occupied territories, and deporting others, including journalists, who at times have been treated roughly. After four months of investigation, four Israeli policemen were arrested, in April, and charged with the death of a Palestinian who died in detention.

 

     On September 16, the United States stated that because Israel continued to expand settlements in Palestinian lands, the U.S. would reduce loan guarantees to Israel, and would further reduce them if the security wall takes Palestinian land (which it does!). The Israeli government replied that it would change the course of the construction of the wall (but what of the portions already built taking Palestinian land?).

 

     In the wake of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, the Israel Democracy Institute reported, in May, what it sees as a disturbing decline in the importance attributed to democracy by Israel's embattled citizenry. Of 31countries polled, Israel was one of four (along with Poland, India and Rumania) who felt that "strong leaders can be more useful to the state than all the deliberation and laws." Only 77% felt that democracy was the best form of government. 53% are now against full equality for Arabs, and 77% think there should be a Jewish majority on crucial political decisions. In early August Israeli war planes struck at Hezbollah positions in Lebanon after shells lobbed across Israel's northern boarder killed a teenager, the first such death in three years.

 

     Following little progress in the Bush administration's efforts to draw Turkey into a relationship with Israel, Washington began encouraging Israel to develop a relationship with India by giving permission, in May, for Israel to sell its advanced Phaelcon airborne reconnaissance system to India for $1 billion. If that deal goes through, Washington may authorize Israel's sale of its Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, despite the fact that it uses sensitive U.S. technology. Pakistan is not likely to be happy about such a development. In early September, Sharon visited India in a meeting aimed at improving relations and arranging the sale of the air born reconnaissance equipment.

 

     In India's Kashmir state, the 13 year old insurgency has now killed more than 63,000 people, with a sharp increase of deadly attacks by Muslim separatists in early September. In May, Pakistan renewed full diplomatic ties and transportation links with India, calling for peace talks between the two nations, including discussion of nuclear issues, after India called for decisive talks to end the two countries' bitter rivalry. India later rejected Pakistan's call for both nations to destroy their nuclear arsenals, but stated that it sought peace.

 

     While the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq may convince the North Korean government that the U.S.is willing to use military force against it over nuclear issues. the effect may be more to increase the North's paranoia concerning U.S. intentions, and hence make the regime more resistant, than it is to pressure the North Koreans to end their nuclear program. Meanwhile, a considerable extent of the force potentially available to put on pressure is tied up in the Middle East, while the U.S. has been distracted from, and slowed in its response, to the North Korean development of nuclear weapons, that former President, international negotiator, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, finds currently to be the "greatest threat" to World Peace.

    After months of Diplomatic maneuvers, during which time North Korea may have developed its nuclear capability to the point of again being able to produce atomic bombs, of which it is believed to have one or two, the United States convinced North Korea to attend multilateral negotiations with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, which did include informal direct U.S.-North Korean talks, that the North had previously insisted were all that it would take part in. The August discussions achieved only slight direct progress. There are reports, however, of indications that North Korea might be willing to back off from its instance that it receive a signed nonaggression pact with the U.S. and considerable aid before beginning to dismantle its nuclear program, and the U.S. for the first time to be willing to provide some aid and preliminary assurances prior to a complete closing of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability, if a properly staged exchange of actions were established, that was acceptable to both sides.

    With the future remaining unclear until further meetings take place, the U.S. navy has undertaken practice exercises for possible searching of ships leaving North Korea to insure that they are not exporting atomic weapons or components, most especially in possible sales to terrorists or their likely suppliers. U.S. and South Korean officials announced in June that 37,000 U.S. troops would soon pull back about 75 miles from positions they have held along the demilitarized zone for 50 years. The shift is said to being undertaken in order to make them tactically more flexible, but some military and other commentators complain that, given the timing, North Korea might see the move as a lessening in U.S. commitment. In mid-September, China moved 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea, perhaps indicating that it is willing to take a stronger roll in getting North Korea to end itsnuclear program.

 

     After talks at saving the peace, agreed to in December, but violated by both sides, broke down, the Indonesian military began a massive assault in Aceh. Rebels say they insist on independence. The government says it will offer internal autonomy. The International Crisis Group stated in May that, as has happened in the past, the geography of the area, and the primitive state of Indonesia's military, allow the rebels to slip off easily into the mountainous jungles. The casualties caught in the crossfire are mostly Aceh's hapless civilians. The slaughter is making Jakarta's rule even shakier than it has been up to now, so alienating the local population, that, in July, the International Crises Group found that independence may turn out to be the only option. Survival International (http://www.survival-international.org) reports that seven low-ranking members of the Indonesian special forces were convicted, in May, of causing the death of Papuan tribal leader Theys Eluay, in November 2001. But the soldiers, three of whom remain in the army, have been given jail terms of only two to three and a half years, angering Papua's tribal peoples. Reports of torture and murder by the military continue. In January, UN prosecutors indicted 31 Indonesian militia men and soldiers for human rights violations in East Timor.

 

     There was a brief. late July. mutiny by nearly 300 soldiers and some 70 junior officers in Manila, two weeks after Philippine police allowed Indonesian terrorist bomb expert, Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, to walk out of a Manila jail. While this event has been passed off as incompetence, it is probably more indicative of sophisticated political maneuvering by forces out to unseat Philippine president Gloria Arroyo. The soldiers accused Arroyo of fomenting Islamic violence in order to declare martial law and prolong her term in office.

 

     Burma's ruling military junta, in May, placed Aung San Suu Kyi incommunicado in, "protective custody." The burst of popular adoration which followed her release after years of captivity apparently caught the military dictatorship off guard.

 

     Sri Lankan rebel leaders indicated a desire to resume peace talks with the government, in late August, at a Paris hotel, but are being cautious concerning the government's view of the situation. The Tamil leaders, however, are offering a major concession by indicating willingness to drop their demands for independence.

 

     Libya reached a $2.7 billion compensation settlement with the families of the victims of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in August, and a second, renegotiated, settlement was in the final stages, in mid September, with families of a French airliner destroyed earlier, allegedly by Libyan agents. With the Ghadafi regime long having given up sponsoring terrorist acts, the U.N has now removed its sanctions against the North African Nation. The U.S. has stated that it is encouraged, but seeks further Libyan action before lifting its sanctions. The violence continues in Algeria, at a much lower rate than at its height, several years ago. In May a government raid on a supposed Islamic militant camp ended in the freeing of 15 of 32 European tourists taken hostege in March.

 

     In the Niger delta of Nigeria, this summer, armed action by members of the Ijaw people caused production at several oil refineries owned by multinational corporations to be shut down, temporarily interrupting the majority of Nigeria's oil exporting. The Ijaw are angered that they receive none of the $300 million paid to the Nigerian government for oil extracted in their vicinity, $50 million of which have disappeared, and seem to have been stolen by top political people. Earlier, in April, fighting with a number of deaths delayed elections.  In June, 105 people were killed breaking into an oil pipeline to steel gasoline, when the fuel exploded. In April, President Olsusegun Obasanjo was declared the winner in a reelection bid, by the national election commission, in a vote that Nigerian opposition leaders say was seriously marred by fraud. International observers, at the time, agreed that there was voting fraud in the South and East, but felt it too early to say if that was sufficient to have changed the election, with Obasanjo credited with winning 62% of the vote against several challengers.

 

     Liberia has suffered a horrendous summer, in which thousands of civilians died during fighting, particularly intense in parts of Monrovia, between rebel forces and the government of President Charles Taylor (indicted by a U.N. backed war crimes court in June, saying that Taylor had the "greatest responsibility" for the 10 year civil war in Sierra Leone and for its atrocities), while the international community, including the United States, vacillated over whether to intervene. Finally, in August, a Nigerian-led peacekeeping force entered the country and started the long process of restoring order (with U.S. forces observing, and then a few of them participating).  At this point President Taylor bowed to international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. Rebel and government leaders agreed on Monrovia businessman Gyude Bryant to lead a two year transitional government, choosing from a list of candidates submitted by political parties and civic groups. International Peace keepers have restored order in the capitol, but fighting continues in the countryside, causing for a call, in mid September, to have the UN provide more peacekeepers (See, "Liberia: New Rebel Group on the Rise," below). At the same time, an already serious humanitarian crisis in Liberia worsened with the spread of a Cholera epidemic. (The "Comprehensive Peace Agreement Between the Government of Liberia and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and Political Parties," signed August 18, 2003 can be found at:  http://www.usip.org/library/pa/liberia/liberia_08182003_toc.html). The last needed step for a peace accord in Congo, sharing the military between the government and rebels, was agreed upon, in June, paving the way for a national unity government, following fighting with high civilian casualties during the earlier spring months. The European Union sent its new peace keeping force to the Congo, joining French troops, under a U.N mandate to try to prevent further fighting and support the peace agreement.  In the Ivory Coast, the government and rebel leaders declared an end to the West African nations nine-month civil war, which began with a failed coup attempt, as they began a power sharing regime.

 

      In, August, in the first open election in Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide, which killed an estimated 800,000 people, most of whom were Tutsis, incumbent Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, emerged victorious in the race for President with a turnout of nearly 80%,, of which Kagame's party won roughly 94% of the votes cast. The leader of a successful coup in oil rich Sao Tome, West Africa, promised, in July, to hold elections in the near future, following international pressure. In Guinea-Bissau, one of the world's poorest nations, in September, the army Chief of Staff lead a bloodless coups against unpopular President Kumba Yala, saying he would remain in control of the country until elections could be held. Burundi declared a nationwide curfew, in early July, as fighting continued in the capital between the Tutsi dominated army and the mostly Hutu National Liberation Forces.

 

     In South Africa, former diamond workers filed a $6.1 million suite against mining companies, in February, following a finding by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that employees should be paid reparations by companies that profited from Apartheid. In April, the government decided to pay thousands of apartheid victims who testified before the commission a one time reparation of about $4000. In making the announcement, President Mbeki said that the government would not be party to law suits or enact special taxes aimed at corporations suspected of supporting the apartheid regime.

 

     Cultural Survival carried an article, "Manuscripts for Peace in Mali", by Larry Childs and Issa Mohamed, in its Spring issue, stating that, "Malian democracy now has the potential to lead West Africa, and even all of Africa, in the creation of the pluri-ethnic state. In Mali, cultural diversity is celebrated as an asset rather than opposed as a threat to monolithic national identity. Government officials, traditional leaders and NGOs hold a strong conviction the historic Timbuktu manuscripts from the 12th through 19th centuries could further cultivate a distinctive Malian development paradigm-one rooted in this ancient culture of rapprochement. Scholars during this period, commonly referred to as Ambassadors of Peace, used the written word extensively to guide leaders of Malian empires that once spanned vast areas of West Africa. The writings, influenced by traditional African thought and the Islamic faith, are written in Arabic and languages indigenous to the region. They are relevant today for their treatises on tolerance and peaceful means to resolve conflicts."

 

     In Boswana, police have been physically preventing Gana and Gwi 'Bushmen' and Bakgalagadi returning to their homes or visiting relatives in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, their ancestral land. Botswana's government has driven almost all the Bushmen out of the reserve, which is now almost entirely covered in diamond exploration concessions. Survival International, which has been buyilding international support for the Bushman, has recently been labelled a 'terrorist' organisation by a senior figure in both Debswana, De Beers's Botswana diamond mining subsidiary, and the government. SHRO-Cairo reported, in April, that the Sudan Government's Arab Militia had assassinated Reverend Saleh Dakoro, the Shaikh of the Massaleit, one of the peoples of DarFur displaced by the government from their traditional lands.

 

     The Northern Ireland peace process continues to be stalled, with the government remaining dissolved and little progress made on disarmament. Polls reported in April that there is growing voter support for the extreme groups on both sides, and increasing Protestant opposition to sharing power in the government with Sinn Fein. Growing in popularity. Ian Paisly's Democratic Unionists have vowed to block future power sharing. Sir John Stevens, of London's Metropolitan Police, announced, in March, that his 14 year investigation into allegations of collusion showed that officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army had helped Protestant guerillas kill Catholics during the 1980's.

 

     The European Union (EU) has published a draft constitution. While President Bush made an effort to seem congenial with European colleagues at the G-8 summit, in June, and the White House has stopped bashing France, relations between the U.S. and its most important European allies remain poor. This is likely partly due to the lack of diplomacy by President Bush, and also his administration's unilateralism and difference of worldview on many issues with European leaders. Russian President Putin has taken some diplomatic steps toward peace in Chechnya, including, in May, offering amnesty to Chechen separatists who might agree to lay down arms by August 1, excluding those accused of murders or other crimes, but these small actions have been insufficient to have any meaningful impact on stemming the guerilla war. Russia continues to experience a very high murder rate, including the killings of some journalists and lawmakers critical of the Russian President. For example, in April, Liberal parliamentarian Sergai Yushenkov. a supporter of human rights causes and an opponent of the Chechen war, became the second co-chairman of the Liberal Party to be murdered this year.

 

     In April, Turkey lifted its long standing travel ban on Cyprus, after it was blamed for stopping a UN peace deal, allowing Greek and Turkish Cypriots free passage across the island for the first time since it was divided by Turkey's 1974 invasion.

 

      Janes reported, in May, that there are increasing indications that Balkan smugglers may now be trafficking in illicit nuclear materials. At least 14 cases of nuclear theft have been reported recently. At risk is 1,350 metric tons of plutonium previously belonging to the former Soviet Union, enough for 40,000 nuclear weapons. The International Crisis Group stated, June 23, that unless Europe steps up aid to the western Balkans and holds out some hope of eventual inclusion in the rest of Europe, the region can expect an endless cycle of instability. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and several of his allies were charged by Serbian authorities in the abduction and killing of former President Ivan Stambolic. Stambolic disappeared in 2000 several weeks before Presidential elections, in which he was challenging then President Milosevic. The ex president's body was found in March as police investigated the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, for which 44 people have been charged, including the former commander of a notoriously brutal police unit.

 

      The long civil war continues in Columbia with President Uribe refusing to restart peace talks, in April, as he continued to take a hard line toward defeating the rebels militarily. In July, the 10,000 strong United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia (AOC), an umbrella paramilitary organization accused of committing some of the worst human rights violations in the 39 year civil war, signed an agreement with a government peace commission to begin demobilizing by the end of the year. Splinter paramilitary groups did not sign the agreement. The Shining Path Guerilla's are showing a resurgence in Peru. In May, they kidnapped scores of pipeline workers, and near by, in July, ambushed a military patrol, inflicting the heaviest losses the army has sustained in four years.

    The Fourth Appeals Court, in Guatemala, in May, overturned the conviction of Col. Juan Valencia for planning the murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack, in 1990. Many commentators complain that since the end of the civil war, the military has continued to exert undue influence in the Guatemalan courts. A case against the Guatemalan government for failing to provide justice in the Mack case is pending before the Inter-American Court.

    In elections across Mexico, in July, President Fox's National Action Party lost about 25% of its seats in the lower house, while the former ruling party, the PRI advanced slightly, with parties on the left making the bulk of the gains, but no party gaining a majority. Poling indicated that Mexican voters were frustrated with Fox's failure to delivery on a long list of promises, including gaining more attention from the U.S.

 

    According to a report on the latest findings of the Small Arms Survey Group in Asia Times, July 28, the proliferation of rifles and pistols in the world is continuing to grow, despite a concerted international effort to try to stop it. At least 98 countries add more than 7 million weapons a year to the existing stockpile, estimated at some 639 million weapons. The U.S. still leads with an estimated 236 to 286 million firearms in the hands of civilians, nearly enough for every man, woman and infant in the country. Russia has been increasing its weapons exports and now has about 10% of the international arms trade. It is unlikely to regain the 50% of international weapons sales that the Soviet Union achieved during the Cold War. The Bush Administration has been undertaking classified reviews of U.S. arms export policy, without congressional oversight or public scrutiny. Critics fear that the result will be relaxed controls that benefit the arms industry financially, but cause a host of long term problems, including creating the kind of chaos in Somalia and elsewhere in Africa that resulted in sending arms to any nation or group that was "anti-communist," during the Cold War. The Bush administration, so far, has been quick to offer arms to any one near Afghanistan or Iraq who it saw as anti al Qaeda, without any thought for the long, or even medium, term consequences (as has been reported previously in these pages).

 

     The global trade talks, in Cancun Mexico in September, ended with virtually no agreement, as poorer countries rejected proposals of wealthier nations to make it easier for multinational corporations to invest and operate around the world. The less developed countries also protested the unwillingness of the more developed nations to cut agricultural subsidies that make it hard for poorer nation farmers to compete internationally and domestically. Brazil led the movement to try to get the U.S. to open its agricultural markets. The meeting set back President Bush's plans to negotiate a Free Trade Area of the America's by 2004. Trade ministers of 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere are scheduled to meet in Miami, in November, to discuss progress on this plan. The alignments at the Cancun meeting suggest that little progress will be made in Miami toward the White House's objective.

 

     A new transnational grassroots movement to combat the corporatization of water, Securing the Right to Water in Africa, came together in Accra, Ghana, in mid-May, for the first annual water forum of the coalition of various groups opposing privatization of water systems. The World Bank, in return for loans, has demanded that Ghana significantly raise its water prices and now is pressuring that the water system be privatized. A coalition of NGOs and grassroots protesters have delayed privatization for two years. 24 other African nations have water privatization clauses in their loan agreements, as do other nations around the world.

 

     World Watch Institute's annual, Vital Signs 2003, report on critical world trends finds, "Failure to meet the needs of the world’s poorest citizens threatens long-term global stability,... the more than 13 million children who have lost a parent due to AIDS, the 14.4 million people who die each year from infectious disease, and the 12 million international refugees in the beginning of 2002 as clear indicators of a world where human suffering is rampant. While the global economy has grown sevenfold since 1950, the disparity in per capita income between the 20 richest and 20 poorest nations more than doubled between 1960 and 1995. 'The world's failure to reduce poverty levels is now contributing to global instability in the form of terrorism, war, and contagious disease,' says Vital Signs Project Director Michael Renner. "An unstable world not only perpetuates poverty, but will ultimately threaten the prosperity that the rich minority has come to enjoy.'“ The report also indicates that "environmental degradation is exacerbating poverty and further contributing to global instability."

    Weather-related disasters brought on by land clearing, deforestation, and climate change are most catastrophic for the world's poorest citizens. In 2002, rains in Kenya displaced more than 150,000 people, while more than 800,000 Chinese were affected by the most severe drought in over a century. Over the past two decades, floods and other weather-related disasters were among factors prompting some 10 million people to migrate from Bangladesh to India. At least seven small island nations face the prospect of a sizable share of their populations being displaced by sea level rise due to global warming in the coming decades." Some particulars include, "

    Infectious diseases kill twice as many people worldwide as cancer each year. Those dying of infectious illnesses are often either in the early or prime years of life, unraveling the economic and social fabric of societies. (The dramatic emergence of SARS in recent months now threatens the health not only of Asian economies but also of the global airline industry).

    Roughly one-quarter of the world's 50 wars and armed conflicts of recent years have involved a struggle for control of natural resources. Virtually all of these conflicts have occurred in poor countries where a particular ethnic group or economic elite has gained control of resources at the expense of the poor majority. Harvesting of illegal drug crops—principally cannabis, coca, and opium poppies— has increased dramatically since the 1980s, leading to rising addiction rates in industrial nations, and a growing black market that undermines development in many poor nations. In addition to the 12 million “official“ refugees worldwide, there are another 50 million environmental refugees—driven from their homes by dam building, drought, flooding, etc.— and other internally displaced persons not included in official UN statistics.

    Corruption— the misuse of public power for private benefit— is costing some of the world's poorest countries billions of dollars each year and undermining efforts to promote economic development." "The following trends stand out as holding promise for progress: HIV/AIDS TREATMENT: While only four percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries are receiving treatment, some progress has been made in making access to treatment more equitable. In 2002, Botswana became the first African nation to adopt a policy of universal access to treatment, while other nations like Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Panama are providing free or subsidized treatment.

    Communications: The gap between the information haves and have-nots is still huge but shrinking, thanks largely to new mobile phones, whose towers are cheaper to build than conventional, fixed-line systems. In Africa, mobile phones now outnumber fixed lines by a higher ratio than on any other continent.

    Clean Energy:  New industries are beginning to provide pollution-free electricity and good jobs. Global wind power use has tripled since 1998 and is the now the world's fastest-growing power source. As new policies are adopted, rapid growth is projected in China and India over the next few years". For more information, including how to obtain the report and other World Watch publications, go to: http://www.worldwatch.org.

 

     Many thousands of people died in an unprecedented heat wave in Europe this summer, with 11,000-15,000 deaths in France, 4,000 in Italy, 1300 in Portugal, and 500-1000 in the Netherlands the highest death tolls from this symptom of global warming. This follows 2002 being the second warmest year on record, bringing with it the worst flooding in Europe in over a century and record droughts in southwestern North America (according to the annual, "state of the Climate" report compiled by scientists from eight nations).

    Meanwhile, the combination of stronger and more numerous storms and the cutting off of silt carrying flooding to Louisiana wetlands by the building of flood control dykes and dams on the Mississippi River, has caused Louisiana to lose 1900 square miles of coast land in the Twentieth-Century and, at current rates, is likely to cause the washing away of another 700 miles of Louisiana coast by 2050, reducing the size of the state by a third of its pre flood control size. In addition to other effects, since the collapsing lands contain thousands of miles of once and still buried pipe through which most of the oil coming to the U.S. from off shore arrives, the land loss is creating a huge environmental and economic threat. Experimental construction projects indicate that the land loss can be reduced, and perhaps stemmed, by building floodgates in the Mississippi River Dykes to carry silt into the wetlands at appropriate times. This would cost billions of dollars. The loss of coastline and stronger storms now makes New Orleans, which is below sea level, vulnerable to complete, rapid flooding which potentially could kill several hundred thousand people in a worst case situation.

    May of this year witnessed a record of over 300 tornados in the U.S. according to the Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service. As has been occurring in India, and elsewhere, lack of proper control to avoid ecological side effects at a commercial shrimp aquaculture farm on the coast of Guatemala is destroying sea life along the coast at a far greater rate than that of shrimp farm production, with toxic chemicals from the farm contributing to already dangerous levels of wider ocean pollution. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in July, called for world efforts to fight desertification to insure long term food supplies, following the 1994 anti-desertification treaty, as land degradation world wide is threatening food production and creating humanitarian and economic crises. The problem is experienced around the world, but most especially in poorer nations, as for example in sub-Saharan Africa where the number of environmental refugees is expected to increase to 25 million in the next two decades, and Mexico, where 70% of all land is subject to desertification, causing 700,000 to 900,000 farmers to leave their land annually in search of a better living as migrant workers in the U.S.

 

     Russia's Atomic Energy minister warned in April that the concrete and steel shell containing the damaged Chernobyl reactor is in danger of collapse. International donors have pledged money new, better constructed, shell to be built around the failing one, but the work is not scheduled to begin until next spring, and the meantime, the condition of the existing radiation containing sarcophagus is not being monitored.

 

     Poorer nations have been increasing cigarette smoking, following extensive advertising campaigns by multinational tobacco companies, to the point where they are suffering close to as many deaths and medical problems from smoking as developed nations. Of the 4.84 million people who died from smoking related illnesses and conditions in 2000, 2.41 million lived in developing nations. Among the plans included in the World Health Organizations Convention on Tobacco Control treaty is restriction of tobacco advertising, new product packaging and warnings, establishment of clean air controls and legislation on tobacco smuggling.

 

     In May, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld threatened to cut off funds for building of a new NATO Headquarters in Brussels and ban Americans from attending alliance meetings, if Belgium did not change a decade old law allowing for the prosecution of war crimes anywhere in the world by anyone. In July, the Bush administration suspended all U.S. military aid to 35 nations because they refused to give U.S. citizens immunity before the recently launched International Criminal Court.

 

 The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General's 239-page June report, analyzing the conduct of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in the massive hunt for alleged terrorists after 9/11 concludes: bureaucratic inertia left a number of innocent people languishing in jails for months while systematic understaffing left them with little chance to prove their innocence. Often no distinction was made between serious suspects and immigrants who had no connection to suspect groups. The underlying theme appears to be that the perception of an external terrorist threat led a number of law enforcement officials to believe that it was alright to bend the law. As a result, innocent people were shackled, held in solitary confinement and physically and verbally abused. This is a repetition of the historical pattern of prejudicial injustice of people associated with suspect groups in times of war and perceived threat to national security, including the unjustified mistreatment of German Americans during World War I, the Palmer raids of the post World War I red scare, the unfounded internment of over 100,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II and the excesses of Senator McCarthy, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) and of other Cold War security that violated the rights of innocent persons at great expense to the country, while detracting from legitimate security efforts.

    The Report can be found on the DOJ's website: http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/index.html#justice. More recent reports find that federal law enforcement has used expanded investigative powers granted by the Patriot Act, specifically for terrorism cases, in matters not related to terrorism.

    While the U.S. prison population reached an all time high of over 2 million in 2002, with a record one in every 142 U.S. residents incarcerated, the annual survey by the Bureau of Justice statistics indicated that U.S. violent and property crimes decreased to their lowest rate since the survey was begun 30 years ago.

    The SPLC Report in March stated that while there has been a small rise in the number of radical right hate groups and web sites from 2002 to 2003, many Neo Nazi and other hate groups are in turmoil, suffering splits infighting, defections, deportations, and serious financial problems.

 

     The Center for Defense Information's Marcus Corbin suggests that it makes more sense for the U.S. to concentrate on upgrading the training, including providing peacekeeping education, of troops in the Army before swelling the ranks with new recruits.

 

     The United States is suffering an expansion of hunger, homelessness and inadequate health care, while a worrisome school dropout rate shows no improvement. Emergency food requests have multiplied an astounding 20-fold since 1984, including nearly a 20 percent jump last year. Homeless families with children comprised 41 percent of the U.S. homeless population in 2002. Last year, more than 41 million U.S. residents were without health insurance. The Bush Administration's proposed budget cuts $1.4 billion from No Child Left Behind funding, including money for reducing the number of high school dropouts. A research team at Manchester college in Indiana, led by Neil Wollman, senior fellow of the Manchester College Peace Studies Institute has developed a 19-variable National Index of Violence and Harm, produced annually. Wollman reports, "Unfortunately, unless new forces come into play, the overall picture cannot be expected to improve in the foreseeable future. Certainly no one is anticipating a decrease in these human needs. No significant economic upturn is generally predicted for the near future even with tax cuts.  State budgets are suffering record shortfalls, with more than a third of the states cutting educational funding by a total of billions of dollars."

    The United States has experienced a large increase in hunger and homelessness since the 1980s. In medium to large cities surveyed each year by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, emergency requests for food rose 20-fold between 1984 and 2002, with a 19 percent increase between 2001 and 2002. Only one-third of surveyed U.S. cities were able to meet this demand in 2001.  As measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 33.6 million people experienced food insecurity in 2001.  That means that 12.6 percent of the nation (17.6 percent of children) wondered at sometime during 2001 whether they would have sufficient resources to acquire food. Housing statistics show a 12-fold increase in emergency shelter requests from 1984 to 2002, including a 19 per cent increase from 2001 to 2002. In 2002, homeless families with children made up 41 percent of the overall homeless population, 1.5 times the rate in 1985.  In 60 percent of the cities surveyed, homeless families were sometimes turned away for lack of available shelter. Health coverage deteriorated steadily from 1987 to 2002. In 2002, 41.2 million individuals (14.5 percent of the population!) did not have health insurance for a 12 month period.  Many of these people are among the "working poor," in families with at least one person working full-time for an employer who doesn't offer health insurance or offers insurance with premiums that would jeopardize rent and food supplies for the families. Meanwhile, U.S. high school dropout rates have remained fairly consistent over the past 20 years, remaining near 5 percent since 1982. At the federal level, the administration's 2004 budget proposal makes no major changes that would significantly address these social needs, the researchers found. For more information, contact: Neil Wollman: njwollman@manchester.edu, (260)982.5346.

 

     The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to reduce pollution from diesel engines, including proposing pollution reductions of more than 90% in farm, construction and other new off road diesel equipment by 2004, with modern emissions controls on  these vehicles by 2014, and requiring 99% less sulfur in diesel fuel by 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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