The crash of the American empire

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The American empire is crashing. What will it be like. Let us look at recent precedents.

The last empire to crash was the Soviet empire 30 years ago. At the time it was led by Mikhail Gorbachev, a man of peace and harmony, its population was not seriously divided or heavily armed, and the army stayed in their barracks. As a result, there was very little physical violence when the empire collapsed, although in the ensuing years there was great economic suffering because of the devaluation of the ruble (by a factor of almost 10,000) and in subsequent years, there were armed conflicts with the Ukraine and Georgia. In the end, the oligarchs (Russian mafia, etc.) and the secret police (Putin had been head of the KGB) consolidated their power.

The American empire is dying in the hands of Donald Trump, and the situation is completely different.

In recent months, we have said that to survive the United States needs the resignation of Trump and a non-violent revolution, but that does not seem to be coming soon. Many city administrations are progressive and progressive Congressional candidates are being nominated, and some elected. However, that, by itself, will not change a system where the electoral process is mostly in the hands of big money. Progressive mayors and Congressional candidates would have to be supported by mass movements in city halls, town meetings and on the streets if the military priorities of American society can be transformed into a new national unity that puts the priorities on racial and economic equality and full employment.

What seems more likely in the short term is a risk of civil war, as discussed in this article in The Nation and this Youtube video. Here’s why this must be taken seriously.

Trump’s campaign was formally endorsed recently (July 16) by the National Rifle Association, which claims over 5 million members, and they are armed, not just with hunting rifles, but often with military-grade weapons designed to kill efficiently large numbers of people. They are mostly white males without higher education, a group that supports Trump according to the polls. I suppose it is safe to assume that they live more in rural areas than in the big cities. With increasing unemployment and impoverishment they are angy against the bankers of New York and the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley who are gaining enormous wealth during this crisis, but they take out their anger on women, Blacks and Hispanics who are more accessible.

The American military, on the other hand, has not agreed with Trump’s attempts to engage it in his support. It is perhaps relevant that the proportion of active military personnel that is Black and Hispanic has been growing, and as of 2017 it was already 43%, not to mention a growing proportion of women. Their families are more urban than rural.

The Trump presidency has made racism a major tactic in its campaign strategy for re-election. And while Trump is trailing in the polls, there are serious suggestions circulating that he and his supporters may refuse to accept an election result that is not in his favor.

Meanwhile, the rate of unemployment and families being thrown into poverty has reached proportions in the United States not seen since the 1930’s, and it seems likely to grow further, given the continued need for shutdowns to counter the coronavirus epidemic.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, it reverted to its constituent republics where there were relatively unified cultures, nurtured over the decades by Soviet support for cultural development. There is no such history of culturally uniform states and regions in the United States. One suggestion, that of Johan Galtung, is that there will be an East-West divide with the West Coast linking to Asia and the East Coast linking to Europe. But Galtung does not consider what will happen with the rest of the country, the South and the Middle West. It is there that we may expect the greatest risk of violence, rural versus urban.

A civil war would be bloody, but hopefully not to the extent of the first American Civil War in the 1860’s when tens of thousands were slaughtered in terrible battles between two distinct armies.

Perhaps more relevant that the crash of the Soviet Empire was the crash of Syria. When a revolt broke out against the government, the Syrian military split with some supporting the government and some going to the opposition. The civil war was especially bloody because of external interventions. The opposition received major support, though covert, from the United States and several Arab States, while the government received support from the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

Unlike Syria, it seems less likely that an American civil war at this moment will receive much external intervention, and it is more likely that it will be decided by the balance of forces in the US. The need for a nonviolent revolution would then become more evident than ever.

What would be the effects in the rest of the world in the face of an American civil war? Would it reinforce the idea and make possible the reformation of the United Nations into a force for the culture of peace? Or would it look more like the 1930’s with the rise of fascist governments and the threat of another World War? We are at a turning point in human history!

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Le crash de l’empire américain

L’empire américain s’écroule. A quoi cela ressemblera-t-il?

Le dernier empire à s’effondrer était l’empire soviétique il y a 30 ans. À l’époque il était dirigé par Mikhail Gorbatchev, un homme de paix et d’harmonie, sa population n’était pas sérieusement divisée ou lourdement armée, et l’armée restait dans ses casernes. En conséquence, il y a eu très peu de violence physique lorsque l’empire s’est effondré, bien que dans les années qui ont suivi, il y ait eu de grandes souffrances économiques en raison de la dévaluation du rouble (par un facteur de près de 10000) et les années suivantes, il y a eu des conflits armés avec l’Ukraine et la Géorgie. Finalement, les oligarques (mafia russe, etc.) et la police secrète (Poutine avait été à la tête du KGB) ont consolidé leur pouvoir.

L’empire américain est en train de tomber entre les mains de Donald Trump, et la situation est complètement différente.

Dans les derniers mois, nous avions dit que pour survivre, les États-Unis avaient besoin de la démission de Trump et d’une révolution non violente, mais cela ne semble pas près d’arriver. Il y a beaucoup de conseils municipaux, ainsi que quelques membres au Congrés National et des candidates pour les elections de novembre qui sont progressistes. Cependant, cela ne changera pas un système où le processus électoral est principalement entre les mains des super-riches. Les maires progressistes et les candidats au Congrès devraient être soutenus par des mouvements de masse dans les mairies, dans les assemblées municipales et dans les rues pour que les priorités militaires de la société américaine puissent d’être transformées en une nouvelle forme d’unité nationale qui placerait les priorités sur l’égalité raciale et économique et le plein emploi .

Ce qui semble plus probable à court terme est un risque de guerre civile, comme cela est abordé dans cet article dans The Nation et cette video Youtube. Voici pourquoi cela doit être pris au sérieux.

La campagne de Trump a été officiellement approuvée récemment (16 juillet) par la National Rifle Association, qui revendique plus de 5 millions de membres, et ils sont armés, non seulement de fusils de chasse, mais souvent d’armes de qualité militaire conçues pour tuer efficacement un grand nombre de personnes. Ce sont pour la plupart des hommes blancs sans études supérieures, un groupe qui soutient Trump selon les sondages. Je suppose qu’on peut assumer qu’ils vivent davantage dans les zones rurales que dans les grandes villes. Avec l’augmentation du chômage et de l’appauvrissement, ils sont en colère contre les banquiers de New York et les entrepreneurs de la Silicon Valley qui gagnent énormément de richesse pendant cette crise, mais ils tournent cette colère contre les femmes, les Noirs et les Hispaniques les groupes les plus accessibles.

L’armée américaine, en revanche, n’a pas approuvé les tentatives de Trump de l’engager dans son soutien. Il est peut-être pertinent que la proportion du personnel militaire actif qui est noir et hispanique ait augmenté et qu’en 2017, elle était déjà de 43%, sans parler d’une proportion croissante de femmes. Leurs familles sont plus urbaines que rurales.

Le président Trump a fait du racisme une tactique majeure dans sa stratégie de campagne de réélection. Et bien que Trump perde dans les sondages, il y a de sérieuses suggestions qui circulent selon lesquelles lui et ses partisans pourraient refuser d’accepter un résultat électoral qui n’est pas en sa faveur.

Pendant ce temps, le taux de chômage et de familles jetées dans la pauvreté a atteint des proportions jamais vues aux États-Unis depuis les années 1930, et il semble susceptible de continuer à augmenter, étant donné le besoin continu de fermetures pour contrer l’épidémie de coronavirus.

Lorsque l’Union soviétique s’est effondrée, elle est revenue à ses républiques constituantes où il y avait des cultures relativement unifiées, nourries au fil des décennies par le soutien soviétique au développement culturel. Il n’existe pas d’états et de régions culturellement uniformes aux États-Unis. Une suggestion, celle de Johan Galtung, est qu’il y aura une division Est-Ouest avec la côte ouest reliant l’Asie et la côte Est reliant l’Europe. Mais Galtung ne considère pas ce qui va se passer avec le reste du pays, le Sud et le Moyen-Ouest. C’est là que l’on peut s’attendre au plus grand risque de violence, rurale versus urban.

Une guerre civile serait sanglante, mais, espérons-le, pas à la mesure de la première guerre civile américaine dans les années 1860, lorsque des dizaines de milliers de personnes ont été massacrées lors de terribles batailles entre deux armées distinctes.

Peut-être plus pertinent que le crash de l’Empire soviétique était le crash de la Syrie. Lorsqu’une révolte a éclaté contre le gouvernement, l’armée syrienne s’est séparée, certains soutenant le gouvernement et certains allant à l’opposition. La guerre civile a été particulièrement sanglante à cause des interventions extérieures. L’opposition a reçu un soutien majeur, bien que secret, des États-Unis et de plusieurs États arabes, tandis que le gouvernement a reçu le soutien du Hezbollah libanais, de l’Iran et de la Russie.

Contrairement à la Syrie, il semble moins probable qu’une guerre civile américaine en ce moment recevra beaucoup d’intervention extérieure, et il est plus probable qu’elle sera décidée par l’équilibre des forces aux États-Unis. La nécessité d’une révolution non-violente deviendrait alors plus évidente que jamais.

Quels seraient les effets dans le reste du monde face à une guerre civile américaine? Est-ce que cela renforcerait l’idée et rendrait possible la réforme de l’ONU en une force de culture de la paix? Ou est-ce que cela ressemblerait davantage aux années 1930 avec la montée des gouvernements fascistes et la menace d’une nouvelle guerre mondiale? Nous sommes à un point tournant de l’histoire humaine!

Invasion of Venezuela: Is it Operation Just Cause, Bay of Pigs or Wag the Dog?

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On April 1 (April Fools Day) President Trump announced that the United States will send a military force to Venezuela, claiming that it was needed to stop drug trafficking by their President Maduro. He was followed by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said the task force included Navy destroyers and littoral combat ships, Coast Guard Cutters, P.A. patrol aircraft, and elements of an Army security force assistance brigade. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that there are “thousands of sailors, Coast Guardsman, soldiers, airmen, Marines involved in this operation.”

What are the historical precedents for this?

Operation Just Cause. In 1989, the United States invaded Panama and arrested its President Noriega on drug charges, as described in detail by Wikipedia. According to a video by Telesur, over 2,000 people were killed and 20,000 displaced in the extensive military operation. Apparently there was little resistance by the Panamanian military. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the U.S. invasion was a “flagrant violation of international law.

Bay of Pigs. In 1961, over 1400 paramilitaries invaded Cuba at a point called the Bay of Pigs. The operation, covertly financed and directed by the U.S. government, was a failure. The invading force were defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Wag the Dog In 1997, the film “Wag the Dog” portrays a “war” that is fabricated inside Hollywood sets to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal and  covered by the mass media as if true. In the film the trick works and the President is re-elected as a result.

Which of these precedents most resembles the present situation?

For the moment, it would seem most similar to Wag the Dog. One month after Trump’s announcement, Venezuela captured a small gang of mercenaries led by an American that tried to invade Venezuela. It seems that the invasion attempt was not a very serious attempt in the sense that it had no chance to succeed. However, it captured the attention of the mass media as if Trump was actually attacking Venezuela. And certainly the political problems of President Donald Trump are as great or greater than those of Bill Clinton that inspired the 1997 film. Trump has even more reason to stage a fake war in order to divert attention from his failures.

If there is going to be an invasion of Venezuela like that of Operation Just Cause, we should expect the approach of the US Navy’s warships in the region, especially the Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Truman and the Amphibious Assault Ship Iwo Jima. As of this moment (end of May), according to the internet fleet tracker, they have not moved towards Venezuela, and in fact they are hampered by the potential for an epidemic of coronavirus in their crew, according to the head of the Southern Command.

But there is a long time between now and the elections scheduled for November. And the threats continue. In addition to the invasion by mercenaries mentioned above, consider the following. If you search the internet for “Vigo cocaine”, you will find many articles dating from the beginning of May about the interception of a boat off the coast of Vigo, Portugal, that was loaded with cocaine said by some sources to be coming from Venezuela. But look carefully at the sources. The articles saying that the cocaine came from Venezuela quote unnamed US sources, or, in some cases, they quote James Story, director of the Venezuela Affairs Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. This information (misinformation?) seems designed to support the Trump administration’s claim that Venezuela is heavily involved in the drug trade which is their excuse for threatening military action, despite the fact that independent studies contradict Trump’s claim.

Finally, if Trump does order an invasion of Venezuela, it may resemble the Bay of Pigs more than Operation Just Cause. The Veneuzuelan military, aided by Russian equipment and advisors, and backed, at least verbally, by China, is a force more similar to the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in 1961 than the Panamanian forces in 1989.

The Bay of Pigs preceded by a year the Cuban Missile Crisis which threatened a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. As for an invasion of Venezuela at this time, could it not also threaten escalation into a nuclear war even more dangerous that a nuclear war would have been in 1962!

At CPNN, following the April 1 announcement by Trump we sent an email to our mailing list saying the following in part: “The threat of Trump to make war against Venezuela demands a special and unique response from all of us. . . . If you are in a country that is in NATO or the UN Security Council, I suggest you contact your government with a message similar to the following: Please use your influence in the [UN Security Council] [direction of NATO] to prevent Trump from starting a war with Venezuela which could lead to World War III because of the support to Venezuela from Russia and China. Trump is trying to divert attention from the medical and economic crisis but he is producing a crisis that is even more dangerous.”

We don’t yet know if this is a case of Wag the Dog, or an April Fool’s joke, but the danger still exists that this could be a repeat of Operation Just Cause or the Bay of Pigs, which demands that we do all we can to prevent it.

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Invasion du Venezuela: est-ce l’”Opération Just Cause”, la baie des Cochons ou “Wag the Dog”?

Le 1er avril (poissons d’avril), le président Trump a annoncé que les États-Unis enverraient une force militaire au Venezuela, faisant l’accusation qu’il était nécessaire parce que le trafic de drogue est organisé par leur président Maduro. Il a été suivi par le secrétaire américain à la Défense Mark Esper, qui a déclaré que le Groupe d’attaque comprenait des destroyers de la Marine et des navires de combat littoraux, Coast Guard Cutters, des avions de patrouille et des éléments d’une brigade d’assistance des forces de sécurité de l’armée. Le général Mark Milley, président des chefs d’état-major interarmées, a ajouté que «des milliers de marins, de gardes-côtes, de soldats, d’aviateurs et de marines sont impliqués dans cette opération».

Quels sont les précédents historiques à ce sujet?

Opération Just Cause. En 1989, les États-Unis ont envahi le Panama et arrêté son président Noriega sur des accusations de drogue, comme il l’est écrit dans Wikipedia. Selon une vidéo de Telesur, plus de 2 000 personnes ont été tuées et 20 000 déplacées dans le cadre de cette vaste opération militaire. Apparemment, il y avait peu de résistance de la part des militaires panaméens. L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a adopté une résolution déclarant que l’invasion américaine était une “violation flagrante du droit international”.

Baie des Cochons. En 1961, plus de 1400 paramilitaires ont envahi Cuba à un endroit appelé la baie des Cochons. L’opération, secrètement financée et dirigée par le gouvernement américain, a été un échec. La force d’invasion a été vaincue en trois jours par les Forces armées révolutionnaires cubaines.

Wag the Dog. En 1997, le film “Wag the Dog” dépeint une “guerre” qui est fabriquée à l’intérieur des décors hollywoodiens pour distraire les électeurs d’un scandale sexuel présidentiel et couverte par les médias comme si elle était vraie. Dans le film, l’astuce fonctionne et le président est réélu en conséquence.

Lequel de ces précédents ressemble le plus à la situation actuelle?

Pour le moment, cela semble plus similaire à “Wag the Dog”. Un mois après l’annonce de Trump, le Venezuela a capturé une petite bande de mercenaires dirigée par un Américain qui a tenté d’envahir le Venezuela. Il semble que la tentative d’invasion n’ait pas été une tentative très sérieuse dans le sens où elle n’avait aucune chance de réussir. Cependant, cela a attiré l’attention des médias de masse comme si Trump attaquait réellement le Venezuela. Et certainement les problèmes politiques du président Donald Trump sont aussi grands ou plus grands que ceux de Bill Clinton qui a inspiré le film de 1997. Trump a encore plus de raisons de déclencher une fausse guerre afin de détourner l’attention de ses échecs.

S’il doit y avoir une invasion du Venezuela comme celle de l’Opération Just Cause, nous devons nous attendre à l’approche des navires de guerre de la marine américaine dans la région, en particulier du groupe aéronaval Truman et du navire d’assaut amphibie Iwo Jima. Selon le chef du Southern Command, ils ne se sont pas déplacés vers le Venezuela et ils sont en fait gênés par le potentiel d’une épidémie de coronavirus dans leur équipage (fin mai). .

Mais il y a beaucoup de temps entre maintenant et les élections prévues pour novembre. Et les menaces continuent. En plus de l’invasion de mercenaires mentionnée ci-dessus, considérez ce qui suit. Si vous recherchez sur Internet “Vigo cocaïne”, vous trouverez de nombreux articles datant de début mai sur l’interception d’un bateau au large de Vigo, au Portugal, qui était chargé de cocaïne qui, selon certaines sources, proviendrait du Venezuela . Mais regardez attentivement les sources. Les articles disant que la cocaïne provenait du Venezuela citent des sources américaines anonymes ou, dans certains cas, citent James Story, directeur de l’Unité des affaires du Venezuela à l’ambassade des États-Unis en Colombie. Ces informations (désinformation?) semblent conçues pour soutenir l’affirmation de l’administration Trump selon laquelle le Venezuela est fortement impliqué dans le trafic de drogue, ce qui est leur excuse pour menacer une action militaire, malgré le fait que des études indépendantes contredisent l’affirmation de Trump.

Enfin, si Trump ordonne une invasion du Venezuela, cela pourrait ressembler davantage à la baie des Cochons qu’à l’Opération Just Cause. L’armée vénézuelienne, aidée par du matériel et des conseillers russes et appuyée, au moins verbalement, par la Chine, est une force plus similaire aux Forces armées révolutionnaires cubaines en 1961 qu’aux forces panaméennes en 1989.

La baie des Cochons a précédé d’un an la crise des missiles cubains qui menaçait une guerre nucléaire entre les États-Unis et l’Union soviétique. Quant à une invasion du Venezuela en ce moment, ne pourrait-elle pas aussi menacer l’escalade vers une guerre nucléaire encore plus dangereuse qu’une guerre nucléaire l’aurait été en 1962!

À CPNN, à la suite de l’annonce faite le 1er avril par Trump, nous avons envoyé un e-mail à notre liste de diffusion disant en partie : “La menace de Trump de faire la guerre au Venezuela exige une réponse spéciale et unique de nous tous … Si vous êtes dans un pays membre de l’OTAN ou du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, je vous suggère de contacter votre gouvernement avec un message semblable au suivant: Veuillez utiliser votre influence au [Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies] [direction de l’OTAN] pour empêcher Trump de commencer un guerre contre le Venezuela qui pourrait conduire à la troisième guerre mondiale en raison du soutien au Venezuela de la Russie et de la Chine. Trump essaie de détourner l’attention de la crise médicale et économique, mais il produit une crise encore plus dangereuse. ”

Nous ne savons pas encore s’il s’agit d’un cas de Wag the Dog ou d’un poisson d’avril, mais le danger existe toujours que ce soit une répétition de l’Opération Just Cause ou de la baie des Cochons, qui exige que nous fassions tout ce que nous pouvons pour l’empêcher.

TOWARDS A MAYORS’ SECURITY COUNCIL

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A proliferation of city and mayoral organizations are filling the void left by the failure of the nation-states. As stated by one of the most recent, the Strong Cities Network: “Nation states have dominated the global political arena for centuries, but with more than half of the world’s population today residing in cities, it may be time to rethink who should be at the table when it comes to decisions on how we can reduce violence.”

The latest issue of the CPNN bulletin lists recent actions by the following organizations and forums of cities and mayors contibuting to nuclear disarmament, sustainable development, reduction of international tensions and reduction of urban violence :

Mayors for Peace
Cities Appeal of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
World Urban Forum
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability)
Global Parliament of Mayors
International Cities of Peace
Strong Cities Network (SCN)
World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace
United Cities and Local Governments

We may suppose that this proliferation of initiatives reflects a growing realization that the system of nation states is failing as we have documented over the past couple of years in CPNN.

Sustainable development. The CPNN bulletin of January 1 this year is devoted to the Global Climate Change Conference in Madrid which failed just as the previous Conferences failed.

Nuclear disarmament. The CPNN bulletin of June 1, 2018 was devoted to the United Nationsl Disarmament Conference that never took place because of the opposition of the nuclear states.

Around the world we see the beginning of failed states, consumed by violence: Libya, Yemen, and a case can be made for Mexico. Johan Galtung has gone so far as to imagine that the United States will split into two countries as the American Empire crumbles.

The situation is so serious that UN Secretary-General Guterrres devoted his annual press conference on February 4 to the “wind of madness” sweeping the globe. ” From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond — escalation is back. Arms are flowing. Offensives are increasing.” And the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moved to the closest to midnight of an apocalypse since the lock was first started in 1947 to warn of the dangers of nuclear war.

We may point our finger at the United Nations Security Council as the key element of the failure. The Council was established after World War II to ensure peace and stability in the post-war world. For the first half of its existence it was hobbled by the Cold War, and there were hopes that after the falll of the Soviet Empire it would be able to fulfill its function. But now, it is now evident that the nation-states are not capable of this.

The time has come to begin a process of transferring the decision-making of the UN Secuity Council from the nation-state to the city.

Cities have no interest in nuclear weapons. They are not invested in the arms race or in the polluting industries that cause global warming. They have no frontiers to defend or tarrifs to impose.

The process can be started now with a Mayors’ Security Council (MSC) similar to the Virtual Parliament recently begun by the Global Parliament of Mayors. The MSC would regularly issue press releases stating how they would vote on issues facing the UN Security Council. Immediately they would begin the process of nuclear disarmament. And they would be more serious in addressing the global climate crisis. They would raise the hope that “another world is possible.”

To survive at this point in human history, we need a new vision and a new approach. The MSC could begin this process.

* * * * *

VERS UN CONSEIL DE SÉCURITÉ DES MAIRES

Une prolifération d’organisations de villes et de maires comble le vide laissé par l’échec des États-nations. Comme l’a déclaré l’un des plus récents, le Strong Cities Network: «Les États-nations dominent l’arène politique mondiale depuis des siècles, mais avec plus de la moitié de la population mondiale résidant aujourd’hui dans les villes, il est peut-être temps de repenser qui devrait être autour de la table quand il s’agit de décisions sur la façon dont nous pouvons réduire la violence. “

Le dernier numéro du bulletin du CPNN liste les actions récentes des organisations et forums de villes et maires suivants, contribuant au désarmement nucléaire, au développement durable, à la réduction des tensions internationales et à la réduction de la violence urbaine:

Maires pour la paix,

L’appel des villes par la Campagne internationale pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires
Forum urbain mondial,

ICLEI (Gouvernements locaux pour la developpement durable),
Parlement mondial des maires,
Villes internationales de paix,
Réseau des villes fortes (SCN),
Forum mondial des villes et territoires de paix,
Cités et Gouvernements Unis

Nous pouvons supposer que cette prolifération d’initiatives reflète une prise de conscience croissante de l’échec du système des États-nations comme nous l’avons documenté au cours des deux dernières années dans CPNN.

Le développement durable. Le bulletin de CPNN du 1er janvier de cette année est consacré à la Conférence mondiale sur le changement climatique à Madrid qui a échoué tout comme les conférences précédentes ont échoué.

Le désarmement nucléaire. Le bulletin du CPNN du 1er juin 2018 était consacré à la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le désarmement qui n’a jamais eu lieu en raison de l’opposition des États nucléaires.

Partout dans le monde, nous voyons le début d’États en déroute, dévorés par la violence: la Libye, le Yémen, et peut-être le Mexique. Johan Galtung est allé jusqu’à imaginer que les États-Unis se diviseraient en deux pays lors que l’Empire américain s’effondrera.

La situation est si grave que le Secrétaire général de l’ONU, M. Guterrres, a consacré sa conférence de presse annuelle du 4 février au “vent de folie” qui balaie le monde. “De la Libye au Yémen en passant par la Syrie et au-delà – l’escalade est de retour. Les armes crachent. Les offensives augmentent.”

Et l’horloge apocalyptique du Bulletin of Atomic Scientists a été déplacée au plus près de minuit depuis son début en 1947 pour avertir des dangers de la guerre nucléaire.

Nous pouvons pointer du doigt le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies comme l’élément clé de l’échec. Le Conseil a été créé après la Seconde Guerre mondiale pour assurer la paix et la stabilité dans le monde d’après-guerre. Pendant la première moitié de son existence, il a été entravé par la guerre froide, et il y avait l’espoir qu’après la chute de l’empire soviétique, il serait en mesure de remplir sa fonction. Mais maintenant, il semble évident que les États-nations n’en sont pas capables.

Le moment est venu d’entamer un processus de transfert de la décision du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies de l’État-nation à la ville.

Les villes n’ont aucun intérêt pour les armes nucléaires. Elles ne sont pas investies dans la course aux armements ou dans les industries polluantes qui provoquent le réchauffement climatique. Elles n’ont pas de frontières à défendre, ni de tarifs à imposer.

Le processus peut commencer dès maintenant avec un Conseil de sécurité des maires (MSC) similaire au Parlement virtuel récemment initié par le Parlement mondial des maires. Le MSC publiera régulièrement des communiqués de presse indiquant comment il votera sur les questions auxquelles le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies est confronté. Ils entameraient immédiatement le processus de désarmement nucléaire. Et ils seraient plus sérieux dans la lutte contre la crise climatique mondiale. Ils susciteraient l’espoir qu’un “autre monde est possible”.

Pour survivre à cette période dangereuse de l’histoire humaine, nous avons besoin d’une nouvelle vision et d’une nouvelle approche. Le MSC pourrait commencer ce processus.

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“Slow News” vs “Fast History”

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This month’s CPNN bulletin describes the “slow news” of culture of peace as it has been developing for some time now in Africa. The reforestation of the Great Green Wall and the Plant a Million Trees initiative seem to symbolize the slow pace of the process, especially when one recalls that the pre-colonial peace mechanism of Africa was to meet and resolve conflicts under the village tree.

At the same time this blog last month suggested that history is moving much faster than we think and that the collapse of the American empire is likely to come within the next two years.

This leads me to the question: Can the slow development of the culture of peace make it possible for a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace when the American empire crashes?

I realize that it is out of fashion since the crash of the Soviet empire, but the best analytic framework to understand history is still that of dialectics as conceived by Hegel, refined by Marx and put into practice by Lenin. As Lenin wrote in his letter to the American workers in 1918: “Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Prospekt.” It does not proceed “easily and smoothly.” Instead, it proceeds “by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions.” Put another way, there are times when the pace of history accelerates.

It seems likely that there will be an acceleration in the development of the culture of peace in the next two years as more and more people realize that the system is collapsing and needs to be replaced. I can see that there has already been such an acceleration in the last year or two, especially since the election of President Trump in the United States. Trump’s policies are the most evident sympton of the process, already many decades in the making, that brings us to the end of the empire. We have entered a period of accelerated history; both negative and positive forces are speeding up.

The key question is whether we are preparing the specific institutional frameworks that are needed for the transition? I have previously suggested that we need international frameworks for culture of peace that are above the level of the individual nation-states.

One such framework could be the African Union (AU) which is included in the “slow news” from Africa this month. As an international body, above the level of the nation-state, the AU is relatively free from the culture of war, and it has already made some initiatives towards a culture of peace.

Of course, the AU does not have many resources. Its previous benefactor, Muammar  Gaddafi, was assassinated at the initiative of the EU and the United States, especially due to the policy of Hillary Clinton who was the American Secretary of State. We don’t know precisely why Clinton undertook this policy, but it seems likely that it was, at least in part, to deprive the AU of Gaddafi’s support. After all, it was during her tenure that the United States was secretly establishing military bases throughout Africa. To some extent the support previously provided to the AU by Gaddafi has been taken up by China, but will this be continued or expanded after a crash of the American dollar? Maybe not, since China is heavily invested in the dollar and may have to reduce its overseas commitments.

For a while it seemed that UNASUR could develop as a regional organization for the culture of peace, but recent developments in Latin America have undermined that possibility. As described in an article from the ALBA movement, the major countries of UNASUR have withdrawn their support for the leadership of Bolivia which was dedicated to the culture of peace: “The sovereign and integrationist vision promoted by Bolivia and the other countries of ALBA-TCP is opposed by the war strategy of other UNASUR members, subordinated – as throughout history – to the imperial powers, at this moment in particular to the United States , whose elite tries to control again what they consider their backyard. For this purpose it is the political, media, economic and military siege against Venezuela and the diplomatic offensive against Unasur and CELAC.” [translation from the Spanish by CPNN.

As long as international organizations are based on nation-states, they are dominated directly by the culture of war (such as the UN, the EU, etc.) or else they are dominated indirectly through sabotage, as in the case of the African Union and UNASUR. This is not surprising when we consider the history of the culture of war and we find that over the course of the centuries it has become monopolized by the state.

At one time, there was some hope that the socialist countries might be able to play a positive role for peace, but they, too, were cultures of war. And in a struggle between a socialist culture of war and a capitalist cuture of war, it has always been the capitalists who win because they profit more from international exploitation. This was very evident towards the end of the Cold War when the Rand Corporation, an American culture of war think-tank, was paid to assess the economic relations betwen the Soviet Union and their “satellite countries” of Eastern Europe. They found that the net flow of wealth was from the center (the Soviet Union) towards the periphery (Eastern Europe), true to the principle of socialist solidarity. This is the opposite of the relationship between the imperial capitalist powers and the countries of the South. This becomes evident when you take into account the economic transactions that are secret and illegal.

For this reason, I have tended to put a priority on institutional frameworks for peace based on regional or global organizations of parliamentarians or cities instead of states, but for the moment it seems that they are also in a “slow mode” of development.

It seems that time is running out . . .

Where are we in the course of history?

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I have long believed that we are at the point of human history where we can make the transition from the culture of war which has dominated us for 5,000 years to a new culture, a culture of peace. As I prepare the CPNN review for 2016 and compare it to the CPNN review that I wrote one year ago for the year 2015, it gives me the chance to reflect on the question: where are we in this transition?

I frame my response in the context of my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, in which I have tried to imagine the stages by which the transition to a culture of peace could take place.

In the novella, I suppose that the system of nation states, led by the Amerian empire, which have come to monopolize the culture of war, will crash, first as an economic collapse, then follwed by a political collapse (such as I witnessed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s). It will be accompanied by attempts to impose fascist governments, such as occurred during the great depression of the 1930’s. To move forward, we will need strong nonviolent movements to resist the movement towards fascism. I imagine that after the crash, governments will abandon the United Nations and leave a void in which cities, which no longer have a culture of war, can take change of a renewed United Nations and thereby manage the transition to a culture of peace.

In my blog last month, I remarked that “the election of Trump promises to embolden fascists everywhere. We already see fascism in Turkey, and it is threatened in Brazil and Venezuela. Not to mention fascist political parties on the rise throughout Europe. Hence, we are aleady challenged to overcome fascism now, before we suffer from the economic collapse. Perhaps that is to our advantage, because the struggle will be more difficult later when economic survival becomes the priority.” More details are provided in the recent CPNN article that quotes the human rights chief of the United Nations, “‘Fascist Rhetoric’ Becoming Commonplace in US and Europe: UN” Let us recall that fascism is simply the extreme form of the culture of war, with all of its eight aspects exaggerated.

In other words, we are already seeing signs of political collapse, even though the global economy continues to struggle along. At the same time, there is no let-up in the various economic contradictions listed by Johan Galtung as the basis of his prediction that the American empire will crash by the year 2020. These contradictions include: 1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger [i.e. the widening gap between rich and poor]; 2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work; and 3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming. Not to mention the ever increasing balance of payments deficit of the United States as it imports without exporting, and the economic burden of its military bases around the world.

Another sign of political collapse is suggested in recent speculations that the new government in the United States, may withdraw its support for the United Nations.

As I concluded in last month’s blog: “We are entering a watershed period of human history. Although it is being pushed forward by economic factors, the ultimate determining factor can become the social consciousness of the people themselves.”

Now, let us look at the CPNN reviews for 2015 and 2016. Do they give us cause for optimism? In the reviews, we have given particular attention to the transition to peace in Colombia, as well as advances elsewhere in Latin America. However, as we have discussed previously, the transition to a culture of peace will ultimately have to be global in scope if it is to succeed.

On a global level, our reviews present some evidence that the social consciousness of the people is developing rapidly enough to resist fascism in the coming years? In particular, we see advances in the practice of nonviolence and the development of peace education, as well as continually expanding participation in the International Day of Peace. We have seen advances in confronting terrorism without violence, and, most recently, the strengthening of sanctuary cities, universities and churches in the face of threats by the new Presdient of the United States.

But, as we have often considered, consciousness is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by the development of a new institutional framework, if we are to replace the nation states in a reformed United Nations. Here, it seems we are lagging. There are calls for UN reform, but they do not seem radical enough. There is growth in peace cities, as reviewed by CPNN, but it seems that the growth is not yet sufficient to play a determining role.

Some things can be done immediately. In particular, I have previously proposed the establishment of an Alternative Security Council composed of mayors or parliamentarians from all regions of the world. Such a “Shadow Security Council: would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. It would provide a first step towards the eventual institutional change that is needed.

There is important work to be done!

How history moves: Economic change precedes; political change follows

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

When I visited and worked in the Soviet Union and later in Russia I was able to see how history moves. I watched from within as an empire crashed.

The crash of the Soviet empire, foreseen a decade before by Johan Galtung, was first an economic crash, and then secondarily to that, a political crash. The empire crashed economically because it lost the arms race to the West. The West, led by the United States which devoted something like 40% of its budget to the military, forced the Soviet empire to match them, soldier by soldier, boot by boot, rocket by rocket, military scientist by military scientist. But since the Soviet empire had only half the size of the West’s economy, it had to double the percentage of their economy devoted to the arms race.

Hence, it went bankrupt first and the West won.

Once the Soviet economy crashed, the political system crashed on top of it. The people stayed home, the soldiers stayed in their barracks, and the oligarchs, aided by CIA economic advisors, finished the economic collapse by drastically devaluating the ruble. The people stayed home because they were totally alienated from the system. They used to say you could find truth anywhere except in Pravda (which means truth in Russian) and the news anywhere except in Izvestia (which means news in Russian).

In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we see once again how political change lags behind. Here it concerns the solution to the problem of global warming. We have known for many years that to halt the global warming, we need to change from fossil fuels to renewable energy. But politically, we could not make the change. Last year’s global summit of the world’s nations failed to address the challenge of abandoning fossil fuels.

It’s the economic factors that are making the change. Renewable solar energy has become so cheap and readily available that it is more and more replacing energy from fossil fuels. And the faster we change over to renewable energy for economic reasons, the faster the political change will follow.

The first great sociologist, Karl Marx, understood this dynamic when he developed his theory of historical change. Here’s what he wrote in his Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

How does this apply the great historical change that we have yet to make: the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace?

There is a growing psychological and political consciousness around the world that this transition is necessary. The movement for a culture of peace has been inspired by the movement for sustainable development which has been the greatest political movement of the past half century.

But as we are seeing, the movement for sustainable development can only become effective as a sequel to economic changes which make sustainable development possible and profitable.

The sequence of economic change first, political change second, applies equally to the transition towards a culture of peace. A culture of peace will become politically possible after the economy of the culture of war has crashed. When will that come? Too soon, because we are not ready for it!!!

The same economic fate that destroyed the Soviet empire is already far advanced towards the destruction of the American empire – and for the same reason – devotion of the greatest part of the economy to armaments and wars. Johan Galtung predicted in 2004 that the crash would come by the year 2020. The economic crash will be followed by a political crash; Americans and European are already as alienated from their political system as the Russians were in 1989. As evidence, just look at the abstention from voting in national elections.

When the American empire crashes, the rest of the world will crash with it, just as Eastern Europe crashed when the Soviet Union crashed.

At that moment, there will be a window of opportunity to establish a culture of peace – but that can happen only if we are prepared with institutional frameworks that can replace the nation states. If we are not prepared, we risk the replacement of the present system by a fascist system – just as happened after the crash of 1929 in Europe (and almost in the United States as well).

Whereas the question of global warming and changes of energy sources are matters of many decades, the question of the collapse of the economy of the culture of war is a matter of only a few years. Like the collapse of the Soviet Union, it threatens to catch us by surprise.

I work with cities in the hopes that they will be able to provide an institutional framework to replace the role of the nation states as the basis for the United Nations Security Council (See blog of June 1), but the work is painstakingly slow. Too slow. History is moving faster than us!

      • Comment bouge l’histoire: Les changements economiques passent avant le politique !

        Durant les années où j’ai voyagé et travaillé en URSS, puis plus tard en Russie, j’ai vu comment l’Histoire bouge. Je regardais de l’intérieur pourquoi et comment s’écrase un empire.

        Le crash de l’empire soviétique, prévu une dizaine d’années auparavant par Johan Galtung, fut d’abord un crash économique, puis ensuite seulement, un crash politique. L’empire s’est écrasé économiquement parce qu’il a perdu la course aux armements à l’Ouest. L’Occident, dirigé par les Etats-Unis, qui consacrait environ 40% de son budget à l’armée, força l’empire soviétique à les égaler, soldat contre soldat, botte contre botte, fusée contre fusée, scientifique militaire contre scientifique militaire ! L’empire soviétique ayant seulement la moitié de la taille de l’économie de l’Ouest, il a dû consacrer le double à la course aux armements et a donc fait une ponction enorme dans son économie.

        Par conséquent, il a fait faillite et l’Occident a gagné !

        Une fois que l’économie soviétique est tombée, le système politique s’est écrasé à son tour. Les citoyens sont restés chez eux, les soldats sont restés dans leurs casernes, et les oligarques, aidés par des conseillers économiques de la CIA, ont terminé l’effondrement économique en dévaluant le rouble. Les citoyens sont restés chez eux parce qu’ils étaient totalement aliénés au système et qu’ils n’avaient plus confiance en lui. Je les ai même entendu dire que l’on pouvait trouver la vérité partout, sauf dans Pravda (qui signifie la vérité en russe) et les nouvelles partout sauf dans l’Izvestia (ce qui veut dire nouvelles en russe)

        Revenons à l’actualité, dans le bulletin de CPNN ce mois-ci, nous voyons une fois de plus que les changements politiques sont à la traine en ce qui concerne le problème du réchauffement climatique. Nous savons depuis de nombreuses années que pour arrêter le réchauffement de la planète, nous devons quitter les combustibles fossiles et développer les énergies renouvelables. Hélas, politiquement, nous ne pouvons pas faire de changement. Le sommet mondial des nations du monde de l’an dernier n’a pas réussi à relever le défi d’abandonner les combustibles fossiles.

        Ce sont les facteurs économiques qui mènent la danse . L’énergie solaire renouvelable est devenue si peu chère et si facilement disponible qu’elle commence à remplacer l’énergie des combustibles fossiles. Plus vite nous passerons à l’énergie renouvelable pour des raisons économiques, plus vite le changement politique suivra.

        Le premier grand sociologue, Karl Marx, a bien compris cette dynamique quand il a développé sa théorie du changement historique. Voici ce qu’il a écrit dans sa préface à la “Critique de l’économie politique.”

        “L’ensemble de ces rapports de production constitue la structure économique de la société, la base concrète sur laquelle s’élève une superstructure juridique et politique et à la­quel­le correspondent des formes de conscience sociales déterminées. Le mode de production de la vie matérielle conditionne le processus de vie sociale, politique et intellectuel en général. Ce n’est pas la conscience des Hommes qui détermine leur être; c’est inversement leur être social qui détermine leur conscience. À un certain stade de leur développement, les forces productives matérielles de la société entrent en contradiction avec les rapports de production existants, ou, ce qui n’en est que l’expression juridique, avec les rapports de propriété au sein desquels elles s’étaient mues jusqu’alors. De formes de développement des forces productives qu’ils étaient ces rapports en deviennent des entraves. Alors s’ouvre une époque de révolution sociale. Le changement dans la base économique bouleverse plus ou moins rapidement toute l’énorme superstructure.”

        Comment cela s’appliquera t-il au grand changement historique que nous avons encore à faire: le passage de la culture de la guerre à une culture de la paix?

        Une conscience psychologique et politique croissante apparait dans le monde entier sur la necessité de cette transition. Le mouvement pour une culture de la paix a été inspiré par le mouvement pour le développement durable qui a été le plus grand mouvement politique du dernier demi-siècle.

        Mais comme nous le voyons, le mouvement pour le développement durable n’a pu devenir effectif que suite aux changements économiques qui rendent le développement durable possible et rentable.

        Les séquences “changement économique d’abord, changement politique après” s’appliquent également à la transition vers une culture de paix. La culture de paix va devenir politiquement possible qu’après l’implosion de l’économie de la culture de la guerre.

        Le même sort économique qui a détruit l’empire soviétique est déjà bien avancé vers la destruction de l’empire américain – et pour la même raison – l’attribution de la plus grande partie de l’économie à l’armement et aux guerres. Johan Galtung a prédit en 2005 que l’accident viendrait avant l’an 2020. Le crash économique sera suivie d’un crash politique. Les Americains et les européens sont déjà autant aliénés à leur système politique que les Russes l’étaient en 1989. Comme preuve, il suffit de regarder le taux d’abstention aux élections nationales.

        Lorsque l’empire américain s’écroulera, le reste du monde va suivre, tout comme l’Europe de l’Est s’est écroulée lorsque l’Union soviétique est tombée.

        À ce moment-là, il y aura une fenêtre d’opportunité pour établir une culture de la paix – mais cela ne peut se produire que si nous sommes prêts avec les cadres institutionnels qui peuvent remplacer les Etats-nations. Si nous ne sommes pas prêts, nous risquons le remplacement du système actuel par un système fasciste – tout comme cela est arrivé après le crash de 1929 en Europe (et presque aux États-Unis également).

        Alors que l’affaire du réchauffement planétaire et des changements de sources d’énergie sont les questions sur plusieurs décennies, l’effondrement de l’économie de la culture de guerre est une affaire de seulement quelques années. Comme l’a fait l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique, il menace de nous surprendre.

        Je travaille avec les villes dans l’espoir qu’elles seront en mesure de fournir un cadre institutionnel pour remplacer le rôle des Etats-nations comme base pour le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies (Voir le blog de 1 juin), mais le travail est très lent. Trop lent. Histoire se déplace beaucoup plus vite que nous!

  • What happens after peace accords are signed

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    Now that there is a ceasefire in Colombia, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the question arises whether a culture of peace can be maintained afterwards.

    When I was working on the culture of peace in UNESCO, I experienced a similar situation in two countries, El Salvador and Mozambique. Both of them emerged with peace accords in the early 1990’s after civil wars comparable to that in Colombia. In both we established national culture of peace programs to maintain the peace afterwards. They were major efforts, as I will describe, but ultimately they failed. Now, twenty five years later, both El Salvador and Mozambique are once again descending into violence, verging once again on civil war.

    Why did they fail?

    First, consider the efforts. The program in El Salvador is described in a journal article, available on the Internet, written by the three of us who managed the program. To quote from its conclusion: the program transformed “conflict into cooperation by engaging those previously in violent conflict in the joint planning and implementation of human development projects of benefit to all. . .. [it] developed both a set of guidelines accepted by all parties to the previous violent conflict, and institutionalized these guidelines in a National Coordination Council and its Executive Committee which ensure that they are put into practice. In particular, the guidelines are being followed in the implementation of project 507/ELS/01, the production of daily radio broadcasts and non-formal education campaigns for the most needy and neglected women in the country. In the course of the working out of this project, during the period from the summer of 1994 to the present (spring of 1996) the participants, representing the government, community radio stations and nongovernmental organizations including those associated with the FMLN, have internalized the basic principles and guidelines of a culture of peace. While at first they distrusted each other to the point that UNESCO had to play the role of arbitrator and mediator, they have since learned to negotiate and arrived at the point of regular concerted decision-making. Daily radio broadcasts are now being produced which reflect the fruits of this process of dialogue, participation and concertation and which up until now have been well-produced and well-received despite time pressures and the demanding schedules of radio broadcasting. These broadcasts are carried by 24 radio stations around the country, as well as in marketplaces, and they are accompanied by the work of 64 correspondents in the various communities who monitor the broadcasts and provide information from their communities to the technical team that creates the programmes.

    The radio project was only one of 20 human development projects in El Salvador that were developed by the method of concertation described above.

    In Mozambique, a similar process of concertation between ex-enemies resulted in the elaboration of ten human development projects with rural women, demobilized soldiers, schools, youth, mass media, community leaders, etc.

    The process worked. Hoping to develop their country, the ex-enemies could be brought together and could work together.

    But the programmes did not work. The Member States of UNESCO refused to fund the projects, preferring to put their development funds into projects that they could manage themselves for political advantage (including, in some cases, corruption and exploitation).

    Alvaro de Soto, who had mediated the El Salvador peace accords, warned us at the time that it could not work. As part of the accords, the US and Europe had promised to fund land reform and judicial reform in El Salvador, but afterwards they reneged and never provided the funds they had promised. By the way, the same thing happened with the peace accords that established Zimbabwe. The UK never came through with the money they promised as part of the accords, to buy land from the white farmers and distribute to the African farmers. Eventually, President Mugabe got tired of waiting and seized the land and Zimbabwe was punished by international sanctions.

    In general, we came to realize that the powerful Member States of the UN do not want peace. They want to exploit the poor countries of the world and that requires the old method of the culture of war: “Divide and conquer.”

    Hopefully, Colombia can learn from the failures of the past and achieve a sustainable peace. As I have suggested in my previous blog, “Advice to Colombia,” they need to develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that they do not have to depend solely on the national government or United Nations support. Those of us in other countries can help with direct people-to people support; as Amada Benavides says, “Peacebuilding moment starts just now. Today we need more support than ever.”

    Proposal for a Radical Reform of the United Nations

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    As it is structured now, the United Nations is controlled by national governments, with their military institutions and military budgets. Over the course of history, national governments have come to monopolize war. As a result, if we are to make the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, we need a radical reform of the United Nations. Instead of being controlled by the Member States, it should be controlled by “We the Peoples,” the words that begin its Charter.

    Before making a proposal for such a radical reform, we need to consider the following:

    1) The national governments of the world increasingly ignore the United Nations when faced with global problems. Just this last month the major countries failed to send heads of state to the United Nations Humanitarian Summit. We first saw this trend with the global economic crisis of 2007-2008; the powerful states, meeting as the G-7, ignored the relevant financial institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and responded to the crisis with meetings of their finance ministers. Then in 2010, the powerful countries ignored the United Nations Non-proliferation conference and met in Washington in a parallel conference called by President Obama. Only Iran sent a head of state to the United Nations conference. Finally, even when the national governments attend a United Nations summit, the results are not adequate, as illustrated by the conferences to confront global warming in 2012 in Rio and 2015 in Paris.

    2) The global system of national governments periodically fails, leaving a void where other institutions can take their place. During the 20th Century this occurred twice with World Wars I and II, as well as during the global economic crisis beginning in 1929, and (for half of the world) with the economic, then political collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. There is a growing awareness that the world is due for another economic (and political?) collapse, including a collapse of the American Empire, which may leave a temporary void in international decision-making. It may provide a “window of opportunity” for radical change.

    With this in mind, let us consider what a radical reform of the United Nations could look like.

    Let us begin with the proposal of the Pan-African Parliament, as reprinted in this month’s CPNN bulletin, for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. This would have the advantage that parliamentarians have less vested interest in the culture of war than do the representatives of national governments. Parliaments do not have military forces, although they may vote on military budgets. As the Parliament’s President explained, “It is long overdue that ‘We, the Peoples,’ as the UN Charter begins, have more say in global affairs.

    But the real problem is the Security Council. As the bulletin describes, there are many proposals to reform it, but they all continue to assume that it should be controlled by representatives of the Member States. Instead, we need a global organization where the decisions are made by “We, the peoples”. I can imagine two possibilities: a Security Council controlled by the mayors of the world, or one controlled by the parliaments of the world.

    Since such a reform cannot be achieved under the present system of national governments, it must await the “window of opportunity” of their next crash. In the meantime, I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.

    There are several ways that mayors and parliaments are organized globally, any of which could be represented in an Alternative Security Council:

    1) Regional organizations of parliaments such as the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament or of cities such as the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the Arab Towns Organization.

    2) Global organizations of parliamentarians for peace such as Parliamentarians for Global Action or of mayors and cities for peace, as described in a recent CPNN bulletin.

    3) Global organizations of parliamentarians in general such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union or of cities in general such as the UCLG: Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments.

    All that is needed in order to establish an Alternative Security Council at the present time is;

    a) an institutional host for the ASC, preferable a recognized international body that promotes a culture of peace;

    b) an agreement for membership of the ASC, which could be established with any one of the organizaions of mayors or parliaments mentioned above;

    c) a small secretariat to manage the Council by email (rather than actual meetings which would not be convenient, both because of the cost and because the members would not be free from their other tasks)

    d) a means to disseminate widely the decisions of the council, i.e. a network of partners for publicizing these decisions.

    e) a small budget which would be minimal if the sponsoring organization were receptive and if the secretariat and ASC members were volunteers.

    The time is now to prepare a new system that will be ready to install during the next window of opportunity. If we wait for the crash of the present system, it will be too late. The time is now for radical action. And here is an action we can do now: an alternative security council.