Johan Galtung is not related in any way to the fictional character of Ayn Rand, John Galt, is the father of Peace Studies and a renowned sociologist. Amy Goodman interviewed him a week ago on DN.
AMY GOODMAN: Johan Galtung is considered the founder of peace studies. He’s a Norwegian sociologist. He travels the world, has been to Afghanistan a number of times, also is writing about and talking about Syria, as well as other countries. Johan Galtung has written the book, The Fall of the US Empire—And Then What?: Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism or US Blossoming?
Now, I begin this part two of the conversation with Johan Galtung by asking you about the fall of the U.S. Empire, as you put it, the title of your book. How do you relate that to Afghanistan?
JOHAN GALTUNG: By the U.S. becoming irrelevant. U.S. is not a major actor in Afghanistan and hasn’t been for a long time. And you see, as T.S. Eliot has said, things may end with a whimper and not with a bang. Irrelevance is that whimper, you see. And it is tied to demoralization of the U.S. elites, if you want, a case of demoralization. Look at the U.S. Secret Service in Colombia, what happened. More concerned with prostitutes than with protecting the President.
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JOHAN GALTUNG: You see, an empire is not just a question of military interventions. Let us say the U.S. has had about 245 of those since Thomas Jefferson started in 1805. It’s a kind of combination of economic, military, political, cultural politics coming together, and it seeks elites in the imperialized countries that are cooperating with the U.S., reliable elites. When I talk about the fall of the U.S. Empire, those elites are disappearing. You don’t find them in Latin America. You find them in Colombia. That’s where the so-called summit meeting took place. You find them not turning their back to the U.S. Like me, they love the country. But they turn their back to the U.S. foreign policy. And you find them all over the world. That’s the U.S. Empire falling.
And at the same time, you have this blossoming, where the Occupy movement is a very good sign of it—innovative, fantastically cooperative, horizontal, not trying to manipulate the world from above. Washington could learn a lot from the Occupy movement, if you put it that way.
So in the book, I said, by 2020, it’s over. And I look forward to the U.S., instead of intervening militarily, starting solving conflicts. You have so many bright people in this country, so many well-educated people. And, you see, solving conflict, you have to talk with the other side, or the other sides. You have to sit down with Taliban and al-Qaeda people or people close to al-Qaeda. You have to sit down with Pentagon people, State Department people. And you have to ask them, “What does the Afghanistan look like where you would like to live? What does the Middle East look like where you would like to live?” You get an enormous amount of very thoughtful people having very deep reflections. And I haven’t so far, in my more—well, at least 3,000 dialogs since I started about 55 years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, of all places—I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t have some valid point.
So you take these valid, legitimate points, you lift them up, and you try to bridge them by doing something new. So I suggested a Central Asian community. I suggested a federation for Syria. And so on. The Central Asian community for Afghanistan. Now, U.S. could do that. U.S. could stop these stupid interventions and this extrajudicial killing, which is Obama’s specialty. He’s doing it on the sly, a more sneaky way than the Bushes did, too, particularly the junior. In a sense, I prefer Bush Jr. because he was more honest. His rhetoric corresponded to his action, and vice versa. But leaving that aside, let me just say that economically, the U.S. has to stop trying to extract more benefit than stead you and have a wiser policy—we don’t have time to go into that—culturally, dialog. I would love to see the U.S. asking China, “How did you lift 400 million people from misery up to lower-middle-class standard of living? How did you do it? We would like to learn from you?” Well, the Chinese have a couple of things to tell about that. It’s a very interesting method. We don’t have time for it. And I haven’t found a single person in the U.S. who knows what they did. I would like to see negotiation politically instead of arms twisting. Well, the U.S. is capable of doing all of this, and very many decent United States people do this at the local level in daily life and do wonderful things. I wish that Washington could become a little bit more enlightened.