I am not a Dane: Short open letter

My short open letter concerning the horrific attacks in Copenhagen in the weekend and the official reaction to them.
http://ow.ly/JdIgI – Share if you find it meaningful.
Thanks!

Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

4 responses to “I am not a Dane: Short open letter

  1. Thomas Andersen

    I’m not trying to be snappish here, but wasn’t this easy to write?

    With all due respect Jan, you have made a strong point out of putting yourself in opposition to “the official West”, whether this is the US, Israel, France, Denmark or anybody else. So this is probably – at least for me – the least surprising point you could make.

    In your writings (whether your are awere of it or not), you come off as being almost subservant to Russia and Iran (I doubt this is really the case in your heart), and extremely critical of e,g. Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. You were not Charley Hebdo and you are of course not a Dane in this time and season. Did it surprise anybody? No.

    I admire a lot of your work and cite it frequently on Modkraft and other sites I frequent, but i really don’t see the point of always being seen as ALMOST manically anti-western (note the distinction between being and being seen..). Life and the world is much (much!) more complicated and deserve at much more nuanced approach.

    Pace/Thomas

  2. Hi Thomas – One can never fully protect oneself from whatever interpretations make of what one says. There is not and has never been anything anti-esterner og anti-American about my writings, lectures, or media work. I have always been and remain to be and will be critical of interventionist wars, big guys bullying smaller ones, militarism, occupations, the war on terror, colonialism, imperialism, regime changes, coup d’etats, nuclarism, warfare, etc.
    The trouble is that what we may loosely call “the West” – US/NATO/EU countries – is leading in the world on these dimensions of international affairs.
    That surely does not prevent me from being critical to other countries/events/policies – and I am. Back in the 1970s I called the Soviet Union a social imperialist (e.g. I experienced how they behaved in Somalia); I glad criticize the military industrial complex – and have done so with the address to Russia – on Russia Today and in my writings. In the present Ukraine crisis, I have – from Day One – emphasized that there are very good evidence that the West (neo-cons in the US) started this crisis together with the lesser statesmen of the EU – all making one of their most fatal miscalculations since 1989 when believing that Ukraine can become both an EU and a NATO country. Sorry, I’ve been living in Europe for too long to believe anything so stupid given our history. This blunder should have been recognised by the West (anti-Western now??). And whle Russia should not have annexed Crimea that violation is historically debatable but small stuff compared with the international law violations by “the West” – beginning with bombing Kosovo/Serbia to get an independent Kosovo. My worry is that the West has no legitimacy any longer when it teaches others what is right and wrong.
    So, I am no anti-Westerner. I believe we could have a West that was decent, peaceful and law-abiding. Nothing inherently “Western” prevents us from being that – except hubris, misunderstood concepts such as exceptionalism, being chosen people, making our own values universal and using both the sword and the Bible on those who wanted not to be included.
    And, secondly, there is an issue of proportions – yes, Russia has done what you and I have done but it is, as I just said, small stuff compared with the misdeeds of “the West”. And that extremism of the West, this inability to listen, learn and co-operate spells the end of the West’s leadership – and if it also does not recognised that its time is over and the unipolar world about to disappear – you and I will be forced to live through much darker times.
    I don’t want that and, thus, try to alert people to the dangers of ourselves where eberybody else, virtually, talk only about how good we are and how wrong, bad, evil the others are.
    Thanks for your question. It gave me an opportunity to formulate something important.

  3. Thomas Andersen

    Hi Jan

    First I’ll thank you for your answer. I really do appreciate your points and views and agree along some of the lines. I still believe you miss the most important point I was trying to make.

    I used to work for Red Cross/Red Crescent and I was actually through a friend with RC in Serbia I got to know TFF and your work. Work that I found out had an impact on many peoples life and views in the ex-yugoslav mess, where it really was needed. I also think that one of the reasons for the impact was (and is) that many rightly saw TFF’s points and proposals as non-partisan and fair towards the often conflicting positions and ideas in the region. It is true that some of your points and views at that time were interpreted as being “anti-West” and “pro-Serbian” but beside some peculiar and particular missteps by Michel Chossudovsky (which I will leave out of the discussion here), I think most understood this to be nonsense. At least I never met a Serbian who saw you – or claimed you to be – pro-Slobodan Milosevic. Not one! So imagine my surprise that both Russian and Ukrainian friends told me that the general perception of you was as a pro-Putin supporter, and that many Russians would claim to have “TFF and Jan Oberg on our side!”. It is so far from my Serbian experience that it took a while to digest. I fully agree that intrepretations are hard to control, but the first step – the perception – not so much. And when you go on regime-controlled media you (as I sure you know from years experience) know that the media will invite you for both your views AND for the perception they want to project.

    I don’t know what perception of you and of TFF you want to project yourself. That is obviuosly your own decision, I was just wondering whether the very different preception of you in this conflict compared to the ex-yugoslavian one, was by chance or by purpose.

    Because though I agree with a lot of what you are saying and feel the need to confront Western arrogance and power-failures, I also strongly believe that there are many more – and often even more important – factors to count in. I agree that the West has failed re Ukraine, but I know that Russia’s behaviour has been horrible and pre-dates the recent US/EU attempt to act on Ukraine with more than a decade. And I do think that you by donning the anti-West mask alone and giving Russia basically a free pass, you will forfeit an opportunity to do the work you did in the Balkans. Ukraine is gripped by a fear of Russia that is threatening to break the country apart. And a destroyed Ukraine with half under Russian direct or indirect control is the path to things we thought we had left in the 20th century. It scares the hell out of me.

    I hope you are doing the right think Jan. But I’m afraid not.

    Pace/Thomas

  4. Dear Thomas
    Many thanks and my apologies for this far too late reply. (Also, you comments have little, if anything, to do with this post). And it won’t be long either:
    TFF Associates and I myself have written extensively on the conflict of which Ukraine is a central part – but which is much broader than the media let people believe. You can find them on the blog at http://www.transnational.org and across ur social media presence.
    It’s many years ago I gave up trying to “battle” people’s seemingy eternal wish for categorizing you for being on this or that or the third side of a conflict. TFF and I have never deliberately taken a stand – we are totally independent and all unpaid/voluntary in our 29th year – so we do not choose to appear this way or the other. What we publish is what we believe is fair, substantial and relevant – in terms of conflict analysis and peace-creation. We do not do politicised analyses, we do not try to fit media images and we couldn’t care less about what this or that government choose to do.
    In my humble opinion, people should be happy that such a bunch of people operste – with quite some experience of world affairs – in ways you hardly find in, say, Denmark, government financed institutes or politically correct media – which have never been so uniform and blindly pro-West/NATO/UYS in my forty professional years as they are today.
    We my well be wrong here and there – that’s fine. But that we ARE and DO what we do is an important part of free opinion, democractic debate and the seeking of some kind of larger truth. And that is what we shall continue to do.
    Since youare interested in Yugoslavia – here is the blog we published with about the eqivalent of 2000+ A4 pages published as it was written. We are not exactly ashamed of our analyses – nor of the degree to which our predictions, based on those, came true – truer, sadly, than virtually all governments’ and many many black-and-white commentators and peace and human rights people:
    http://yugoslavia-what-should-have-been-done.org/

    My best – and thanks for yur thought, giving me the opportunity to relfect over the ways of the world and media work…

    Jan

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