In case you expect a kind of celebrative champagne toast-like text here, my apology at the outset. For me, this is a very different new year. Perhaps the most tragic new year in my life. Globally speaking, 2022 was nothing to celebrate. My prediction for 2023 is that it will, at best, not be worse.

It’s been another year wasted for solving humanity’s most urgent problems, a year where rampant militarism has consumed human, economic and technical resources, a fraction of which could have created a much better world. It’s been regression and decline across the spectrum: democracy, vision, trust, legitimacy and respect for the UN and international law.

What goes on in Ukraine is the predictable result of 30 years of imprudence and arrogance. Yes, Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine, but NATO is responsible for the underlying conflict by its reckless expansion right up to the Russian border. Lots of independent, experienced experts and US ambassadors to Moscow you probably never heard of warned against it.

I’ve written a comprehensive analysis on this and why NATO should now be abolished at its greatest blunder since 1949. Its politically incorrect title is The TFF Abolish NATO Catalogue – 30 Arguments and Hundreds of Inspirations.

I distanced myself completely from the Russian invasion on its 2nd day and predicted fairly accurately the response to it by the West, including Finland’s and Sweden’s undemocratic and panicking membership application that will only decrease their security and that of the Nordic region.

But I must admit that I certainly did not have the imagination to anticipate that the Western response would be that ill-considered and self-destructive. We have only seen the beginning, boomerangs will come in over 2023. Over 80% of the world’s people live in countries which do not support the limitless hatred, cancellation and exclusion of Russia even most also do not endorse its invasion.

And the harm that Russia so cynically does in Russia is only a tiny fraction of what the US/NATO countries have done since 1990. Is it “whataboutism” to say so? Of course not, there is equality before the law and moral rules, and this is only to do what any social scientist does: comparative studies.

We are now living in kakistocracies. Our leaders are obsessed with weapons and they no longer know what diplomacy, mediation, negotiations and peace – real peace. – is They are too young to have experienced a war themselves. And they believe that the West can still teach, force and dictate. That is wrong, and they need a reality check. Here are two small sequences that tell it all.

The combination of rampant militarism and re-armament coupled with intellectual, moral and legal disarmament makes this New Year turn the most dangerous since 1945.

I’ve thought a great deal about it, and it seems to me that militarism has become the declining, fragmenting West’s new secular religion, NATO its church. Standing up against this or that self-inflicted evil enemy is what keeps the West together. Because there is no common, constructive vision.

What has truly dismayed and surprised me is the unbearable lightness with which people swallow propaganda. A vast majority of people in NATO countries believe completely in what their media tell them about these things and, therefore, hold bizarre black-and-white views: Everything is this Putin’s fault, right? It takes only one to conflict, right? The US and NATO are innocent defensive peace-makers, right? If you can see more than one side in this conflict you’re a Putinist, right?

Wrong!

It’s vastly more complicated. One reason citizens buy it is that the media offer is FOSI = Fake + Omission + Source Ignorance. Fake we know, the omission/exclusion of certain facts, knowledge, perspective, experts, comparisons, etc. is much worse. Ask yourself what it is you did not learn on tonight’s prime time news. Yes, that is more difficult to detect.

“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater.
I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it is a joke.”

― Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I

Western national mainstream media offer a uniform, manufactured narrative of Western innocence, Good versus Evil. And you’ve been barred from reading leading Russian media – a gross violation of your human rights. Just hate everything Russia and love Zelensky (who, in passing, together with his predecessor has turned Ukraine into anything but a democracy, has conducted a civil war against Russian minorities with NATO support since the US-orchestrated regime change in Kiev in 2014 – that you also have not heard about. And see my last paragraph below).

Europe generously received Ukrainian refugees which is good and right and its duty. But what about the Muslims who in the millions have had to flee the Middle East from the US/NATO wars? No, the EU paid Turkey to take of them. They were the wrong kinds of asylum seekers. We didn’t “schaffen es.”

Tragically and cynically, the West now uses Ukraine to defeat Russia, the otherwise formidable enemy. About this enemy you would know – if you had free media – that NATO’s military expenditures were 12 times those of Russia’s before the invasion and will soon be 15-18 times.

Incredibly as it may sound, the US/NATO world seems to believe it can defeat Russia militarily in Ukraine and destroy Russia at home by sanctions (which are illegal collective punishment), exclusions and cancelling. Of Ukraine, there will be little if any left, the Russians know how to suffer and survive (27 million dead in WW2) and it has already turned its back on us and its face to the East.

It further believes that, when Russia is finished, it can then turn to its new favourite enemy, China and keep that down with ongoing cold or, if necessary, warm war. That is simply megalomania, too much to chew, and it will only sink the West itself. Remember, please, that the US has lost all the wars it has fought since Vietnam, although it alone stands for about half of the world’s military expenditures.

Quite a few thinkers East and West talk about these things. They are ‘barred from’cancelled’ by Western media.

Europe is heading for long-term warfare, multi-crisis and a Cold War with Russia for, at my best judgement, 30-40 years ahead. Russia will link up with the Rest, no longer with the West. And the rest of the world will leave the West behind, grumpy, crisis-ridden and unattractive.

It militarised itself to death.

It’s all of the West’s own making. Because it cannot stop seeking to dominate, and impose its own values and does so, if not with various bibles, then with the sword. It won’t work. The West will be the last to find out.

Your – and my – children and grandchildren will live in a world that is so much worse than it would have to be. Approaching 72, that pains my heart. And to ease that pain, I must do what – little – I can.

In my view, it’s too easy to just keep silent, do business as usual, focus on wine and food, sports, reality shows and entertainment à la the famous Danish ”hygge” 24/7.

The German lawyer, Otto Gritschneder (1914−2005): “He who sleeps in a democracy risks waking up in a dictatorship.” I would add that those who ignore peace will wake up to war, including possible nuclear annihilation.

I’m of the opinion that the mainstream media are the single biggest impediment to understanding our world. So, if I may, my best advice concerning following international events: Pay more attention to the bigger world in 2023 and reduce your reliance on mainstream media.

Surf the net, read news and commentaries from many and different countries and media, and then shape your own views. There is not one truth – never was – and the Western self-righteous black-and-white perspective with an exclusively confrontational and militarist perspective is rapidly turning irrelevant.

The future is for those who work for unity in diversity, for cooperation and win-win relations. As Piet Hein, the famous Danish multi-genius stated it long ago: It’s either co-existence or no-existence.

It’s been a good, productive year for me, for us, and for the whole family. We’ve been to Art Basel and the Venice Art Biennale, and we’ve been enjoying Christina’s flat in Boulouris, Saint Raphael at the French Riviera. I recently visited Belgrade in the NATO-bombed Serbia (1999) and sensed a new energy away from both the EU and NATO.

I’ve published a lot, done commentaries and written columns for a series of leading quality media in China, Russia, Iran, India and alternative media in the West – but none of them Western mainstream. I’ve never reached so many millions before – saying the word ‘peace.’ It’s all available at my online home and on The Transnational. I’ve produced a 2-part portrait video in Swedish with two dear-dear peace friends. And in January there will be a few new chapters of my Worldmoires – an online book you can follow in the making.

Car Tyre Series “Paris Bird” 2022

I’ve progressed a little with my art photographics. I do it because I like it – but it also keeps me sane (or so I believe). I opened a new art exhibition – “No Style Is A Style. Photographics Unfinished” – in my studio; more here and … well, it is full-speed into 2023 and hopefully, finally, getting my Silk Peace Art Road – SPAR – Installation from the Biennale over to China and live there for a while and do art with Chinese artists. I’ll spend a considerable part of the rest of my intellectual life trying to understand the East/Orient in general and China in particular.

My guideline is: Don’t be blindly negative or positive to China. Be curious and go there.

I am not going to be deterred by those in power who want us to cave in, give up and shut up so they can rule more smoothly over you and me. I’m not going to be deterred by the security service of Ukraine – the country that fights for ‘our’ values, freedom and democracy – that has put me and 72 other intellectuals on its liquidation list. Yes, why did it do that? Because I have argued everywhere since 2014 that we must all do our best to find a negotiated solution and that there exists no military solution. I’m against arming Ukraine further because it will eventually destroy Ukraine and can’t lead to peace.

It increases the probability that we end up with nuclear annihilation.

I belong to the tiny minority who stubbornly believe – contrary to today’s research, media and politics – that the UN norm of making peace by peaceful means is important and better than militarism and nuclear annihilation of humankind. Oh yes, how old-fashioned.

But I sadly admit that it is increasingly difficult to be an intellectual, a peace intellectual at that. The Western world has turned to decision-making based on emotionality and irrationality, devoid of solid analysis and future thinking. I have followed the trends for almost 50 years. I know this is so; it’s one of the good things about getting older: You have standards, and you can compare.

In spite of all, we must hope – even against rational worries, nay fears – that 2023 can be better. That over the clouds, the sky is still blue. By all my heart, I wish that for you and your loved ones.

But unless we work for it and don’t only talk or do ”hygge” – and as long as people continue to believe the deceptive media – I feel not at all sure it will be a better year for humanity. And of humanity there is only one, and you and I belong to it.

After this realistically sombre message, here is a good old song that is guaranteed to cheer you up…

Photos above © Jan Oberg 2022

JO

Welcome to my official personal home. I'm a peace researcher and art photographer.

3 Comments

  1. Kære Jan Øberg

    Tak for din nytårsanalyse., som giver anledning til at jeg godt vil tillade mig at dele en eftertanke jeg formulerede for et par måneder siden og sendte til forskellige aviser, men hvor jeg fik et venligt afslag.

    En selvkritisk refleksion – er det muligt?

    Er vi i Vesten blevet så forblændede af vore egne værdiers fortræffeligheder, at vi er ude af stand til at respektere andre kulturers historie, traditioner og værdier?
    Kan vi først respektere disse andre, når de indretter deres samfund som vi gør og i øvrigt siger, tænker og handler som os?
    De fleste fremstillinger, beskrivelser og analyser af andre samfund, forvaltningsformer og kulturer i de danske medier indeholder en implicit eller fuldt udfoldet kritik og mangelanalyse i forhold til vore værdier.
    Kritikken af ”de andre” skaber derfor umiddelbart en indforstået forherligelse af vore egne aktuelle handlinger og værdier, en hvidvaskning af vores egen historie, og en nedgøring og dæmonisering af de andres handlinger, deres værdier og deres historie.
    Dette har sin egen dynamik, idet en konstant dæmonisering dels skaber en situation, hvor det ikke er nødvendigt at forholde sig rationelt til den eller de dæmoniserede. De skal bare fjernes. Verden ville være et bedre sted, hvis de ikke var her! Det bedste vil være, at der kom et helt nyt regime i de pågældende stater.
    En sådan ensidighed skaber en stadig stigende frygt hos os, efterhånden som de dæmoniseredes udsagn og handlinger bliver bearbejdet, fortolket og foldet ud, hvorigennem det dæmoniske og ondsindede bliver tydeliggjort.
    På den måde kommer ”de andre” til at fremstå som endnu mere uforudsigelige, irrationelle, lunefulde, magtbegærlige, farlige og truende. En trussel vi bliver nødt til at forsvare os mod, og, hvis det bliver nødvendigt, også være parat til at udslette.
    Kan det overhovedet lade sig gøre, at vi i Vesten foretager en selvkritisk refleksion, hvor vi forholder os til vore værdiers eventuelle begrænsninger? Kan vores egen selvforståelse holde til, at se bag om den hvidvaskning af historien, vi foretager konstant? Har vi mod til at se i øjnene og indrømme, at vi også har været og er dæmoniske og ondsindede i handlinger og udtalelser?

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