Daniele Ganser is a historian and a peace researcher specialised in international politics and contemporary history since 1945. Furthermore, he is founder of the “Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research” (SIPER) in Basel. With his previous publications, he has already made a strong contribution to an urgently needed review of the history of the West since 1945. His new book “Illegal wars – How Nato countries undermine UN. A chronicle from Cuba to Syria” is a another important contribution.
Daniele Ganser begins with a few personal remarks: In addition to the good example of his parents, a defining experience for the political engagement of Daniele Ganser were the great worldwide anti-war manifestations in 2003 before the attack of the US and its allies on Iraq and the following Iraq war with its dire consequences until today. Daniele Ganser pictures his concern at the time and puts the reader emotionally in the mood. Many a reader may remember exactly these times of lies and arrogance of warmongers like Tony Blair and George Bush.
As a first access to the topic, Daniele Ganser addresses a current problem: the refugee crisis. He puts his finger on the point: The main cause for the wave of refugees are the wars, mainly haveing been provoked by Nato states and their allies in the Middle East and still being led by them. This obvious idea gets lost in the daily reporting of our leading media or it is concealed. Ganser points out that all these wars are illegal: “Since the end of the Second World War and the establishment of the UN peace organization, there has been a worldwide ban on war.” Although, there have been other warring states in the last fifty years, it is a fact that Nato states, led by the US, “have been waging most of the illegal wars during the last 70 years. However, they have always remained unpunished”.
Daniele Ganser feels committed to the UN and its simple and clear basic idea: wars are illegal. There are only two exceptions to the world-wide ban on war: the right of a country to defend itself against an attack, and a war against a country with an explicit mandate from the UN Security Council. This is the key to a civilized coexistence on this planet. United Nations prohibition of the use of force must be respected and strengthened. Nowadays this basic idea must more than ever be introduced into the general discussion on war and peace. Nato media of our Western nations tend to ignore this idea. More and more you get to hear the reproach of the UN being inefficient and not up-to-date. Daniele Ganser’s response to this reproach is brilliant: “This book shows that the reason for the inefficiency of the UN is not its system, but the individual failure of its members, who temporarily act unfairly and sabotage the UN with lies in the Security Council and the General Assembly.” Ganser concludes that any reform of the UN that does not involve the problem of lies must fail in the long term.
After these basic thoughts on the UN there follow remarks on Nato and the USA. Daniele Ganser speaks out bluntly what is common knowledge: Nato is an instrument of the US oligarchs to enforce their hegemonic claims on our planet.
The following main part of the book is a detailed chronicle of the illegal wars and coups of Nato states against democratically elected governments. It all begins with the overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister, Mossadegh, in 1953. His sole “crime” was to demand a greater share of the oil revenues from the British and to provide the poor population with this money. At that time the British were still putting most part of the oil revenues of the country in their pockets. The German author Michael Lüders considers this coup as “first sin of the West”. The consequences of this morally vicious policy are still felt today.
The following chapters treat the wars against Guatemala 1954, Egypt 1956, Cuba 1961, Vietnam 1964, Nicaragua 1981, Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Ukraine 2014, Yemen 2015 and Syria since 2011 until today. Each chapter is self-contained and can be read separately. It would also be an excellent resource for teaching history in schools and for basic contemporary history lectures at universities.
There is a lot of blood on the hands of Nato officials in the US and Europe. In order to anaesthetize the population, so-called humanitarian reasons are used in the old imperialist manner. Although, the main reason of these wars are resources and global predominance, as is the main reason of today’s so-called “war on terror”. With regard to this war Ganser draws a devastating balance: there is a destabilization of whole regions, there is a flow of refugees, there are no less, but more terror attacks, there is dismantling of civil rights and progression of surveillance. Conclusion: The “war on terror” has failed and must be put to an end.
Daniele Ganser concludes as follows: “Nato is not a force for security and stability, but a threat to world peace.”
However, Daniele Ganser also points out what each of us can do in order to re-establish the basic principle of the UN and promote the peaceful co-existence of the nations.
With regard to Switzerland and Austria, for example, he calls to return to neutrality and to abandon Partnership for Peace, or to put it in another way, “Partnership for War”. In Switzerland, the population could request a referendum on leaving PfP.
Yet, in all countries, the peaceful population can do something. Thus, Ganser encourages a stronger networking of American and European peace movements. “The cooperation of the European peace movement with the peace movement in the USA is very important as only the US peace movement is able to reform the US empire from within peacefully.” The individual citizen can inform himself from independent sources and books and is so capable of forming his own opinion. One of the blessings of the Internet is that we no longer have to rely solely on the Nato biased reporting of our leading media.
According to Daniele Ganser the promotion of renewable sources of energy would also promote peace, as most wars are lead for oil and natural gas and we are more independent of these products through renewable energies. Furthermore, one of the most important concerns of Ganser is to strengthen the ban on violence and the international law as enshrined in the UN Charter: “The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are among the most valuable historical documents; they should guide us in the 21st century”. The globally connecting idea “We, the Peoples of the United Nations” must be revitalised as it expresses the precious idea of the family of men.
Despite infamy and suffering, after reading there is no feeling of resignation. Daniele Ganser gets to the heart of an essential idea: the bloody wars deeply contradict the social nature of human beings, because: “[…] deep in their hearts men like each other.” Thank you, Daniele Ganser, for the excellent book, we warmly recommend it to anyone interested in politics. Furthermore, it is an encouraging signal to see the book already taking first place on the Swiss bestseller lists for non-fiction books. •
Ganser, Daniele. “Illegale Kriege – Wie Nato-Länder die Uno sabotieren. Eine Chronik von Kuba bis Syrien.” Zurich 2016, ISBN 978-3-280-05631-8
The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are among the most valuable historical documents and should serve us all as a guide in the 21st century. I can only advise anyone to read through these two documents and think about them. Already as a student, I ordered from the UN the Declaration of Human Rights and hung it up as a poster in my room. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”, emphasises the Declaration of Human Rights, which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. “Everyone has the right to life, freedom and security of the person” (Article 3) and “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief” (Article 18).
Of course, it is true that the UN Charter and the human rights are being violated daily. In some cases, as outlined above, these two documents were even played off against each other by insidiously starting a war with reference to the human rights, for example, in Libya in 2011, thus violating the UN Charter. These problems will continue to exist in the future and should not be ignored. But it must also be pointed out at the same time that the human rights and the UN Charter have been respected in many countries, which has always led to a flourishing society. In addition, the goals of the UN were repeatedly strengthened. This was also the case on 25 September 2015, when the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted at a UN summit of heads of state and governments. Therein, the UN member states commit themselves to reduce poverty, hunger and discrimination against women and to promote renewable energies. Above all, however, the States committed again themselves to prevent all forms of violence, because peace and stability are fundamental prerequisites for sustainable development to be possible at all.
“Switzerland has a vital interest in the fact that in international relations right prevails against violence and not vice versa,” said former Swiss Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey. With this she was absolutely right, because small countries like Switzerland do not want the world to slip into war and chaos. We must orient ourselves by the right and take care of it.
from: Daniele Ganser. Illegale Kriege (Illegal wars), p. 330f.
(Translation Current Concerns)
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