Articles by Richard Falk:
February 21, 2013 by Richard Falk
by Teju ColeAnyone interested in the world, or for that matter, an affection for the greatest of modern cities—New York—will find Teju Cole’s Open City, a feast for both mind and heart. He writes with exquisite discernment about almost everything under the sun, from the details of church architecture to reflections on the lingering impacts of the 9/11 attacks on the urban mood in Manhattan to his childhood memories of Nigeria.
Open City is presented as a work of fiction, a novel, but its real interest is not in the story line, or even in the characters as presented by the narrator, which has an autobiographical feel, although this could be an accomplishment of this writer’s craft and imaginative skill, rather than what it seems to be, a disguised replication of the author’s search for meaning and moorings in the world at large, as well as a rich depository of remarkably astute observations on an extraordinary range of interesting topics. Cole in Open City delivers a master class in everyday awareness continuously transforming the ordinary experience of the non-heroic narrative voice into a quite extraordinary immersion in the lifeworld of the city.
This is a story of what I would call voluntary displacement, somewhat reminiscent of Edward Said’s partial memoir, Out of Place. Both of these gifted and multi-talented men chose to live as expatriates but without losing their attachment to their home country. There are also some dramatic differences, as well. Said became passionate about his Palestinian identity, a badge of honor for him, and the focus of his concerns in the final decades of his life, while Julius the fictionalized ‘I’ of Cole’s narrator is totally preoccupied with his private feelings, perceptions, and experience, noting public concerns, but avoiding engagement by deliberately adopting a modulated apolitical stance. Said as a high profile Palestinian in America in this period almost ensured that he would find himself embattled, which he was, especially as a professor at Columbia University who spoke out in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
June 11, 2012 by Richard Falk
It was only a few years ago that Europe was being praised as the savior of world order, and heralded as the hope for the future of world order. Books with such titles as “The European Superpower” and “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century” were widely read. They celebrated the realities of a European post-colonial recovery, even a new type of ascendancy, results that were welcomed by many who hoped for a more peaceful and equitable world.
April 27, 2012 by Richard Falk
From all that we know Charles Taylor deserves to be held criminally accountable for his role in the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone during the period 1998-2002.
Taylor was then President of Liberia, and did his best to encourage violent uprisings against the governments in neighboring countries so as to finance his own bloody schemes and extend his regional influence.
September 19, 2011 by Richard Falk
Reading what I wrote about Afghanistan a decade ago reminded me of how much my understanding of the role of war and hard power in upholding security for the nation and the world has changed. Actually, it seems clear to me that my views on Afghanistan back in 2001 were an exception to my general skepticism about Western interventions in the non-Western world, a view formed during ten years of opposition to the American role in the Vietnam War.
At the time, with the Al Qaeda attacks so recently seared into my political consciousness, and some anxiety that more attacks of a similar kind were likely to follow, it seemed logical and helpful to adopt a war strategy as part of an overall effort to disrupt the mega-terrorist capabilities to inflict further harm either in this country or somewhere else on the planet.
August 19, 2011 by Richard Falk
On August 18th President Barack Obama rendered judgment and gave guidance. While affirming that “[t]he future of Syria must be determined by its own people” he added these words, “Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way.” And so comes the conclusion: “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
This American leader’s advice was orchestrated to coincide with the release of a joint statement along similar lines by the leaders of Germany, France, and Britain, the three most important countries in Europe, that instructed President Assad to “leave power in the greater interests of Syria and the unity of its people.”
August 5, 2011 by Richard Falk
Not since the debate about the Kosovo War of 1999 has there been such widespread discussion of humanitarian intervention, including the semantics of coupling ‘humanitarian’ with the word ‘intervention.’ At one extreme of this debate about language stands Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia, who is a staunch advocate of displacing the discourse on ‘humanitarian intervention’ by relying on concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ (known as R2P). Evans was, in fact, co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty that came up a decade ago with the idea of R2P. This approach to intervention was skillfully marketed to the international community, including the United Nations.