Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg


* Co-founder of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
* Advisory board member of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Born in 1951, Jan Oberg is a political science professor who, along with his wife, sociologist Christina Spannar, created the Sweden-based Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFPFR).

Holding a Ph.D. in sociology, Oberg is the former Director of the Lund University Peace Research Institute; former Secretary-General of the Danish Peace Foundation; and a former member of the Danish government’s Committee on Security and Disarmament.

He is currently the co-initiator of the Danish Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Danish High School for Peace; a member of the Initiatives for Peace program of the Italy-based Scientific Committee of International University for Peoples; an Advisory Board member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; an editorial advisor to PeaceReview: A Journal of Social Justice; a member of the India-based Tibetan Centre for Conflict Resolution; and an Advisory Board member of the Hawaii-based Toda Institute. He has authored ten books, including: Myth About Our SecurityTo Develop Security and Secure Development; and Winning Peace: Strategy and Ethics for a Nuclear-Free World.

In response to President Bush’s January 2002 State of the Union address, Oberg wrote:

“We … did not hear [in the President’s address] what the Bush administration aims to do to avoid a repetition of the mysterious fiasco that September 11 was to the CIA and FBI. Indeed, there is no mention whatsoever of reforms to American society or political institutions, except schools. There is no mention of the economic power concentration in Multinational Corporations … or of the military-industrial complex which President Eisenhower once upon a time had the courage to mention as a problem. Finally, the word democracy is absent.”

Oberg derided Bush’s characterization of the war on terror as a battle of “good versus evil” — a notion Oberg portrayed as “an intellectual fraud” that was “bordering on the primitive.” He denounced Bush’s reference to “an Axis of Evil made up of North Korea, Iraq and Iran, similar to the way Reagan referred to the Evil Empire, the Soviet Union.” Oberg continued: “Thus [according to Bush], there is absolute Evil and absolute Good, black and white. There are ‘us and them.’ Terrorism has now substituted [for] communism. Cold War rhetoric is back. All the complexities of the real world are reduced to this formula.”

According to Oberg:

“The United States has around ten times higher military expenditures and thus, perhaps, a twenty times greater military technological capability than all of its designated enemies and rogue states put together. Why is it that someone so strong is so obsessed with being threatened? Is this is a healthy or an increasingly pathological, paranoid response? Is it psychologically justified that September 11 leads to such measures, or are the events of that day merely exploited for other purposes?”

In May 2003, Oberg opined that the Bush administration officials who were guiding U.S. policy in post-Saddam Iraq were “people with a background in the far-right of the Republican Party, the Israel lobby … close [ties] to conservative think tanks, affiliated with mercenary companies, the military-industrial complex … and CIA.” Added Oberg: “And, of course, several are associated with the oil industry, the computer industry, as well as the media and public relations industry…. The Bush regime is setting up a basically military administration in Iraq.”

In 2004, Oberg and his wife (Spannar) made the following observations about what they viewed as the greed and militarism of the United States, the injustices of capitalism, and the horrors of war:

  • “While the world, the U.S. in particular, spends grotesque sums on ‘fighting” terrorism — never a big problem in terms of human losses — and now only produces more terrorism, it pays no serious attention to the poverty problem and to environmental security. It spends scarce resources on armament and cut down national welfare budgets pleasing only military-industrial complexes and disregarding human needs everywhere.”
  • “There is no such thing as human security anywhere on earth. Why? Because of our male-dominated military security paradigm. Because of our totally wrong priorities. Because of our hopeless four-year election cycles that prevent every attempt at long-range macro thinking about the Earth’s future. Because there are no human rights for the poor …”
  • “About 50% of the people on earth — or about 3 billion — still live on less than 2 dollars a day (while 300,000 Americans die annually from eating too much and low-quality food). Worldwide, between 60,000 and 100,000 people die every day because of poverty, curable diseases, AIDS, lack of food, clean water, shelter, clothes, medicine and education…. The people who die innocently in natural catastrophes touch our hearts. Those who die equally innocently because of global capitalism, power games, wars and military over-consumption, don’t touch our hearts. Why? Probably because we know, deep down, that they die because of us — because of the privileged, the rich, their greed, their mental self-protection and entertainment. They die because they must — otherwise the rest of us could not be rolling in money, materialism and militarism.”
  • “The war system … diverts incomprehensible sums from helping the damned of the earth: the world’s governments now spend close to 1,000 billion dollars on armament.”

In 2005 Oberg became a member of the Japanese Study Group on Peace-Building, and a member of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence at James Madison University in Virginia. In 2006 he joined the Board of the Nordic Peace Academy in Jondal, Norway.

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