- Think tank advocating “alternative security” philosophy where offensive weapons do not exist
- Equates fundamentalist Wahhabism with American civic religion
- Insists that the U.S. is a terrorist state
- “September 11 can be seen as a response to decades of culturally and socially insensitive [American] policies.”
Founded in 1985 by the husband-and-wife team of Danish political science professor Jan Oberg and Swedish sociologist and longtime anti-nuclear activist Christina Spannar, the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFPFR) is a think tank professing a commitment “to nonviolence in all aspects of its operations.” Its peace-at-any costs credo finds its most consistent expression in opposition to the policies of the United States.
As an all-volunteer institution with a “shoe-string” budget, TFPFR espouses the theory of “Alternative Security,” a principle asserting that peace and national security can be achieved through research and education in the techniques of “conflict-mitigation,” “nonviolent politics,” and the “ethics of care.” Rejecting all rationales for the development and possession of so-called “offensive weapons,” the group defines national security as something that is “good only for defending ourselves, not able to attack others.” TFPFR sponsors “forgiveness” seminars and workshops, some of them directed by Peter Jarman, a TFPFR advisor and a practitioner of Zen psychotherapy.
TFPFR gained considerable notoriety following the September 11 terrorist attacks, when it claimed that much of the militarism in the world was a response to unjust American policies. Writing on the think tank’s website the day after the attacks, columnist Jonathan Power, a TFPFR associate since 1991, stated: “It is the U.S. which poses the military threat to others. … The arrogance of power has produced its inevitable reaction.” Jan Oberg agreed: “[The] September 11 [attacks] can be seen as a response to decades of culturally and socially insensitive policies, interventions, attempts at murdering foreign politicians and unjust aspects of U.S. foreign and economic policies, to bombing campaigns, occupations and CIA infiltration.”
Since the 9-11 attacks, the equation of the United States with terrorism has become a running theme of TFPFR researchers. In September 2002, for instance, TFPFR associate Dietrich Fischer wrote: “Wahhabism, [which] is a fundamentalist branch of Islam, [the] state religion of Saudi Arabia, and Puritanism, the civic religion of the USA, share some common characteristics…”
In June 2004, Princeton University professor Richard Falk, a TFPFR advisor since 1995, argued on the think tank’s website that “Unless we rid the country and the world of the Bush leadership, our future prospects are grim, and could include a slide toward global fascism abroad and the risk of a police state at home.”
Three months later, TFPFR Associate Francis Boyle accused the United States of committing criminal acts against other nations around the world. “Beginning with the Reagan/Bush administrations’ ascent to power in January of 1981,” he wrote, “the United States has demonstrated little if any respect for international law, international organizations, and human rights, let alone appreciation of the requirements for maintaining international peace and security. Instead there has been a comprehensive assault upon the integrity of the international legal order.” He urged American citizens “to engage in acts of civil resistance in order to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism.”
Also in 2004, TFPFR co-founders Oberg and Spannar made the following observations about what they viewed as the excessive 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.
TFPFR has attracted the financial support of such prominent celebrity activists as ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.