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August 6, 2008

An Open Letter to Politicians Regarding the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative

Early in my research I couldn’t help but notice New Zealand’s heavy participation in the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. New Zealand is strategically important to the Alliance of Civilizations in that it is considered to be the bridge between Asia and the West. New Zealand planned the advancement of the Alliance of Civilizations throughout the Asia-Pacific during its 2007 Auckland Symposium. What a thrill it must have been for Javier Solana as he witnessed first hand the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AESAN) officially incorporate his Alliance of Civilizations social cohesion policy into its framework during the 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.




One morning early this year as I started my routine of coffee and checking e-mail, I noticed a letter from one of my New Zealand readers. This gentleman asked for my opinion on a letter he had received from his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters. Mr. Peters’ letter addressed an inquiry questioning why New Zealand had financially supported an initiative such as the Alliance of Civilizations which sought to syncretize religion. As I read Mr. Peters’ letter I was troubled by his assurances that Christians need not worry as we have representation by respected “Christian” theologians and historians on the High Level Group. I thought to myself you are going to have to do better than that. Giving Mr. Peters the benefit of the doubt, I proceeded to provide my reader with educational materials he might pass along to Mr. Peters if he were so inclined. To date, Mr. Peters has not responded. I’ve been told not to expect a response from Mr. Peters anytime soon as he is preoccupied with a financial scandal for failure to disclose a $100,000 gift.

What follows is Winston Peters’ letter regarding the Alliance of Civilizations. Click on the files to expand them. Following that is the letter that was sent to Mr. Peters. This letter is not only for Mr. Peters, but to all politicians who may be mislead and involved with the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. To those, I urge you to examine the evidence and reconsider your positions.




Follow up letter to Mr. Peters or whomever this may apply:

Dear Rt Hon Winston Peters:

Thank you for your response to my inquiry regarding the Alliance of Civilisations (AoC) initiative. I believe you have correctly stated that New Zealanders are concerned with countering violence and terrorism as well as avoiding Samuel Huntington’s theorised “clash of civilisations”. However, I believe that once New Zealanders become aware of some of the underlying aspects of the AoC initiative that they will call for a different solution to the problem. The purpose of this letter is to alert you to some of those aspects which you may not be aware.

A paper prepared for the August 2007 Clash or Cooperation of Civilizations Workshop questioned why Spain choose to introduce the Alliance of Civilisations initiative to the United Nations rather than the European Union?1 It concluded that the European Union already has an alliance of civilisations in the form of the Barcelona Process and that implementation of the initiative at the international level would globalise Spain’s social cohesion policies. The social cohesion dimension of the Barcelona Process was first developed and introduced by Javier Solana in 1995 while he served as Spain’s rotational president on the European Council. The social dimension has the objective to create a common civilisation through cultural integration and the combating of religious fundamentalism worldwide2. Approaching its10-year anniversary in November 2005, the Barcelona Process appeared to be a European embarrassment and destined for failure.3 Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned a month earlier that the EU could not become a global power without the Alliance of Civilisations.4 During the Barcelona +10 Conference, Javier Solana took measures to strengthen the Process by partnering the Anna Lindh Foundation with the AoC5. The Process of social cohesion was solidified as a result of the cartoon crisis in which Javier Solana, Zapatero, Erdogan, and the AoC High Level Group (HLG) were able to act quickly and turn crisis into opportunity.6

Solana’s social cohesion policy objective to combat religious fundamentalism is one that deserves scrutinisation and definition. A thorough examination of AoC’s writings begins to show we are presently at a dangerous intersection of state regulation vs. religious freedom. The AoC has said that rather than ban religion, it should bring it under the control of a centralised governing authority.7 The Final Report of the High Level Group calls for registration of all religious schools8 as well as a requirement that they teach “sound” interpretation of their texts9. The Alliance of Civilisations has said that it has conducted an exercise in truth and intends to provide that truth to all individuals. Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero has said that religion is the “tobacco of the people”.10 His government’s contribution to the initiative directs the Alliance to counter “those who feed on exclusion and claim sole ownership of the truth”.11 This direction ought to make one pause especially since the HLG has been placed in the position of formulating the global conscience for the United Nations’ Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy12. HLG member John Esposito has said that any person who believes their religion to be true and another’s to be false has adopted the “theology of hate” which Esposito continues on and associates them with terrorism.13 It escapes Esposito’s attention that every religion makes an “exclusive” truth claim, including the theology currently being advanced by High Level Group.

I would like to briefly discuss Karen Armstrong as you indicated she provides Christian representation on the HLG. Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun, after leaving the church identified herself as an atheist. Following a television career in which she says she attempted to destroy religion, she had what she describes as a mystical experience. This is reflected in her approach to religion. Armstrong is openly sympathetic to and espouses Share International’s14 “Maitreya the Christ is now here” doctrines15 which are anti-Semitic, anti-fundamentalist, and anti-Catholic. In a recent Share International interview, Armstrong launches various attacks against Christianity and, in particular, the core theological foundation of Christian belief, i.e., Christ’s divinity.16 Having been a former nun, surely she must realise this would be considered heresy by Vatican’s standards.”17 It is these types of inflammatory remarks that the AoC claims to avoid. It appears this may be a doctrine derived from the AoC’s exercise in truth and may foreshadow what we might expect of “sound religious interpretation” to be provided to Christians. Armstrong further accuses Christians of anti-Semitism for opposing mandatory “baptism” which Share International refers to as mandatory “initiation.”18 She also incorrectly accuses Christians of opposing democracy. Perhaps she has confused Christians’ opposition to democracy with that of Giandomenico Picco’s AoC-advanced “safe democracy” which calls for the exclusion of the people and national parliaments from the political process.19

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s has advanced the same theological arguments. Along with his attacks on Christian and Muslim theology, he has aligned himself with extremist organizations. An example may be found in Desmond Tutu’s service on the World Commission on Global Consciousness & Spirituality20 which seats individuals such as Barbara Marx Hubbard who openly calls for planetary genocide to be conducted through what she identifies as a “selection process”.21 By Hubbard’s account, one is given the opportunity to undergo planetary “initiation” or face personal extinction. Hubbard says that ‘we come to bring death…we do this for the sake of the planet…the riders of the pale horse are about to pass among you…they will separate the wheat from the chaff…this is the most painful hour in earth’s history.”22 Clearly Hubbard’s writings epitomise extremism and violent radicalisation. Should not Archbishop Tutu denounce such extremist theology rather than align himself with it?

Finally, the AoC, the Helsinki Process and Religions for Peace have jointly introduced the doctrine of “Shared Security”23 which incorporates the doctrines of Canadian-architected Responsibility to Protect and the European Union’s Human Security. On the surface these doctrines appear benign, but an in-depth examination shows a security model in which the military polices the civilian population. A summary of this model may be found in Javier Solana’s Human Security Doctrine for Europe where he calls for “the human security response force should be multinational with national military building blocks not below battalion level.” 24

In conclusion, the AoC’s formation to counter “cross-cultural polarisation” involves a militarised interlocking network comprising mainly of NATO, the EU, and UN “peacekeeping” forces. As Australian Dr. Mike Ellis has correctly observed regarding the AoC’s mission to address cross-cultural polarisation, “Is this not indeed, a euphemism, for the involvement of the military using "dual-use" technology in law enforcement affairs in secular society?” 25 These are but a few criticisms of the Alliance of Civilisations initiative. As Jean Monnet Chair of European Integration Angelo Santagostino has concluded “the UN has been often under attack as a useless institution. This time it has shown itself to be not so much useless but actually dangerous.”26


1. Koussay Boulaich, “The Alliance of Civilisations: a global project or a key aspect for the European Foreign Policy?”, College of Europe,
http://www.ccis.aau.dk/GetAsset.action?contentId=2158460&assetId=2361376

2. Magda El-Ghitany, “Partnership in Question”, Yale Global Online, http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=6589

3. Álvaro de Vasconcelos, Director IEEI Lisbon, “Summit Drama – and Beyond”, EuroMeSCo e.NEWS, http://www.euromesco.net/images/enews_2_en.pdf, December 2005

4. “Turkey Rejects Latest EU Proposals”, China Radio International,
http://english.cri.cn/2239/2005-10-3/51@275026.htm

5. “The Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona and the Anna Lindh Foundation”, EuroMed, http://www.assemblee-nat.com/europe/euromed/anglais/doc1.pdf

6. Bertrand De Crombrugghe, “The cartoon issue: Turning crisis into opportunity”, OSCE Magazine, April 2006 http://www.osce.org/publications/sg/2006/03/18565_569_en.pdf

7. Gaspar Martinez, “Report of the Hearings with the International Community & Civil Society regarding the United Nations High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations”, United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, http://www.unaoc.org/repository/hearings_report.pdf, 17 July 2006, pg. 29

8. “Report of the High Level Group, VII. Recommendations, Section 3”, United Nations Alliance of Civilisations,
http://www.unaoc.org/repository/HLG_Report.pdf, 13 November 2006, pg. 34

9. “Report of the High Level Group, Section 4.15”, United Nations Alliance of Civilisations,
http://www.unaoc.org/repository/HLG_Report.pdf, 13 November 2006, pg. 14

10. Angelo Santagostino, “Alliance of Civilisations and Solidarity Between Civilisations: A Lost Occasion for Europe”, Global Jean Monnet Conference ECSA-World Conference,
http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/llp/jm/more/confglobal06/contribution_santagostino.pdf, 23/24 November 2006, pgs 4-5

11. MINISTERIO DE ASUNTOS EXTERIORES Y DE COOPERACIÓN, “Alliance of Civilizations”, United Nations Alliance of Civilisations,
http://www.unaoc.org/repository/statement_foreign_ministry_english.pdf, November 2005, pg. 10

12. Eric Rosand, “Symposium on ‘Advancing the Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy’”, Center on Global Counter-Terrorism Cooperation,
http://www.globalct.org/images/content/pdf/Remarks/er_vienna_symposium.pdf, pg. 2

13. “The Doha Debates Special: Extremism”, “The Doha Debates”,
http://www.thedohadebates.com/output/Page59.asp, 18/19 March 2006

14.
http://www.share-international.org/

15. Constance E. Cumbey, “Karen Armstrong and the Alliance of Civilizations”, News With Views, http://www.newswithviews.com/Cumbey/constance15.htm, 12 October 2007

16. Andrea Bistrich, “Discovering the common ground of world religions”, Share International,
http://www.unaoc.org/repository/armstrong_interview.pdf, Vol. 6, No. 7 September 2007

17. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chapter Two, I Believe In Jesus Christ, The Only Son of God, Vatican,
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1D.HTM

18. Constance E. Cumbey, “Karen Armstrong and the Alliance of Civilizations”, News With Views, http://www.newswithviews.com/Cumbey/constance15.htm, 12 October 2007

19. Giandomenico Picco, “Who is Knocking at the Door of Democracy”, Club of Madrid,
http://pineline.blogspot.com/2007/12/dictator-at-door.html, March 2005

20.
http://globalspirit.org/pages/wc_members.php

21. Barbara Marx Hubbard, “Chapter 3, The Selection Process”, Happy Birth Day Planet Earth – The Instant of Co-Operation, 1986 Ocean Tree Books, pg. 22-29


22. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Book of Co-Creation: An Evolutionary Interpretation of the New Testament: Part III, The Revelation: Alternative To Armageddon, a three part self-published manuscript, 1980, Distributed/sold by Barbara Marx Hubbard

23.
http://wcrp.org/news/sg-update/april07

24. Presentation to Javier Solana, “A Human Security Doctrine for Europe – The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities”, http://www.centrodirittiumani.unipd.it/a_laurea/esami/ppsuenu/HSDoctrineEurope.pdf, 15 September 2004, pg. 23

25. Dr. Mike Ellis, “Commentary - Time To Act”, New Paradigm Journal Vol. 2, Issue 2,
http://www.newparadigmjournal.com/Oct2007/timetoact.htm, October 2007

26. Angelo Santagostino, “Alliance of Civilisations and Solidarity Between Civilisations: A Lost Occasion for Europe”, Global Jean Monnet Conference ECSA-World Conference, http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/llp/jm/more/confglobal06/contribution_santagostino.pdf
, 23/24 November 2006, pg. 13

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

your research is critical rich. thank you for your effort and your gift of intelligence and insightful ability, really. tony in vermont.

Constance Cumbey said...

Hi Rich,

You might find this interesting:

http://www.steveemerson.com/blog/2008/07/more-perils-of-interfaith-dialogue.html

or tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/6cergr

Continued thanks for your EXCELLENT WORK!

Constance

Anonymous said...

This article and the exhibits were so very interesting! Thanks, Rich

Constance

Rich Peterson - Medford said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Rich Peterson - Medford said...

What kind of person takes pleasure in New Orleans being hit by another hurricane?

http://tinyurl.com/5h52fz

Maybe they ought to listen to the testimonies of those who lived the nightmare first hand and explain if they still find it funny.

http://tinyurl.com/6z6bsp

Dawn said...

I wanted to pass this along to you:

http://tinyurl.com/5eq4kp

It is about Obama's youth corp

Here is what I heard Glenn Beck say about it on Friday:

http://tinyurl.com/6eov9a

Shalom said...

Rich,
This is a keeper!
You've really summed this up nicely. Appreciate your view and research here.
Shalom,
Barb