Stellt die Friedensfragen!

Fried the pathfinder of peace journalism

Erstellt am 13.12.2023 von Andreas Hermann Landl
Dieser Artikel wurde 1564 mal gelesen und am 13.12.2023 zuletzt geändert.

„The press and arms manufacturers are the bacillus of war excitement.“

Alfred Hermann Fried (peace nobel prize 1911)

Twelve years ago I was asked to explain peace journalism on an oe1 Austrian broadcasting (ORF Nachtquartier on December 27, 2011). Actually an obvious question. However, world history wanted to go through me, because peace journalism has been my passion since 2002 and in recent decades I have searched the entire history of the relatively peaceful prehistory of mankind to the permanent overkill after Hiroshima for ways out by peaceful means.

My understanding of peace journalism in the spirit of Galtung has radically deepened and broadened. In his novel War and Peace, Tolstoy suggested that the subject matter of peace journalism is highly complex and must focus on a myriad of factors. Gender relations, communication culture and ownership, organizations and smart personalities all play a role in high-quality media coverage of conflicts. Peace journalism asks peace questions and is something like the second hand of the story of discord and peace and justice. When time is short, it is understandable that only aspects can be illuminated at a time. After every aha moment, a flash of truth, the Socratic certainty soon returns: „I know that I know nothing!

We learn from childhood onwards, from case to case and constantly. For journalists, the case is the story and, when this article appears, I will have put around 9000 posts online at and around 4000 drafts in my memory. In addition, there are two dozen longer radio programs that went on-air under the title „Friedensstiftung – Peace Conversation from 2002 to 2004 and some experiments with video journalism and Web 2.0. Most of them are learning to run without being able to write a robotics program for them. Today I can do „peace journalism“ almost like I speak my mother tongue. That is, without constantly having to consciously recall all the rules that can always be improved. It was therefore a special but also extremely appealing challenge to create an appropriate framework for this essay about one of the first pioneers of peace journalism. I felt like an old billiard player who is given a few hours to explain the physics of the game. Guido Grünewald asked me to classify Fried as a peace journalist in

A satisfactory short grammar of peace journalism

One or two case studies on Fried’s work as a peace journalist and last but not least, a brief treatment of Fried’s organizational achievements for peace journalism with a main focus on the Peace Journalism Union.

Quasi, here is the Pacific: You have about 40000 characters to portray his essence and the peace fish in an appealing way at the height of time. I am a trained political economist with a specialization in peace and conflict research, in other words a specialist for God, the world and all other conflict-laden topics. After a few articles, I acquired a basic journalistic education and decided to focus more intensively on radio and Internet journalism. Journalism is now more of an art than a science. Scientists who think about it usually earn their money at institutes for journalism studies, media studies or communication studies. I am scientifically competent as a social researcher and social philosopher and experience has taught me caution. For me, history was always just an auxiliary science. But of course an article about an important historical figure should also stand up in the strict eyes of specialist historians, etc. A quote from Elke Sommer illustrates just how tricky this discipline is: „When you have heard three eyewitnesses talk about the same accident, you start to think about whether there is any truth in world history at all!“. A good old philosophical position in post-constructivist times is to simply ask questions and carefully balance empiricism and theory and honestly pack a few small buns. I therefore asked a few questions here about the concept of peace journalism and its presumed first professional pioneer. For me, some things have become clearer, especially since my lecture in Potsdam in 2011. But it seems to be a characteristic of controversial terms and colorful personalities that new questions and statements arise every day. Whether I cut a good figure swimming in this discourse is up to the judgment of my valued readers.

Peace journalism filters the second-by-second flow of non-peace stories

Georg Ritter von SCHÖNERER is regarded as one of the pioneers of National Socialism. He lived in Rosenau Castle in Lower Austria from 1842 to 1921, just a few months longer than Alfred Hermann Fried. Piquantly, there is a Freemasonry museum in his castle today. Jews, Freemasons, pacifists and of course peace journalists like Fried, as tolerant internationalists, were one of the main enemies of militarists and nationalists.

Trailblazer, Pathfinder or pioneer – Why picking words is peace journalism

What is a pioneer?

In the military, a pioneer. An avant-gardist, as the French military called the vanguard? In other words, the troop unit that advances first and thus has first contact with the enemy. Even Fried’s contemporary M. Gandhi – lawyer, journalist and politician – shrewdly described himself as a „militant pacifist“. However, this can be relativized with background knowledge. Gandhi was an eloquent master of catchy phrases. Conscious or unconscious militarization of language or the rape of and by language is becoming increasingly questionable for me as a peace journalist. Peace activists who work for peace with a „pen“ may have written and climbed several disarmament summits, but the mountains of armaments and piles of organized hired perpetrators of violence are growing riskily despite the EU and the UN.  Alleged doves of peace who call for war on war or peace on huts and war on palaces must be asked about their contribution to the dialectic of truce and cannon. Brain researchers have proven that verbal acts can trigger the same reactions and aggression in the brain as physical torment that crosses pain thresholds. If peace journalism wants to sustainably de-escalate, many common communication styles become questionable. 

It seems just as obsolete today to construe journalists as beings crouching outside the world who retrieve news objectively like Newton and dutifully like a hunting dog. Although this ideology is still frequently observed in science and practice, journalists are – if we take a closer look – always subjects and objects in highly complex social systems. The analogous application of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, that two complementary properties of a particle cannot be measured simultaneously with arbitrary precision, is more recommendable today for „experiments with the truth“ in the spirit of Gandhi or Fried. 

Even today, good will alone is not enough to produce effective peace journalism worthy of the name. Communication always plays an important role in conflicts, which are at the heart of peace journalism.

Incriminating forms of communication by journalists contribute to conflict escalation and violence. Devaluations, comparisons, changing topics, patronizing, interrupting, being right, justifying, killer phrases, double-binds, accusations, old hats, generalizations, questions instead of statements, the indirect expression of opinions, feelings, „one“ instead of „I“ and „you“, speeches instead of first-person statements or the expression of one’s own feelings, insinuations, evaluations, prophecies, etc. are considered to be incriminating forms of communication. They generally contribute to the escalation and alienation of conflict partners. I also hypothesize that journalists are always conflict partners – with interests – in conflicts. Even if they only report on agency reports from their desks, because time is money. Quality journalism, which can be seen as the specialty of peace journalism, at least does not want to escalate conflicts and peace journalism even wants to have a de-escalating effect if possible and contribute to conflict resolution. Although the incitement of conflicts by the media is common practice today, M. Gandhi already commented on this: „Error does not become truth because it spreads and finds favor.“

In my opinion, one of the tasks of the peace journalist in the spirit of peace could partly be mediator-advocacy media work, i.e. an all-party service to promote disarmament, world peace and social justice for all people and their environment. Primates are very flexible and experiments show that it is a question of the social setting whether supposedly aggressive species live more peacefully in the next generation.

„Peace journalism“ is therefore also „an activity with language, on language in media“. Today, this work also includes the language of images, sounds, videos and social media. The pacification of language, the detection and illumination of latent violence in the headline declarative sentence „The Madman of Tripoli“ as well as the alternative developments of „peaceful communication“ in everyday life and in media organizations is for me today in journalism a practice of what Fried meant by „causal pacifism“.

Civilian pioneer of peace journalism 

In civilian life, trailblazer usually means someone who is the first to pave a path, to lay a trail, a road builder, a canal builder. Fried was the first to set off. He climbed all the highest peaks that his time offered. He walked the well-trodden paths of war in the opposite direction, he broke new ground and created new paths to peace. From 1933 to 1945, however, the National Socialists succeeded in covering his tracks so thoroughly that it took two generations to reconstruct them.

Relationship between the peace movement and the press until 1901

Fried 1901: „On the relationship between the peace movement and the press, … in German lands …, one cannot even say that the charter image of the same is confused by the parties‘ favor and hatred, … it is only hatred that clouds and obscures it. Even the parties that theoretically embrace the movement limit themselves to such a low level of platonicism that it is almost indistinguishable from indifference. Today, the peace movement finds almost only opponents in public opinion.

Before Fried, there were people in the peace movement who thought about journalism in the service of world peace and sometimes wrote articles for the press. Count Apponyi, the French journalist and professor of philosophy Charles Lemonier – one of the fathers of the International Peace Bureau in Bern and its first Secretary General Élie Ducommun. As is well known, the main tasks were the organization and implementation of international peace congresses and „propaganda for peace“ and the „cultivation and coordination of contacts between pacifist groups, institutes and individuals“. 

The first professional peace journalist 

Fried was the first person who managed to earn his main income explicitly as a „peace journalist“ for around 25 years. The instrumentalization of the media for propaganda and counter-propaganda was not a problem of professional ethics in his day. 

After totalitarian political movements took the „black magic“ of propaganda journalism to the extreme until 1945, other journalism criteria became „politically correct“ in the OECD countries.

Journalism and war reporting and peace journalism after 1945 

The standards that became established in state and private media in the Anglo-Saxon region became commonplace. Today, most media professionals and many journalists are therefore skeptical or even hostile towards all-party approaches to peace journalism.  „A journalist must not be mean. Not even with something good,“ said Hans-Joachim Friedrichs, an icon of German journalism, exemplifying this position.

War journalism

Siegfried Weischenberg, chairman of the German Journalists‘ Association, is credited with the following quote: „The media must not wage wars. At most, they are allowed to report on them.“ In terms of content, it is probably directed more against „war journalism“ as defined by Galtung. This means a criticism of media that often – contrary to all quality standards and professional ethical norms – openly or covertly take sides for „us“ the good guys and against „the others“, the „madmen“, the „regimes“ … Galtung describes this – as I will explain in more detail – as hate or war journalism and he certainly does not mean – as is often misunderstood – critical war reporting. Purposefully placed, seemingly „factual“ reports by war PR agencies can have devastating effects in „information warfare“. Journalists such as Robert Jungk, who later became active in the peace movement, worked for the Allied intelligence services during World War II.

Condemnation of peace journalism 

Peter Limbourg, editor-in-chief of N24, openly condemns peace journalism:

„The idea of peace journalism is unworldly and not worth striving for. Even as a reporter, you can’t fight world hunger by declaring yourself a food journalist.“ 

The theory and empiricism of peace journalism in the 21st century

Peace journalism has been discussed occasionally in the specialist media in recent years, but not very widely. Since the Gulf War in 1991, however, „war reporting“ and „embedded journalism“ have been repeatedly discussed in the media and in books. 

The positivist argument against peace journalism put forward by opponents – both within and outside the peace movement and peace research – is that journalists should not take an active role in a conflict. This would mean „abandoning the objective point of view“. Peace journalists would thus be taking on the tasks of politicians and diplomats. Some theorists see peace journalism as a form of so-called advocacy journalism, which sheds light on topics that are systematically neglected in the media. This courageous advocacy of marginal issues naturally runs the risk of idealizing the marginal group (e.g. peace activists) in a partisan manner and placing elites under general suspicion. However, Galtung’s criterion of an all-partisan attitude in peace journalism „transcends“ this attempt at categorization.

Another frequently cited argument is that independent and critical reporting from crisis areas and in the event of war already fulfills most of the requirements of peace journalism, without journalists having to give up the position of „uninvolved observer“ and „pure information provider“. Michael Sontheimer, the first editor-in-chief of the taz, says succinctly:

>>Standards of quality journalism apply today as they did then: „Question everything. Don’t let anyone talk you into anything. Want to change things.“<<

ZDF editor-in-chief (2000-2010) Nikolaus Brender specifies the direction of change: „Good journalism always has peace in mind.“ Galtung’s rules for peace journalism and war journalism

Johan Galtung has developed four separable criteria for distinguishing between peace journalism (PJ) and its practical and theoretical counterpart. War journalism can be distinguished from peace journalism as follows. 

Peace journalism … vs. war journalism …

                                                  … focuses on:

Peace or conflict War and violence

Enlightenment – all-partisan truth One-sided propaganda

Empathy for people Elites

Solutions Victory

Like many peace researchers after 1945, Johann Galtung was not aware of Fried’s peace journalistic work until 2006.  Although the library in his home town of Oslo houses considerably more of Fried’s works than the most important academic libraries in Fried’s home town of Vienna, even the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace, 2010 does not mention A. H. Fried in connection with „peace journalism“ or „peace journalism“. This is probably due to the fact that Fried’s works on peace journalism have only been published in German. This naturally made it difficult for Fried’s work to be received outside the German-speaking world – which has also been very thoroughly „cleansed“, especially as far as Fried’s writings are concerned, and has so far been left in this state with lasting effects.  

Was Fried a peace journalist in the sense of Galtung? 

Fried opposed the orientation of the media of his time towards war and violence and one-sided propaganda. He was not only oriented towards elites, but had great empathy for people who were not at the top of the ruling class. In his journalistic work, Fried often – as only a few of his contemporaries did – provided enlightenment and strove for all-partisan truth. Fried systematically pursued and reported on solutions to conflicts at the green table in The Hague, reports on new scientific findings on peace issues, and so on. Fried’s journalism was peace- and conflict-oriented and mostly not focused on enemy images and de-humanization. Fried was therefore essentially a peace journalist in the sense of the most widely received theorist of today’s peace journalism, Johan Galtung. Therefore, we now move from Fried’s rough classification to a very useful theoretical and practical grid of Galtung. 

Refined grid of peace journalism and war journalism 

It shows in which direction peace journalists should be oriented and what contradicts this way of working. The criteria are descriptive and are important rules that I try to adhere to as much as possible. Of course, it is not always possible. It would be interesting to see how often I fell for the temptations of „hate journalism“ as a child of our culture.

Working hypothesis: Fried was a peace journalist in the modern sense

Fried was also – according to the current state of research – the first person to examine the relationship between peace journalism and the media and political system in more detail and published on the subject in 1901:

„The press organs of the right reject them … as radical and unpatriotic, indeed … criminal, the organs of the center, which sometimes remember their Christian mission, hardly take themselves seriously in most cases, although they should actually be the standard-bearers of the movement if they were in line with their … tradition. The national liberals are their sworn enemies. They are the bearers of the Bismark principle, … the diametrical opposition … . Under this principle they have prepared national unity and seen the fanfares of war born. 

They can never be converted … 

… the press of the Left – The Social Democrats, who call themselves the peace party par excellence, see nothing more in the peace movement than … party work of the left-liberal bourgeois groups … ridicules it most of all, not because it considers its ideas to be wrong, but only because it does not want to approve of the means in principle.

… the press of the left-liberal parties, the Liberals and Democrats … the only one that … … allows peace advocates to speak here and there, opens its columns to them. It does so because the party program demands it; … 

the so-called non-party press, which up to now has only very rarely taken the opportunity to support the movement, even if only objectively and without party affiliation.“

Fried: „… one could rightly believe that the peace movement would have to perish because of this apathy. … But this is not the case. Its growth and victorious progress proves that it does not represent fantasies, but carries within it the lofty spark of light of Prometheus and cannot perish as long as the real … unshakeable facts, which it has brought forth, secure its existence and help to increase its victory every day.“ 

„The press works in the interests of the idea without wanting to. … The power of facts penetrates the columns of the opposing press, … which glorifies wars and proclaims the principle of violence … the thinking elements are roused to contradiction by the one-sided treatment … … the thinking elements are roused to dissent, and from these roused elements the proselytes of the idea, the new adherents and recruits, are recruited. Thus the idea triumphs through the oppositional attitude of the press. And this also testifies to its indomitable, victorious power.“

Today, recent discourses criticize: In 1914, Fried fought „idealistically“, „unsuccessfully“ against war. But Fried published in the „Friedens-Warte“ despite kuk censorship and countered such critics as early as 1911 in an article on Italy’s war in what is now Libya: “ …As always when there are outbreaks of violence in international life, the opponents of the peace movement triumphed this time too. They deduced their bankruptcy from the fact that war had broken out. Even more: in a gloating manner, they almost reproach us for not being able to prevent this act of violence. This again shows how little these indignant shouters, the ironically smiling super-smart people are informed about the nature and work of the peace movement.

and the work of the peace movement. … How often should it be repeated to them? We cannot make peace. The most we can do is show the ways to achieve it. We can point to the development

We can point out the development that peace entails and explain how we can accelerate the mechanical course of development towards the organization of peace through rational intervention.“

A. F. Fried, Aus der Mappe eines Friedensjournalisten (1901)

Fried finally emigrated to Switzerland in 1915 Friedenswarte (Peace Watch) until the end of the war under an assumed name His „War Diary“ was written for the Peace Watch. Ziemann criticized in 2006 that it was not a real diary, but: „a polemical intervention against the war policy of the Central Powers“, „a collection of newspaper glosses in book form, based mainly on notes from reading newspapers“, which he reflected on and commented on. Fried followed, especially in Switzerland: „ways of speaking of the liberal-pacifist discourse“; criticized above all „Prussian militarism“ (Junkertum, reserve officer and warrior association system) and made it responsible for the beginning and escalation of the war. Ziemann also found Fried’s criticism of militarism „hardly original“: Ludwig Quidde had already argued this in 1893; „pacifist propaganda“ repeated this „ad nauseam“; „militarism“ – the „All-Germans“ were „by definition war-mongering forces“, „the main culprits of the war“ in Fried’s view. 

Fried’s analyses and criticisms „breathe the spirit of a way of thinking oriented towards Voltaire and the 18th century Enlightenment“; he castigates the „rituals and mechanisms of machine war“ and sees them only as the „result of a mass stupefaction orchestrated by the priests of militarism“.

According to Ziemann, Adolf Gasser criticized Fried’s belief in progress as a „loss of reality“ and that a reworking of Fried’s works probably had no scientific added value.

Furthermore, a „text-critical reconstruction“ and „contextualization“ of Fried’s work is necessary. Contrary to Fried’s expectations as outlined above, this should be examined: Why did knowledge fall far short of expectations? Fried’s works should: be examined according to the state of the art; language patterns and historical contexts should be analyzed; hymns to Fried’s political diagnoses and to „his humane attitude“ are not scientifically appropriate? 

According to Ziemann, Fried’s >>refusal to describe politics before and after the war as „peace“ in his sense<< „perhaps“ anticipated Galtung’s concept of „positive peace“, but „large parts of social science and historical peace research“ had long „radically rejected“ this concept „because it was analytically unproductive and conceptually flawed“. 

Fried’s war diary ends with a „curse“ against those who had triggered the war in 1914:

„forever outcasts of humanity“ their „memory“ should be „ostracized and spit upon“. Such communitization of peaceful people was based on the „marking“ and „exclusion“ of all those whom Fried considered structurally incapable of peace. The latter is logically comprehensible to me. But it is not particularly representative of Fried’s work. Towards the end of the First World War and during the Second World War, even pacifists such as Bertrand Russel and Albert Einstein, who were in a better economic position, showed remarkable fluctuations in their assessment and attitude. With these justifications, the essence of a personality like A. H. Fried and the scientific and practical added value of today’s reception is incomprehensible from a Viennese perspective. In Austria there have only been a few of Fried’s works that have been difficult to access since 1938 and Galtung’s work and rules alone have

  • led me to this discovery or
  • to the discovery of the 9000-year-old peace city of Catal Hoyük,
  • to the UNESCO declaration of Seville,
  • to the bio-psychological-social „pain threshold“ that Joachim Bauer researched in connection with aggression and falsified images of man. They also
  • allow me to experiment with the truth of Foucault’s critique of humanism and shed light on every conflict I deal with.
  • For example, the „humanitarian wars of protection“ with thousands of air strikes and civilian deaths in Libya, including the lynching of the head of state under the air sovereignty of NATO planes, after the murder of his grandchild had already been lost as collateral damage of the „responsibility to protect“ in the „targeted killing“ of Osama Bin Laden in the information war, apparently choreographed by spin doctors. 
  • War is „murder on command“, as the Viennese-born pacifist and journalist Grossmann, who published under the pseudonym Piere Ramus, stated. However, he was an anarchist from a Jewish-Catholic family and was much less popular in the press of his time than A. H. Fried. 

These are just a few examples of why I do not want to declare Galtung and Fried unproductive, like Ziemann does.  I will, of course, study the new concepts that Ziemann praises and, standing on the shoulders of Fried, Galtung & Co, integrate them if they really do promise even better articles and effects in conflict management by peaceful means. Ziemann is just as unlikely to change the current wave of armaments as Fried, the „unrealist“ and „idealist“, „humanist“ and „enlightener“ proposed for exclusion. 

Helga Schäferling, a German social pedagogue who could be my big sister, shakes her head aphoristically at such malicious language games inside and outside the ivory tower:

„As a rule, rules are regularly broken by every trick in the book.“

Helga Schäferling

Since peace journalists, today as in Fried’s time, are exposed to aporias on a daily basis, I will now continue with a case study that exemplifies the incomparably sustainable added value peace journalistic production has delivered since Fried, when journalists realize this mode of production under the given production conditions.

Libyan wars under the scrutiny of avowed peace journalists

In the following, I examine the current events surrounding the „Libyan war“ and the current significance of Fried’s work, as in my article „The Tripoli assassination and the peace movement“ in the memorandum „100 years of the Nobel Peace Prize to Alfred Hermann Fried“, which was written in spring 2011. I wanted to show what peace journalism was about then and now. Since this war was journalistically shelved by the Viennese weekly magazine „profil“ as „The perfect war“ in the fall of 2011 after the lynching of Gaddafi and is reported in the Viennese daily DER STANDARD – Die Zeitung für Leser as in the Yellow Press, which Fried outlined in his work on peace journalism as early as 1901. 

It therefore seems very fruitful to me to continue this work here, because the work of peace journalists begins long before the „war journalists“, as Galtung calls them, arrive and only really gets going when they move on to the next „battle arena“ (see grid point 1.).  In Libya, the „war“ has now turned into a civil war-like conflict, which, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, is likely to set back the country’s development by decades. 

Libya was the focus of world attention in 1911 and 2011. I hope that this small case study will sharpen our awareness of the distinction between peace journalism and „violence journalism“, which the „peace worker“ Galtung once worked out as an ideal type. The work of Suttner, Fried and their successors has technical and ethical implications for the work and attitude of peace journalists, which are still a daily challenge today and in the foreseeable future. 

As W. Urbanek et al (2011) and Walter Göhring (2006 and 2011) suggest, Fried’s achievement is still absolutely unique today. More than 100 years ago, without computers and the Internet, he reached a level of journalism and vision and impact that, as far as I can see today, can only be compared with Suttner, Gandhi or the work of the Weltbühne under the leadership of Carl von Ossietzky before 1938 or the work of Galtung since the 1990s. 

Human orientation

May 1, 2011

According to the Italian broadcaster Sky TG 24, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, Italian Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, confirmed the death of Gaddafi’s son Saif al Arab, his wife and three grandchildren: „We were led to the bodies and said a prayer with the representatives of other churches present.“ 

Striving for clarification and impartial truth  

Truth or propaganda? After two days of research – despite some plausibility of the church source – it is difficult to say for a peace journalist without an editorial team worth millions.

I read the following from journalists with a somewhat larger editorial team: 

„In a first version, this article was illustrated with Saif al-Islam.
In fact, his son Saif al-Arab was killed in the airstrike.
We apologize for the error“. (Note from the Spiegel editorial team – after all!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

07:00 I hear on ORF’s oe1 Morgenjournal: Bin Laden dead … Wolfgang Geier … Hanno Settele … Maiwald, Settele … Reaction Arab world: Karim El Gawhari: Osama Bin Laden only „commented from the sidelines“ after the events in the Arab world. This is a typical abbreviated conflict arena metaphor that diminishes and devalues Osama Bin Laden. This is how people who are not peace journalists communicate. 

7:35 I’m in a cab in Vienna with a cab driver born in Turkey: 

The free edition of the daily newspaper „Österreich“ is on the front seat. I think this might be a good opportunity to get an opinion from a non-elitist perspective. Me: „What do you think about the death of the three children in the NATO attack in Libya?“ The cab driver, who, as he tells me later, has lived in Austria for 30 years and has three children: „It’s Gaddafi’s own fault“. I think: And the three children under twelve? I ask him if I can borrow his „Austria“. On page 8 I read: „Deadly attack on Gaddafi“. Hm, „Austria“ thinks it was an attack, as Gaddafi himself sees it and Russian officials, the President of Venezuela, etc., see it. The NATO spokesmen and some politicians in the alliance have their doubts, but take the precaution of regretting possible civilian casualties from the shelling of „command posts“, which – the NATO man emphasizes – is fully in line with the mandate of the UN Security Council. 

Then I read a caption about the father of the three children who were killed: „Party bully Saif al-Arab was hit. On the right: brother Saif al-Islam, Haider’s friend“. 

This reminds me of similar texts from the last few days and weeks in „Heute“ and of Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Böll’s book „Die verlorene Ehre der Kathrin Blum“. 

08:05 I’m talking to a teacher – whom I’ve just met briefly. 

The conversation turns to the event of the day – Osama Bin Laden’s presumed killing. The teacher: „Bin Laden couldn’t have died under Bush. That would have been impractical.“ Hours later, I think: a teacher of political education, of history – open periods in the study of conflict formation? Apparently I’m not the only Austrian who is wondering about world events. Is another war being sold that not everyone wants to buy?


Alfred H. Fried was by far the world’s most important representative of peace journalism for ten years in 1911. He had also made a name for himself as a peace researcher and popular educator, even in military circles in Vienna. „For four years, more and more leading representatives from academia and the peace movement nominated A.H. Fried, who came from the humblest of backgrounds, for the Nobel Prize“. He wrote in „Friedenswarte“ in the fall of 1911 under the title „The Tripoli Assassination and the Peace Movement“: „After a long series of dangerous conflicts, which we succeeded in overcoming peacefully, we are once again experiencing the outbreak of war. A strange war indeed! It was not based on any conflict at all; merely the desire of one government for the possession of another. A raid without any moral pretense. … As always when there are outbreaks of violence in international life …“

Peace journalists and conflict researchers openly consider time periods

The most prominent protagonist of peace journalism today, Johan Galtung (*1930 in Oslo), suggested in a discussion on the war in Libya on Al Jazeera in early 2011 that Italy, which now wants to get involved in Libya, invaded Tripoli as early as 1911. I did some research and found out from Fried that the Italians carried out a horrific massacre of the civilian population – even for the time. According to Galtung, Italy under Berlusconi was therefore not very credible as a biased mediator or even an angelic NATO guardian angel in the 2011 Libyan war. In Libya, in contrast to Europe, every child knew about these war crimes. The situation is similar in the Arab world. 

According to my research, the record of Sarkozy’s France is similarly unclean, especially where North Africa is concerned. From 1954 to 1962, France fought with such brutality that the war in Algeria, which borders Libya, is still considered a model of a dirty war today. It was not until 1999 that the French National Assembly decided to allow the term „Algerian War“ to be used officially. France perfected its military doctrine in the course of this „conflict“. The so-called „French doctrine“ to fight the FLN became notorious for its ruthlessness. The officer Roger Trinquier (*1908-1986) provided the concepts for the highly controversial „modern warfare against insurgents“. The strategy included numerous methods that were already legally and even more morally criminal at the time, including the water torture of suspects, which was still common practice at the CIA until 2006. In 2004, ARTE published a documentary on French war practices in the 20th century and the human rights violations they promoted worldwide – it is available online on YouTube: „Death squads – How France exported torture and terror“. In addition to the USA, old French Algerian warriors in particular exported know-how to torture generals in South America and elsewhere. 

Peace journalism in Austria 100 years after Fried

But what about neutral Austria, which was ranked 6th in the Global Peace Index (GPi) 2011 behind the best-ranked Iceland? Iosa writes 100 years after the Nobel Prize for the Viennese peace journalist Fried at the beginning of her conclusion. „The role of the media in war, in which they largely serve the interests of the military and the government, must be viewed more critically by media professionals and the public. Peace journalism or peace-oriented journalism can be an alternative way to control the course of a conflict or war because, according to Galtung and Vincent (1992), media could promote peace and also minimize the likelihood of war.“ (S 109) … „Peace journalism is still an unestablished professional field in Austria …“ (p. 110) And concludes her work with the words: „Peace journalism addresses individual attitudes to conflict and peace issues and the desired degree of social responsibility. Whether it can be established in Austria in the near future cannot be answered. But perhaps this is not necessary, because as Kempf also emphasizes, reporters should not be guided by „peace journalism“, but by the criteria that quality journalism must meet anyway in order to promote human rights.“ is guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s credo „The Ganges of rights springs from the Himalayas of duties.“ This strict ethical self-commitment is currently hardly in demand in quality journalism in Austria. The willingness to pay for public, civil society or private peace services gives rise to fears that we are once again heading for global conflicts that dwarf all previous human crises. As Horst-Eberhard Richter (1923-2011), the „grand old man“ of the German peace movement, wrote in 1981 in „Alle reden vom Frieden“: „Not to be committed to peace is to allow its destruction to happen“. And in Austria, as in the rest of the self-proclaimed freer world, Fried’s diagnosis still essentially applies: the media and arms manufacturers are the bacillus of war agitation and politics and the people are more susceptible today than they were 30 years ago!

Arms manufacturers, politics and the media in Austria since 1970

„The SPÖ and the SPÖ/ÖVP governments in Austria approved arms exports on a grand scale in the 1970s and 1980s. In economic terms, this was essentially an exchange of weapons for oil with Iraq and Iran. These weapons were used against each other in the war from September 22, 1980 to August 20, 1988. Austrian tanks and cannons caused deaths and made headlines around the world. At the time, one of my uncles was an SPÖ works councillor at the arms factory in Liezen, which produced the GHN 45 cannon. The disappearance of a related study in a minister’s drawer even had an impact on Austria’s political system. The study dealt with the possibilities of converting the Austrian arms export industry, which was still largely nationalized at the time, to less morally questionable products. It decisively motivated the former Social Democrat Prof. Van der Bellen to become a long-standing figurehead for the then newly formed Green Party. 

The father of the General Director of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Malzacher, was already a major figure under the Nazis. According to media reports, former Nazis and some who had emigrated helped in some cases to advise and supply South American dictators in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. There have also been several deaths of high-ranking individuals in Austria linked to arms exports that have made headlines. 

Former Interior Minister Karl Blecha visited the Polisario, which was fighting for independence from Spain and then for freedom from Morocco and in Morocco respectively. In 1991, at least in Morocco, there was a „ceasefire“ that has so far been reasonably stable. 

On April 21, 2011, Khalid Ibrahim Khaled wrote on that according to a confidential NATO report: Gaddafi owes his astonishing resistance to Polisario mercenaries from Morocco (currently shaken by Islamist terror). 

On February 23, 2011, the Kleine Zeitung reported: „EU states earned a lot from arms exports to Libya“ „The 27 EU states have stopped exporting arms to Libya – but only now.“ This was a few days before the UN Security Council resolution.  In 2009 alone, exports of weapons worth 344 million euros legally left the EU for Libya. „We have learned that all arms trade has been suspended,“ said Catherine Ashton, spokesperson for the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, in Brussels in February 2011. 

„According to the latest figures, Libya’s ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi received weapons worth several hundred million euros from the European Union every year until February 2011. According to the annual report on the export of military equipment, EU governments authorized the export of weapons worth 344 million euros in 2009 alone.“ Spain, for example, supplied cluster bombs in 2007, which Gaddafi used against the rebels, according to the New York Times. As these weapons pose a particularly high risk to the civilian population, various peace organizations around the world have been fighting for years to have them banned. 

The „rebels“, in turn, are now officially supported by the CIA on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama. According to peace worker and peace journalist Galtung, the CIA was already active in Libya before the UN Security Council’s decision and provided the so-called rebels with leadership personnel. 

The Solidarwerkstatt wrote in Guernica 1/2011: 

>>At the beginning of November 2010, France and Great Britain were already preparing the military maneuver „Southern Mistral“ with air strikes against a so-called „southern dictatorship. The military maneuver began on 15 March 2011 and turned into the actual bombing of Libya a few days later.<< What other motives could NATO have besides the UN’s cited Responsibility to Protect?

Gaddafi and the water

Some commentators also see Gaddafi as having merit.

Their arguments are: Gaddafi is perhaps one of the most important figures in North Africa and Africa because:

  • he had brought his country to the forefront of the African continent and
  • he did not just invest Libya’s oil revenues in palaces, yachts and vehicle fleets, 
  • but invested in his country.

But that is not all:

Gaddafi, now often dubbed „insane“, started and almost completed a huge water supply project for Libya, Egypt, Sudan and Chad in 1980. He did not receive a cent from the World Bank or the IMF.

The project has the potential to transform North Africa into a flourishing garden.

On September 1, 2010, the first major section of the project was put into operation after thirty years of planning and construction.

That is five months before the start of the unrest, i.e. before the project – which did not envisage a civil war – could have borne fruit in the truest sense of the word.

Assuming a selling price of just 2 euros/cubic meter and extraction costs of 35 cents, the value of these top-quality water reservoirs is put at €14,850 billion (€14,850,000,000,000).

These are figures that even my everyday mind, as a trained social scientist and economist, can only understand with the help of comparisons. Germany’s gross national product has been between 2000 and 2500 billion euros in recent years. According to a conservative estimate, the value of water is roughly equivalent to Germany’s economic output for 7 years, or the value of all the services and benefits that rich Austria produces in 70 years.

In the global water business, these huge water reserves are, to put it mildly, „an interesting amount“. In comparison, Libyan oil is like chives on a piece of bread, if we consider that governments have been toppled for considerably less money in the past. With oil and water wealth, Libya could quite peacefully a truly „green revolution“ and take over Africa’s food supply.

War and violence-oriented journalists 

They describe the arena of conflict: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan, Rwanda. As a rule, they see only two parties and one goal: the victory of the good guys (us) over „the enemies“. War is generally seen as zero-sum-oriented. What I lose, the other gets. To win, the other has to lose.

They usually look at closed spaces and rather short periods of time (e.g. like Libya – as Florian Gossy, in Standard Online, 14.4.2012, cited above; Iraq 1991; Iraq 2003; Afghanistan 2001/2002). 

Reasons and ways out are sought on the battlefield. „Who threw the first stone, the first cluster bomb in Libya?“ Other causes and contexts are of little interest. Nor who delivered the cluster bomb or tried to sell nuclear power plants to Gaddafi?  Today, these journalists only trivialize „wars“ by disguising them as „interventions“. 

An „us-them language“ prevails. Such journalists often – as in Fried’s day – consciously or unconsciously give themselves over to propaganda. There were extreme excesses in the 2003 Iraq war in the genre of „embedded journalism“.

Spread of military PR 

Another example is the uncritical adoption of statements by military spokespersons by so-called military journalists. Unfortunately, the vote based on this is usually streamlined „for us“. „They“ are seen as „the problem“. The focus of these media professionals is on who wins the upper hand in the war. The result is the – often unconscious – de-humanization of „the others“. The worse the weapons planned by the military are, the more this is usually emphasized. An example of this is a cry from the US media in the George W. Bush era in relation to Iraq and Iran: „nuke ‚em out!“. 

Other examples of the de-humanization of people can quickly be found in „Heute“ or at, for example when Gaddafi is dubbed a „madman“: „Gaddafi: Irre Wut-Rede im TV“. But newspapers such as Der Standard or Die Presse also often outdo reports in the Austrian Kronenzeitung, which is also often quite rightly criticized and which at least sometimes only reports the facts.

War journalism is reactive: only open violence gives rise to reporting. Violence-oriented journalists usually only look at the visible consequences of violence (dead, wounded or material damage). It is not uncommon for them to fall – in droves – for horror stories deliberately staged by one party to the conflict. The show put on by the daughter of a top Kuwaiti diplomat became famous when she foisted „Saddam Hussein’s atrocities“ on the UN for media purposes. She tearfully reported that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies out of incubators. Almost the entire world press „reported“ this fake without checking it. When a journalist discovered the hoax years later, the war against the evil villain Saddam had already been „won“ in 1991. 

Within a few weeks in 2011, Gaddafi’s image in the mainstream media became frighteningly similar to that of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Gadaffi had also been treated in the West as one of the statesmen, in this case of Africa.

Peace and conflict-oriented journalists 

They investigate the conflict formations. Instead of just two sides, x parties, y goals, z contentious issues are investigated. Peace journalism looks for „win-win“ situations, i.e. solutions for everyone if possible. Peace journalists look at open spaces and also see the time surrounding conflicts as open. 1911 and 2011 are just two points in time. In 1911, Italy’s fascist government gave the order to march towards Tripoli. The result was a massacre of the civilian population of Libya, which was under Turkish rule at the time. This probably explains why my Viennese cab driver’s lack of empathy for Libya on May 2 is not exactly that of a citizen of the world. 

But back to Fried’s profession. Peace journalists of his ilk look for causes and solutions. They research everywhere, including history and different cultures. They try to make conflicts and all their parties transparent.

All parties (!) are interviewed, heard and documented with equal care. Empathy and understanding are important skills for peace and conflict journalists. This means that Churchill, Gandhi, Hitler, Stalin, Truman, the Tenno and Bush, Obama or Gaddafi are in principle equal before peace journalism. Critical questions must be directed at all of them, including themselves. Conflict/war is seen as a problem. However, the focus is always primarily on creativity and possible solutions to conflicts. Peace journalism is always about humanizing all sides, all the more so the more brutal the weapons used. Peace journalism thinks preventively, in peace spirals. Its aim is to prevent spirals of violence and war and to stop arms races.

Under the white flag

Alfred H. Fried wrote in 1901 in his book „Unter der weißen Fahne!

From the portfolio of a peace journalist“ in the introduction: 

„The book is primarily intended to show that peace journalism already exists in its beginnings and, on the other hand, to inspire emulation; it is intended to arouse the interest of the press, insofar as the latter is not forced to oppose it due to fundamental party maxims.“ The book should tighten the bond between the press (media) and the peace movement … „to encourage those sections of the press that are already close to the movement, even if they do not yet dare to admit it openly and emphatically, to take an open stand. … Nevertheless, the book will bear witness to the fact that alongside the all-powerful, gold-belted, blood-soaked „yellow press“ of our day, the modest beginnings of an aspiring and purposeful „white press“ are also making themselves felt“.

Fried 1901

Fried was so successful with his „modest approaches“ that he received the Nobel Prize in 1911 not only as a peace researcher, but also for his work as a peace journalist, which remains outstanding to this day. After 100 years, peace journalism in Austria in 2011 is once again an almost untapped wasteland that is only explicitly cultivated in civil society media. The First and Second World Wars hit the peace movement and peace journalism in Austria hard. Anti-Semites, right-wing extremists and Nazis such as Dr. Wichtl or Paul Heigl, the director general of the National Library appointed by the Nazi regime, who wrote a pamphlet against pacifism under a pseudonym as early as 1927, worked so thoroughly that until 2011 there was no copy of A. H. Fried’s „Fundamentals of Revolutionary Pacifism“ in any public library in Austria. The same applies to the Viennese weekly „Der Friede“, in which around 200 personalities of the caliber of Anton Kuh or Tucholsky wrote. A newspaper whose reach was comparable to today’s Profil.

In 1914, Fried was forced to flee from the Austrian KuK militarism. After exile in Switzerland, where he was probably one of the world’s most important and influential independent journalists at the Neue Züricher Zeitung, Fried came to Munich in 1919 at the invitation of the pacifist Ludwig Quidde. He hoped to find meaningful work there. At that time, in the first phase of the Soviet Republic, anti-militarists and idealistic pacifist-anarchist minds were gathering in Munich with many ambitions, but – compared to Gandhi – very modest powers of implementation. Fried soon had to flee again. This time he tried again in his native Vienna. Fried also tried to keep his head above water as a journalist in Vienna, but the golden age of peace journalism in Austria before 1914 had also been wiped out in Vienna by the First World War. The disaster in Vienna after the I. Even Fried, who had already mastered numerous crises in his life, was overwhelmed by the disaster in Vienna after the First World War. This cost him his life prematurely in 1921. 

Fried had long recognized that peace was more than just a ceasefire. The „essentially different peace“ he was striving for had become a distant prospect for him. He criticized the peace treaty of St. Germain as well as the stunted beginnings of a League of Nations, for which he had campaigned for decades. After all, anyone who asks peace journalistic questions quickly realizes that latent effects of violence – such as trauma, structural and cultural violence – must be overcome in order to achieve what I like to call structural peace and peace culture(s).

„Violence journalists“ in Galtung’s matrix are, as indicated above, propaganda-oriented today as they were then. They only ever expose the falsehoods of the „others“. They support „our“ cover-up attempts and lies. They only see „villains“ like Gaddafi & Co. They don’t see the beam in their own eye. 

Peace journalism strives for the most comprehensive truth possible. It is slow food against the zeitgeist. It seeks solutions and deliberately moves beyond the drama triangle of victims, perpetrators and persecutors. Peace journalism seeks mentors, doers and inspiring personalities for peace processes. In other words, it exposes falsehoods on all sides. In Libya in 2011, this means investigating human rights violations by the government as well as those of the so-called „rebels“ and their supporters. This also means investigating the EU, Russia, NATO, China, etc. Peace journalism tries to uncover all attempts at cover-ups – for example, US torture prisons in Guantanamo, ecological warfare in Yugoslavia and war crimes that are and were regularly committed in the context of so-called humanitarian UN military missions. 

According to Galtung, violence and war journalists were and are elite-oriented. They only focus on „our suffering“, that of men fit for military service, who form the elite or at least have an above-average share of the hegemonic dividend. Unfortunately, the majority of these journalists today are still mouthpieces and accomplices of hegemonic-patriarchal elites. They only name „their evildoers“, for example the Polisario mercenaries who shoot at his subjects for Gaddafi. They emphasize that only the elite can make peace (Obama – Putin – Merkel).

In contrast, peace journalism is people-oriented. It focuses on all suffering: the suffering of women, the elderly, children, etc. It gives a voice to the voiceless. It gives a voice to the voiceless. It names everyone, at least everyone who does or suffers injustice or wrongdoing from the perspective of positive peace concepts. Peace journalism also emphasizes peace tendencies in the population.

According to Galtung, war journalism is victory-oriented.

The war journalism formula is: 

Peace = victory + ceasefire. Today, peace research calls this „negative peace“.

War journalism conceals peace initiatives as long as it has not been decided who will win. For peace journalists, peace techniques, treaties and institutions are important. They were central to Alfred H. Fried. War journalists dream of a perfectly controlled society. After each war ends, they turn their attention to the next „source of conflict“ and only return when the cold peace is once again blazing with warlike flames. Peaceful misery after wars is considered unsexy, a quota killer. 

Peace = personal, structural and cultural peace + creativity with peaceful means

Peace journalism is resource- and solution-oriented, and that is probably its core. This means more than the mere institutionalized absence of structural violence, cultures of violence and direct personal violence. Fried spoke of revolutionary or rational peace. Like today’s peace journalists, he pointed out sensible and rather inappropriate peace initiatives and introduced the concept of reform pacifism for the latter: „Reform pacifism is directed against war as a phenomenon; not against its causes.“

He saw everything that „reform pacifism“ aimed for as merely combating symptoms and not as healing a world that was sick in body and soul. As a humanist, preventing or slowing down the spread of war was naturally a matter of concern to him. However, he also saw the chance that reformist-pacifist respites could benefit the work of „organizing the world“, which was more important to him. For Fried, changes to the structure and culture of a peaceful and peaceable society were important for a peaceful revolution. It was his great strength – but also a weakness compared to Gandhi – that he wanted to change structures and culture in such a way that people could live in peace even without walking the earth like saints. Today, the world is sitting on a pile of armaments that surpasses anything humanity has ever seen, and it continues to grow exponentially. Neither Fried, Gandhi nor Galtung have been able to change this. The UN and the EU in their current form are at best sand in the gears of the „anarchy of the community of states“ that Fried so deplored.

Peace journalism, i.e. the question of positive peace, is not a necessary luxury today, but a central key to the survival of humanity. 

Peace journalism also reports on the more or less successful post-war phases; for example, the humanitarian disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, etc. But it also reports on successful, imitative examples. But also about successful conflict solutions worthy of emulation, reconstruction or reconciliation commissions, such as in South Africa. 

I will now conclude my journalistic essay with a deadly serious play on language by the Austrian poet Ernst Jandl: 

Falamaleikum Falamaleikum – falamaleitum – falnamaleutum – fallnamalsooovielleutum – Wennabeinmalderkrieglanggenugausist – sindallewiederda. – or is one missing

Andreas H. Landl – First published in German in Vienna in July 2011

„There is no way to peace, because peace is the way.“

Mahatma Gandhi * 1869-1948, Publisher of seven newspapers 

Conflicts regarded:

  • Libya 2011 and 1911
  • Iran/Cuba 2012 – 1912 – 1962

Posted in Abrüstung, Conversion, Deutschland, english, Ethik, Europa, Friedensbewegung, Friedensforschung, Friedensjournalismus, Friedenskultur, Friedenspädagogik, Friedenspolitik, Friedenspsychologie, Friedensstifter, Friedensstifterin, Friedensstruktur, Gewaltprävention, Global, Peacebuilding, Unfrieden, Weltanschauungen, Zivilcourage

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