Saturday, October 10, 2009

Can We Civilly Disagree About the Awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama ?

I've been worried since the first machinations of the Obama administration in the economics sphere (the appointments of Rubin's protégés, Summers and Geithner, to positions where they could continue to wreak havoc with our financial institutions and never ever advocate real change in the way their policies reap profits for their shadow backers) that he may be only a place-holder president for the powers that be until the next election where an enraged electorate would toss out the plainly no-change candidate for one guaranteed to change the US back to the steady path of empire building and plutocracy. The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize did not change my mind, although hope reigns eternal, don't it? (Trying to maintain that even strain . . . .) From David Sirota at Open Left I've grokked the response to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama that I find one of the most compelling.

In his remarks this morning, President Obama (quite commendably IMHO) said he didn't feel like he deserved the award. Big props to him for the intellectual honesty in the admission. As I said, this is really more about the Nobel committee and our society's obsession with celebrified politics more than it is about Obama. A very quick post on the Obama Nobel Prize award after spending the morning in the virtual focus group known as talk radio in a major swing state. Some points we can - or at least should be able to - agree on: - President Obama's speeches on nuclear non-proliferation and on the need to do a better job on multilateral diplomacy were very important, as were his efforts to pursue a diplomatic track with Iran. - Much of the world hated George W. Bush and likes Obama. - Obama is the president of an administration that may have "inherited" two wars in the heart of the Muslim world, but is also continuing on its own to prosecute those wars. In fact, he's considering massively escalating one of those wars. Do these facts mean Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize award? My opinion is no.

I think you need to actually make peace (which requires lots of risks/courage/success) rather than simply talk about making peace (which requires far less risk/courage/success) - I think, for instance, that Chinese dissidents who have risked their lives taking on the most authoritarian government in the world are more deserving. I think a president commandeering two wars in the heart of the Muslim world doesn't deserve the award, especially as he considers an escalation. And I think the idea of giving an award to someone to "encourage" them to be more peaceful before they actually prove to be peacemakers is ludicrous for two reasons: 1) if that's a rationale, why not give it to brutal dictators as an incentive for them to lighten up? and 2) sure, the award may encourage more peace, but it also may be used as a political shield to justify more war - if Obama escalates in Afghanistan, for example, the award will let him try to brush off the antiwar movement by simply saying, hey, you can't question me, I'm a Nobel Peace Prize winner!

. . . the truth of what I'm saying should be self-evident.

By that I mean, you can be a genuine progressive interested in peace and think this award is a travesty on progressive grounds, and also not think that the Rush Limbaugh/GOP attacks about this award from the right are valid at all. Likewise, you can think this award is a travesty and simultaneously hope that one day President Obama truly ends up building a record deserving of such an award. You can even think this award is a travesty and think Obama is on the way to building up such a record, but is undeserving of the award because he's only been president for 9 months and hasn't yet proven himself a Nobel-level peacemaker.

So the fact that the Democratic National Committee is calling everyone who opposes the Nobel committee's decision a terrorist is, in a word, disgusting. I know the DNC is responding to Republicans (whose basis for opposing the Nobel prize to Obama I disagree with), but by saying all critics of the Nobel award and of Obama's record (or lack thereof) are terrorists by virtue of their opposition is just sick and wrong.

If we are going to build a real movement, we have to resist that kind of nonsense wherever it comes from.

Read the rest of this sterling argument here. On another note we have Swiftspeech's No. 44 quoting Chris Floyd who wants you to know that:

Floyd encapsulates perfectly why Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award is a disgusting farce, an insult to those who really are fighting for peace in the world, and just another reminder that the Nobel Peace Prize represents little more than a gaggle of back-slapping elitists who bestow awards upon each other so that they can pose as global saviors to the public when in reality they are mostly a bunch of crooks, con-artists and deceivers.

Glenn Greenwald (my hero!) has a slightly lighter touch (although perhaps not that light (but certainly appropriate)): (emphasis marks added - Ed.)

People who live in regions that have long been devastated by American weaponry don't have the luxury of being dazzled by pretty words and speeches. They apparently - and rationally - won't believe that America will actually change from a war-making nation into a peace-making one until there are tangible signs that this is happening. It's because that has so plainly not yet occurred that the Nobel Committee has made a mockery out of their own award. But far more important than the lack of actual accomplishments are some of the policies over which Obama has presided that are the very opposite of peace. Already this year, he not only escalated the American war in Afghanistan, but has ordered air raids that have produced things like this:

That was from a May airstrike in which over 100 Afghan civilians were killed by American jets - one of many similar incidents this year, including one only a week ago that killed 9 Afghan civilians. How can someone responsible for that, and who has only escalated that war, possibly be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the very same year that he did that? Does that picture above look like the work of a Nobel Peace laureate? Does this, from the May airstrike?

Beyond Afghanistan, Obama continues to preside over another war - in Iraq: remember that? - where no meaningful withdrawal has occurred. He uttered not a peep of opposition to the Israeli massacre of Gazan civilians at the beginning of this year (using American weapons), one which a U.N. investigator just found constituted war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. The changed tone to Iran notwithstanding, his administration frequently emphasizes that it is preserving the option to bomb that country, too - which could be a third war against a Muslim country fought simultaneously under his watch. He's worked tirelessly to protect his country not only from accountability - but also transparency - for the last eight years of war crimes, almost certainly violating America's treaty obligations in the process. And he is currently presiding over an expansion of the legal black hole at Bagram while aggressively demanding the right to abduct people from around the world, ship them there, and then imprison them indefinitely with no rights of any kind.

It's certainly true that Obama inherited, not started, these conflicts. And it's possible that he could bring about their end, along with an overall change in how America interacts with the world in terms of actions, not just words. If he does that, he would deserve immense credit - perhaps even a Nobel Peace Prize. But he hasn't done any of that. And it's at least as possible that he'll do the opposite: that he'll continue to escalate the 8-year occupation of Afghanistan, preside over more conflict in Iraq, end up in a dangerous confrontation with Iran, and continue to preserve many of the core Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies that created such a stain on America's image and character around the world.

Propagandee over at Urantian Sojourn has possibly the best take on the awarding of this prize.

. . . it’s driving the Rethugs, and especially the neocon wing of the wingers, over the edge.

Come to think of it, maybe that figured into the committee’s reasoning.

The voice of another McCarthy is heard from the right (surprise!), and I agree with him as far as this goes. (Too bad it can't convince the unconvinceable.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

I'm not all for Americans winning international prizes, especially the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I'm vigorously against it. The transnational progressives who pass out these accolades believe America is the problem in the world, the main threat to peace, the impediment to "progress," etc. The award is a symbolic statement of opposition to American exceptionalism, American might, American capitalism, American self-determinism, and American pursuit of America's interests in the world. That is why Obama could win it based on only ten days in office - merely by capturing the White House and the levers of power, he stands to do more for the Left's "knock America off its pedestal" program than any figure in history.
Suzan ____________________


Greendayman said...

Suzan - I love your brain!

I have been trying to explain this to my conservative friends all day! Their heads are just randomly exploding..


Suzan said...

Thank you, Greendayman!

What a neat moniker - I feel like I know you already.

Welcome aboard.

Our ship will soon set sail for outer Slobovia. Maybe we'll be able to eat a bit of that Nobel?