10.09.2009

stunned and appalled, but there is precedent (updated)

I've rarely been more surprised than I was to learn that US President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The award would be more fitting if Obama actually took a few major steps towards ending either of the current US wars of aggression. Or one major step. Or one step.

Then again, Henry Kissinger was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, the award that caused Tom Lehrer to famously say, "It was at that moment that satire died. There was nothing more to say after that."

I don't know if a famous quote will emerge from this year's award, but it again tarnishes the Nobel Peace Prize.

One might hope Obama would feel an obligation to live up the potential of the Prize. But it's perhaps better to hope for Santa Claus.

Update. Please see comments for important links, plus the presidential precedent.

29 comments:

redsock said...

Not as insane as Kissinger, for sure, but I can't think of anything he has done to merit this. (Does simply winning an election count?)

Meanwhile:

Yesterday ... a legal case was filed at the Audiencia Nacional against four United States presidents and four United Kingdom prime ministers for commissioning, condoning and/or perpetuating multiple war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq.

This case, naming George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown, is brought by Iraqis and others who stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in defence of their rights and international law.

The intended destruction — or genocide — of Iraq as a state and nation has been ongoing for 19 years, combining the imposition of the most draconian sanctions regime ever designed and that led to 1.5 million Iraqi deaths, including 500,000 children, with a war of aggression that led to the violent deaths of over one million more. ...

The persons named in this case have each played a key role in Iraq's intended destruction. They instigated, supported, condoned, rationalized, executed and/or perpetuated or excused this destruction based on lies and narrow strategic and economic interests, and against the will of their own people. Allowing those responsible to escape accountability means such actions could be repeated elsewhere."

*******

redsock said...

From uggabugga:

Just as we've always suspected:
"The Nobel Peace Prize is an extension of the United Nations' objective of destroying the United States."
Rush Limbaugh - 9 Oct 09 (start of 2nd hour of broadcast)

***

And Fox goes insane. I mean, more insane.

redsock said...

Glenn Greenwald had the same reaction as L:

When I saw this morning's top New York Times headline -- "Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize" -- I [thought] this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website, that it was just some sort of strange joke someone was playing.

[GG has been very critical of Obama so far (quite rightly, I might add), but he does offer a bunch of stuff in Obama's favour. Then:]

People who live in regions that have long been devastated by American weaponry ... 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. ... 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. ...

[T]here are simply no meaningful "peace" accomplishment in his record -- at least not yet -- and there's plenty of the opposite. That's what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous. ...

Apparently, according to the DNC, if you criticize this Prize, then you're an unpatriotic America-hater -- just like the Terrorists, because they're also criticizing the award [here]. Karl Rove should be proud.

***

Tried to limit my quoting. As always, GG is essential reading.

James said...

One commentator has pointed out that, as often as not, the Nobel Peace Prize isn't given to honour the recipient so much as to flip the bird at someone else.

L-girl said...

A, thanks for the links. Go ahead and guest post if you like.

James, examples?

redsock said...

Not sure you need (or want) two posts about this. I have nothing to say re Greenwald except READ IT.

deang said...

The presidential precedent is Woodrow Wilson, who received the prize even though he was a notorious Indian killer and launched the US attack on the Phillipines that killed hundreds of thousands. He was awarded the prize in part because he helped form the League of Nations.

That case at the Audiencia Nacional is great. I hope it gets somewhere.

L-girl said...

The presidential precedent is Woodrow Wilson

Yes, of course! Excellent. Thanks, Dean.

deang said...

I should have said "a" presidential precedent." I was just reminded that the equally bellicose Teddy Roosevelt also received a Nobel Peace Prize.

L-girl said...

Wow, I didn't know that! When seen in this context, the world's most famous peace prize seems pretty silly and trivial.

John F said...

The one good thing about this is that it increases the possibility that a Fox News commentator might stroke out live on air. I'm rooting for Glenn Beck.

A side note: I watched a full ten minutes of Fox last night. It's like the "Mirror Universe" episode of Star Trek. The commercials were as disturbingly fascinating as the content. G. Gordon Freaking Liddy is a celebrity spokesperson for a company that wants you to buy gold.

L-girl said...

It is always a bizarre adventure to travel to that galaxy.

Interesting how they're not proud that a US President has won such a prestigious award. Rather unpatriotic of them.

James said...

Interesting how they're not proud that a US President has won such a prestigious award. Rather unpatriotic of them.

They've pretty much given up any pretence of patriotism. Their new slogan seems to be "If it's good for Obama, we hate it" -- regardless of whether it's good for the country.

We've had talk of the desirability of succession (from a state governor), coups (from a Republican news site, NewsMax), impeachment (with no reason given), civil war, assassination, etc.

Some Person said...

What puzzles me is that Obama accepted the prize. He had everything to gain by refusing it. He would have defused the outrage/energizing of the U.S. right, he would have endeared everyone with a show of humility, and he could have more convincingly said, "I cannot accept this prize because there is so much more work towards peace that needs to be done."

But he accepted it in a show of political ineptitude. "Doh!" sums up my reaction to this decision.

redsock said...

"I cannot accept this prize because there is so much more work towards peace that needs to be done."

And then he would wisely NOT say the sentence that logically follows: "And I have no intention of doing any of that work."

L-girl said...

Not accepting the prize is politically unthinkable. Absolutely unthinkable. No US president could do that - ever.

Accepting the prize is not ineptitude; it's the only possible way, politically.

James said...

I've read that Obama can't actually refuse it. He can refuse to show up to accept it, but that wouldn't prevent the Nobel Committee from awarding it to him anyway.

L-girl said...

Kind of like giving up your US citizenship. You can say you have, but the IRS won't believe you.

M. Yass said...

Once again, the Nobel prize committee makes a mockery of itself. First by giving it to Kissinger (as Redsock reminded us) and later Arafat as I recall.

Now Obama gets it, and he has done exactly what to contribute to world peace? Is America any closer to being out of Vietraq or Vietstan? Last time I checked, he wanted to escalate the war in Vietstan, not end it.

This is further proof of how political and meaningless the Nobel prize is.

L-girl said...

M Yass, I'm happy to give you a place to sound off, but do me a favour and read the post, too! :)

The post mentions Kissinger. Dean G also gave two other excellent historical examples - US Presidents.

cls said...

It's worthwhile considering whether the Nobel prize was awarded to Obama as a way to buttress the diplomacy end of the Iran issue in the face of a relentless campaign from the hawks and the zionists to bomb Iran.
The Nobel makes it a bit harder for Obama to use military action and adds some international clout to the diplomacy arguments in the aftermath of the Iranian concession on Russian enrichment, etc.
It's not about 'AfPak'; it's about Tehran.
You only have to think ahead to what might happen if the Iranians respond to a major military strike on their facilities by atacking oil infrastructure in the Gulf to figure out the politics of this.
If one thinks of sanctions as economic war, and the Iranian response in kind by disrupting the industrial world's fuel supply as response in kind, then one can see part of the strategic pattern.
There are already two wars going badly, and another one or two (Iran and possibly Pakistan)would ignite one hell of a geopolitical destablized mess. The threat of such a mess doesn't seem to be a hindrance on hawks from the US or Israel, and from what I've heard, the pressure on Obama to use some kind of military option has been intense.
It might very well be that there's method to the UN's madness.

L-girl said...

It might very well be that there's method to the UN's madness.

The UN doesn't award the Nobel Prize.

cls said...

That should have said, "Method to the Nobel committee's madness".

L-girl said...

OK, thanks.

You're right that there is tremendous pressure on Obama to attack Iran, and you assume (I think) that he doesn't want to. If this strange choice of award helps him resist the overwhelming movement of the US towards war, then it will be an excellent thing.

However, seen in the context of other warmongers receiving this award of peace, I'm not convinced the Nobel committee cares very much about peace.

cls said...

Whether the membership of the committee wants or values peace would depend on its membership. And I would suspect that the membership has varied over the years. Perhaps more important is to consider that this nobel prize committee might value peace. What's been done in the past tells me little about what's been done by this committee. I would prefer to see how things work out, and do more investigation as to make up and membership and its motives, rather than dismiss things out of hand.

L-girl said...

I would prefer to see how things work out, and do more investigation as to make up and membership and its motives, rather than dismiss things out of hand.

That's great. If you learn anything, please come back and share.

cls said...

Here's a quickie overview drawn from Wikipedia of the Nobel peace committee membership: It's made up of 5 former (or soon to be former) members of the Norwegian Parliament and uses proportional representation to decide which parties will be represented. At present it includes 2 members of the Labour Party (including a former president of Socialist International); 1 Conservative; 1 Progress Party (tax cutters); and 1 Socialist Left Party (eco-socialism). (It might also be noted that the committee has four women and 1 man.)
The committee is assisted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute which has an extensive library of materials related to peace and international studies. A research department organizes research into war and peace. There is a staff of 5 as well as researchers from around the world who are part of a fellowship programme.
Last, but not least, what is different about the Nobel Peace Committee is that this prize is not rewarded in retrospect but for more recent or immediate achievements.

L-girl said...

Thanks, cls. I don't think it's possible to infer - and certainly not prove - motive from this. But it's an interesting theory.

And at least Obama appears to care more about world opinion than the last crew, which goes to your idea.

cls said...

Here's a link to an article by Robert Naiman who argues this is not the first time the Nobel committee has strategically awarded the prize as a means to encourage and protect peacemaking activities. Or for activities that have yet to be realized.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/nobel-committee-strategic_b_314980.html

At the risk of offering an overly simplistic observation, I think the awarding of the Peace prize as a kind of chess move designed to prevent Obama from being check mated by those who do not want him to succeed in peace making. No guarantee of success. But as Cornell West (I think) observed, it's hard to be a war president with a peace prize.