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Give peace a chance

Written By: - Date published: 8:17 am, October 10th, 2009 - 40 comments
Categories: International, obama - Tags:

So President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize:

OSLO – President Barack Obama on Friday won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said.

I must admit that this award surprises me. Yes Obama appears to be committed to reductions in nuclear weapons, and yes that is hugely significant. But on the other hand the Peace Prize does not exactly sit easily with America’s current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In many people’s eyes the Obama administration is indistinguishable from the preceding Bush regime when it comes to the exercising of American military power. Obama supporters who hoped for more are increasingly angry.

High profile anti-war campaigner Cindy Sheehan (who lost a son in Iraq) expresses this sense of betrayal and anger in one of her open letters to Obama:

President Obama,

I know that you are only fulfilling your campaign promises to increase the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I notice that not a significant amount of troops have been withdrawn from Iraq. However, even with your hostile rhetoric and promises to escalate the violence, many people voted for you because they believed you were the peace candidate.

Since the election, you have betrayed the progressive base that gave you victory on many occasions already, but the cause that keeps many of us motivated is the continued carnage in the Middle East. What bothers me even more, especially, is the fact that the so-called anti-war movement has given you a nine-month free pass and thousands of people have died, including hundreds of our own troops.

Since you took office, 125 of our irreplaceable young have been killed in what you called a ‘dumb war’ in Iraq and 223 in what I call the “other dumb war,’ Afghanistan. I have been waiting for a mother of one of those needlessly killed troops to demand a meeting with you to ask you: for ‘What Noble Cause?’ her child was sacrificed. …

Count me among the disappointed. I hoped for more from Obama than a continuation of American wars. I can’t square that with a Peace Prize. He didn’t deserve it.

40 comments on “Give peace a chance ”

  1. shaun 1

    It’s a joke. These are Obama’s achievements:
    – Troops are still dying in Iraq
    – Troops are still dying in Afghanistan
    – More troops are in Pakistan
    – America is more divided than it has ever been (Democrats vs. Republicans)
    – Iran is still well on its way to obtaining nuclear weapons

    & he beats Mandela (a man who truly united a nation).

    • sk 1.1

      It is shocking he beat Mandela. And the irony is that Obama’s victory speech in Chicago borrowed heavily from Mandela’s speech on election day in 1992 . ..

      • sk 1.1.1

        Correction:Of course Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. It was Morgan Tsvangirai who was in the running this time.

  2. Tom Semmens 2

    Well, he got the Nobel Prize for not being George Bush, which only goes to show how pleased everyone was to see the back of that war criminal and economic dunce. Good on him. Let’s hope it spurs him to achieve more than just that though.

  3. gitmo 3

    I might be wrong but isn’t the peace prize the only one of the prizes decided upon by “non experts” and is the most political of the awards which why you get laughable results like Obama this year and Gore a few years back.

  4. the antichristobama camp are going to have fits – I expect that now that all of their greatest fears are realised, the reaction will be brutal

  5. Tom Semmens 5

    marty mars: Yes, the Nobel committee have gifted us hours of fun as we read the reaction. Already the KBR are unilaterally declaring war on Norway and pronouncing the Nobel prize an irrelevant frippery.

    Obama got the prize because he isn’t George W. Bush which in itself is revealing of how deeply loathed the criminal Bush/Cheney regime was amongst practically all the Western intelligensia. No doubt about it, this prize is at least partially a poke in the eye and a hearty ‘fuck off’ to those two from the Europeans.

    But there is no doubt that Obama’s ‘hope’ message resonated powerfully across the world and was a perfectly pitched message after the nadir of the United States international reputation under the Bush/Cheney regime. The importance of hope and the goodwill that can engender should not be underestimated as a power for change in human affairs. Maybe the restoration of the American reputation to its Iraq ante bellum level alone does justify winning the prize.

    I read that Obama may reject McChrystal’s call for more troops in Afghanistan and instead seek a political accomodation with the Taliban. No doubt that is correct, and the mere fact it is even being discussed represents a staggering departure for US foreign policy. If Obama does actually manage to pull off some sort of compromise with the Taliban in Afghanistan that gets American troops out of that place and guarantees the security of his homeland it would be a staggering triumph for common sense and a huge strategic victory for the United States.

    Of course for paranoid birthers and militia types in Montana and on kiwiblog, frothing at the threat of gun control imposed by the illuminati, this will just confirm their fears of a secret world government conspiracy via the Trojan horse of climate change.

    But those people never got past their stupidity, racism and nascent fascism to hope for anything in the first place anyway.

  6. Westminster 6

    Well, the Peace is and probably always will be a bit of theatrical nonsense. The list of laureates is a list of popular figures of their time involved in international affairs. Like pretty much everyone, I see this as a joke. But at least it gives us hours and hours and hours of entertainment watching the Right (just check out Boss Limbaugh and the RNC or the wild rantings of the Kiwiblog Right) go into hysterics. I am just disappointed it’s not a joint prize with Fidel Castro. I suspect widespread apoplexy.

  7. Bill 7

    Reduction in nuclear weapons my arse!

    “Although one of the hottest stories of the year was reported by the Inter Press Service last week, the U.S. plan for new nuclear weapons production was completely ignored in the mainstream media. That Obama allocated $55 million for nuclear weapons production runs directly contrary to the myth that the U.S. fulfills its international legal obligations, while punishing “rogue regimes” for violating international law. This story, however, was dead on arrival when it was first reported by the Inter Press Service (IPS) on Wednesday, September 30th.

    The IPS report states that “despite the statements by Barack Obama that he wants to see the world reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, the U.S. Department of Energy continues to push forward on a program called Complex Modernization, which would expand two existing nuclear plants to allow them to produce new plutonium pits and new bomb parts out of enriched uranium for use in a possible new generation of nuclear bombs.” The story’s timing is particularly ironic considering that the U.S. is openly admitting to reconstituting nuclear weapons, while there is currently no physical evidence that Iran is running a nuclear weapons program.”

  8. aj 8

    My first reaction was it’s just a joke too, but realistically Obama can’t turn things around in a time frame of less than a year. He is dealing with a deeply entrenched military & industrial elite who have great clout. I won’t use too many words but the gun culture runs very very deep in the USA.

    Captcha ‘mad’

  9. Bill 9

    Oh. And. Nominations closed when Barak had been in office for….wait for it…..two weeks.

    So the Nobel Peace Prize winner is

    1. thinking of cranking it up in Afghanistan

    2. adding to and modernising US nuclear arsenal

    3. supportive of the military coup in Honduras in the face of democratic opposition

    4. likely going to turn a blind eye to a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran in the near future (the bogus nuclear talk is merely preparing the pretext)

    5. being a good corporate soldier in the class war in opposition to democratic aspirations

  10. RedLogix 10

    Obama inherits a pig’s arse of a mess from the Bush/Cheney criminals; a mess not likely to be cleaned up quickly and easily by anyone, regardless their good intentions. Comparisons are made with Mandela, but even the nation he united decades later, still has much, much progress to be made.

    Entropy works this way; breaking things is relatively quick and easy, fixing them is a far harder task. The Bush administration had eight long years to screw up the Middle East, it’s wholly unreasonable to imagine that Obama could have made all things new with a hasty, unilateral withdrawal over the space of a few short months.

    I have to agree though, this will make the Obama-haters utterly apoplectic with rage. Priceless.

  11. Bill 11

    “The Bush administration had eight long years to screw up the Middle East…”

    What? How far we want to go here in the screwing up process? Days of the British Empire in the 1800’s?
    1953 and the ascendancy of the Shah?
    Sadam Hussien being backed to power by the US?
    Long running support for the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, UAE and so on?
    Maybe the establishment of Israel?

    Democracy might be a solution…but democracy and the US have never been bedfellows.

    • Ari 11.1

      Depends whether you define “democracy” in the old, FPP-style American conservative sense, or the new, more proportional social-democratic sense.

      In the former (and less representative) sense, America is one of the most democratic nations in the world. 😛

      • Bill 11.1.1

        Neither of those definitions for democracy strike me as particularly democratic or worthwhile….any country that measures it’s democratic credentials against any benchmark arising from or inherent to those definitions is, in my view, measuring levels of sham; not democracy.

        So the US becomes one of the most shambolic nations in the world? Now, that sounds more like it, don’t you think?

        • gitmo

          Go on then give us an example of a “good” democracy.

          • BLiP

            No such thing. “Good democracy” is like the “free market” – neither exist except on the pages of 101 university course text books.

            • Quoth the Raven

              BLip – Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it can’t be brought about. It’s attitudes like yours that are a barrier to the progress of humanity.

            • BLiP

              Where exactly did I say that “good democracy” doesn’t exist AND people shouldn’t strive to achieve such a concept?

          • Bill


            By ‘good’, I take it you mean substantive. Nation states and market economies work against the formation of substantive democratic institutions. They (nation states and market economies) could not exist in a truly democratic environment and by the same dint, democracy struggles in the their environment; surviving in smaller scale initiatives on the fringes.

  12. Paul 12

    I’m honestly amazed – I’d love for him to earn and receive the peace prize – but I think that giving it up front does rather reduce the incentive

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    Yes Obama appears to be committed to reductions in nuclear weapons, and yes that is hugely significant.

    r0b – If you believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.

    The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.

    Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.

    • RedLogix 13.1

      President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections,

      Out of genuine interest, when was the last that any US President said anything that was critical of Israel, or more importantly, acted against it’s interests?

      So why is anyone expecting Obama to be different? He certainly never campaigned that he was going to pressure Israel to open it’s nuclear arsenal to inspection. The simple fact is that no-one reaches any significant level of political power in the US if there is any hint that they do not fully understand what Israel requires of them.

      • Quoth the Raven 13.1.1

        Your point? My point is that it puts a lie to talk of him being “commited to reductions in nuclear weapons.”

        • RedLogix

          There is more to nuclear weapons than the relatively small (albeit politically important) arsenal that Israel has. But again, realistically after 60 years of these weapons proliferating and deeply embedding themselves into the balance of power in the world, exactly what magic wand are you expecting Obama to wave here?

          Any useful reduction in arsenals (their elimination is not likely unless some massive catastophe compelled the world to act decisively), will be the result of many years of multiparty negotiations.

          Nor is a ‘modernisation program’ necessarily incompatible with this goal. Like all hi-tech equipment, these things have a limited lifespan and require updating on a regular basis. The general pattern has been to see the retirement of large numbers of obsolete weapons being replaced by fewer modern ones. It amounts to a desirable reduction in warhead numbers, even if it falls short of the ultimate desire of eliminating them altogether. And at present, that is politically impossible for any President to achieve.

          • Quoth the Raven

            As the world goes Israel has a large nuclear arsenal – over a hundred as Jimmy Carter told the world. Probably many hundreds. Either way it’s not near Russia or the US but it is many more than Pakistan or India, for instance.

            You are trying to say that he is achieving something and I’m giving you an example where he is not even making an effort. I’m not expecting him to wave a magic wand I’m expecting him to make some sort of effort and as Bill shows above he’s making moves contrary to his rhetoric in his own country.

        • Bill

          Maybe your point would have been better made by pointing to his intention with regards to the US nuclear arsenal rather than his posturings with a client state?

          My comment above (from 11:07) links to the fact he is investing and modernising the US nuclear arsenal.

          • RedLogix

            All nations with nuclear weapons are committed to an on-going cycle of modernisation. At some point they all become technically obsolete and must be retired and replaced with new ones.

            Not replacing them, as much as you and I would wish for it, is not a political option open to Obama at present.

            • Bill

              He’s not replacing. He’s upgrading.

              Meanwhile the non proliferation treaty…I believe the US are a party?….requires the dismantling of stockpiles.

              Obama cannot honour US nuclear related obligations, why?

              And he is allowed by the media to posture over Iran, which has no weapons grade uranium, and is probably only at worst developing a latent potential, why?

            • RedLogix

              He’s not replacing. He’s upgrading.

              Replacing, upgrading… semantics. My understanding is that the while actual warheads themselves have a relatively long lifecycle, there are many components of their access, control and guidance systems that become obsolete relatively quickly.

              Most of the current US warheads were built in the 70’s and 80’s, designed for use in Cold War scenarios. Military technology tends to be quite conservative in any case, and has very long design and production cycles… so the technology in most of these systems is now very dated. As each decade passes it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain these systems in a safe and reliable state.

              The issues are covered in more depth here.

              If they are going to be retained, upgrading obsolete sub-systems is inevitable. The general pattern is that advances in technology will be incorporated to allow for better security, reliability and flexibility in use, while at the same time the total number of warheads is reduced.

              And he is allowed by the media to posture over Iran, which has no weapons grade uranium, and is probably only at worst developing a latent potential, why?

              As I said above, all US politicians understand exactly what Israel requires of them… or they simply never make it into office.

  14. Quoth the Raven 14

    Not replacing them, as much as you and I would wish for it, is not a political option open to Obama at present.

    This is called being an apologist.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      If the provision of a genuine public health care option is apparently beyond the powers of the US President, you are dreaming if you think he could achieve a unilateral nuclear disarmament.

      Asking the impossible and then condemning Obama for not achieving it, is scarcely reasonable.

      • Quoth the Raven 14.1.1

        You think unilateral nuclear disarmament is impossible? He’s hardly even making an effort Red, whether unilateral or not, that’s the point. The same with healthcare it’s never been about providing a “genuine public health care option”. A cursory glance at the plans should show one that.

  15. Pascal's bookie 15

    I’m still laughing about this.

    The only thing that could make it more betterer would be for Kissinger to send his back in protest.

  16. felix 16

    Jeebers fucking Christ.

    Can I have a Nobel Science Prize please?

    See I’m working on this thing, well it’s more of an idea for a thing. I mix these two compounds that I’m trying to synthesize and when you drink it, it cures aids. And if you didn’t have aids, it makes you, um, a bit taller or something. Probably.

    I’ve got a fair bit of work to do on it, by which I mean I need to go to uni and do some sciencey papers or something, but fuck it’s gonna be awesome! It’ll change the whole world. Well not the whole world, but definitely the aidsy bits.

    So can I have my prize now plox?

  17. Cal 17

    Here’s another perspective on it

    They are a “progressive” news commentary show, they do a lot of weird stories but some of them are really informative. I don’t fully agree with what they say here, but I just thought it’d be interesting to bring to the table

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