Friday, October 9, 2009

The No-Peace Prize

President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No one thinks he actually deserves it - even the White House speech writers. The Peace Prize Committee itself says they are awarding it more on his future potential than based on his peacemaking accomplishments thus far. They hope the award will spur him into living up to some of his promises. I hope they are right - I really do, but it seems like an epic fail at the moment.

We are only 9months into his presidency so I continue to hold out hope that he has some kind of long-game which will turn everything for the better but thus far Obama has been a disaster for the cause of peace. He has extended and expanded the war in Afghanistan. He has not pulled out of Iraq. Gitmo is still open and it looks increasingly likely that he will miss his own 1year deadline. Worse - he has aggressively fought in the courts for the continuation of all of the horrific Bush/Cheney policies including indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition, the legal blackhole at Bagram. He has tried to evade or demolish the Freedom of Information Act, he is pushing warrant-less wiretapping, he has continued embargoes on Cuba, and he made no progress on major peace promises from his campaign like nuclear disarmament. In fact, on issues related to war and terrorism his policies are virtually indistinguishable from the Bush administration.

Granted his rhetoric is very different from Cheney and friends, and I am not one who believes words are worthless. He has changed the climate already in foreign relations. America is much less reviled than it was a year ago. His diplomacy with Iran has already yielded tangible results. His negative stance on Israeli settlements in Palestine is a courageous shift from previous administrations. He continues to promise much and if he comes through with it then he may actually deserve this award, but he is nowhere even close at the present time.

Even if he were to end all our current wars and usher in the era of transparency he promised however, could he really be a credible dove? Could any president of the United States? We are the country that continues to spend almost as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. We sell about 70% of all arms worldwide. We are a perpetual warmongering state. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st we have moved continuously from war to war to war without break, all of them wars of aggression. We invade, we destabilize, we reconstruct, and we abandon country after country with undetonated mines, clusterbombs, and depleted uranium left behind in our wake to terrorize for decades. What would it take for the commander in chief of our military to actually qualify as any kind of peacemaker?


Paul Wise said...

"What would it take for the commander in chief of our military to actually qualify as any kind of peacemaker?"

Probably about what it would take for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Anonymous said...

A great posting, especially your last paragraph.

As though Obama can somehow turn all of that around in 9 months!

Plus all of that dreadfulness has the momentum of at least 3 millennia of patriarchal violence and conquest behind it.

And yes Obama inherited a dreadful toxic legacy from the previous administration which was easily the worst 8 years in USA history.