Thursday, December 10, 2009

About the Peace Prize

When Obama was announced as the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize in October, I was completely exasperated with the criticisms that Obama had done nothing to "earn" the prize.  Not the way the other recipients had earned it (yeah, take a look at that list and tell me if there aren't a few other people on it who didn't deserve the award either--uh, "Mother" Teresa, anyone??), or so their argument went.

If any of these critics had actually bothered to read the Committee's brief press release, it would have been clear that the prize was not awarded on the basis of any action taken by Obama; rather, it was awarded on the basis of ideas and philosophies propagated by Obama.  The Committee was trying to encourage a movement away from war mongering in US foreign policy and a movement toward US environmental stewardship. The Committee was actively playing politics and attempting to cement Obama's lofty campaign promises into actual presidential policies.   

The other common criticism of Obama at the time was that he had only received this reward because the world views him as a rock star.  I just have to ask:  since when is that a bad thing?  When did soft power and diplomatic influence become something that the US did NOT want?  I can tell you this, it is a heck of a lot cheaper to get the citizens of the world on board and acting in "our interest" with talk than it is with weapons.  So again, kudos to the Committee for taking advantage of the situation and trying to appeal to our well-loved president's ego, mind and ethics.  For attempting to get him to live up to his own promises of peace and responsibility.

Must have felt like a real slap in the face when the Committee heard Obama's war mongering acceptance speech.  Obama used the bestowal of the Nobel Peace Prize as a platform to couch the "war on terrorism" as a just war. Wow, and I thought George Bush II had moxy.

In his acceptance speech, Obama said, "Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaidas leaders to lay down their arms." Of course not, Mr. President.  However, our county acting in a manner befitting a civilized nation CAN convince the future potential foot soldiers of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations that they have no need to fight us, that we do not represent a threat to their way of life, and that we are indeed an agent of good, not evil.  Conducting multiple wars for decades leaving decimated countries in our wake, invading countries on false pretenses, advocating for preemptive attacks on sovereign nations--these are the things that encourage people to fight.  By any means necessary.

You'd think Obama would have been smart enough to figure this out.  At least I thought he was.  That was why I voted for him.  Color me embarrassed, too, Committee.  We were both had, huh?

I would have respected Obama more had he courageously come out and acknowledged the situation by stating, "Look, I inherited two absurd wars.  My country fucked up, but now I need to try to make this thing right.  I can't simply abandon the civilians in the nations that my country destabilized.  Frankly, I have no clue what the right way to proceed is, since no one has ever successfully navigated these waters before, but I can't have the blood of these people on my hands.  I can't sleep at night when I consider the possibility of another Samalia or another Balkans.  So, I'm just gonna muddle though this via trial and error and do my absolute best."  

I'll take a more detailed look at Obama's speech later.  Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, but at this moment, I am not pleased.  I am not proud.  I am truly disheartened at what looks like another lost opportunity for my country to do the right thing.

Om shanti.