Friday, 9 October 2009

On Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

In Friday morning, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for what the Nobel committee called "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." According to BBC News, Obama was "surprised and deeply humbled" to receive the prize and would accept it as a "call to action." He also said that "he did not feel he deserved to be in the company of some of the "transformative figures" who had previously received the award."

He is not the only one of this opinion.

Writing in Time, Mark Halperin notes that "Barack Obama's critics have long accused him of being a man of 'just words', rather than concrete actions and accomplishments. The stunning decision to award him the Nobel Peace Prize for, basically, his rhetoric, will almost certainly infuriate his detractors in America more than it will delight his supporters." Conservative commentators have called the decision everything from "the final nail in the Nobel Peace Prize Committee's coffin" to "deeply disquieting."

In the mainstream media, however, the spectrum of opinion only goes beyond disgruntled conservatives and fawning liberals if it can find a liberal who disagrees with the decision or a conservative who agrees. Moreover, all analysis seems based on hollow ideology and character criticism rather than upon concrete actions and what has actually occurred. Visions of the future (good or bad) inspired by the prize are the order of the day.

For an analytical and radical analysis we can turn to Green Change. Whilst others whitter about "character" and "hope" or "disquiet for the future, Gary Ruskin's dissection is as concise as it is incisive, offering obvious truths that are too often left unsaid;
Did Obama bring peace to Iraq?

No. He has retained 124,000 U.S. troops there, with tens of thousands deployed perhaps indefinitely.

Did he bring peace to Afghanistan?

No. He has escalated the Afghan war, and is part responsible for the scores of civilian deaths that have occurred there. He has done this despite that most Americans believe that the war is "not worth fighting."

Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee said in an interview that “Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics.” Has Obama done anything singular to stop the worldwide crisis of climate change?

No. He has spent little or no political capital on the climate crisis, and still refuses to commit the U.S. to strong actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And there are widespread reports that he is trying to weaken the Copenhagen global climate treaty.

Jagland said that “The Nobel Committee has in particular looked at Obama’s vision and work toward a world without atomic weapons.” But on this issue, Obama is merely implementing the ideas of the more conservative foreign policy minds of our nation, including Henry Kissinger.

Did he beat the swords of the giant U.S. defense budget into plowshares of peace?

No. In fact, he will soon sign into law the largest defense bill in our nation's history.

Has he brought home the troops scattered across the world stationed to maintain our empire?

No. We still have an estimated 1,000 military bases in foreign lands worldwide.

Has he stopped our nation's scandalous weapons trade?

No. The U.S. has expanded its weapons trade. We now supply 2/3rds of the world's foreign armaments.

Did Obama sign the cluster munitions treaty to ban cluster bombs, because 98% of cluster bomb casualties are children?

No. The U.S. has not signed the cluster munitions treaty.

Has Obama brought home the army of mercenaries we have stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No. He has expanded the ranks of these mercenaries to 250,000.

There are millions of people across our world who spend their blood and sweat every day for peace -- real peace. Every one of them deserves the Nobel Peace Prize far more than Barack Obama.
We must not be taken in by the myth of the liberals. Even if he assumes the job with a smile, grace, and lofty rhetoric about issues that touch the core of the radical left movement, Barack Obama remains the most powerful figure in a hierarchical, authoritarian, exploitative, and destructive global system. As Obama's near-comprehensive failures on every front have demonstrated, that system is immune to meaningful reform.

It must be dismantled, no matter how charming its incumbent figurehead.