Tarnished gold

I suppose the king of Norway could endow me with the Nobel Prize for Medicine. After all, I’ve done no harm, thereby adhering to the first rule of medical practice. As a consequence, I demonstrate great promise.
But of course there would be no political reason to hand me a Nobel Prize. The Nobel committee is nothing if not political, and there is no more political act than awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.


On the other hand, it’s politically astute to award Barack Obama the prize. And he has promise and little else on his side, according to the official statement from this year’s Nobel committee, unless you believe his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” have yet borne fruit. The committee had better be looking at his promise and his efforts, and not the outcome. If they were giving the Nobel for results instead of empty hope, Obama would have been awarded the Prize for War, not Peace. Consider the following accomplishments, which represent a partial list of the best-known examples.
Obama has ratcheted up the war in Iraq, despite campaign promises to the contrary. Can we kill more civilians? Yes, we can.
Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, despite campaign promises to the contrary. The war has spilled into Pakistan and now includes political conversations with the Taliban, our allies during the Reagan administration and mortal enemies during the last decade or so. Can we enlist our former foes to help us kill more civilians? Yes, we can.
Obama is seriously considering bombing Iran, a strategy he believed wise long before he was president, or coming to the aid of Israel when they attempt to drive Muslim enemies from the Promised Land of Christianity. Can we contribute to further fraying of a delicate situation in the tinderbox known as the Middle East? Yes, we can.
Obama has postponed his promise of closing the torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, despite many promises to the contrary. At the current rate, Gitmo will never be closed. Can we continue imprisoning and torturing people without cause? Yes, we can.
Obama has maintained Bush-era programs of extraordinary rendition and legalized torture. Can we spread our culture of torture throughout the civilized world under the false flag of quashing terrorism? Yes, we can.
The political left has been silent throughout this entire onslaught, thus giving Obama a free pass on every one of these issues. Each of these issues was considered vitally important when a smirking half-wit occupied the Oval Office. Now, as then, any of them should be sufficient to begin impeachment hearings in Congress. Where’s the left? Oh, that’s right: There is no left left in this country. They abandoned ship in the dead of night, back when it was Morning in America.
Perhaps most importantly, Obama has instilled confidence in the world’s industrial economy, thereby preventing the economic collapse toward which the Shrub administration had us headed. By keeping alive the omnicidal culture of death, Obama ensures the birth of more people into the world. When collapse comes, we’re therefore assured that human suffering and consequent death will be even greater than it would have been with an earlier collapse. And, along the way, we have to live with the burden of knowing we have killed more non-human species, slayed more non-industrial humans, and contributed even more quickly to our own inevitable extinction. Can we extend the omnicide beyond other cultures and other species, so that it includes our own species? Yes, we can.
War is peace. Life is death. Left is right. And this Orwellian world grows more Orwellian with each passing day.
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Comments 9

  • I don’t know if it is true, but one analyst who is said to be an expert on Nobel Prize ruminations says that the nomination must have occurred when Obama was only a month in office, suggesting that his campaign rhetoric and not any real actions as President may have resulted in this award.
    And during his campaign, Obama tossed a lot of very positive-sounding hints that became muted after his election.
    There is also talk that the Nobel Prize committee may have been trying to steer Obama further towards peace. Perhaps by naming him the Peace Award winner he will be more recalictrant about bombing Iran. Perhaps that is part of the Nobel Committee’s thinking.
    But, if Obama feels the Afghanistan War is “necessary”, he can probably come up with a Reaganesque explanation that bombing Iran is necessary to protect the future peace. If we only can bomb, bomb, bomb Iran back to the stone ages, then they will not threaten us or Israel. Of course, this is pure fantasy and military analysts have spoken plainly that attacking Iran will surely unleash retaliation that will likely be devastating to our own interests.
    I think Obama knows that and that is why his approval of an attack on Iran should be taken as a signal that he views a return to any old “peace and prosperity” paradigm as unrealistic. An attack against Iran is a statement of defeatism.
    I think the Nobel Committee was so desperate to engage for peace that they decided on a “Hail Mary” pass that they hope will put the onus on Obama to actually practice what he preaches. But, alas, peace and prosperity are commodities that have peaked along with petroleum and will be increasingly in short supply. “Peak Peace” probably occurred with the Carter Administration, where I don’t recall too much military adventurism by the US; perhaps because Carter himself had been a military man and knew of the shortcomings of war.
    By the way, I think I am probably the first person to come up with the concept of peace as a commodity and “Peak Peace” as a reality of our time. I hope it catches on! (There never is or could be pure peace because too much is at stake to play fair in international relations).
    Stan Moore

  • Alexander Cockburn taught me a lot this morning on the history of Nobel Prize-winning US Presidents and the failures of Obama since
    Day One at http://www.counterpunch.org as follows (copied from that website under Fair Use doctrine):
    Weekend Edition
    October 9-11, 2009
    CounterPunch Diary
    War and Peace
    By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
    I suppose we should not begrudge Barack Obama his Nobel Peace Prize, though it represents a radical break in tradition, since he’s only had slightly less than nine months to discharge his imperial duties, most concretely through the agency of high explosives in the Hindu Kush whereas laureates like Henry Kissinger had been diligently slaughtering people across the world for years.
    Woodrow Wilson, the liberal imperialist with whom Obama bears some marked affinities, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, having brought America into the carnage of the First World War. The peace laureate president who preceded him was Teddy Roosevelt, who got the prize in 1906 as reward for sponsorship of the Spanish-American war and ardent bloodletting in the Philippines. Senator George Hoar’s famous denunciation of Roosevelt on the floor of the US Senate in May of 1902 was probably what alerted the Nobel Committee to Roosevelt’s eligibility for the Peace Prize:
    “You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives—the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind. You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture. ”
    TR was given the peace prize not long after he’d displayed his boundless compassion for humanity by sponsoring an exhibition of Filipino “monkey men” in the 1904 St Louis World Fair as “the missing link” in the evolution of Man from ape to Aryan, and thus in sore need of assimilation, forcible if necessary, to the American way. On receipt of the prize, Roosevelt promptly dispatched the Great White Fleet (sixteen U.S. Navy ships of the Atlantic Fleet including four battleships) on a worldwide tour to display Uncle Sam’s imperial credentials, anticipating by scarce more than a century, Obama’s award, as he prepares to impose Pax Americana on the Hindukush and portions of Pakistan.
    People marvel at the idiocy of these Nobel awards, but there’s method in the madness, since in the end they train people to accept without demur or protest absurdity as part and parcel of the human condition, which they should accept as representing the considered opinion of rational men, albeit Norwegian. It’s a twist on the Alger myth, inspiring to youth: you too can get to murder Filipinos, or Palestinians, or Vietnamese or Afghans and still win a Peace Prize. That’s the audacity of hope at full stretch.
    It’s dawning even on those predisposed to like the guy that when it comes to burning issues the first black president of the United States truly hates to come down on one side or the other. He dreads making powerful people mad. He won’t stand up for his own people when they’re being savaged by the nutball right, edges them out, then has his press secretary claim that they jumped of their own accord. This may impress the peaceniks of Oslo, but from the American perspective he’s looking like a wimp.
    Obama’s Afghan policy evolved on the campaign trail last year as a one-liner designed to deflect charges that he was a peacenik on Iraq. Not so, he cried. The Global War on Terror was being fought in the wrong place. His pledge was to hunt down and “kill” Osama bin Laden.
    Once ensconced in the Oval Office Obama, invoking “bipartiship”, instantly nailed a white flag to the mast by keeping on Robert Gates, Bush’s secretary of defense.
    He formed a foreign policy team mostly composed of Clinton-era neo-liberal hawks, headed by Hilary Clinton and Richard Holbrook. His next step was to eject the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, and install Gen. Stanley McChrystal, best known for running the assassination wing of the military’s joint special-operations command. (JSOC). Then he ordered 17,000 new US troops to be deployed to Afghanistan.
    It was a fine exhibition of Obama’s eerie skill – also demonstrated in the politicking over health reform – in foreclosing his own range of choices and allowing opponents to coalesce and seize the initiative. If, on his second day in office he’d announced a full and complete review of US aims in Afghanistan, with no option left off the table he’d have had some purchase on the situation. But the months drifted by and finally the worsening situation forced a review of Afghan policy, precisely when Obama’s poll numbers were dropping, the war lobby heartened and the liberals already dejected by Obama’s surrender to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street and disastrous efforts in the health fight.
    At this point fate handed Obama a golden opportunity. With astounding insolence Gen. McChrystal began to conduct a public lobbying campaign for his appeal for 40,000 more troops. His rationale for new troops ended up in the hands of Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.
    Harry Truman was an indifferent president who needlessly dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, designed to intimidate Stalin. He launched the cold war arms race in 1948. Yet Americans venerate him for two things: the sign on his desk saying the buck stops here, and his dramatic firing of war hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur, for insubordination in challenging Truman’s overall direction of the war in Korea (not to mention Truman’s fears of likely MacArthur excess in administering plans being carefully evolved in Truman’s high command to deploy and use nuclear weapons on the Koran peninsula.)
    Truman didn’t allow MacArthur time to stage a grandiose resignation. In April, 1951, he fired him on late night radio, announcing that “With deep regret I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the U.S. Government and of the U.N. in matters pertaining to his official duties. In view of the specific responsibilities imposed upon me by the Constitution of the U.S. …I have decided that I must make a change in command in the Far East. I have, therefore, relieved General MacArthur of his command.”
    It’s clear that McChrystal stepped over the line conclusively in his speech in London at the Institute for Strategic Studies where he contemptuously dismissed the “small footprint” counter-terrorism strategy proposed by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, saying that it would lead to Afghanistan becoming Chaos-istan. Obama’s National Security Advisor, Gen Jim Jones declared that it would have been better that McChrystal’s criticisms had come up through the Army’s chain of command. That was the moment Obama could have fired McChrystal for MacArthur’s offense – insubordination and defiance of civilian control of military policy.
    McChrystal is no war hero, like McArthur. People crave some evidence that Obama has steel in his soul. High risk, maybe, but potentially a huge coup for Obama at a fraught political moment, also a brisk exit from the humiliation of the failed booster trip to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. Obama did nothing, except further irk his liberal base by saying withdrawal isn’t an option. Pundits solemnly explained that given Democrats’ distaste for the war in Afghanistan – backed by strong popular hostility, Obama might have to go to Republicans to get the votes for the necessary appropriations of money.
    It’s all much too late for any sensible policy review. There have been two moments in the last 40 years when life might have improved for ordinary Afghans, particularly women. The first came with the the reforming left regime of the late 1970s, destroyed by the warlords with US backing. The second arrived with the US eviction of the Taliban in 2001-2, which was welcomed by many Afghans. But at this stage in the game, simply by definition, no American intervention overseas can be anything other than a ghastly disaster, usually bloodstained. Allready the US had too many chits out to the warlords of the Northern Alliance. The US “nation building” apparat is irreversibly corrupt – with a network of $250,000 a year consultancies, insider contracts, and beyond that a de facto stake in the drug industry now supply most of the West’s heroin and opium.
    There’s no possible light at the end of any tunnel. The robot war via Predator missiles and other instruments in the arsenal infuriates all Afghans, as wedding parties are blown to bits every weekend. With more troops and mercenaries now in Afghanistan than during the Russian military presence at its peak, there’s zero chance for America playing a long-term constructive role in Afghanistan. The US presence is just a recruiting poster for the Taliban.
    But Obama has now surrounded himself with just the same breed of intellectuals who persuaded Lyndon Johnson to destroy his presidency by escalating the war. They’re easily as mad as the bible thumper I heard last week on my truck radio as I drove over the Tehachapi pass on route 58, between Barstow and Bakersfield. Harold Camping, president of Family Stations Ministry, was patiently explaining that God’s plan was to end the world by flooding on May 21, 2011, thus trumping the end of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012. In the Biblical perspective 5/21/2011 is the end of the world. The elect will be saved, the rest will perish, not even given brief probation like the inhabitants of Nineveh. Camping’s voice was calm and seemingly rational , no doubt like those of the men and women briefing Obama. A doubter called in, emphasizing that he was a 100 per cent believer in the veracity of each line in the Bible, but how to explain verse 4 of the ninetieth psalm? “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night”? Why had the divine author permitted himself the ambiguity of simile? Camping plunged confidently into biblical numerology: God revealed to Noah in the year 4990 BC that there would be yet 7 days until the flood of waters would be upon the earth. Substitute 1000 years for each one of those 7 days, and we get 7000 years. And when we project 7000 years into the future from 4990 BC, we find that it falls on the year 2011 AD. 4990 + 2011 = 7001. He counseled us to remember, when counting from an Old Testament date to a New Testament date, always to subtract one year because there is no year zero, resulting in: 4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000 years exactly.
    But May 21? On May 21, 1988, God finished using the churches and congregations of the world. The Spirit of God left all churches and Satan entered into the churches to rule at that point in time. The Bible decrees that this period of judgment upon the churches wil last for 23 years. A full 23 years (8400 days exactly) would be from May 21, 1988 until May 21, 2011. Camping took pains to remind his vast world audience that this information was discovered in the Bible completely apart from the information regarding the 7000 years from the flood.
    At this point the geological contours of the Tehachapi pass interrupted the radio signal and soon I was descending into the inferno of sunset over Bakersfield. Is Campoing madder than the augurers who have been counseling Obama on his Afghan policy? Is his devoted audience more gullible than the President?
    Last week Obama invited Republicans as well as Democrats to the White House for further review of the options. Obama has let events overtake him, exactly as he allowed the health policy debate to spin out of his control in the summer and early fall. He’ll shoot for some sort of lethal semi-compromise on reinforcements, thus feeding the right and angering his liberal supporters. A year from now he’ll be paying the penalty in the mid-term elections, just as Clinton did.

  • Guy, well said. This culture is Orwellian, obdurate, and omnicidal.

  • —————freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.And the
    world is mad.
    Frank

  • *shrug*
    Eddie Izzard:
    ” Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can’t even deal with that! You know, we think if somebody kills someone, that’s murder, you go to prison.You kill 10 people, you go to Texas, they hit you with a brick, that’s what they do. 20 people, you go to a hospital, they look through a small window at you forever. And over that, we can’t deal with it, you know? Someone’s killed 100,000 people. We’re almost going, “Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning. I can’t even get down the gym! Your diary must look odd: “Get up in the morning, death, death, death, death, death, death, death – lunch-death, death, death – afternoon-tea – death, death, death – quick shower…”
    …..
    That really sums it up nicely, I think.
    You know, reading through history the elite of the world are an odd bunch, aren’t they? Always patting each other on the back, feeling around, trying to figure out where the knife will fit when the time comes. They’re kind of like the original celebrities: often useless, sometimes entertaining, and probably on drugs 90% of the time.
    There are plenty of Nobel laureates out there likely for every one that got an award there were five who would have deserved an award for the way they conducted their lives. If it says anything at all about the institution, I think Sartre told them to stick it in their collective ear. Kind of funny, really.

  • Howard Zinn on Obama Winning the Nobel Peace Prize
    from http://informationclearinghouse.info
    First, let me say that I dearly love Howard Zinn and he rarely disappoints me. I rate him as one of the greatest Americans I ever heard of, and I recommend his autobiographical DVD “You Can’t Stand Still on a Moving Train”, which make a great double feature with “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” — Pete Seeger is another great American who I adore.
    Here is Howard Zinn’s take on the Obama Nobel Peace Prize:
    War and Peace Prizes
    The dismaying gift of the Nobel prize puts Barack Obama on the list of its winners who promised peace but prosecuted war
    By Howard Zinn
    October 10, 2009 “The Guardian” — I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.
    Yes, Wilson gets credit for the League of Nations – that ineffectual body which did nothing to prevent war. But he had bombarded the Mexican coast, sent troops to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic and brought the US into the slaughterhouse of Europe in the first World War, surely among stupid and deadly wars at the top of the list.
    Sure, Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace between Japan and Russia. But he was a lover of war, who participated in the US conquest of Cuba, pretending to liberate it from Spain while fastening US chains on that tiny island. And as president he presided over the bloody war to subjugate the Filipinos, even congratulating a US general who had just massacred 600 helpless villagers in the Phillipines. The Committee did not give the Nobel prize to Mark Twain, who denounced Roosevelt and criticised the war, nor to William James, leader of the anti-imperialist league.
    Oh yes, the committee saw fit to give a peace prize to Henry Kissinger, because he signed the final peace agreement ending the war in Vietnam, of which he had been one of the architects. Kissinger, who obsequiously went along with Nixon’s expansion of the war, with the bombing of peasant villages in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger, who matches the definition of a war criminal very accurately, is given a peace prize!
    People should be given a peace prize not on the basis of promises they have made – as with Obama, an eloquent maker of promises – but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war, and Obama has continued deadly, inhuman military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    The Nobel peace committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization which is not awed by stardom and rhetoric, and which has some understanding of history.

  • Maybe the Nobel Prize for Medicine should be re-allocated as the Nobel Prize for Madison (Avenue, that is: for the best advertising campaign). The advisory team in the election campaign could again emerge a winner.
    Then maybe we should keep the Guest House at Guantanamo Bay open and continue with “extraordinary rendition and legalized torture”: obvious candidates might include the Boards of Directors of Insurance (including Health Insurance) firms, Automobile Manufacturers (and the Beards of Directors of their Labor Unions) and of course Investment Banking concerns.
    Also it must be taken into account that BHO’s Islam is the variety from the Madrassahs of Indonesia: not too many Shiites there. So, if like most of the Arab (=predominantly Sunni) world he shows little reluctance to do away with (Shiite) Iran, muzzle (predominantly Shiite) Iraq, and go after the Al-Qaida (=persona non grata in Saudi Arabia) in Afghanistan, he is being quite consistent.

  • Suggestion to Obama — Buy a lottery ticket!
    Dear President Obama,
    You are clearly on a roll. Everything you touch turns to gold. I am expecting you to win an Oscar, a Tony, an MTV award, and the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in battling the forces of the Right as Commander in Chief. Everything is going your way.
    I also suggest that you invest a single dollar in the Powerball Lottery (no need to invest any more than $1) and you will surely win. Wait till the stakes are highest and your chances of winning will be greatest.
    Would you mind please sending me a fingernail clipping or old basketball shirt or something I could use in hopes that your luck rubs off on others?
    Thanks a million! I swear, I will quit calling you a bamboozler if you make me rich by osmosis.
    Stan Moore

  • The prize, similar to Dickens A Christmas Carol, is about peace past, present and future. They have awarded peace prizes for reducing nuclear arms 4 times, for groups working with refugees 3 times, people working on peace in the Middle East 4 times and also for peace on the Korean peninsula and to disseminate climate change policies. Awards have been given without as much fanfare when they awarded sustainable development, democracy in Iran, economic development for the poor, and reducing landmines to name a few. No president in recent history has caused such a change in domestic and international attention, which is precisely why he received the prize. And further he never asked to receive it, should he reject it? Only the Vietnamese have so far.
    Should the left reject it because some, but certainly not all, of the left are playing politics and turning down the hysteria on torture to get health care and climate change legislation passed? Please, criticize your friends and then ask them to do you a favor. They are professional politicians, and good at what they do.
    Power is fickle.