SCANDAL: OBAMA GETS THE “PEACE PRIZE”
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 10 Oct 2009
In his will, Alfred Nobel states the criteria for awarding the prize:
Two general expressions, for all the five prizes:
«during the preceding year»
«has conferred the greatest benefit on mankind»
and four expressions that apply particularly to the peace prize*:
– "brotherhood among nations"
– "abolition or reduction of standing armies"
– "for the holding and promotion of peace congresses"
– "champions of peace"
Even with a broad contemporary interpretation of Nobel’s words from 1895, President Obama has done none of it – although he has spoken a lot of elegant, visionary words about doing it, about us all ("we") doing it.
He has not reduced wignificantly the U.S. military presence in Iraq, he has markedly stepped up the military presence in Afghanistan. His administration has not given up the Ballistic Missile Defence in Europe – so harmful to peace and enabling rather than deterring nuclear war – instead, his defence secretary has told us in so many words that the new one will be much better. The visionary elements of his Prague speech on a nuclear weapons-free world were almost absent in his UN speech recently.
Obama has taken no visible steps to reduce his army; instead the budget he took over from Bush has increased.
Has he contributed to the brotherhood among nations? Perhaps, but not half as much as so many others, including the broad-based peace movements and individuals around the globe. But he has talked a lot of nice words.
The Nobel Committee has once again failed to honour Alfred Nobel’s will. It has once again, as a bunch of retired politicians, shown no awareness of what peace is. It has again rewarded one of their own kin – a politician and thereby a government (of the world’s most militaristic country).
How politically foolish to give it to him now instead of waiting and seeing whether he will DO what he says!
So, just another scandal in the series. When will there be a serious debate about this bizarre institution? When will media and experts begin to raise questions? How long shall the world’s peace people accept that they have been deprived of their peace prize?
*) Quoted from the best analysis so far of this prize, Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl’s "Nobel’s Vilje" which is partly reproduced here.
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