There are already lots of prizes for people who believe in war. In the U.S., there is, seemingly, universal acclamation. There and elsewhere there are medals, parades, monuments, and obscene financial considerations. People who are good at killing are more than adequately rewarded. At least until they get sick. That’s when the Republicans suddenly, bizarrely, always seem to want to pull the plug. Check it out: it’s the Democrats who almost always want to take better care of our veterans.
There are not so many awards for people who say “let’s not go out and kill people today. Let’s try to find a way to avoid war, to avoid destruction.” First of all, most Bible-thumpers– oddly– will excoriate you. I missed that part in Sunday School, where Jesus says, “kill your enemies”. Or the part where he says, “people who feel aggrieved by your stupid decisions in the past are your enemies and deserve to be killed.”
Anyway, even if I was a real militarist, I would shed a tear or two for the debasing of the Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever verbal pyrotechnics you must perform to prove that Obama’s decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan and rendition and the pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraq that he suppressed– constitute anything even remotely like “the promotion of peace”, they pale beside the plain and simple facts: Obama has embraced the wars and he has bought the Generals’ fervent belief that, given enough time, and resources, and foolish politicians, they might be able to “win” in Afghanistan yet. (Because, after all, we “won” in Iraq didn’t we?). We can “win” the war on terror, much like, after 30 years of the same failed policy, we have “won” the war on drugs.
We live in a world in which politician after politician, after concluding that a particular strategy isn’t working, invariably propose more and bigger of the same. Why? Not because the policies worked– they haven’t– but it isn’t politically viable to try an alternative. What if the Democrats proposed a illegal drug policy that wasn’t based on savage deterrence and ridiculously lengthy periods of incarceration? The shrieking would send Johnny Rotten to the madhouse.
Even if you think he’s right, why give him a “peace” prize for it? Give him a war prize. Give him a monument. Give him a favorable column in The Washington Post because he consulted with general after general after general and they all agreed: war is the solution and he bought it. If a little bit of war fails– try more of it. If that fails: try some more. If that fails: try some more. If that fails: consult with the generals again. Again, they will recommend war.
Could they not have postponed the ceremony at least? Coming as it did the day after Obama committed 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, seems a bit unseemly at best. It was truly embarrassing and sad. His speech to West Point– would Gandhi have done that?
Henry Kissinger’s picture is on the wall of honor at Oslo City Hall. It is almost impossible to imagine, today, what they were thinking when they gave it to him. What did they know? Did they have the slightest clue about what his role actually was in the Viet Nam War, and in the Nixon Administration? Were they nuts?
As a liberal, of course, I like Obama a lot more than Kissinger, but I still don’t think he should have been given the peace prize and I don’t think he should have accepted it. It think it was foolish, premature gesture.
The only good reason for giving it to him was to deliberately piss off curs like Charles Krauthammer and George Will. And the more they fume about it, the more I think, well, maybe he should accept it. They’re just jealous that George Bush Jr. didn’t get a peace prize.
Obama: “And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.”
Yes, that’s what a lot of people thought they were voting for. I still suspect that seven years from now, it might be recorded that armed conflict was avoided somewhere because Obama made some wise decisions… I suspect he is too smart to stumble into something like Iraq. But then, I also thought he was too smart to get bogged down in Afghanistan the way Johnson got bogged down in Viet Nam. But he has and is and in spite of his insistences to the contrary, the resemblance to Viet Nam is uncanny.
Irving Kristol, in today’s Washington Post, quotes Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech and compares it favorably with a speech by Bush. Okay– so does Irving Kristol now support Obama? Will he say, he has made good decisions about war and peace and Afghanistan? Not on your life– so while claiming that Obama is no different from Bush with one breath, he immediately proves that he is by attacking him at every other moment. But then, conservatives, lately, seem to ridicule the very idea that their platform should have any kind of coherence or consistency to it– these are incoherent times for them. Conservative policies created the biggest financial crisis in history and Sarah Palin and her cronies demand more of the same policies. The deregulated markets performed spectacularly badly– let’s have more deregulation. Viet Nam was a failure — let’s try it again in Afghanistan. We know something the Soviets didn’t know when they were there for a heartbreaking seven years. Honest, we do.