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Oct. 13 2009 - 10:12 am | 445 views | 5 recommendations | 55 comments

On the Nobel Prize for Occasional Peace

Maddow: Before he was nominated for the Nobel, Mr. Obama had persuaded the people of the most powerful nation on earth to choose him and his vision of strength through diplomacy—instead of the vision offered by his rival for the presidency.

McCain: You know that old, uh, that old Beach Boys song, bomb Iran? Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb… anyway…

via Rachel Maddow: The Nobel Peace Prize and Obama Derangement Syndrome | Video Cafe.

It’s hard to believe, but there have been sillier moments in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize than this recent fiasco involving Barack Obama — it’s just so hard to remember them when you’re rolling around on the ground and spitting up greenish foam in a state of shock, as most of us were this past weekend as the news of Obama’s amazing award rolled over the airwaves.

The Nobel Peace Prize long ago ceased to be an award given to people who really spend their whole careers agitating for peace. Like most awards the Prize has evolved into a kind of maraschino cherry for hardcore  careerists to place atop their resumes, a reward not for dissidence but on the contrary for gamely upholding the values of Western society as it perceives itself, for putting a good face on things (in Obama’s place, literally so).

Even when the award is given to a genuine dissident, it tends to be a dissident hailing from a country we consider outside the fold of Western civilization, a rogue state, “not one of us” — South Africa from the apartheid days, for instance, or the regime occupying East Timor.

You never, ever get a true dissident from a prominent Western country winning the award, despite the obvious appropriateness such a choice would represent. Our Western society quite openly embraces war as a means of solving problems and for quite some time now has fashioned its entire social and economic structure around the preparation for war.

Most of our important scientific innovations come, either directly or indirectly, through research into the creation of new weapons. Our media relentlessly praises and cartoonizes war and violence, blithely indoctrinates millions of children a day into the possibilities of military combat with video games and toy guns. We house an utterly insane percentage of nonviolent criminals in jails. And when a fringe presidential candidate named Dennis Kucinich announced plans to create a “Department of Peace,” he was almost literally laughed off the campaign trail.

We’re a society that believes powerfully in the divine right of force, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to think of ourselves as being peaceful. And indeed, there are times when we actually do turn to peace and diplomacy to solve our problems. Usually this is because all other avenues of action have been exhausted first, or because it just happens to be the right logistical move at that particular moment.

Like for instance, we invade Iraq for whatever asinine reason was actually behind that decision, we stay there for, oh, seven years or whatever, and eventually it starts to occur to us that this is an extraordinarily expensive activity, pisses off everyone involved, destabilizes a whole region, and to boot puts the lives of countless innocent Iraqis and young Americans at risk, though of course this is the last consideration. Moreover the plan to gain permanent access to Iraqi oil reserves through the establishment of a friendly “democratic” regime with (let’s say) a “flexible” attitude toward foreign investment is turning out to be problematic at best.

So eventually someone will make the decision that this whole Iraq war thing is stupid, benefits no one, not even politically in the short term, and moves will be made to wrap up this idiotic business and bring everyone home. At which point someone making this dreary logistical decision will get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and that someone will probably win it, allowing us all to bask in the glow of our “peace-loving” values which prevailed in the end over hate and violence.

That’s how this thing works. We ebb toward war most of the time. But sometimes, out of necessity, or when we run out of bullets, we ebb the other way. And it’s then that we give ourselves awards for our peace-loving behavior.

Who knows, maybe Barack Obama’s award is already tied to that particular Iraq plotline. He was, after all, elected in part because his party, the Democratic Party, which had supported the idiotic invasion at the start, had lately decided to abandon the idea and present itself as being against this particular war.

More likely the Obama critics who believe that Obama won this award for not being George Bush are right as well. The problem the international community had with Bush wasn’t that he believed in war and the use of force, it was that he believed in the unilateral use of these things. Bush did not believe in the use of force as an expression of a whole society’s values, he believed in it as an expression of his own machismo.

He was like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, flying through history with a bomb between his legs, shouting “Yee, haw!” It wasn’t so much that this behavior was wrong, it was just unseemly. He was like the drunk at a Victorian tea party who during the soup course makes jokes about the hostess’s secret pregnancy in France. We Westerners, we just don’t do things like that. Decorum, sir, decorum!

How do we do things? We keep the troops in those faraway places like Afghanistan and Iraq, sure, but while we do that we make sure to extol things like tolerance and dialogue and the spirit of diplomacy. We make sure that the same people who were not involved in the decision-making process during the previous bombing runs under Bush are in the loop again, now and hopefully forever. We smile a lot and say nice things about the Geneva convention and the impropriety of torture and secret detention, the importance of the rule of international law. We make everybody feel better about how things are going to go from now on.

This is what Barack Obama did to “earn” the Nobel Prize. He put the benevolent face back on things. He is a good-looking black law professor with an obvious bent for dialogue and discussion and inclusion. That he hasn’t actually reversed any of Bush’s more notorious policies — hasn’t closed Guantanamo Bay, hasn’t ended secret detentions, hasn’t amped down Iraq or Afghanistan — is another matter. What he has done is remove the stink of unilateralism from those policies.

They’re not crazy-ass, blatantly illegal, lunatic rampages anymore, but carefully-considered, collectively-run peacekeeping actions, prosecuted with meaningful input from our allies.

You see the difference? The Nobel committee sure did!

There’ve been some dumb Nobel Peace Prizes before. Giving one to Gorbachev in 1990, sandwiched right in between his invasions of Azerbaijan and Lithuania, comes immediately to mind. Giving one to Henry Kissinger, a man responsible for the bombings of millions of Indochinese (and who consistently favored the use of increased bombing runs to force the other side to the negotiating table) is another. The award to Arafat, Rabin and Peres likewise seems humorous to me. The Al Gore award, I don’t even want to go there. I went years thinking that the Al Gore prize was a joke someone was playing on me. I still can’t believe it really happened.

The unifying thread for all these prizewinners is that they were all important political figures who at one time or another embraced violence as a just and appropriate policy, and got the peace crown once the political weather changed and it was time to put the tanks back in the garage. Even Gore, during the Kosovo war, boned up on his war cred before he got a prize for losing an election, growing a beard, and making a freaking movie. And hey, maybe in the real world, you can’t punish politicians for embracing force — maybe there’s just no way around the use of violence, when you’re running a country the size of the U.S. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been President or Vice President of anything.

But it’s hard not to notice that those onetime war-favoring pols are the Westerners who win these awards, when there is still a significant minority of people living right here among us who believe that nonviolence can work as a permanent policy, and who have consistently rejected and opposed the obvious militaristic values of the society we actually happen to live in.

Those people win the Nobel Prize when they live in “other” countries, when they’re penniless priests in Timor or Soweto or activists in Guatemala. But when they’re Americans or Western Europeans or Japanese who think we should reduce military spending or defund catastrophic weapons programs, no dice, because those people don’t represent “us” — us being a society that doesn’t seriously think about disarming.

Instead they use the award to give political backrubs to the inexperienced commanders of deployed armies, people like Barack Obama. I have no idea what his award means, but I do know one thing; it doesn’t have a lot to do with peace.


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  1. collapse expand

    Mattie: You did not use the “F” word or any other profanity in this whole article. “Decorum, Sir, Decorum.”

  2. collapse expand

    Excellent commentary, Matt. I was thinking the other day what a true peace person like the argentinian Adolfo Perez Esquivel might think of this. Uncharacteristically undiplomatic for a fellow prize winner, Esquivel was clear: “despite having good intentions, has so far failed [Obama] to accomplish anything for world peace.”
    But I completely agree with your analysis of “westerners” (as in industrialized nations)winning this stupid prize only after their countries, under their watch, did everything contrary to the spirit of the award.

  3. collapse expand

    ummm… a little one sided presentation about how war-crazy Americans are compared to the rest of the world. Maybe we shouldn’t have ever responded to the situations involved in WW1, WW2, WTC …. Seems you are either naive, an American Hater, or both.. Too bad.

    • collapse expand

      “ummm… a little one sided presentation about how war-crazy Americans are compared to the rest of the world. Maybe we shouldn’t have ever responded to the situations involved in WW1, WW2, WTC …. Seems you are either naive, an American Hater, or both.. Too bad.”

      Sigh, looks like it’s time to register my disgust on the internet again….

      WWI==European imperialist nonsense. In fact, Wilson ran on a platform of peace, saying he wouldn’t get involved in Europe, because it made no sense to do so and most Americans knew that. Of course, once his very wealthy friends in big-business reminded him that they could make a killing (get it?) he promptly set up the Creel Commission, which proved to be a very effective use of propaganda in convincing Americans that the big bad germans were coming. So it was off to war.

      More on WWI: http://www.veteransforpeace.org/War_is_a_racket.vp.html

      WW2? I don’t think stopping the Nazi’s/Japanese and Italian fascists is something most people, even anti-war folks, are opposing.

      The WTC? That definitely has something to do with our continuing presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan…

      If you did any basic reading of US history, you’d probably find that our society is currently highly militaristic and violent, and that’s not new, it’s part of a trend. But why do that when you can just call someone naive and an “America hater”?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    You bring out many excellent points. I felt the same way over the years in how the Peace Prize is awarded. Al Gore got it for putting together a nice Power Point presentation. Hell, a commoner like me could do that. Actually, it was the real researchers behind the scenes that warranted the award, still Peace?, maybe a science field would be more appropriate. There should be a rule of no more awards allowed for anyone in or related to the Middle East, until they really do achieve something sustainable. Getting back to your previous post, it seems a prerequisite for the Peace Prize is some amount of a Cult of Personality. I don’t like the idea of the President getting it this year because it may be intended to influence some of his foreign policy decisions, which up till now I think he has been doing very well. I frankly do want him to find and take out these religious wacos, while continuing a full scale diplomatic charm assault. Ultimately, diplomacy is so much more cost effective than war.

    • collapse expand

      [[Actually, it was the real researchers behind the scenes that warranted the award, still Peace?]]

      If the ocean level rises high enough, the resulting mass migrations, chaos and starvation will make the “Peace” designation a little easier to understand. That’s why global warming is so damned important: A 4-foot rise in sea level sounds like nothing more than good surfing, but the consequences of even that could be catastrophic.

      So, yeah, peace. Not sayin’ Gore deserved it. Just sayin’.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Couldn’t have said it better. Absolutely right on the money!!!

  6. collapse expand

    My personal take on this is that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Obama as a political compromise with China. The front runners a few days before were Chinese Human Rights activists Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng. China warned of consequences if the “right” choice was not made.

    And Obama was apparently the “right” choice. Notice that Obama refused to meet with fellow Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama. Another issue that China warned would have repercussions.

  7. collapse expand

    What the Nobel committee just said with this decision smacks of a point Matt made in a recent post, that is, we’re not really concerned with rewarding peace, but rewarding the movie about peace. And the Oscar goes to…Barack Obama!!

    Tonight at 9, Frontline premiers “Obama’s War.” Watch the first 24 minutes here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/obamaswar/

    Therein lies a choice: watch Frontline tonight, or a “reality” TV program instead. We can choose to wake the fuck up or keep sleeping..I’m pretty sure the latter is the “Anti-American” one.

  8. collapse expand

    Well, call me naive. I believe Obama received the Nobel just for being “not Bush”. The Shrub severely damaged our global credibility as genuine peacemakers, and our recovery from this must start somewhere.
    Obama has shown a willingness to right some of these wrongs by deploying diplomacy instead of threats. He has also shown an interest in listening to the scientific community and acknowledging that that the fowling of our earth and atmosphere must be stopped.
    The rest of the world outnumbers us Americans by a ratio of 20 to 1. I think that it is time that we adopt a little humility and act like cooperators, not unilateral deciders.

  9. collapse expand

    “We keep the troops in those faraway places like Afghanistan and Iraq, sure, but while we do that we make sure to extol things like tolerance and dialogue and the spirit of diplomacy. We make sure that the same people who were not involved in the decision-making process during the previous bombing runs under Bush are in the loop again… We smile a lot and say nice things about the Geneva convention and the impropriety of torture and secret detention, the importance of the rule of international law.”

    You just described Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton who is now in charge of policy planning at the State Department. She wanted Secretary of State–and gave to both Obama and Clinton during the primaries to further her chances–but alas Obama had to do something with Hilary.

    Her articles/opinion pieces tend to consist of pissing and moaning that we’re not listening to Europe and to “experts” like her when we go to war, not that we shouldn’t go to war. This piece pretty much sums her and her type up.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/03/21/slaughter/index.html

  10. collapse expand

    I definitely see where your coming from. I wake up to the news, and had to wonder if I had overslept for a few years – what day was it, would I still have a job when I went into work.

    On the other hand, I do feel that in many ways that the Peace Prize is the most political of the awards. frankhope’s comments about China add something to the mix, and I’ll look into them. Still, in a sense it was an award for Obama not being Bush, but with the best of intentions.

    It is interesting that the nominations took place so soon after Obama put forth motions to close Gitmo, without realizing what buerocratic and political football that would be in terms of placing prisoners. Oh well.

    You can’t Blame O for getting the award, although he can be criticized for trying to get bi-partisan support for his policies when that just ain’t gonna happen. If he picks charities that will promote peace for his donations, that will be a step in the right direction. Then on to ignoring the neo-cons and laying down policy (with some unilateralism for in the U.S,) that will indeed put an end to war from the home front.

  11. collapse expand

    Let’s rename it the First Nobel War Prize

  12. collapse expand

    Yes we need to take another look not only at 911 but at Barack Obama himself who only got his Nobel because he is a black president not because he is a peace president and he continues the Bush-Cheney Party line or lie that Afghanistan peasants are the ones who pulled off 911 even when we have proof that Saudi Arabia gave money through Jonathan Bush’s Riggs Bank located near the White House,that Sheikh Mohamed Al Rashid’s(now owner of NASDAQ) Dubai banks sent money to Mohamed Atta in Venice,Florida PRE 9/11 and that Marvin Bush and a member of the Kuwait royal Al Sabah family guarded Dulles Airport with their
    ‘public’ company Securacom and didn’t even get a photo of the presumed Saudi terrorists boarding their flights at Dulles !
    And Menachem Atzmon friend to former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and convicted of taking money from Israeli government coffers for the Likud Party last time Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister in the 1990’s was ‘guarding’ Logan Airport on 911 with retired Israeli military officers through ICTS International and Huntleigh and its all in U.S.Securities Exchange filings !

    The Nobel prize staff has been accused of taking bribes before so who knows how or why he was chosen but they thought his skin color would be enough to overcome any criticisms – after all does one wish to be labeled a ‘racist’ for dissenting ? However mass bombing of innocent civilians continue in Afghanistan and Iraq and we now know the Wackenhut U.S.Embassy guards even buy Chinese women as sex slaves for $20,000 with the hope of recovering their ‘investment’ in a month’s time.Meanwhile Obama also refuses to even meet his fellow Nobel prize winner,the Budhist Dalai Lama of Tibet,for fear it will offend the fascist Chinese communist leadership he strives so hard to placate and promotes Christo-facists,
    Ziono-facists and Islamo-facists as his and America’s role models although it was they along with international billionaires who got us in this mess.That’s what and who Barack Osama Obama represents…..

    http://www.phillyimc.org/en/911wtcosama-bin-laden-fbi-unwanted-listbarack-obama-skinny-idi-amin

    9/11,WTC:Osama bin Laden on FBI Unwanted List;Barack Obama A Skinny Idi Amin ?

    …seeing as both were brought to power by Zionists who have robbed
    raped and looted America just as America in turn robbed raped and
    looted Iraq and Afghanistan for them in return and because Obama is
    really just an extention of W Bush who with the Israelis and well
    placed Zionazi aiders and abetters in U.S.government and military -
    Obama is already ahead of Idi Amin in the number of deaths he is
    responsible because W Bush and his Zionazi handlers have given him a
    head start.Some estimate besides 3,000 in the New York WTC THEIR HAVE
    BEEN OVER 1,000,000 Iraqis slaughterd and even more RAPED MAIMED AND LOOTED ! And in Iraq we passed the number of Americans killed at the WTC a looong time ago.And I haven’t even started counting Afghanis and a few Europeans yet…..

  13. collapse expand

    This piece is only like about ten years ahead of all the dribble written on this issue in the past week.

    btw: Gore only won half the prize. Even the Nobel Committee recognized that a slide show and movie are only worth so much.

  14. collapse expand

    The one plausible explanation I’ve heard for this — and I’m not saying I buy it, I’m just saying it’s plausible — is to make it more difficult for Obama to escalate militarily in Afghanistan.

  15. collapse expand

    There certainly were a number of people this year who could’ve received the award for their own brave struggles to bring peace, and it is a sad commentary that the award seems to have become aspirational or maybe even celebrity-driven.

  16. collapse expand

    Well, I think that we are all being a little presumptuous to criticise the selection process and the actual selection of the Nobel Prize. This Peace Prize was initiated and endowed be the inventor of dynamite, for christ’s sake. (The only euphemism that immediately comes to mind) Ahh, TNT/Dynamite, the weapon of mass destruction revered by our church going forefathers..

    • collapse expand

      I was going to mention this. He didn’t just invent dynamite, he was one of the major international arms dealers of his time. Also a really interesting character to read about, very driven. Given the arc of his life, maybe the awards should go to people like Carter who spend their later years trying to make up for their earlier years.

      Also wanted to echo Matt’s point about people in non-Western countries (probably in many other Western countries as well) not growing up inundated with toy guns and war movies and cartoons and such. It really didn’t hit me just how pervasive these things are until I lived outside of the US for a spell. Some developing countries are, of course, more violent, but in most places the kids don’t run around pretending to shoot one another for fun. That is a pretty bizarre thing to teach kids when you think about it – and I say this as someone who still owns guns back home, grew up around guns and played with toy guns as a kid. Doesn’t make sense to perpetuate socializing kids into such violent behavior.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  17. collapse expand

    Though i loved Taibbi’s articles about the crooks on Wall Street and think Obama should be impeached for giving them trillions of dollars no questions asked, this essay(one of seemingly millions from all over America) on how undeserving Obama is of a Nobel Peace Prize is the maraschino cherry of solipsism on top of the media’s enormous cake of green envy that’s iced with white blinding ignorance.

    It used to bug me, in particular when Kissinger won it(with his North Vietnamese counterpart) and for about ten or fifteen years after that (funny, but i remember hearing almost exactly the same criticisms about Obama being undeserving as I’ve heard about almost every other Nobel Peace Prize winner!), but after President Arias won it in ‘87 for just Trying to make peace between the Contras and the Sandinistas, I read an essay at the time from one of the Nobel committee members explaining their thinking behind their Peace Prize. They said that unlike the other Nobel awards which are scientific and awarded for past work usually years after the scientific discovery, and while on occasion they award the Nobel Peace Prize to a person for a lifetime of peace work, the Nobel Peace Prize is more about the here and now–and the future–than about past peace work. The Nobel committee person said that they primarily award it to support and publicize someone who needs the boost to help peace along(which explains how the war criminal Kissinger got the prize), and Arias was an example–he eventually helped the Contras and Sandinistas to make peace but AFTER he won the Nobel Peace Prize. If Burma’s Suu Kyi wasn’t awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with all its subsequent publicity and renown, by now she would have been killed by the junta. If Rigoberta Menchu hadn’t received the Nobel Peace Prize she would have been found in a ditch killed by a Guatamalan death squad. Gorbachev got it in hope the end of the Soviet empire would be peaceful. Gore got it because if global warming isn’t slowed if not stopped then there will be wars like we’ve never seen before.

    It’s not the Oscar for best past performance as a peace advocate, nor is it the World(U.N.) peace prize, nor is it the Mr. Peace contest. The NOBEL peace prize is a political award reflecting the perspective of its Scandinavian sponsors who are trying to influence the cause of peace in the world TODAY and in the FUTURE. Most of the time anyone who is upset about whether someone is deserving of the Nobel peace prize doesn’t understand the NOBEL peace prize. Obama is perfectly deserving because he is in a position to directly influence questions of peace and war, life and death–in the Mideast, Iran, and Afghanistan (for starters). Let’s hope the ego boost from the Nobel Peace Prize makes the center-right Obama work harder for peace as opposed to war.

    • collapse expand

      Interesting; I did a follow-up out of curiosity.

      I found this from the UVA website on Nobel Laureates: (http://www.virginia.edu/nobel/laureates/bios/sanchez_bio.html)

      >Based on their discussions, in February 1987 Arias presented a new peace plan. The “Procedure for the Establishment of the Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America” called for the creation of a national reconciliation commission that would oversee amnesty for all guerrilla soldiers, a concurrent cease fire, the right to freedom of expression and democratic elections, and the release of political prisoners. It also stipulated the cessation of all military aid from or to outside governments 50 [sic];whether that aid be in the form of money, supplies, or the use of Central American territories for military purposes. Five Central American presidents signed the accord in Guatemala on August 27, 1987.

      >These efforts earned Arias, at age 46, the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize. In presenting the award, Egil Aarvik, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman, acknowledged that Arias was not working in isolation. “The fact that the plan is the result of a cooperation between the five signatory states indicates that there is in fact a general recognition that the time is ripe,” he said. “The peace prize to Oscar Arias is therefore to be interpreted as a recognition also of the work of the other heads of state and their work with the plan.”

      (I did correct some separated words in this excerpt.)

      It’d be nice if we could get similar progress from this award. Exhaling….

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Left out from the excerpt – and helpful to my point:

        >A year after receiving the prize, Arias established the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, a non-profit organization dedicated to building “just and peaceful societies in Central America.” The foundation’s three programmatic areas have worked diligently to promote gender equality, strengthen “the participation and action of civil society,” and resolve military conflicts in the developing world.

        >His efforts on behalf of human development, democracy, and demilitarization have earned Arias honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard, Dartmouth, and other universities and colleges. He has also received further prizes, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award and the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award.

        >In response to his growing concern about global arms trading, in 1995 Arias invited fellow Nobel Peace Laureates to join him in developing an International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers. The Code, which was jointly signed by eight peace laureates o n May 29, 1997, in New York City, governs all arms transfers, including conventional weapons and munitions, military and security training, and sensitive military and dual-use technologies. It stipulates that a country wishing to purchase arms must promote democracy, protect human rights, and be open about its military spending. It also prohibits arms sales to nations that support terrorism and to states engaged in aggression toward other nations or peoples.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Thicky

      Thanks for your response.

      I am currently reading the presentation speeches for all winners.

      Motivational and humbling.

      Thanks again

      Nietzsche

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Hmm, this is interesting, and I had not considered it before. If this is really the reasoning behind the prize maybe it should have been awarded to Bush shortly after 9/11. He was certainly then “in a position to directly influence questions of peace and war, life and death.” Maybe it’s not so crazy after all that Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were each at one point nominated, while Ghandi, having been nominated twelve times, was never awarded it-each could have used a little “boost to help peace along.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  18. collapse expand

    Ah, well done!

    I thought for a few days that you might have considered both the award itself and the mixed reaction too mundanely asinine to deserve comment.

    I’m glad I was wrong. Your post is just the go-to essay I’ve been looking for.

    Actually, one of the silliest twists to this story is the sudden chorus of Amerikan Nobelphiliacs erupting like kernels of microwave popcorn to edify and edumacate the rest of us; everywhere, Defenders of the Prize quote Chapter and Verse about the True Meaning of the Prize.

    Many were quite vexed at we skeptics’ yahoo-like lack of requisite cosmopolitan sensibility and abiding knowledge of European history and customs required to appropriately “get” it.

    They doth protested to a fare-thee-well, as if only a rube would instantly think, “Obama? The Nobel PEACE Price? BARACK Obama? For real? What the hell FOR?”

    I never knew all of these closet Nobel devotees even existed, much less that they would be aghast at the mere possibility that anyone would fail to swoon respectfully in the face of its supreme authority.

    Geez, what will we peasants do next– question the VATICAN?

  19. collapse expand

    There is a constant theme in all of this; the financial industry, the politics of health care, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gay rights in general, and the Nobel Peace Prize:

    Appearances trump substance. Words trump actions. Period. For the Norwegians, other Europeans, American politicians on both sides. The whole thing is one grand worldwide facade.

  20. collapse expand

    Extraordinary wisdom which should have occurred to older and supposedly wiser pundits. On that day this noise started, I mentioned in passing that the storm was properly less about the recipient than about the award itself.

    I believe this young man is the same fellow who pulled the covers off the Goldman-is-our-government reality for the rock music magazine. This is a story worth revisiting in the wake of that empire’s planned $23B bonus bonanza.

    It would seem that our best hope of surpassing the childish thinking that infects our media is to trust the young who dare to penetrate appearances. Many of us oldsters (in the context of this noise about the Nobel, think of Tom “Six Month” Friedman of the NYT) are too obsessed with our self-images to see, let alone touch, the truth. Truth never lives on the surface of a thing, a person, or an issue — it lives in a land that most pundits do not know.

  21. collapse expand

    Rules that Alfred Nobel personally laid down for awarding of prizes:

    “(Peace Prize shall be awarded) to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

    The deadline for nominating Obama was February 1st – eleven days after his inauguration. I defy any of you to point to one single damned thing Obama did in those eleven days to have satisfied the ’shall have done’ requirement.

    The only thing the Nobel Peace Committee ’shall have done’ is reduce their award to the worth of a plastic whistle in a cracker jacks box.

  22. collapse expand

    This guy is the first black man to be president, that should be worth a peace prize alone… I can’t imagine all of the vitriol and racism he’s had to put up with and overcome to get this far, it certainly takes somebody worthy of a nobel peace prize… And I assume Barack wouldn’t find that reasoning worthy, but just about any other racially oppressed citizen would admire his accomplishments…

  23. collapse expand

    “…when there is still a significant minority of people living right here among us who believe that nonviolence can work as a permanent policy, and who have consistently rejected and opposed the obvious militaristic values of the society we actually happen to live in.”

    you know matt, i’ve read much of your stuff, starting way back in early NY press days with koyen, and i have to say, that may be the most eloquently poignant phrase you’ve ever written.

    thank you for giving voice to that significant minority, especially those who have been silent.

    cheers

  24. collapse expand

    Obama = “Bush with a human face”

  25. collapse expand

    “More likely the Obama critics who believe that Obama won this award for not being George Bush are right as well. ”

    You should fix this grammar.

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    • +O
    • +O
    >.