Audacity In Norway
By Kim Petersen
10 October, 2009
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has seen fit to award a peace prize to a man less than a year into elected presidential office in the United States. So what are Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize credentials?
Obama is a man who has yet to shut down a global gulag, who has yet to end the warring in Iraq, who has yet to oversee the return of the elected president of Haiti (deposed by US, Canadian, and French forces), who stands unflinching on the coup d’etat in Honduras, who runs cover for Israeli massacres of Palestinians and Israeli violations of the Geneva Conventions (i.e., supporting war crimes), who seeks to proliferate military bases in Columbia, who has ramped up the killing in Afghanistan, and who has overseen the spillover of war into Pakistan.
Is this the criteria that is deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize?
The Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland said, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
So Nobel Prizes are being handed out for offering hope? Is this an effort to prod Obama along the road toward a peace-making presidency?
Didn’t Norway reward Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat Nobel Peace Prizes for giving the hope of peace in historical Palestine? Since then Israel has carried out many slaughters of the indigenous Palestinians. And yes, Palestinians have resisted with violence — sometimes lethal.
Wasn’t US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger co-awarded a 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a cease-fire in the US war on Vietnam? Hope was hung around a ceasefire destined to collapse. At least Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho had the integrity to refuse a prize where peace was based on the tokenism of hope.
There are many examples that contradict the notion that Nobel Prizes would spur the US nation toward peace. Yet the leaders of the most warring nation on the planet continue to be rewarded with peace prizes. It defies rationality.
Did Obama offer a mea culpa for US atrocities?
Did Obama seek justice for the perpetrators behind the killing of an estimated 1.3 million Iraqis based upon a concocted casus belli?
To his credit, Obama did something most unusual in acknowledging that the US was behind the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran? Did he offer an apology? Did he offer compensation?
Hoping for peace in a state based on the genocide, dispossession, and marginalization of its Original Peoples, a state whose economy was largely built through slavery, a state built through the expansionism of war with its neighbors, a state built through dominating its hemisphere through self-declared destiny, despite never managing the gumption to apologize for these past grave crimes seems rather dubious.
There are plenty of states deserving of censure. However, when one state with a long history of violence stands supremely powerful and claims itself to be a beacon onto all other states, that is where transformation must first occur in a world whose people long for a just peace.
That will require more than wishful thinking. It will require the audacity to mobilize the masses to a revolution for peace.
Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.