Obama, Peace and War

If it is true that the Nobel committee awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George W. Bush, they must have been dismayed to discover that Bush’s war on terror remained the framework for Obama’s acceptance speech.

It was a great speech, with its references to Gandhi and King and its emphasis on human rights and economic justice. It was not a speech Bush could or would have given.

But Obama ultimately failed to escape the pull of the GWOT. Accountability is demanded of others but not of the US. No high official will be prosecuted for war crimes in Iraq.

The fringe terrorist group al-Qaeda is depicted as a challenge for the Pentagon, not the Interpol. Then Afghan insurgents are equated to al-Qaeda. Iran, which has no nuclear weapons program, is equated with North Korea.

Obama implied that peaceful conflict resolution is preferable, but that challenges do arise that require a military resolution. But he has unwittingly stacked the deck in favor if the military-industrial complex by adopting Bushian rhetoric at key junctures–speaking of enemies as ‘evil,’ militarizing the response to terrorism, and asserting false equivalences that help make war seem inevitable.

Obama has yet to decide whether he is a visionary or a technocrat. The prize committee hoped for the former. In this speech they got the latter.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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10 Responses

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly wrote, "God hates visionary dreaming." Obama the visionary is has big bold visions for sure, of dominating the world for its own good, with the rapacious military industrial complex and his Wall Street pals and his insurance and pharma pals and contributors getting everything they want – and it will be real swell for the rest of us too, No divisions there that can't be bridged with some soaring rhetoric.

    But the white phosphorus, the depleted uranium, and Obama's torture chambers feel about the same to the victims as they did coming from Bush. I hate visionary dreaming too.

  2. Easily the best encapsulation of the speech I have read. Thanks.

  3. Please give me a list of terrorist groups (other than the CIA) who possess missiles that could strike the US

  4. This is brilliant and clear-sighted insight that differs from pretty much everything that I've read out there, especially the opinions found the axis of mainstream media (Wash Post, NYTimes, etc). Keep up the good work, prof!

  5. I didn't hear the technocrat. I heard a man who hated war telling us why nevertheless it was sometimes necessary and could be justified if it was just–as to which he gave hard thought. Obama understands better than any other world leader that war is tragic. It is "never glorious," he said. But sometimes we have to do it, accepting the terrible consequemces. You hear Bush in that? I don't. Not at all.

  6. Obama made it abundantly clear during his campaign that he would redouble his efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I do not know how it seems strange to so many people that he is just another war president.

  7. Well said prof. I also wonder if Iran, without any nuclear weapon, and without any recent history of invading other countries is "evil" how does Obama categorize Israel, which has illegal nuclear weapons and continues to occupy and invade its neighbors? Can anyone spell hypocrisy?

    Its a shame that he got the peace prize.

  8. "The fringe terrorist group al-Qaeda is depicted as a challenge for the Pentagon, not the Interpol."

    It is still a challenge – and it's hardly fringe when you look at the associations of the Pakistan Taliban, the North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Somalian and other affiliates.

    Interpol to tackle al-Qaida? Please, Juan.

  9. @defendingislam: obama said he would send "at least 2 additional combat brigades" to afghanistan. a brigade is between 2,000-4,000 men. since he took office, troop levels in afghanistan have increased by 35,000 troops. that more like at least ~10~ additional brigades. he was ~not~ clear during the campaign that he would oversee this kind of escalation in afghanistan.

  10. "Evil" exists… and must be militarily destroyed, says Obama.

    Strange though, that those same groups now "evil" were recently funded and supported by America when they fought the Soviets.

    Heroes and Patriots when fighting others, evil when fighting us…

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