Top Things that would Redeem Obama’s Peace Prize

The world has noted the irony that President Barack Obama is delivering his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize after launching an escalation of the Afghanistan war. Of course, the critique is a little misplaced, since the prize is for a specific policy success, not for being a pacifist.

Still, Mr. Obama was clearly given the prize to encourage him in the direction of peace. It is the tragedy of the sole superpower that it is unconstrained by peers and so can launch wars of choice and shatter international law at will. It can be counseled but not blocked. He was awarded this honor as a counsel.

So here are the things Obama can do to redeem his prize.

1. Get out of Iraq on schedule. We can’t stop their low-intensity conflicts, and they are more likely to compromise with each other if we are not there.

2. Resist calls for Iran to be bombed. Such a raid would guarantee that Iran would start a crash program to develop a nuclear weapon, and there would be no way to stop it short of full-scale war.

3. Stop allowing the CIA to operate drones with which to assassinate people. It is illegal and shameful. The US military must be in charge of defending the country by force or we are a police state.

4. Get the Palestinians a state by the end of 2011, even if by unilateral recognition. Palestinian statelessness is the biggest human rights scandal in the world, since citizenship is the right to have rights. This step alone would solve the bulk of US problems in the Arab world and would deal a deadlier blow to al-Qaeda than capturing Bin Laden.

5. Stick to the plan of beginning a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in summer 2011. Karzai and the generals will attempt to embroil us in a decades-long quagmire. No one will remember his Nobel peace prize if President Obama lets that happen.

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17 Responses

  1. President Obama has extended the Bush/Paulson TARP 'bailout' spending spree until the 2010 midterm elections, and guaranteed that the Bush/Petraeus COIN 'surge' strategy of war-making will persist until at least the 2012 general election. So far neither of these programs has proven to be of any benefit to anyone other than the military and industrial/financial participants, themselves ~ and the politicians who sustain or amplify their power by enabling these domestic and foreign policies to persist. Regardless of his rhetoric of "change," the only fully funded mandates actually implemented by the Obama administration have been "politics, as usual" = Borrow & Bleed, in perpetuity implicit with respect to American election cycles.

  2. Perhaps President Obama could quietly explore using his Nobel Prize funds as seed monet to endow something like an annual roundtable of Islamic scholars. Obviously, participation subjects would have to be chosen by an independent committee, perhaps drawn from the faculty o major Muslim universities. The idea, though, would be to honor Muslim thought in its work on issues of its own choosing, rather than to select one individual to issue a lecture or pronouncement. Maybe it could happen in Kabul, making it clear what kind of Afghanistan we hope to leave behind, and bridging the perceived gap between getting a Peace Prize and ordering new troops into battle. If I recall, that had something to do with Alfred Nobel's original motives, endowing peace work after making a fortune in munitions.

  3. How about torture? He hasn't done enough
    to make it clear that he will not tolerate
    torture. Why is his administration defending Yoo?

  4. "Karzai and the generals will attempt to embroil us in a decades-long quagmire."

    Just ONE decade and 4 years! (snigger…)

    The way I worded it in yesterday's news posting…

    "Secretary of Defense Gates is in Afghanistan and will visit Pakistan to explain Obama's strategic plan for a pullout by, allegedly, 2011. Former UnoCal consultant and illegitimate president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai says 2024 would be better.". Again, the Congressional testimony by UnoCal's VP for international affairs about their vision for Afghanistan and Central Asia/India/Pakistan is here (Page 31).

    Also notable in the South/Central Asian mayhem department, PakAlert Press is on the 'same page as I, referring to the bombings in Pakistan as an "Operation Gladio-style War Against Pakistan" and is offering 'proof' in the form of Pakistani official's statements.

    “Sources said that during the meeting of CIA chief Leon E. Panetta, who is on an unannounced visit to Pakistan, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha said that CIA officials were assisting the terrorist elements who were carrying out terror attacks on Pakistan…"

  5. .
    "… the critique is a little misplaced, since the prize is for a specific policy success, not for being a pacifist."

    I can't think of a "policy success" to go along with that statement. Do you mean a "policy statement" such as stating a desire that someday there will be no nuclear weapons, or a desire to reduce renditions, enhanced interrogations, detentions at Guantanamo, and collateral damage ?

    No, President Obama got this prize for not being George W. Bush.


    Good list, but #5 is simply not achievable.
    First, there is no plan to begin withdrawal in 18 months. There is a plan to reexamine troop levels at that time. In fact, troop levels are to be reconsidered on an almost continuous basis.

    I suspect there will be 100,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan by July 2010, 150,000 by December 2010, and 200,000 by July 2011, when we reach the "inflection point." Contracts are already in place to expand facilities and bases in Afghanistan to accommodate over 300,000 personnel.
    Many troops will go straight from outside the Western border of Iran to outside its Eastern border.

    An inflection point could be a peak in the number; it could also be a point where the rate of escalation either cools off, or really heats up.
    Bush used the Iraq War as a tool to help get himself reelected, and Obama will do the same with the fighting in Afghanistan.
    In July 2012, at the start of the campaign for reelection, Obama will draw troop levels down from 300,000 to 250,000, saying that he has a secret plan for getting us out of Afghanistan completely in the next 4 years.

    Obama as cypher, or as canvas a upon which to project our heart's desires.

  6. link to

    December 10, 2009

    Petraeus Warns of a Long and Expensive Mission in Afghanistan

    America’s role in Afghanistan could last for years and cost upward of $10 billion annually just to finance an adequate Afghan security force, a top general said.

    [The President's Nobel Peace Prize speech was a shameful justification of war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.]

  7. 4. Get the Palestinians a state by the end of 2011, even if by unilateral recognition. Palestinian statelessness is the biggest human rights scandal in the world, since citizenship is the right to have rights. This step alone would solve the bulk of US problems in the Arab world and would deal a deadlier blow to al-Qaeda than capturing Bin Laden.

    Dr. Cole:

    I disagree with the above, but request that you please spell out in more detail what effect you think that single step would have.

    I imagine you envision some form of "independence" comparable to that of Native Americans on US reservations. I think anything more than that and the Palestinians could and would pose a real threat to the viability of Israel as a Jewish state. I think that or anything less would not satisfy any of the Arab populations that live under pro-US dictatorships and would have essentially no impact on the situation on the ground, or on the perception of Israel, or on the perception of the US, or on the level of support for Al Qaeda at all.

    Please consider at some point fleshing out your idea for Palestinian independence as well as what impact you believe it would have and why.

  8. Coming from a second generation Arab-American, I second your sentiments on the Palestine issue. If there is movement on this issue, this will be the trump card for all Arab-moderates, domestic and abroad, in the argument against the more radical – which continuously cite to the US's blind and unwavering support for Israel as their justification for their own anti-US rhetoric.

  9. You're wrong about what the prize is for. To quote alfred nobel's will (which established the prize):

    "The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way:… The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows:… and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

    link to

  10. unfortunately juan, 3,4,5 are just not likely and even 2 is looking more distant as the propaganda is cranked up (and who knows what AN thinks he's doing).

  11. I thought that Obomber’s “War is Peace” speech was both appalling and a real wake up for the clowns who gave the killingest man in the world today a “Peace” prize.

    On the Palestinian State question, There was a letter in the FT a couple of weeks ago from someone born in Palestine in 1940 who has a Palestinian birth certificate. Palestine did not cease to exist because the UN stole a peace of it to give to a bunch of Europeans. The Palestinians should focus on getting countries, particularly European ones to recognize that fact.

  12. Re 1: What makes you think that they are more likely to compromise if left alone? Leaving the Nazis and the Jews alone was not going to lead to any such outcome. In context, isn't a more probable outcome that the Kurds are ganged up on by the Shia and Turkey?

    Re 2: The IAEA regards current Iranian nuclear facilities as suspect. If Iran is currently developing nuclear weapons your argument fails — why wait to start the full scale war until after they possess nuclear weapons?

    Re 3: While I agree that drone killings are horrifying (and most probably illegal as simply a more glorified form of assassination), if we retain the same military goals, how many more lives would be lost if we pursued these same people (aka targets) with armies instead of drones?

    Re 4: Would our problems in the Mideast be solved by granting the Palestinians sovereign control over part of what used to be Palestine? Citizenship is a collection of rights granted by a nation to its citizens — nothing stopping the Palestinians from granting the bulk of these to themselves, recognition by other nations grants rights to the Palestinians as a nation and accords to Palestinians abroad whatever rights are accorded to the citizens of other nations. The most important civil right is the right to life and lives are being lost in much greater numbers and proportions elsewhere.

  13. "{T]he [Noble peace] prize is for a specific policy success, not for being a pacifist."

    What policy success? Obama was nominated within about 10 days of assuming the presidency. Awarding him the prize seems like an expression of hope more than anything else.

    I agree though that if he manages to help bring into existence a Palestinian state he will have redeemed himself. So far, it's not looking good.

    The silver lining on his dismal Afghan surge is that it makes an attack on Iran less likely.

  14. Nothing shameful about killing people planning to attack you. I'm 100% for drone attacks.

    It's a shame progressives don't campaign like this and pretend to have a spine, the american people need to see the true nature of the left.

  15. Though in general I do agree with this piece, I object to the statement that "Palestinian statelessness is the biggest human rights scandal in the world." By my account, the population of the West Bank and Gaza put together is 5.2 million. Since 1998, 5.4 million have been killed in the eastern provinces of the Congo. Since January, 250000 have been displaced from their homes. People there live in constant fear. According to the report "Living With Fear" 53% of the people there report being enslaved by armed groups. 35% report being tortured. Scandalous though the Palestinian situation may be, it is exactly this kind of overemphasis on one problem to the exclusion of all others (be it Zionism, communist expansion, or indeed Israel/Palestine) which allows newer darker forces to emerge. If Obama is to redefine US foreign policy, he needs to deal with the WHOLE world as it is, not just the parts that seem important now.

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