Last week, U.S. President Barrack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Right-wing pundits predictably attacked him for it. Left-wing pundits predictably then attacked the right-wing pundits for it. But that’s not the story.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. In his will, it said that the Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who “during the preceding year […] 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.” In this case, the “preceding year” is 2008.
Obama was inaugurated as U.S. President on January 20th, 2009. Clearly, he did not abolish any armies in 2008. I’m not sure what he did, exactly, to enhance fraternity among nations or promote peace congresses (formal meetings) either, except simply getting elected. This is neither an attack on nor a defense of Obama. It’s simply a fact.
Although the Nobel Peace Prize committee does not identify nominees, we can take some educated guesses. Sima Samar, president of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, was the odds on favourite. Unlike Obama, Samar spent 2008 working for peace, human rights and women’s issues in Afghanistan. Please note: the primary U.S. objective in Afghanistan, is not “to bring peace”; rather, it is to disrupt “terrorist networks in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan to degrade any ability they have to plan and launch international terrorist attacks.”
Obama is not nearly the strangest choice by the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Henry Kissinger was given the prize in 1973 for working peace in Vietnam, despite the fact that he was largely behind starting the war in first place, and was an all-around evil motherfucker. In contrast, Mahatma Gandhi did not receive the peace prize, despite being nominated five times. More striking still, the fifth time he was nominated, they gave no prize at all year because, apparently, no suitable candidates were available.
The story here is not how Obama reacted, or should have reacted, or whether he should have turned it down. It’s not about Obama at all. The story is also not the media circus that’s pitched its ridiculous tents all around the issue.
The story, my friends, is that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has demonstrated, yet again, that it lacks any credibility. They’re not corrupt as much as inane. The whole process is a sham, a farce. They have delegitimized themselves by clinging to the coattails of a man who may go down in history as the last American hero – or, and I suspect this is more likely, will crash and burn as the greatest disappointment of our time.