Creating people's geographies
With the continuing debacles in Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Honduras and Afghanistan, you’ve got to be kidding me. Only eight months into his presidency in which he’s caved in to the Israeli regime on illegal outposts and overseen the corporate transfer theft of TARP funds, not to mention a litany of other failures and broken promises (close Guantanamo, anyone?), and Barack Obama is awarded a Nobel peace prize?
As Tom Lehrer remarked when Henry Kissinger was given a Nobel, political satire has died today. Not good enough, Mr President. You’re definitely an improvement on your predecessor, but as an international peacemaker, you’ve yet to earn your stripes. You’ve done apparently very little to improve relations with Iran, and in fact the sabre-rattling has recently been amplified by the newly resurgent neocons. This award choice is another travesty, especially to Iraqis, Palestinians, Afghanis and Pakistanis — and US soldiers — who have lost their lives because of this administration’s intensified militarism.
If, as the Nobel committee has said, Obama is being recognised more for his intentions than any actual achievements, any beauty pageant finalist would be just as qualified. Some, like Helena Cobban, have written on Nobel history and past laureates and take a more sanguine view. Others, including Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, see the decision as more ignoble than noble. And then there’s the half-joke going around:
Q: Did you hear Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize?
A: What for? For not being George W. Bush.
If the Nobel Committee wanted to confer the award for encouragement or are holding out fantasies of redemption, Barack Obama hardly needs publicity or a platform. He already has one of the most powerful platforms in the world. Is Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly going to heed Obama more seriously or quake in his boots simply because of the Nobel? No, and it is more likely that, as Helena Cobban suggests, the Nobel Committee are actually hitching their wagon to the President’s by awarding to a recipient in such a high-profile office.
Mairead Maguire, a bona fide peacemaker, opines:
President Obama has yet to prove that he will move seriously on the Middle East, that he will end the war in Afghanistan and many other issues. The Nobel committee is not meeting the conditions of Alfred Nobel’s will, because he stipulated that the award is to be given to people who end militarism and war and are for disarmament.
The fluffy, feel-good diversion that this news-story will no doubt become this week in the US media will do not a whit to address the horror of that painful reality for so many who are immiserated and impoverished by Empire.