Where's the Peace?
by Mike Mosher
Yes, I take patriotic pride in the fact that the US President has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Finally, the world has faith again in the much-publicized ideals of our nation. He's the first President I've voted for that I've both respected and whose style I liked, and the first in a very long time that, given the system, I've felt could be trusted to balance competing claims and serve in "the national interest". Evidently it is generally thought that last sentence could read "international", for Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace on October 9, 2009.
My happiness is somewhat diminished by remembering how President Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, now unable to travel in some nations for fear of indictment as a war criminal, shared the 1973 prize with Le Duc Tho of (then-) North Vietnam. Le even turned the prize down, since peace hadn't yet come to his nation.
And I lament that the US military continues to fight in Afghanistan and Iran. To the degree that the US had moral standing (and I was skeptical from the start) in the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to pursue the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks on the US, Osama bin Laden's Al Qeada, that standing disappeared when Osama was permitted to slip away, and the Al Qeada-free nation of Iraq was invaded in March 2003. Bush's policies in pursuit of the "War Against Terrorism" turned away from high international standards.
On the morning the Prize was announced, a neighbor my age, USMC retired, wore his "RIP: the US Constitution" t-shirt to our gym, with Ronald Reagan's quote about "government isn't the solution, government is the problem" on the back. My own misgivings weren't quite that deep, but I still felt queasy and kept wondering: Barack, where's the peace?
Then a facebook friend said that Rachel Maddow had expressed her own view of the issue, so I sought the YouTube clip. Maddow upbraids the egregious Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck for their reflexive "Obama Derangement Syndrome", deriding anything that makes our President look good. Maddow pointed out that the prize has been often given for effort, as to Rev. Desmond Tutu or journalist Karl Ossietzky, rather than tangible results.
And a comment about Obama's award on Salon.com pointed out that Obama has already defused a standoff between the US and Russia, and has gotten Russia to convince Iran to have its nuclear fuel processed in Russia.
So, emboldened by his Prize, I hope President Obama finds the conviction to bring home all US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by Christmas. May he politely listen to General. McChristal, whose job is to be focused on winning, but then instead may the President simply cut our losses. And cashier any Macarthur-wannabe General who talks strategy to the press, rather than in closed executive meetings.
And I hope others take strength from Obama's prize, so that indictments and prosecutions of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice for the criminal invasion of Iraq begin, in both the United States and from the International Criminal Court in the Hague. That will be a good start towards a seriously commitment by President Obama's nation—our nation—to the pursuit of peace.
Mike Mosher is Professor, Art/Communication & Digital Media at Saginaw Valley State University.