The preemptive peace prize

The preemptive peace pri

By MURPHY DONOVAN
December 9, 2009 10:48
2 minute read.
Obama the savior 248.88

Obama the savior 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Giving a prestigious international prize to someone for what he might do is like awarding the World Cup to the most popular coach. Separating award from achievement devalues merit and patronizes the recipient. Nonetheless, such a precedent may be established on December 10. The Nobel nominating process closed a mere two weeks after Barack Obama took office. With only months in his position, Obama's prize cannot be based on anything except campaign rhetoric and dubious expectations. The award also will be interpreted as a repudiation of the Bush era. Out of more than 100 candidates, a man with little or no actual achievements has been coroneted. When you examine the context, the award is not that much of a surprise and, like scoreless soccer, fairly drips with irony. The prize is endowed by the estate of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite; related portable explosives arm every terrorist in the world today. Consider also the venue: Scandinavia. This is that portion of what is now the European Union that either capitulated or declared it was "neutral" (Sweden) in the face of the National Socialist menace of the last century. Indeed, Norway, a country which did not have a border contiguous to Nazioccupied Europe, capitulated from within and let others die. IT IS very difficult to criticize any politician's good fortune, especially an award with a $1.4 million kicker. Just as surely, any criticism is bound to be dismissed as sour grapes. Nonetheless, the circumstances of this prize do not bode well for peace or achievement. Indeed, as every child with a "stage mother" will testify, there is no burden heavier than great expectations. When announcing the award, Thorbjorn Jagland, former prime minister of Norway, made no secret of his expectations and the agenda of European appeasement politics. These expectations include the endorsement and enhancement of the UN and its "central role" in world diplomacy; the olive branch for Islam, including Iran; and the reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons. Never mind that the UN has become a virtual soapbox for oligarchs, tyrants and bigots. Never mind that the Muslim world is the most egregious venue for human rights abuses worldwide. Violations like child abuse, slavery, honor killings and misogyny are defended as "cultural sensitivities" requiring "mutual respect." And never mind that aspiring nuclear states, like Iran, are the only ones threatening to wipe other nations off the face of the earth. In the end, the Nobel committee hasn't done Obama or the prospects for peace any favors. Indeed, for many, this certificate of premature adulation may validate suggestions that Obama is a one trick pony, a multicultural version of Jimmy Carter. A previous peace prize winner, former president Carter has painted himself into a corner as a latter day Arab partisan, devoid of any sense of fairness or impartiality. Put aside, for a moment, the Norwegian pandering and the absurd attempt to influence domestic American politics. If Obama keeps his eye on the prize, the opportunity costs could be enormous. These would be: the fate of Israel, two militant Islamist religious sects armed with nuclear weapons and another series of theocratic coups in the Muslim world. Political prophylaxis is seldom safe, frequently ineffective, and it invariably dulls our important sensitivities. The most disturbing implication of the impending award was the possibility that it could have been connected to the recent "dithering" on the Afghanistan strategy. Indeed, the irony of Obama's announcement of more troops for war just before the Oslo "peace" festival is rich. Real Vikings are rolling over in their graves. The writer is a retired USAF officer.

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