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The Nobel Peace Prize: Barack Obama’s lack of vision

October 13, 2012

It’s got to be a joke, right?  The European Union wins the Nobel Peace Prize?  As we marvel at the absurdity of our new Peace Laureate, what better time to reflect back on the 2009 Nobel acceptance speech of Barack Obama.  For many of us, it was one of the early indicators this man was light years removed from the candidate of hope and change we thought we might have elected.

His speech, a striking, unhistorical defense of war and status quo, can now be seen as having been an accurate blueprint for the policies that would follow.  The gaping void of progressive vision, as also exists with all his other policies, is the central reason he may lose the election next month.

It’s been almost 70 years since the barbaric close of World War II, and throughout this period the United States has unendingly inserted itself into the affairs of other countries via violent war or more subtle CIA backed “interventions”.  Millions have been killed as a result.  The record is truly horrendous: the Korean War, coups against popular governments in Iran and Guatemala, attempted assassinations and an invasion of Cuba that almost set off a nuclear war, the Vietnam War, coup support against the democratic government in Chile, substantial support for right wing terrorists in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and throughout Latin America, military adventures in Panama and Grenada, two wars in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and now a threatened war against Iran and ever growing hostility toward China.

Ignoring this gruesome history, Obama decides to position himself as a defender of war, of past American actions, and of current levels of military spending and conflict.  Some past American presidents actually offered rhetorical ideas for global peace and disarmament – one thinks of Wilson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy – but not Obama, he’s a “realist” who takes the world “as it is”.

Here’s a few extractions:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth:  We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.  There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

For make no mistake:  Evil does exist in the world.  A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.  Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.  To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause.  And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.  The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans.  We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will.  We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace…. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war.  Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later.  That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war.

We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice.  We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity.  Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.

One could expect that a man of his vision would head a party of the military right.  But he has absolutely no claim to lead a party of the progressive left.  He is, in fact, a disgrace to the cause of global peace.  It’s a sad choice America and the world has this November but, based on his record, Obama certainly deserves to lose.

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