Friday, October 9, 2009

President Obama Joins Henry Kissinger: Nobel Prize

President Barack H. Obama today joined an elite club with a suprisingly paradoxical paradigm. Yes, that's right, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize admist the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which has continued for 6+ years unceased, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, which has continued for 8 years in utter chaos, and in an international atmosphere that is formally and aggressively provoking a confrontation with embattled Iran.

And the peace prize goes to...

the man leading a country consumed with two wars,
and perhaps in pursuit of another,
and without much public legitimacy,
with no end in sight.

It seems somewhat of a paradox, but then look at some of the former Nobel Peace Prize winners like Henry Kissinger, whose escalation of interventionist U.S. policy in southeast Asia garnered well-deserved hate for his actions across America. Nevertheless, the leaders who falter, know it, but will not change it or speak out against out are lauded as saviors to all of our grave misfortunes.

Over 1 million people have died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. These include nearly 5,000 U.S. combat deaths, not including the equal proportion of casualties sustained by private military contractors. The total number of Afghans dead in the war in Afghanistan is untracked and unknown, although best estimates put it in the tens of thousands range. That occupation has continued unabated since October 2001. And not only did the recent U.S. occupation pose challenges, but Afghanistan has withstood the increasing pressure of the U.S. and Russian interests since the late 1970s. Meanwhile, international sanctions against Iran seem inevitable, and constant rumours portend an Israeli or American strike.

When asked the reason for these military interventions, these open-ended occupations and military industrial schemes based on the idea of "white man's burden", the exalted leaders categorically reply with little candor or courage to speak and act on the truth. Instead, tepidness and "bi-partisanship" in feeling out political waters simply mars the ability to make informed decisions and conscious choices about the right thing to do.

Instead of focusing on what's best for the American People, we all too often focus on who's up or down in the popularity contest of figures and cliques. If peace and freedom were easy to obtain, it'd be no problem to elect a new figurehead and the next day we'd be free and separated from the shock and horror that's surrounded us for the past decade. But that is not the case and rather freedom is something to be fought for, admired, and contested for on all grounds.

Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize will make President Obama a little more conscientious about his decisions on the battlefield, particularly when his Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told press that coming out of Afghanistan is not an option. But maybe, the good thing out of this contradictory occurrence is that the American people are really the ones being lauded and encouraged, perhaps so much so that this stark contradiction may move them to action to oppose the proclaimed hero's war policies which every day are becoming more obviously in defect and undesirable.

It is unclear where this odd gift of admiration will lead, but one thing's for sure, this strange fruit is nothing new.

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