Obama won the Nobel because Bush was just that bad

Obama won the Nobel Peace Price completely out of the blue and really without much in the way of results. I think the whole world must be scratching its collective head now.

So to try and help make sense of things, I just wanted to echo the sentiment in this post from Talking Points Memo:

It’s not the accustomed stance of a writer or blogger. But this one does have me at something of a loss for words. I notice the condemnation of the Taliban, the edged snark of the superciliati. But I also see Ana Marie Cox’s first-off Twitter: “Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.” And while less than generous, I think she’s on to the root of the matter. But perhaps not precisely in the way she thinks.

This is an odd award. You’d expect it to come later in Obama’s presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration.

27 thoughts on “Obama won the Nobel because Bush was just that bad”

  1. If that’s the case, it’s getting old.

    One can argue this would be the 2nd or 3rd time a Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded as a repudiation of Bush policy.

    That’s the reason Al Gore got one in 2007 (environment) and one can argue Carter’s award in 2002 as repudiating post-9/11 policies.

    I hope Obama achieves what the Nobel committee believes he will achieve, but awarding a Nobel to a President to spite another is a tired old game.

  2. One can argue this would be the 2nd or 3rd time a Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded as a repudiation of Bush policy.

    I say we keep beating them over the head with it until they fucking well get it. By “they” I mean a shitload of Americans. Or should the awarding of the Nobel Prizes be ceded to America?

  3. wow, I thought this was just snark when I first read it. NYT says Obama won because of “confronting ‘great climatic challenges.'” huh? I think Mr. Hatoyama is a little jealous.

  4. I agree with the points made. I also think that it is a potentially impactful way of letting Obama know – “Live up. We’re watching.”

  5. Have you read his acceptance speech? It’s actually quite good. And he does say that he doesn’t think he deserves it.

  6. So he helped negotiate the settlement ending the Vietnam War-after it had already been lost. He was heavily involved in the escalation of the war, and the illegal bombings in Cambodia. I fail to see why he deserves credit.

  7. Kissinger getting the Nobel Peace Prize was like giving a guy a parenting award because he stopped beating his kids.

  8. Shouldn’t Obama at least say “Hi” to another Nobel Peace Laureate in town?

    Glad someone alluded to The One’s, uh, postponed meeting with the Dalai Lama. The Nobel Committee has put itself in the position of being able to scold Obama if he ever gets out of line: “It’s not that we’re angry with you so much as _disappointed_.” And by getting out of line, I assume what is meant is, acting like a global hegemon a la W. In this regard, then, not meeting with the Dalai Lama counts more as a plus than a minus; he’s kowtowing to the Chinese, the regional hegemon.

    Alas, though, every time a US president has attempted to confine America’s hegemonic ambitions to its own region, the Brits have ended up begging him to bail them out from whatever catastrophe the Euros have gotten themselves into.

  9. Awarding the prize to Obama is an embarrassment to everyone involved.

    “And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction.”

    Guantanmo still open, and when he eventually closes it the US will still be detaining people indefinitely without trial. Only not in Guantanamo. Great.

  10. Glenn Beck may be right in suggesting they give it to the Americans protesting against health care. If most of the nation gets sick and dies, we might have less war.

  11. War and Peace Prizes

    The dismaying gift of the Nobel prize puts Barack Obama on the list of its winners who promised peace but prosecuted war

    By Howard Zinn

    October 10, 2009 “The Guardian” — I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.

    Yes, Wilson gets credit for the League of Nations – that ineffectual body which did nothing to prevent war. But he had bombarded the Mexican coast, sent troops to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic and brought the US into the slaughterhouse of Europe in the first World War, surely among stupid and deadly wars at the top of the list.

    Sure, Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace between Japan and Russia. But he was a lover of war, who participated in the US conquest of Cuba, pretending to liberate it from Spain while fastening US chains on that tiny island. And as president he presided over the bloody war to subjugate the Filipinos, even congratulating a US general who had just massacred 600 helpless villagers in the Phillipines. The Committee did not give the Nobel prize to Mark Twain, who denounced Roosevelt and criticised the war, nor to William James, leader of the anti-imperialist league.

    Oh yes, the committee saw fit to give a peace prize to Henry Kissinger, because he signed the final peace agreement ending the war in Vietnam, of which he had been one of the architects. Kissinger, who obsequiously went along with Nixon’s expansion of the war, with the bombing of peasant villages in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger, who matches the definition of a war criminal very accurately, is given a peace prize!

    People should be given a peace prize not on the basis of promises they have made – as with Obama, an eloquent maker of promises – but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war, and Obama has continued deadly, inhuman military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The Nobel peace committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization which is not awed by stardom and rhetoric, and which has some understanding of history.

  12. Good piece by Zinn, and I wholly agree with it. Having read through the list of laureates after hearing the news about Obama, I have been developing the rather cynical view that perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize is fundamentally unsuited for politicians, as any world leader is forced to bloody his or her hands too much to qualify for its lofty goals.

Comments are closed.