Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize - Deserving or Not?

This is also cross posted at The Daily Kos, where you aren't allowed to criticize Obama in any way. As I expected, Daily Kos readers wasted no time attacking me. lol Anyone who doesn't bow at Obama's feet gets trashed at DKos. It's automatic. I love visiting the echo chamber once in a while to shake things up. When they attack it lets me know i'm on the right track.


He may not have deserved the prize on specific accomplishments, but I am happy for him anyway.

I have a mixed response to this. To those who don't understand International affairs/politics, or who have a very limited understanding... it sounds great. But...

On the merits, to put it plainly and truthfully.... he doesn't really deserve the prize. The fact is, he hasn't done anything yet to warrant the award.

1. The U.S. is still entangled in two wars, and could enter another conflict with Iran (a much larger conflict) within the next 18 months to two years. In fact, the media and the Obama Administration are already in the process of selling a possible conflict with Iran to the American public.

2. The Obama foreign policy team has no doves or modern foreign policy thinkers in any position of authority who can influence policy. His National Security Council and diplomatic teams are made up of mostly Centrist Democrats (Traditional Truman Doctrine/Domino theory thinkers....old thinkers), and moderate Republicans.... They lean much more towards pro-war thinking, than pro-peace. If he were a "pro-Peace" or dove President, he would have reached out to the many scholars who have a more progressive, less confrontational foreign policy orientation. He didn't do that when he came into office. That spoke volumes. (Hillary Clinton as your top diplomat??? Watch the youtube video here).

3. The U.S. has not made any significant changes in terms of its NATO policy. The U.S. still has an expansionist view when it comes to the future of NATO. Obama recently decided to scrap the missile system in Eastern Europe...but this was only a step in the right direction and may have only been temporary. He left the door open for future missile systems that would be more robust and would include fixed sites. The ship based idea (which I was writing about 2 years ago) was a good decision.

4. The Obama Administration is still very active when it comes to meddling in the former Soviet Union. This will be a future source of contention between the U.S. and Russia. In fact, there is a Cold War in full throttle in Georgia right now... just as intense (possibly much more intense) than East and West Germany in the 1970's and 80's.

5. This Administration continues to take a biased position when it comes to Israel...even failing to recognize the UN report on abuses by the Israeli's. It continues to provide protection for Israel in the UN, even when criticism of Israel is warranted.
The U.S. under Obama is still not viewed as a more even handed intermediary in the Middle East (or anywhere else for that matter).

6. The Obama Administration, particularly the foreign policy team, is still clinging to old Truman Doctrine ideas about the World and how the World should look.... outdated ideas of global hegemony, where the U.S. uses its military might to get its way. Truman Doctrine/Domino Theory thinkers dominate Obama's foreign policy team. There has not been a clean break from the U.S. foreign policy of the last 50+ years. There have been a few changes....but these changes have been done under the same foreign policy framework and orientation that the U.S. has had for the past 6 decades. There are always a few changes when there is a new political Party in the White House. But there has been no clean break from the past...or fundamental change in how the U.S. sees itself in the World, or how we will approach international affairs in the future. War/conflict/tension/meddling/the use of the military to project U.S. power...are all still part of the main course.

Despite the rhetoric to the contrary...there are few differences between Democratic and Republican Administrations when it comes to foreign policy. Most of the perceived differences are cosmetic.

With that said....

The Nobel Committee may have been up to something here. This award may have been a way for Europe to influence Obama and his foreign policy in a positive way. This prize will provide a sort of shadow conscience for any major decision that he will make from here on out. He may be more reluctant to do anything that might challenge his new found position as a Nobel Peace Laureate. It may provide some sort of moderating effect on his policy-making. And to me... that is a good thing. It's great that the Nobel Committee recognized the Obama Administrations stated willingness to talk to enemies (although Obama's Neo-con Light Foreign Policy team agreed to...and then later refused one-on-one talks with the North Koreans. We'll see how that goes. But it's clear that Darth Vader - Hillary Clinton- doesn't seem to understand that the six party talks strategy is not very effective and is not the best approach for N. Korea for a variety of reasons). This award may encourage other feuding nations to go the extra mile in terms of negotiations.

It will also likely give other Nobel Peace prize winners more open access to the President....again... a moderating effect... constantly reminding him of his new position...and the responsibilities that they believe it brings.

So although I question whether others more deserving should have been recognized.... I am also o.k. with the fact that he got it. This was definitely a leap of faith by the Nobel Committee (because they really don't know what the results will be from the Obama Administrations foreign policy in the months and years to come).

Now hopefully he will go out and do something good with it.... as President. Although I don't believe this will change the Traditional Centrist Democrat orientation of his foreign policy team, unfortunately. He has surrounded himself with pro-war advisers...and that will continue to be a problem for the U.S.

UPDATE: 10/10/09

Obama himself made the acknowledgment. Also, just about every political observer, pundit, and international political expert agrees with most of the observations that I made. My thoughts were basically vindicated within 24 hours. Those who blindly slammed me can rant and rave until their hearts content, but facts are facts.

With Obama's acknowledgment, I have to say, i'm all for the idea of the award being given. It will be a good thing, IMO.

Also... this wasn't a slam of Obama.... If I intended to do that... I could have easily kept my list going with:

7. Gitmo still being open

8. Military Tribunals chosen over Federal Courts

9. The continuation of Extraordinary Renditions (yes folks... people are still being kidnapped and sent to interrogations overseas).

10. Lackluster approach to the Darfur crisis

Etc etc (Obama has continued a number of controversial policies that were pushed by the Bush Administration)


Related Links

From the Moderate Voice - Not So Noble Nobel Peace Prize

Another blogger asks the same question that the Angry Independent is asking himself - were there no other candidates more deserving?

Too Soon? I agree with Lech Walesa.

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