War is NOT peace: Now it’s up to us
Obama devoted his once-in-a-lifetime talk to justifying American warfare, conjuring righteous images of this nation as an armed crusader, and asserting that violence is an immovable piece of the human condition…
By Harvey Wasserman / The Rag Blog / December 11, 2009
The Nobel Prize given to Barack Obama must now be earned by a grassroots movement dedicated to peace. The award was given to an American president now ignobly intent on waging war.
So the task of actually earning this honor falls to us.
Thousands of anti-war activists took to the streets in at least 100 U.S. cities within hours after Obama officially escalated the war on Afghanistan on December 1.
With them came at least one new global internet campaign — The Peace, Justice and Environment Network — devoted to reversing this ghastly attack as well as to saving the environment and winning social justice.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced legislation to deny the funding for this war.
All around the world a sane citizenry has made it clear that war is not peace.
Perhaps the Nobel committee knew it was taking a gamble on Obama when it gave him a Peace Prize he has not yet earned. Perhaps some voters hoped that it would influence his decision and help him turn away from a clearly catastrophic excursion into the Graveyard of Great Powers.
But the President has delivered his answer: No Such Luck.
The tragedy of his speech and behavior in Norway is heart-wrenching. Obama devoted his once-in-a-lifetime talk to justifying American warfare, conjuring righteous images of this nation as an armed crusader, and asserting that violence is an immovable piece of the human condition rather than the ultimate enemy.
If the Nobel Prize has stood for anything over the decades, it’s been as a beacon to the hope that our species might ultimately evolve into something better.
It was with the hope that Obama would further that vision that the award was given. But he flew into town, pitched an infomercial for war, blew off the traditional niceties of a meeting with the King of Norway, a talk to the Parliament, a visit with local children and much more… and then split town to do… what?… that could be so much more important.
In short, beneath that smooth, calm veneer, Barack Obama was ingracious and rude in a setting designed to epitomize the opposite. For Americans dedicated to global goodwill — many of whom voted for him — he was downright embarrassing. For those committed to justice and peace, he was alarming and infuriating.
Obama did acknowledge that he did not deserve the award, and that his contributions had been “slender.” That much has become an overly kind self-appraisal.
He also acknowledged he came to the award by virtue of the work of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement he helped lead.
But Dr. King would have been utterly heartbroken by Obama’s screed for war in the most inappropriate time and place. It was King who forever linked the unjust war in Vietnam with the moral and financial bankruptcy of the nation waging it. Now his ultimate beneficiary is perpetrating all the good doctor’s worst fears.
Obama’s speech has been brilliantly dissected at great length by superb commentators like Norman Solomon (“Mr. President, War is Not Peace”, Commondreams.org); David Swanson (“Obama’s Infomercial for War,” at Portside); David DeGraw (“Obama Far Outdoes Bush in Escalating War,” at Alternet) and many more.
It’s a tragic picture with a very clear message: the peace movement must reconstitute itself with sufficient power to fulfill the Nobel mandate. For those who might have retained residual hope for or illusions about this young president, this must stand as the definitive departure.
We now face triple crises in war, where the president has escalated; health care, where he has refused to discuss single payer and now presides over the gutting of the public option; and the environment, where he has escalated the ultimate destroyer — war — and may soon open the door to its ultimate evil, atomic power.
It’s not enough to wring our hands. It’s time to move on and figure out how to win. Our ideals — from meaningful peace to universal health care to a Solartopian energy economy — are all tangible, essential and winnable.
The ignoble truth is that the man in the White House is not our ally.
So what else is new? Obama’s failures have made it OUR Nobel.
Yes we can!
[Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at www.harveywasserman.com, along with Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth. He is Senior Editor of www.freepress.org, where this article also appears.]