Rabbi Arthur Waskow : Let’s Help Obama EARN that Nobel

The Nobel Prize, Obama, and Afghanistan
(And especially its women)

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow / The Rag Blog / October 9, 2009

The first person I told this morning that Obama had won the Nobel Prize for Peace said, “For what?”

So — if I may give a new spin to a saying of the last remarkable presidential candidate before him, Bobby Kennedy:

Some people, shown a piece of work not yet completed, say, ‘How come?’

But I, facing that same piece of work not yet completed, say, ‘The time is now!’

And that is what I would urge us all to say to the President today, and next week:

”Congratulations! And the time is NOW to fulfill this honor — end the Afghan War!”

To help stop the war, we invite you to act now by clicking here to send a letter to your Senator (or Vice-President Biden if as a DC resident you have none)

The war could and should have begun by tackling Al Qaeda as criminals, not as if they were a country that was at war with the U.S. The minimum amount of force necessary to apprehend them, including deadly force if necessary. That’s it. Capturing cop-killers without burning down the neighborhood.

Yes, the Taliban are disgusting. Oppressive. But there are a myriad ways of encouraging reform in other countries. The one that does NOT work is trying to install democracy at the point of a bayonet. Or, even worse, Predator Drones which massacre wedding parties from the sky and turn the survivors into furious enemies.

In a minute I will suggest a couple of ways of thinking outside the Afghan box. Maybe those or other ideas they stimulate should be the way to go. Continuing this war is not. We can already see that we have walked into another quagmire — an endless war in a country that for centuries has hated all occupations with a burning fury.

And that war would undermine all plans for social reform at home — exactly what happened to Lyndon Johnson when Vietnam swept away the Great Society.

The moment has come to correct the mistake. President Obama has been told that the warpath “forward” means 500,000 US troops for five years. Many dead, maimed of body, mind, and soul. Forget about health care. Forget education. Forget healing our wounded, choking planet. And he is — it seems — thinking twice.

But the mindless pressures of military habit are still pressing. The American people — surveys show a majority oppose this war — must act to end it. The other path — friendship with Islam; economic aid at the grass-roots, micro-loan level; empowering women; drawing on the healing of wind and solar energy instead of addiction to oil — will do far more to protect America.

As Code Pink, the U.S. women’s peace organization, has reported after recent meetings with Afghan women, and as my dear friend Barbara Bick, whose memory is a blessing, and who spent years in Afghanistan working with Afghan women, also reported before her death this year, Afghan women want to be empowered — but they do not believe American bombs will do it.

Two ideas way outside the box:

  1. Send five women U.S. Senators to negotiate with Afghan women and all male Afghan factional leaders (including the varied Taliban factions) with two promises: that any governance agreement unanimously agreed to will be backed up by billions in U.S. economic aid, delivered in suitcases, if necessary. All U.S.military presence and aid ends at once. If no such agreement is reached, all U.S. involvement in Afghanistan ends.
  2. Call a conference of the independent women’s organizations in Afghanistan. Offer micro-loans for grass-roots economic development to any group of ten women who apply as a group (loans ranging from $1,000 to $5,000), plus offer ten revolvers and 100 bullets to each group of women: one gun and 50 bullets for each woman for target practice, 50 for defense against anyone who comes to assail them for being uppity. Then — the U.S. leaves, except for continuing contact with the micro-loan organizations.

Whether you like these ideas or not, the US war in Afghanistan should end — for their sake and for ours.

Again — we invite you to act now by clicking here to send a letter to your Senator (or Vice-President Biden).

Thanks and blessings that the effort you bring for peace and healing flows back into peace and healing in your own life.

Shalom, salaam, shantih, peace —


[Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center. He can be reached at awaskow@shalomctr.org.]

The Rag Blog

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22 Responses to Rabbi Arthur Waskow : Let’s Help Obama EARN that Nobel

  1. Clint says:

    Good post.

    It seems the Nobel Committee decided to award the peace prize as a motivation for Obama. I can’t imagine that they examined the president’s record and we’re wowed by his humanitarian accomplishments, which number roughly zero.

  2. I’m just pasting what I wrote in a reply e-mail to a friend who asked me about this:

    Sixtyfivealive October 9th, 2009 9:19 pm
    Years ago we had a problem with a person stealing from the supply room. I suggested changing the locks and giving the key to the person we suspected was stealing. We did – it worked; my motto has since been – ‘give the key to the thief’ = the thief could no longer steal, because everyone knew who held the key.

    I see this situation of the Nobel Peace Prize being much the same; giving him something that he has to live up to – it’s a left-handed way of ‘shaming’ him to do the right thing, if there are doubts he won’t do it on his own.

    If he has good intentions, then it will accelerate his actions. If he didn’t have good intentions, then he’s stuck with this ‘prize’ that he might have cursed getting when he realizes this is what IS EXPECTED OF HIM, and now it’s been made an international issue that forever will follow him.

    He will live up to it, or he will fail – the bar has now been set – before, there was no real requirement that defined what he should do, and has to do to really earn this award.

    I think by prematurely giving him this award, he’s now essentially ‘been told’ – and the internationl community will now expect him to live up to it, as well as American citizens – the pressure is truly on!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think you have it right!

  4. I think the American people will force Obama to do the right thing.

    – He will want to bankrupt us and our children with “green mandates” that do nothing but further burden a perilous economy. The good conservatives and even the useless Republicans will prevent that.

    – Obama thinks he can continue to genuflect to the Iranians, the Palestinians, the Russians, the South American socialists and pretty much any repressive regime that hates America. His plans to publicly neuter America as an act of appeasement will fail thanks to the good conservative and even the useless Republicans.

    The Nobel Prize will force Obama to make choices that will greatly aid a new brand of strong and proud conservative Republican take back and the House in 2010 and put a halt to his destructive progressive agenda. That ribbon around his neck will become a noose soon enough. That seems so appropriate.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Excuuuuuuuuuuse me. It was the Republicans who put us into this mess. Obama has had nothing to do with the disasterous condition of the United States, and sure as hell no one would have given George Bush the peace prize!

  6. I am sorry anonymous. Both post were about Obama winning the nobel prize. I thought that the comments were relevant to both. I will try to be more discerning in the future.

  7. Fed Up says:

    “That ribbon around his neck will become a noose soon enough. That seems so appropriate.”‘

    Seems to me this crosses the line?

  8. Fed Up — the comment refers to the irony of what the medal was intended to do and what the reality will be. Clearly the medal is intended to prod the president ever further to the left in a push for progressive goals. I am pretty certain that as he responds with more left wing policies and actions he will hang himself with the very moderates who got him elected.

    I appreciate your concern over crossing the line, but I have to ask if you read some of the vitriolic blog posts on this site? Progressives are the new racists of the 21st century. They dont hate based on skin color they hate based on political idealogy.

    For your side, a handful of conservatives showing up to question their elected officials are villified, intimidated and humiliated. I am here because I enjoy well written articulate articles and comments, even knowing that i wont agree with most of them.

  9. richard jehn says:

    I will warn you exactly one time, Extremist to the DHS. If you are going to goad and harass, your remarks will henceforth be removed without comment or reason. Period.

  10. Cant say I am shocked Richard. Not sure which comment your referring to but I doubt it matters,

    50 years ago, people were called the N word. Today you call us “teabaggers”.

    50 years ago the Freedom Riders took their message to the South and the racists tried to silence them. Today you want to silence me.

    50 years ago you would have used a broken taillight to toss me in jail for a month to intimidate me. Today you use made up charges to create the same outcome electronically.

    Its an old script with you as the new master and its not my skin color that fires up your anger, its my conservatism. You weren’t concerned with Progressive authors on this site who actaully did goad and call names and insult.

    You are just looking for a way to silence me and my point of view. Are you really that threatened by someone whose ideas are different than yours?

  11. Fed Up says:

    Extremist, if the left hated based on ideology, then the Soviet Union when it existed would have just nuked you and all your kind right to the moon…so get a grip. You are dead wrong.

  12. Masterspork says:

    I will warn you exactly one time, Extremist to the DHS. If you are going to goad and harass, your remarks will henceforth be removed without comment or reason. Period.

    This is coming from the same person that said this;

    Fuck you, you fucking cretin. I had the moral fortitude to stand up and say, “I will not murder on your orders.” You, on the other hand, are happy to be led by the nose to believe that murder in wartime is fine. It isn’t, and you are a criminal in my book. If you support the illegal war in Iraq, you are complicit and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. You are a fucking war criminal.

    Piss on you and your parents for raising you.


    So you want to follow your own rules?

  13. Richard Jenn – I came to this board after you had posted that and was not aware of it. I would say your evident hatred proves my point about you being an idealogical bigot. I am sure not all progressives are and I hope to hear more from those on this site who can have an intellectually honest discussion with someone who holds a contrarian view.

    Unless you have already appologized for your outburst, you lack the moral authority to rebuke me and your credibility is hovering somewhere around 0.

    Regards .. Extremist

  14. masterspork says:

    Nope he has not.

    If you have not seen this blog, you might be interested.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Are you paid, or do you have a “fellowship” to write blogs having a certain point of view?
    Just curious.

  16. masterspork says:

    That is a military blog that I read. One of the major things that they talk about is pointing out people who pretend to be in the military. Considering that I just came back from Iraq in July, so I am interested in in reading that site.

    I have never been paid to blog or to refer ether. I just post certain blogs that I think relate to the topic.

  17. I would say that Richard Jehn (as co-author of this blog), is allowed the leniency and right to comment as he wishes.

    If anyone doesn’t like his or Thorne’s remarks, they can choose to read, but not comment. They can choose to comment anonymously and not create tension that’s quite unnecessary.

    It’s clear there are a couple here on this particular post, who do nothing but spew out remarks intended to irritate and anger the two authors (at least I’ve noticed this for about a month now).

    There’s a polite way to disagree; Richard was provoked over and over by Masterspork who has spouted off over and over, and not had his comments removed. I believe Masterspork pushed until he could create havoc since he seems to enjoy being negative and harassing – as the instructions read, “We will delete remarks considered inappropriate, at the DISCRETION OF THE EDITORS”.

    Have respect for that; no newspaper in this country printes letters to the editors that are deliberately intended to goad and attack – you might have freedom of speech, but the Rag Blog editors have the freedom to delete you as well.

    There are a myriad of web-sites who ban individuals for the very thing that some of these people who comment on so viciously, get away with.

    I’d say stop pushing your luck…

  18. masterspork says:

    I would say that Richard Jehn (as co-author of this blog), is allowed the leniency and right to comment as he wishes.

    How is this not hypercritical when he wants to use to standards? If this blog is addressing the problems of double standards, then why is is tolerated here?

    Richard was provoked over and over by Masterspork who has spouted off over and over,

    Really? Have I used any profanity at all? Also if your going to make statements of act, you better have the goods to back it up. If not you better think twice about posting it.

  19. Happy,
    You raise some good points. It is the authors blog and they set their policies as they see fit. I don’t argue with that. But how the authors (or really anyone that posts anywhere) responds to differing points of view says a fair bit about their character. If hypocracy is evident, then pointing it out isn’t goading. Masterspork pointing out the double standard doesn’t make it a vicious comment.

  20. I never used the word profanity in my comment. I never used the word vicious in my comment. Now you’re putting words into my ‘mouth’; read my comment again, and try to find either of those words used in defense of the Rag Blog authors and their right to enforce a comment policy.

    No where does it say that The Rag Blog authors won’t indulge in hypocrisy, and no where does it say they won’t reply in the same tenor and tone, as those who’ve attacked them.

    I don’t think there’s a law against hypocrisy, and many ‘indulge’ in it from time-to-time.

    I also don’t think The Rag Blog invited some of these beligerant ‘visitors’ to clutter the comment section with useless blather.

    As I said, they have the ultimate power – they can push the delete button………

    I choose to show respect for the authors who’ve created this site with the intent of giving us interesting material to read.

    They’ve never generated any hateful remarks, until they’ve been blasted over and over with sarcastic and degrading comments by a small few who seem to enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing.

    I’m not here to judge The Rag Blog and its authors; I’m here to read articles that I often find interesting and enlightening.

    If I don’t agree with the article, I don’t make a comment nor do I attack Richard or Thorne – but then I think I have better manners, than those who do like to play ‘critic’.

  21. Well said,

    I like the exchange of ideas. Sometimes politely, sometimes passionately. I would never imagine that I might read an article that makes a mistaken point, or presents an inaccuracy, or gives only one side of an argument, or glosses over an important fact in the pursuit of its conclusions without commenting on such.

    Perhaps this is not the right forum for such debates and exchanges of ideas. I tend to prefer the back and forth style where the merits of arguments are examined rather than the more scholarly style. So, as I have indicated in other posts, Richard or Thorne need only to ask me to refrain from posting and I will without any hesitation or recrimination.

  22. masterspork says:

    I am not referring to you, but Richard. I never had a problem with any of your posts.

    The thing that bothered me was that in all of my posting, where I ever went to that level that he did. Nor did I ever call foul until he wanted to act that DHS was out of line. I get it that these things can get heated, but do not dish it unless you are willing to take it.

    If you think I have made a comment out of line, please tell me. No sarcasm.

    For the record, I never had a problem with Thorne, just Richard.

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