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The Obama Peace Prize - A Deserving Award

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Again, the now strident, reactionary wing of American public discourse is at it again. This time they conspired to degrade the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for choosing the young American president as one of its honorees. Just as ignorance prevailed when France bucked the Bush Administration on Iraq and a baleful ignorant section of the population descended into pure hubris calling the French all kinds of derogatory names and pouring French-made wine down drains, now the internationally prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Committee has become the subject of ridicule and infantile jokes by sections of the right wing.

Never mind that Barack Obama never sought or asked for the coveted international prize. Or the fact that he was genuinely shocked -- as most people were -- and pleasantly surprised. Jaundice eyed critics could not see past "what has he done to deserve this prize." Such chronic myopia is a by-product of unbelievable arrogance and the absolutely mistaken belief in the unquestioning superiority of American knowledge. No one else on planet earth has the brains or the capability to think other than this section of the American populace, it would seem.

And it was not enough for them when President Obama stated publicly that he was humbled by the award and that he did not feel he deserved it. He pointedly said that he did not feel that he belonged "in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace". The guy could not be any planer. This is Grade 4 language -- not the Theorem of Pythagoras.

Or maybe the talking heads on both conservative radio and television who have made it their life's work to attack, malign and humbug Obama each and every day without justification or substance suffered a momentary hearing loss. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee was unambiguous and crystal clear about why it selected Obama for the prize. This is what the Committee said: "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future". Nobody, except the bleary eyed bitter Right Wing and Obama-haters could challenge this statement.

But the Committee did not stop there. It further justified its decision with this pleasantly surprising statement that it "attached special importance to Obama's vision of, and work for, a world without nuclear weapons". Only the chronically and intellectually challenged cabal of "No to Obama" would argue with this.

From another perspective the Nobel Peace Prize will place some focus and pressure on Obama to build a more inclusive, consultative foreign policy especially when it comes to small states. While it is still too early in his Administration to present an objective and fair scorecard on President Obama's bilateral diplomacy and willingness to lift up small, poor and economically challenged nations it is safe to say that for now he's sent very clear signals that he's not going to behave like his predecessor whose approach to foreign policy was one based on snubbing the international community, ignoring the opinions and concerns of others -- both in and outside of America -- and literally shooting first and then asking questions.

By contrast Obama has approached American foreign policy by including small nations, creating a constructive dialogue and promoting a platform of peace. He has also said that he will be selective in the use of American military might. But he's not yet created a lasting new climate in international politics or has he buttressed the United Nations as an effective instrument for peace and development as the Nobel Prize Committee asserted. That is left to be seen and the jury is still out on these two issues.

Still, a number of positive spin-offs for small emerging economies and developing countries can happen now that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. He's going to be under some scrutiny to break with the old Republican-style of rejecting diplomacy and bilateral agreements in favor of arrogant US diktat and enforcement. He's going to be tested on how well his Administration responds to the needs of small-island nations and emerging, developing countries with very few natural resources in juxtaposition to large countries with strategic resources like oil. And he's going to be under the microscope to reform the high-handed, almost meddlesome International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) -- the new trio of neo-colonizers of small and vulnerable countries.

For example, for the small nations of the Caribbean how President Obama handles immigration reform -- especially the sensitive issue of forced deportations -- will be another litmus test of America's friendship and a willingness to engage these countries of America's "Third Border." Caribbean-US relations reached an all-time low during the Bush Era because of the region's progressive stance on the Iraq war and the Cuban blockage. President Bush all but ignored the region and its over 5 million inhabitants. He's going to have to balance how he deals with hot spots like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq and regions like the Caribbean, Latin America and places like India and Pakistan.

And it just cannot be simply a one size fits all policy, crafted and fixed in Washington and simply handed down to these regions and nations without regard for individual uniqueness and other factors. This is so because that will continue to cause the kinds of resentment that small nations developed of the US under the Bush Administration's "might is right" policy that alienated most of the world. Signs that President Obama is willing to engage in multilateral dialogue with the emerging world of nations is indicative of the fact that he wants a clean break with the horrible, counterproductive policies of the former Republican Administration.

The point is that even as people debate the value of bestowing the Nobel Peace Prize on President Obama there are unquestionably positive signs that there has been a determined, deliberate and progressive shift in American foreign policy by the country's first Black president. One can also argue that he's so far demonstrated that he's up to the tough challenges having come to the presidency at a time when the United States was experiencing its worst recession since the 1930s and fighting two wars that started long before he decided to seek the presidency of the United States. He's also taken on Wall Street and its powerful, entrenched interests and the corruption of the US banking and financial systems.

And, too his foreign policy is a new progressive one compared to the jingoistic, Pax Americana of the Bush Era and its reliance on the projection and use of American military might. His willingness to promote dialogue -- even with traditional American enemies - is welcomed because this helps to tone down belligerent rhetoric and reduce the possibilities of confrontation. This, of course, is what the Nobel Prize Committee saw and its decision to confer the prize on the American president is a clear repudiation of the failed policies of the Bush years that visited untold suffering on millions of the world's people by reckless military adventures and the promotion of a closed, divisive foreign policy.

In essence therefore the shouting from the Right and the poopahing of the prize committee's decision to award the President of the United States its peace prize is, in Shakespeare's words " full of sound and fury signifying nothing." Indeed, the limp, vapid arguments proffered by Mr. Obama's detractors are nothing but tales told by idiots that soon will be heard no more. Moreover, beyond the entertainment value of these political pundits and sundry Monday morning quarterbacks there are two important aspects of the Peace Prize award that cannot be questioned. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has the right to select whomever it wants including the United States president. That is the first fact. Second, the committee is absolutely correct in its conclusion that Barack Obama has given the world's people new hope for a brighter future. So it is patently dishonest to pummel President Obama for being awarded a prize he did not seek or lobby for.

That is why all Americans should have joined with people all over the planet who cheered and were pleasantly surprised when President Obama was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The fact that for the past 8 years America lost its historical support, credibility and respect in the international community this prize signals the fact that America is again engaging the world not as a bully but as a friend. The era of Bush alienation and separation; the Lone Ranger syndrome and the above the law dynamics of an imperial presidency is now a thing of the past and the Nobel Prize Committee recognized these positive new millennium developments.

However, there are things that the Obama Administration is doing that I am not in agreement with. But, that is the very essence of democracy -- the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. I am adamantly opposed to any further engagement in Afghanistan with its potential for becoming a bloody, costly and utterly counterproductive quagmire that if prolonged will be a millstone around Obama's neck. I also question his commitment to genuine reform of the financial and banking systems when he is feted, wined and dined by the same Wall Street fat cats at a dinner with a price tag of $'1,500 a plate. You can't hunt with the foxes and run with the hares.

But inspite of all this there is no doubt that Barack Obama has forced issues like race into the open like never before, and that America is for the first time confronting this phenomenon. The debate has become ugly and banal. Still, that is a good thing since it will help purge America of its toxic past and hopefully usher in a new progressive and tolerant era. The rabid right wing's death throes in this regard are being manifested in fringe groups like the "birthers movement," the Tea Baggers Movement and a host of neo-conservative radio and TV talk show hosts. At last, all the pretenses have been dropped and the ugly realities of racism are now front, center and back in American public discourse. Finally, this insidious and putrid cancer will be either rooted out, sent into remission, or cured.

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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)
 

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The committee awarded the prize for what Obama mig... by Mad Jayhawk on Friday, Oct 23, 2009 at 11:45:14 PM