WORLDWIDE congratulations have poured in to the White House for President Barack Obama having won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Obama himself has said he does not deserve it, even though he accepted it.
A prize is usually given to a winner, and not awarded to a potential winner. What has the world’s most powerful man accomplished on nuclear disarmament and desperately needed peace in the Middle East and Afghanistan?
Although there is troop withdrawal in Iraq, the internal politics remain unstable. It is apparent that Obama is likely to commit 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Afghan officials believe sending more troops to Afghanistan without a comprehensive strategy may ultimately fail in securing the country. They say that any future military strategy should involve pressuring Pakistan to sever ties with the Taliban and stop the flow of Arab donations. The Afghan situation is complex, and brawn alone will not bring peace. The military are not peacemakers.
Opinion in the US is divided on Iran. 71% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats took the position that it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action. The Republicans are pushing for war. Obama has to decide. He called the second enrichment facility in Iran “a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the non-proliferation regime and that Iran has broken rules that all nations must follow”.
Obama’s thinking is what is worrying. In the final analysis, why is it legitimate for some countries to possess nuclear weapons, while it is not so for other countries? If this is the consensus of the international community, then the Nobel Peace Prize becomes meaningless. Peace can only become a possibility when nuclear weapons are completely annihilated everywhere.
Where the Israeli-Palestinian issue is concerned, Obama showed reluctance towards holding Israel accountable for its defiance. In Washington, veteran Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi said this action had weakened Obama’s standing among Palestinians and Arabs.
A UN report by Richard Goldstone into war crimes committed during the Gaza war should have reached the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, where a number of Israeli officers would have been put on trial. But Binyamin Netanyahu threatened that the pursuit of the report could prove fatal to any renewed peace process with the Palestinians. The report was therefore blocked by the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, pressured by the US and Israel.
Obama must take responsibility for his administration. True, Obama did not start these conflicts, but he has inherited them as a presidential package. In contrast to the list of modern US presidents, Obama presents a new hope for better things. He may be sincere in trying to do the right thing, but most leaders change during their time in office.
Obama says he is committed to peace, while at the same time being committed to militarism. “Let me be clear. I do not view it (the peace prize) as recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” he said.
I think he has spoken too soon. Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire, who won the prize in 1956, said: “Giving this award to the leader of the most militarised country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will be rightly seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country’s aggression and domination.”
Leaders are judged by their actions, not their words. Obama must prove to the world that peace is not only a possibility, but can be and has been effectively achieved. It is premature to award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to Obama. In my opinion, the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its prestige.
12 Oct 2009
See also: Addicted to War
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