Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heavy Lays the Head that Wears the Crown (or Assumes the Presidency): Pragmatics, Peace, and the Nobel Prize

This morning President Barack H. Obama received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Across the blogosphere, the reactions ranged from those on the right who seemed utterly disgusted that he should be given an award so prestigious as the Nobel Peace Prize, to those on the left who actively questioned whether not he should even accept the award especially after having committed 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan only nine days previous, thereby escalating the conflict.

The reaction of those on the right does not surprise me. I have a feeling that President Obama could go on a cross country tour, healing the sick, making the lame walk, and the blind eye to see, and the right would still find reason to criticize him.

And I am even less surprised by those on the left; perhaps nothing is as disillusioning and disheartening to one committed to peace as much as war and the rumors of war. And I am one committed to peace. Even as I write this, there hangs on the wall above my desk a quote from the Book of Isaiah which reads,

“The shall beat their swords into plough shears, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

However, even as I decry the rank turpitude inherent in war, I am pragmatic enough to recognize its inevitability. Men will have disputes; men will go to war. So it has been since the beginning of man. This knowledge, this indisputable truth, perhaps factored into the president’s decision.

But allow me to ask you a question. What do you think would happen if the president did as the left would have him do and pull all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan? What would happen if this very second the president would have a change of heart and order each and every soldier deployed to theaters of combat home?

Would some deep and abiding peace suddenly settle over the region? Would the men, women, and children, the denizens of those countries, take to the streets dancing and singing and carrying olive branches and go home at the end of the day to enjoy a new found harmony?

Or would all hell break loose as the presence of American troops is replaced by an unparalleled struggle for power and control and the countries descend into completely chaotic conflagrations?

And if this is the case, who would be the biggest losers? Who would stand most in harm’s way? Would it be the most powerful and those most thirsty for power or would it be the weakest, the infirmed, the men, women, and children least able to flee the carnage that is bound to ensue?

Would we simply exchange one war for another or even others?

Alfred Nobel’s will dictated that the Nobel Prize for Peace be given to “a champion of peace.” And I apologize for my ignorance, but I am not fully aware of Mr. Nobel’s background. However, I am sure that in his wisdom and vision, he was pragmatic enough to realize that the pathway to peace must sometimes necessarily cut through a battlefield; however, recognance must be given to those burdened with the onus of facilitating such a perilous journey.

I have seen it written or heard it said many times that no one abhors war as does a soldier. And as a former soldier, I can verify the veracity of this statement.

There is nothing romantic about war. There is nothing noble about war. Every soldier knows this. Can you find the romance, the sense of nobility in being so frightened that the only thing you can taste in your mouth is the acrid, metallic taste of fear and your own bile, that your balls draw up into the pit of your stomach, or when success is defined by the untenable option of taking someone else’s life in order to spare your own?

I’m sure that the president must feel like this daily. I am sure that for the president this anxiety, this fear, is multiplied one time for every one soldier on the front line and in harm’s way. The power to send others off to war and possibly their death is a dreadful onus indeed. But heavy lays the head that wears the crown or that assumes the presidency.

May war soon be over and peace reign in its stead; I am sure only then will President Obama be able to fully appreciate this award.


Anna Renee said...

Soulbrother Max, the voice of reason! There are so many who are upset because the President's not doing things their way (which they feel is the right way) It's easy for them to spout off their "correct opinions" because they have no responsibility in it. But it's real for the President! These people probably havent thought the thing through as you have, to come up with a more reasonable opinion. I would like, and I know I won't get it, for people to simply let the President be the Commander in Chief! The story of this President will be told many moons from now for his bravery and leadership under fire. Imagine what the history and black history books will say about the man! Thanks, Soul brother!

RiPPa said...

Nothing is going to happen should troops be pulled out of Afghanistan tomorrow. That line of thinking is synonymous with what Conservatives said about Iraq. But yet, the Iraqi gov't was asking for the US to leave well before planned.

Afghanistan is the country with the 5th lowest GDP per capita in the world. More troops being there is not going to change that, and this is not a winnable war. In truth, it isn;t even about winning!

But hey, from where I'm sitting progressives on the left like myself are against the increased spending for this war as opposed to an infusion here at home. I'm sorry, but an extra $30 billion dollars over the next 18 months in Afghanistan (and that's not counting money spent on redevelopment) just ain't right and does nobody here at home any good.

But hey, what's a few more million or so innocently killed civilians, right? Or a few more hundred dead US citizens who serve not in the interest of freedom and democracy. But rather the military industrial complex and this nihilistic culture that is ran by corporate America.

Max Reddick said...

@Anna Renee

Well, you are welcome Anna. I could not imagine being president. Do you imagine the weight that must be on his shoulders? Could you imagine ever facet of your life being scrutinized and every decision you make being second gueessed? But everyone thinks they know better.


Gotta disagree with you bruh. Even with US troops in both countries, the bombings coninue unabated. What will happen without that military force there? Do you think those people doing the bombings are going to come out and play nice nowthat the US is gone. No, they are going to step in a make a play for power.

But you are correct in stating that this war cannot be won. The best we will be able to do is to stablize the region with the hopes that once we live, it will not all go to crap again.

And you speak of the lives of the innocent women and children? Who do you think will fare worse in a civil war?

And you are right about the massive military industrial complex that is profiting off this war. I would go so far as to say, the sole purpose of these two wars was to feed that massive beast. But the wars were going on when President Obama assumed the presidency. So the choice for him becomes what is the best way to bring the wars to an end.

And in that endeavor, there is no best answer here; it is a choice between to very grave evils.

RiPPa said...

Well his choice of action with regards to bringing them to an end has no definite exit strategy as is assumed by what he said in his speech last week.

The president of Afghanistan said in a press briefing the other day while defense secretary Gates was there that he's looking forward to the US being their anywhere from 5 - 15yrs.

Civil war? There was no civil war and never will be. The Taliban wasn't killing their own people. Actually they're a welcomed part of the culture. They are because they purchase Poppy and hence the reason that Afghanistan is the worlds largets supplier of herion. Oh yeah, and the US gov't has made compromise and paid some of the locals with their cash crop.

Look it up if you don't believe me.

As far as suicide bombers? That was never an issue in Afghanistan as it was in Iraq. Or even in Israel and other Arab or Muslim nations. Lemme also mention that since 2001 their main targets are targets of interest which includes the troops or military installations which include the police. According to THIS STUDY, they have a net casualty of 3 victims.

There has been more civilian casualties as a result of coalition activities than that of the Taliban. US drones have been bombing the shit out of innocent women and children but nobody is saying anything about that.

As I mentioned to you before the real reason of this war is real estate. I just wish for once the gov't including Obama would be honest about it. But then again he cant because he ran last year providing alternative energy sources.

RiPPa said...

@Max: When you get a chance, follow this link and watch the lecture on the war. It's done by British-Pakistani journalist, historian, writer and activist Tariq Ali. No joke, you really should take the time to see this to understand the depth of what I am speaking about on this war.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Brother Max,

I've been meaning to stop by here for a while now, I offer no excuses for triffling. Brother Rippa has often mentioned you. I'm glad I read this post.

I think that it's naive for anyone to think that simply eliminating the U.S. military presence from Afghanistan would mean a reign of peace would ensue.

I do not consider conservative republicans my political party of choice but there is a war taking place whether some care to recognize it or not. I see no difference between jihad extremist muslims, believing the only good infidel is a dead one and a white racist who swears, the only good nigger is a dead one. Both are committed to their beliefs.

I truely wish there was an easy answer to world peace but the reality is that those power-hungry individuals do not see human life as having more value than what they lust for.

The fact is that without order, society would collapse. What are citizens of the world to do when their neighbor's home is seized? Should we expect those who uphold the rule of law to leave prior to quelling the madness?

You raise interesting points which should provoke intelligent thought.


FreeMan said...

I don't mind that he got the prize as he symbolizes change and anew era of rational discussion. In other words there's more of a chance of talking and working it out and letting war be the last resort.

In the Quran they say even Mohammad carried a sword which is in reference to what you are saying in this post. War is ugly and hard but it doesn't say it may not be necessary to bring about the greater good.

Obama I'm sure like his predecessors went to sleep knowing they signed a document sending a man, a son, a brother he doesn't know to the front lines. To think that he is doing this without a heavy heart is just absurd. He got the prize because he represents a great opportunity for peace in an otherwise chaotic world.

md20737 said...

It makes no sense to send troops there. They will never find what they tell us they are looking for. Its just another scene in this long movie we call life. This year I have lost faith in both religion and politics. I am no longer making decisions based on words. Im going based on actions only. This action signals to me same crap, different name.

If he says look we have to keep a military presence there to keep our strong hold, intelligence, blah blah there I would be more willing to accept the neccessary evil. But to end the war, to surge, not going for it. Sounds like more money to military and the contractors.

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