Showing posts with label Nobel Peace Prize. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nobel Peace Prize. Show all posts

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.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Congratulations to President Obama, and my condolences to the right

I know this comes a day late, but yesterday I awoke to learn, as did perhaps the rest of the country, that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And like the rest of the country and maybe the world, this really took me by surprise; I didn’t see this one coming. Nevertheless, I do extend to President Obama my hardiest congratulations. And to the right, I extend my sincerest condolences.

At one time, the actions of the right following the election and inauguration of the president surprised me. But little by little, episode by episode, they one-upped themselves on absurdity.

I think my incredulity began right after they announced Sarah Palin as a candidate for vice-president. Even as it became clearer that she lacked even the most basic qualifications for the office, the right solidified in their support of her. And almost as if they were sensing an imminent defeat, as the campaign wore on, the tone became nastier and nastier.

I believe at that time they too could sense the beginning of the end. They too realized just how preposterous her candidacy was, but they obstinately refused to admit such and held on to the very end.

And then following the inauguration, I thought the worst had finally passed. I thought that this country would move forward politically. I thought republicans would gracefully conceded defeat. And for a minute it seemed that they would do so, but then the foolishness began anew with even greater virulence and even greater antipathy.

Instead of getting out front leading, the republicans decided to follow the most obstinate, contentious, and seemingly racist and off kilter elements of the right. And with each new obstructionist tactic, they seemed to sink lower and lower until nothing they did surprised me anymore.

But then not too long ago, a conservative writer wrote a piece suggesting that President Obama’s administration should be deposed via a military coup. The article was subsequently pulled but not before someone was able to take screen shots of it and circulate it around the net. Just the very appearance of such an article suggests how desperate the right is and how far they are willing to go.

Also, implicit in this notion is the fear of what would happen if the President does succeed in his agenda. Such a success could change the paradigm of power in this country. Such a success could mean the diminished power of the upper classes and a resurgence of the middle class which all but perished under the Bush administration.

Thus the celebration when President Obama failed in his attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago. And thus the reaction from the right when President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The recent gathering momentum of the Healthcare Reform effort and President Obama’s securing of the Nobel Peace Prize seem to signal just such impending success. And if Healthcare Reform goes smoothly, it opens the doorway to the success of the rest of his agenda.

But it gets even uglier from here because with every success, the opposition will simply get that much more obstinate and outlandish in its resistance. And in their obstinacy and outlandishness lies the seeds of their undoing. And for that they have my sincerest condolences.

As time moves forward, their position gets that much more untenable. And should Healthcare Reform succeed, should the economy right itself, should Americans go back to work, their attempt to portray President Obama as an incompetent outsider intent on destroying the country from within becomes an even harder sell.

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