War is the new peace
By Lance Crossley
In George Orwell’s 1984, the ruling party’s three slogans were “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.” If you need any evidence that an Orwellian world is already upon us, you need to look no further that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama – a bizarre and scandalous episode that drips with irony.
In the 108-year history of the Nobel awards, it has never gone to a leader so early in his tenure. So why Obama? One Nobel committee chairman defended the selection by saying, “Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year. Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?”
Let us run through all the remarkable contributions President Obama has made to the cause of peace. He has expanded the war in Afghanistan, poetically adding 30,000 troops to the area just a few days before his acceptance speech. He authorized the war to expand into Pakistan, where the killing of innocent Pakistani civilians has become a regular occurrence. He’s pointing the gun at Iran and Yemen. He continues to occupy Iraq by building permanent military bases in the country. He has tried to block court cases that challenge torture and domestic spying. And he has still not closed Guantanamo Bay, as promised so often during his election campaign.
In light of all this, his December 10 Nobel acceptance speech was all the more difficult to stomach. On what planet can a man accepting a peace prize get away with this: “I … reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation.” Or how about this: “So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.” Or this: “War is sometimes necessary.”
One observer astutely called it “an infomercial for war”. International security analyst Kaan Kutlu Atac said the president used the word “war” 44 times, the word “kill” five times and “peace” 31 times. It seems peace is losing ground.
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is perhaps the most striking symbolic event of 2009. An event that only makes sense in a world where people truly believe war is peace.