One interesting and somewhat tricky issue related to the obscenity of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize merits a few comments.
(As I was writing, I first put ironic quotes around "Peace." I then realized, and not for the first time, that given our massive cultural denial, avoidance and fervent dedication to lies without end -- mentioned here and here, with links to much more -- I would be required to put such quotes around a huge number of words, were I to be at all consistent. Obvious war crimes become transmogrified into something else entirely when committed by the United States, so I suppose they're only "war crimes." As we all know (or are endlessly and unctuously told), the U.S. is genuinely exceptional. But if we examine the historical record with a minimal degree of honesty, and thus appreciate the U.S.'s bloody dedication to regular campaigns of widespread murder and domination, to systematic discrimination and brutalization on the domestic front, and many similar horrors, we are compelled to state that the U.S. is "exceptional" only in the manner of a serial torturer, rapist and murderer.
And the U.S. has, in fact, murdered a vast number of entirely innocent people, from the genocide of the Native Americans, on through the ghastly, centuries-long horrors of slavery, on to Hawaii and the Philippines, into World War I (the consequences of which led directly into World War II and to the conflicts that continue to devastate the world even in our own time), Vietnam, Latin America, Kosovo, and on and on and on. But because the U.S. is "good" and always, always has "good intentions," I suppose we may only refer to "murders." Most people will only concede, if they concede even this much, that, while we are always undeniably well-intentioned, well, oh, dear, something seems to have gone wrong. Thus, the U.S. commits "blunders" and acts "incompetently." Almost no one will consider the possibility that very different motives impel the ruling class. For a consideration of the various motives involved, see this essay. In any case, I'll try to keep the use of ironic quotes to a minimum. The task shall not be an easy one, as this passage itself demonstrates.)
It's been suggested in various places that bestowing the Nobel on Obama might be intended to encourage a particular future course of action (by Obama and others as well), while it might simultaneously lessen the likelihood of very different outcomes. An interesting article in The Christian Science Monitor expresses the general point this way:
Unlike the other Nobels, which are given for a lifetime of generally indisputable high achievement in areas like physics, chemistry, and literature, the peace prize has often been awarded more in hope than hindsight ? and with an eye to nudging world events.Thorbjorn Jagland, the Chair of the Nobel Committee, first maintained that we "are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year," but then went on to argue:
We are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do?. [The prize] is a clear signal to the world that we want to advocate the same as he has done to promote international diplomacy.Some people have applied this general point to Iran specifically. I've seen the connection mentioned in some news stories, and one of Chris Floyd's commenters voices the idea very concisely: "How in the hell is a Nobel Peace Prize winner going to bomb Iran?"
Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution in Washington, writes that the atmospherics behind the award are politically useful for Obama. ?Winning over world opinion, which the Nobel prize award signifies, can help. It frees up governments to respond positively to Obama?s call for them to assume their responsibilities. And that in turn puts pressure on rogue leaders to mend their ways and join the developing international consensus,? he wrote.Right there, in the two sentences I've highlighted, you see how this Nobel may, if anything, make active military confrontation with Iran more likely, not less.
A sanctions regime is not an alternative to war: it is the prelude to attack or invasion. Moreover, sanctions murder a hideous number of innocent people as surely as more overt acts of war.This is the exact pattern that unfolded with Iraq, where the Clinton administration's loathsome sanctions regime inevitably and necessarily led to the invasion in 2003. And now, possibly encouraged by this obscene Nobel Prize, the exact same pattern is likely to be repeated with Iran.
For a very long time, the United States government has specialized in the pattern pursued by Israel. The vastly more powerful nation wishes to act on a certain policy -- almost always territorial expansion, for purposes of access to resources, or to force itself into new markets, or to pursue the evil notion that economic and ideological success depend on brutality and conquest -- but a specifically moral justification for its planned actions does not lie easily to hand.It is this pattern that the U.S. is pursuing with Iran, and it is more than likely, as Indyk and others eagerly proclaim, that the Nobel will serve only to encourage the continuation of this monstrous, criminal behavior. After years of "crippling" sanctions, and the unimaginable suffering and death to which they lead, the U.S. may still have no choice but to attack Iran -- and this outcome, which is, of course, so deeply tragic and regrettable, will have been made necessary and inevitable by Iran itself.
So the powerful nation embarks on a course designed to make life intolerable for the country and/or those people that stand in its way. The more powerful nation is confident that, given sufficient time and sufficient provocation, the weaker country and people will finally do something that the actual aggressor can seize on as a pretext for the policy upon which it had already decided. In this way, what then unfolds becomes the victim's fault.
The United States government has utilized this tactic with Mexico, to begin the Spanish-American War, even, dear reader, in connection with the U.S. entrance into World War II, most recently in Iraq, possibly (perhaps probably) with Iran in the future, and in numerous other conflicts. It's always the fault of the other side, never the fault of the United States itself. Yet the United States has always been much more powerful than those it victimizes in this manner. The United States always claims that its victims represented a dire threat to its very survival, a threat that must be brought under U.S. control, or eliminated altogether. The claim has almost never been true. This monstrous pattern is "The American Way of Doing Business."
These central facts lead to only one conclusion: an attack on Iran would represent a blatant, naked act of aggression against a country that does not threaten us. It would not be an act of self-defense, if that term has any meaning at all: there is nothing at present or in the immediate future to defend ourselves against. Of course, the same was true of Iraq. We refuse to learn any lessons at all.So much for the positive value of this Nobel Peace Prize.
So an attack on Iran, even if confined to the use of conventional weapons, would confirm beyond the point of any remaining dispute that we have abandoned all the constraints on military action that the world has accepted for some time. We would make indisputably clear that we believe we have the "right" to make war on any nation, at any time, and on the merest whim. The existence of a threat to the United States is irrelevant and unnecessary to our actions. In effect, we will have declared war on the entire world, at least by implication. No one will be able to view themselves as safe: those we consider allies today might be viewed as enemies tomorrow. All concepts of "right" and "morality" would be jettisoned forever. We will have entered a world where brute force and military superiority are all that matter. Since no other nation can view itself as safe from our wrath, we can expect the rest of the world to make plans accordingly.
When the unprovoked, aggressive and non-defensive use of nuclear weapons is added to this picture, we will have entered a world of potential global holocaust.
In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.
Full text after the break.
"Ms. Valle said she hoped that Mr. Obama's victory would be seen not only as a victory for him, but 'as a tribute to the healing power of beer.'"
-- from yesterday's Borowitz Report
Personally, I think Andy Borowitz nailed this Nobel Peace Prize business:
Nobel Insiders: Beer Summit Sealed it for Obama
Rose Garden Bash Gets High Marks in Oslo
OSLO, NORWAY (The Borowitz Report) -- As the world responded with a mixture of surprise and amazement to the announcement of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, Nobel insiders revealed that the President's "beer summit" at the White House put him over the top.
"The committee was definitely split down the middle right up until the end," said Agot Valle, a Norwegian politician and member of the five-person Nobel committee. "Some of them were still quite upset about that nasty business with the Somali pirates."
But, according to Ms. Valle, "someone brought up the beer summit, and we all agreed that that was awesome."
Ms. Valle said she hoped that Mr. Obama's victory would be seen not only as a victory for him, but "as a tribute to the healing power of beer."
Ms. Valle acknowledged that the President's win was widely considered an upset, with most pundits having expected the prize to go to Mad Men or 30 Rock.
Elsewhere, NASA bombed the moon, saying it was the one spot President Bush missed.
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I love when MP's are forced to face the public on Question Time. This week a lot of people asked George Osborne how "we are all in this together", as he claimed during the recent Tory conference, when the financial situation he seeks to fix wasn't created by ordinary working men and women, but by bankers in the city of London.
Someone also asked Osborne, unfortunately it's not in this clip, how he can claim that "we are all in this together" when he is the heir to a multi-million pound fortune.
This is the basic problem of credibility which this particular Tory cabinet are going to face. The New Statesman has recently claimed that eighteen members of Cameron's shadow cabinet are millionaires. Now, no-one is saying that a person's wealth should exclude them from high office, but it's very hard for the Tories to pretend that they understand what it's like to live on a housing scheme when there is no-one in their midst who has ever experienced such a thing.
And it's simply patronising in the extreme to claim that "we are all in this together" when the person making the claim has never experienced hardship of any kind.
PS. The photo to the left is of George Osborne at Oxford where he was a member of the exclusive - membership by invitation only - Bullingdon Club.
Members traditionally dress in TAILCOATS specially made royal blue with ivory silk lapels, facing brass monogrammed buttons and mustard waistcoat? AT A COST OF OVER £2,000 each.It's little details like this which make it so very patronising for George to now tell us we have to tighten our belts as "we are all in this together". Like Cameron and most of the other members of the shadow cabinet, George has lived a life of privilege, so it's a bit much for him to claim to "feel our pain."
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Our friend Jane (who blogged about getting cancer in a "Hell Hole" socialist country) did the 10K breast cancer charity run last Sunday in Paris. Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and started chemotherapy in August. Like a lot of chemo patients, she's struggled to eat as most food tastes like flavorless mush. Different people react differently during such moments but Jane is not your normal person. Determined to fight the fight, she forced herself to eat, checked with her doctor and did the big run.
The poor thing cramped up after 5K but kept going until it eventually eased up around the 9K mark. She then met us to get us started on the walk and was there at the finish line to welcome us and cheer us on. She was glad to see us do the walk but for us, it was an impressive day seeing her battle through it all.
We all see people around us who do something extraordinary but they don't always make it in the news. Maybe it's time we all took a second look nearby to see who stepping things up and doing something extraordinary. If someone you know does something cool or extraordinary, why not let others know? Why not let Americablog know? It could be a local activist. It could be a story such as the one about William Kamkwamba.
It could be anyone doing anything that you think is above and beyond the norm. Us Americabloggers tend to be idealists who are seeking the best possible outcomes. When things go offtrack (or never get started) we get upset and focus on where things are going wrong. It's necessary to point out these issues but as humans we also like to see what is going well. As Joelle and I have been discussing lately, why not hear about what's going right out there? We need to hear more about such people, everywhere, that might inspire someone else. Go ahead, tell us more about someone that is "good news" and brings a smile to our faces.
We heard the walk and run combined were over 15,000 people this year.
The walk passed through the lovely Bois de Vincennes on the eastern side of Paris.
Walkers of all ages were out, including this young girl who was with her cute family dog.
1845: The Naval School (later the U.S. Naval Academy) opens in Annapolis, Md.
Learn more about the United States Naval Academy.
On a personal note: GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!
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Cenk states that Obama won the Nobel Peace prize for reversing the stances of George W. Bush.
And Cenk, like Dave in comments, thinks that this is actually an award for the American people, for daring to vote against the scaremongering policies which have defined the US for the last eight years.
Tags: Obama, Nobel Peace Prize
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Even as we berate President Obama for failing to reverse Bush/Cheney on major policy areas, the GOP is racking up Nixonian negatives, a Democracy Corps survey shows.
The GOP favorable/unfavorable rating is twice as negative as on Election Day 2008, with increasing numbers of Americans seeing the GOP as negative, political and dishonest.
The Democracy Corps survey data and analyses were concluded before the GOP made a collective ass of themselves when Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Price this week.
The latest Democracy Corps survey finds just 30 percent with a favorable opinion the GOP, while 44 have an unfavorable opinion.
That -14 point net approval rating is nearly twice as bad as it was on Election Day in 2008. Moreover, the net 17-point favorability gap between the two parties is down only slightly from Election Day 2008 and is still substantially larger than when Democrats secured their first of two successive wave victories on Election Day in 2006.
Why can't I sleep on even a perfectly lovely Friday night with no work due tomorrow and the farmers[...]
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