Friday, October 09, 2009

"An Open Letter to Americans Who Are Annoyed at Obama's Nobel Prize"

Greg Laden:
If you are a right wing Republican conservative Yahoo, this letter is NOT for you. If you are a moderate, progressive, liberal, centrist, or anyone associated with the legitimate (i.e., not FOX News) press, this IS for you.
Dear Disgruntled Sisters and Brothers,

Many people are beside themselves, or at least a little annoyed, or in some cases simply bemused, because Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but he "seems to have not done anything yet." There are so many misconceptions behind that sentiment that I don't know where to start.

If you are one of the people who does not like the fact that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, please consider the following.

Some people say that this was a political act. Well, duh. In fact, double duh. The ultimate goal, and perhaps only noble goal, of politics is to find and support peace, within and between nations. Were you thinking there was some other objective, or that politics, ideally and in its most expansive form, was for something else?

The committee awarded this prize to Obama because of his efforts to enhance international diplomacy, but especially because of his vision to have a nuclear free world and his efforts to achieve this. In so doing, the Oslo committee has endorsed nuclear disarmament and probably moved us substantially towards that goal. Is this a problem for you?

President Obama had engendered a new international political climate. He has brought multilateral diplomacy back from George Bush's scrap heap as a a viable strategy, and has reemphasized the role of the United Nations and other international institutions. This underscores and gives much needed credibility to the use of dialogue and negotiation to resolve international conflicts. This is a change from previous American policy of unilateral strong-arming, which as so far been singularly ineffective, and even if sometimes effective is over the long term destructive to our position in this world and generally immoral. In just a few moves, over a short amount of time, Obama has reversed (for the better) American foreign policy. Do you not think this is a good thing?

Real nuclear arms control negotiations are finally happening because of Obama's initiative, with the US playing a salient role. Surely, you must think that is worth something.

For the first time in a decade, the US is seriously involved in the international conversation regarding climate change. Is that a problem for you?

While it is true that every single human rights objective we would like to see met has not yet been addressed, for the first time in years the US is actually positioned to realistically be involved in positive advancement of democracy and human rights, instead of just playing a game to provide cronies of the leadership with more defense contracts. Why does this bother you?

Hardly ever does someone come along, as Obama has done, to capture the world's attention and give everyone real hope for a better future. If, as an American, you are having a problem understanding why Obama was awarded this international award, then perhaps you should consider the possibility that you do not have the same large scale and international perspective that the Oslo committee has. As an exercise in self appraisal, try this. Of the following individuals, which ones can you identify as to what country they are affiliated with, what they may have done to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (they all were), or what job they had?

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Albert Lutuli, Albert Schweitzer, Alfonso García Robles, Alfred Hermann Fried, Al Gore, Alva Myrdal, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, Aristide Briand, Arthur Henderson, Auguste Marie François Beernaert, Aung San Suu Kyi, Austen Chamberlain, Bertha von Suttner, Betty Williams, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Carl von Ossietzky, Cecil of Chelwood, Charles Albert Gobat, Charles Gates Dawes, Christian Lous Lange, Cordell Hull, Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld, David Trimble, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Eisaku Sato, Élie Ducommun, Elie Wiesel, Elihu Root, Emily Greene Balch, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Ferdinand Buisson, Frank B. Kellogg, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Fredrik Bajer, Fridtjof Nansen, Friends Service Council, George Catlett Marshall, Georges Pire, Grameen Bank, Gustav Stresemann, Henri La Fontaine, Henry A. Kissinger, Hjalmar Branting, Jane Addams, Jean Henry Dunant, Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, John Hume, John, Lord Boyd-Orr of Brechin, John Raleigh Mott, Joseph Rotblat, José Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae Jung, Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Kofi Annan, Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan) Söderblom, League of Red Cross societies, Lech Wałęsa, Lê Ðức Thọ, Léon Jouhaux, Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois, Lester Bowles Pearson, Linus Carl Pauling, Louis Renault, Ludwig Quidde, Mairead Corrigan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Martti Ahtisaari, Médecins Sans Frontières, Menachem Begin, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, Mohamed ElBaradei, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Yunus, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Murray Butler, Norman E. Borlaug, Óscar Arias Sánchez, Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant, Philip J. Noel-Baker, Ralph Bunche, René Cassin, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Seán MacBride, Shimon Peres, Shirin Ebadi, Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane), Tenzin Gyatso, Theodore Roosevelt, Tobias Michael Carel Asser, Wangari Muta Maathai, William Randal Cremer, Willy Brandt, Woodrow Wilson, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin.

Seriously. Read through that list. The people who awarded this prize can explain who each of these individuals is and why they were given the Nobel. Chance are, as a moderately to very well educated American, you can barely identify one in ten of these individuals. So please consider the possibility that you have, as many of us do, too narrow a perspective to be shooting your mouth off about what kind of job the Oslo committee did.

Obama understands that diplomacy is effective only if based on the concept of finding shared values. Compared to George Bush, he not only knows how to lead in this regard, but clearly thinks it actually matters that the US president DOES lead in these matters. The Oslo committee is pretty much with the rest of the world in wanting to recognize this. Is there some reason that you are against this?

Obama in his policies and actions well represents 108 years of tradition by the Oslo Nobel Committee, working to enhance and reward these policies and attitudes. Obama is the world's leading spokesman for this new international diplomacy. When the Nobel Committee endorsed Obama's statement that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges." .... why did that not make you feel proud to be an American? For once?

Your Blogger,

Howie P.S.: H/t to Jessica Tarantino.

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