Does Norwegian Nobel Committee Have the Integrity and Guts to Do the Right Thing?

The Nobel Peace Prize is for the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Obviously the committee that awards the peace prize erred miserably when it presented the prize to Barack Obama. Obama has been anything but a peacemonger. Since Obama never received the award for any peace-related actions on his part, it is widely assumed that the committee awarded the prize based on projections of what Obama would do (if otherwise, then the committee members are either naive bumpkins or a fifth column that has subverted Alfred Nobel’s peace prize). Obama’s words spoke louder than his actions.

In the years since he received his prize in 2009, Obama has ramped up the war in Afghanistan, tried to keep US troops stationed in Iraq, continued US support for Zionist violence and occupation (the two are inseparable; if one supports the occupation, then one by default supports the violence since violence is a sine qua non of the occupation), widened the use of drone strikes from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, to Somalia, Yemen — and who knows where else and next? The US has held provocative military maneuvers off the Korean peninsula, has threatened Iran repeatedly, took a major role in the violent overthrow of the government in Libya, and engages in a campaign of disinformation against Syria’s government while providing weapons to foreign mercenaries engaged in atrocities in Syria. Where is the peaceful intention in all this? Is this behavior not the antithesis of a man-of-peace?

Obama has increased the military budget each year of his administration, bloating the already turgid military-industrial complex. US government military aid (is it not farcical to refer to instruments of killing as “aid”?) continues to flow. Has anyone heard of peace aid? The pacifist Albert Einstein once warned that one cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. If Einstein’s contention is correct, then Obama and the US establishment is not preparing for peace.

Obama’s machinations against peace are myriad. He continues to hold prisoners-of-war in Guantánamo Bay, breaking his word to release them. Would a party willingly enter into peace negotiations with another party known not to honor its word? Indeed, if Obama is so peace-loving, then why does he imprison peace activists in the US who opposed to US violence abroad? Why is Obama deeply involved in a campaign to silence whistleblowers who give evidence of war crimes and the war against the privacy of people everywhere.

One could continue enumerating the violence wreaked under the aegis of Nobel Peace laureate Barack Obama.

The question arises as to how the Norwegian Nobel Committee dissembles to hold onto a shred of integrity while a war criminal makes a mockery of their prize. And it is not as if Obama was the first blunder of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Nonetheless, in the here and now, Obama is a front-and-center reminder of the absurdity of the committee’s decision-making. Now assuming (and this is an awfully big assumption, but for the point of argument, let’s grant it) that the Nobel Committee truly is dedicated to promoting peace in the world through the awarding of the peace prize, then it would behoove the committee to maintain a semblance of integrity (or, in this case, to regain any semblance of integrity).

How can the Nobel Peace Prize Committee get back its integrity?

A Proposal

When one commits a colossal mistake, then likeliest a colossal action is required to atone for that colossal mistake. That rules out an apology. Words are too easy, although I grant that in the present case words could have a huge impact. However, I submit that words are, nevertheless, exceedingly insufficient.

The Nobel Committee could apologize for having awarded the peace prize to Obama, but this would only be a minuscule step toward peace. The Nobel Committee should be daring and rescind the prize that it awarded Obama. Rescinding prizes is not unprecendented; stripping Lance Armstrong, a once legendary cyclist, of his Tour de France cycling championships is a recent example. One might protest that Armstrong was not a president of the US but neither was he a war criminal. Rescinding the prize from Obama would be a bold move, and it would be an unprecendented rebuke of a sitting president. This would send a stark, clear, establishment-shattering message that violence is eschewed by peacemongers.

However, I submit that rescinding the prize is but a partial step to regaining a modicum of respect for the Norwegian Nobel Committee and for the Nobel Peace Prize itself. Having sent a message that it had made an egregious error in granting the prize to an undeserving candidate, the committee needs to take another courageous step in granting the next peace prize to Bradley Manning and whistleblowers. Bradley Manning took action to stop war crimes; Obama has taken action to perpetuate war crimes. Manning, therefore, became an enemy of Obama. For his actions against the military-industrial complex and its warring, Manning was imprisoned, – and let’s not mince words or get overly semantic because being held in a rabbit cage, sleep deprived, and socially isolated means that he was – tortured, and sentenced in a kangaroo court. In the US it is, apparently, illegal to obey the Nuremberg Demand.

Therefore, a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Manning would be just and fitting, and it would be highly symbolic; it would fillip the peace movement (and maybe throw a wrench in the military-industrial complex). As it is now with all the warring, war crimes, torture, incarcerations, occupations, intrigues, and the threatening and persecution of peacemongers, the conscience of the world stands aggrieved. Until peace comes to the forefront, until human rights and social rights are adhered to, until miscarriages of legal and social justice are righted, an evil shadow remains cast over humanity. The Nobel Committee members will have their sanity slandered (as happens to all who oppose US imperialism); US media will lambaste Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese and Norwegian farmed salmon (a terrible food anyway). Yet if the Norwegian Nobel Committee has an iota of the fortitude displayed by the martyr Manning, then there is a chance for the committee to win back its dignity, restore the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize, and — hopefully — set in motion the lifting of the malevolent shadow of militarism.

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.