War, Peace, the Nobel, the Audacity, and the Dawn

I suppose we should not  begrudge Barack Obama his Nobel Peace Prize, though it represents a  radical break in tradition, since he’s only had slightly less than nine months to discharge his imperial duties, most concretely  through the agency of high explosives in the Hindu Kush whereas laureates like Henry Kissinger had been diligently slaughtering people across the world for years.

Woodrow Wilson, the liberal imperialist with whom Obama bears some marked affinities, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, having brought America into the carnage of the First World War. The peace laureate president who preceded him was Teddy Roosevelt, who got the prize in 1906  as reward for sponsorship of the Spanish-American war and ardent bloodletting in the Philippines.  Senator George Hoar’s famous denunciation of Roosevelt on the floor of the US Senate in May of 1902 was probably what alerted the Nobel Committee to Roosevelt’s eligibility for the Peace Prize:  

“You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives-the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind. You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture.”


TR was given the peace prize not long after he’d displayed his boundless compassion for humanity by sponsoring an exhibition of  Filipino “monkey men” in the 1904 St Louis World Fair as “the missing link” in the evolution of Man from ape to Aryan, and thus in sore need of assimilation, forcible if necessary, to the American way. On receipt of the prize, Roosevelt promptly dispatched the Great White Fleet  (sixteen U.S. Navy ships of the Atlantic Fleet  including four battleships) on a worldwide tour to display Uncle Sam’s imperial credentials, anticipating by scarce more than a century, Obama’s award, as he prepares to impose Pax Americana on the Hindukush and portions of Pakistan.      

People marvel at the idiocy of these Nobel awards, but there’s method in the madness, since in the end they train people to accept without demur or protest absurdity as part and parcel of the human condition, which they should accept as representing the considered opinion of rational men, albeit Norwegian. It’s a twist on the Alger myth, inspiring to youth: you too can get to murder Filipinos, or Palestinians, or  Vietnamese or Afghans  and still  win a Peace Prize. That’s the audacity of hope at full stretch.  

It’s dawning even  on those predisposed to like the guy that when it comes to burning issues the first black president of the United States truly hates to come down on one side or the other. He dreads making powerful people mad. He won’t stand up for his own people when they’re being savaged by the nutball right, edges them out, then has his press secretary claim that they jumped of their own accord. This may impress the peaceniks of Oslo, but from the American perspective he’s looking like a wimp.      

Obama’s Afghan policy evolved on the campaign trail last year as a one-liner designed to deflect charges that he was a peacenik on Iraq. Not so, he cried. The Global War on Terror was being fought in the wrong place. His pledge was to hunt down and “kill” Osama bin Laden.  

Once ensconced in the Oval Office Obama, invoking “bipartiship”, instantly nailed a white flag to the mast by keeping on Robert Gates, Bush’s secretary of defense.      

He formed a foreign policy team mostly composed of Clinton-era neo-liberal hawks, headed by Hilary Clinton and Richard Holbrook. His next step was to eject the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, and install Gen. Stanley McChrystal, best known for running  the assassination wing of the military’s joint special-operations command. (JSOC). Then he ordered 17,000 new US troops to be deployed to Afghanistan.


There’s no possible light at the end of any tunnel. The robot war via Predator missiles and other instruments in the arsenal infuriates all Afghans,  as wedding parties are blown to bits every weekend. With more troops and mercenaries now in Afghanistan than during the Russian military presence at its peak, there’s zero chance for America playing a long-term constructive role in Afghanistan. The US presence is just a recruiting poster for the Taliban.

But Obama has now surrounded himself with just the same breed of intellectuals who persuaded Lyndon Johnson to destroy his presidency by escalating the war.

Read the whole thing at CounterPunch: War and Peace, by Alexander Cockburn


Skip to comment form

    • Edger on October 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Afghanistan Now

  1. Well what should I expect on this Happy European Genocide Day.  The earth is indeed flat and even extreme cognigitve dissonance can’t wake em up.  Wonder how that plays in Cyberdyne systems AI SimCity wargames simulations

    Those marginalized “right wing” places are starting to drop the dreaded Bilderberg word but you know if I had a small staff and built an op center I’ll bet I could come up with tomorrow’s “news” a day early.  It is after all something which comes out of think tanks.

  2. The part I still don’t get is how it can be acknowledged he is an “imperial” president, which would mean doing the bidding of the elite imperialists, and the criticism of him as a wimp who won’t stand up for his party and promises.  Perhaps this is his job, to pretend there is change afoot, but to be wimpy in order for the imperial strategies to continue.  

  3. …I was shocked first thing Friday morning when I opened my computer…

    There it was…

    The NEWS…

    I was shocked and horrified.  I decided to do a random walk around liberal Berkeley asking people how they felt about the award.

    To my further amazement, I found one after the other gleeful, happy response.  Numero cinco was an 80-something jewish grandmother who said she didn’t have an opinion because she didn’t think Obama had done anything yet.  Them it was back to he rave notices, one after the other.

    In an effort to find some kindred spirits to me (hopefully), I began looking for females with unshaved legs or other signs of DFH-iedom.  That worked, the first unshaven lass said she really didn’t agree with the award.

    I did find a few more who were on “my side”; but the overall consensus was very discouraging.  

    Conclusion:  People eat words.

                People are glad he’s not W.

    We’ve got a long way to go, folks.  

    • Edger on October 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Additional Deployments Not Announced and Rarely Noted, October 13, 2009

    President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.

    The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.

    The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq “surge” that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said.

    The deployment does not change the maximum number of service members expected to soon be in Afghanistan: 68,000, more than double the number there when Bush left office. Still, it suggests that a significant number of support troops, in addition to combat forces, would be needed to meet commanders’ demands. It also underscores the growing strain on U.S. ground troops, raising practical questions about how the Army and Marine Corps would meet a request from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

    Defense experts said the military usually requires that thousands of support troops deploy for each combat brigade of about 4,000. That, in turn, exacerbates the strain on the force, in part because support troops are some of the most heavily demanded in the military and are still needed in large numbers in Iraq.

    “There are admittedly some challenges over the next 10 to 12 months as we are downsizing in Iraq, and therefore any schedule for increasing in Afghanistan might have to be more gradual,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    Pentagon and White House officials have not publicized significant deployments of support troops. For example, when Bush announced the Iraq surge, he spoke only of 20,000 combat troops and did not mention the approximately 8,000 support troops that would accompany them. When Gen. David H. Petraeus announced that the surge would end, he spoke only of the withdrawal of the combat units because he needed to retain many of the support troops in Iraq.

    On Afghanistan, White House and Pentagon spokesmen differed over exactly what the president has approved.

    Obama announced in a March 27 speech that he was approving 21,000 troops, and a White House spokesman said that the president did not approve any other increases before or after. Asked for more details on the troop authorizations, spokesman Tommy Vietor said the Pentagon was better suited to provide such “technical information.”

    Defense officials, however, acknowledge that the request for 21,000 troops has led to the authorization of more forces.

    “The 21,000 are only combat forces, and when the combat forces go in, there are a certain amount of additional forces that are required,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who signs the deployment orders, had military officials identify last spring the entire scope of the increase and agreed that he would consult with Obama again if the Pentagon sought to go above that, Whitman said.

    Obama authorized the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000,” said another defense official familiar with the troop-approval process.

    McChrystal’s request, which the administration is considering, would be in addition to the troops Obama has approved. The request reportedly includes different options for adding troops for combat, training and support, with one option totaling about 40,000. The ability of the Army and Marine Corps to meet the request would depend on the type and number of troops McChrystal asked for, and when he wants them. A significant troop increase in Afghanistan early next year — similar to the 2007 increase in Iraq — would be difficult to sustain given the current size of the Army and Marine Corps and ongoing troop demands in Iraq, officials said.

    The Army has 17 brigades deployed worldwide, including 11 in Iraq and five in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon data. The Marine Corps has one expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan. As of early this month, 65,000 U.S. troops were in Afghanistan and about 124,000 were in Iraq. At the height of the increase in Iraq, in late 2007 and early 2008, about 160,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq and 26,000 were in Afghanistan.

    As of early this month, 65,000 U.S. troops were in Afghanistan and about 124,000 were in Iraq” = 191,000

    At the height of the increase [surge] in Iraq, in late 2007 and early 2008, about 160,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq and 26,000 were in Afghanistan” = 186,000

  4. …Bigger and More IZ betterz.

Comments have been disabled.