Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taibbi On Obama's Nice, Million-Dollar "Prize"

The Nobel Peace Prize Isn't About Peace:
It's a Way for Westerners to Pat Ourselves
on the Back and Change Nothing

Not to put tooooooo fine a point on it:
The Nobel Peace Prize long ago ceased to be an award given to people who really spend their whole careers agitating for peace. Like most awards the Prize has evolved into a kind of maraschino cherry for hardcore careerists to place atop their resumes, a reward not for dissidence but on the contrary for gamely upholding the values of Western society as it perceives itself, for putting a good face on things (in Obama’s place, literally so).

Even when the award is given to a genuine dissident, it tends to be a dissident hailing from a country we consider outside the fold of Western civilization, a rogue state, "not one of us" -- South Africa from the apartheid days, for instance, or the regime occupying East Timor.

You never, ever get a true dissident from a prominent Western country winning the award, despite the obvious appropriateness such a choice would represent. Our Western society quite openly embraces war as a means of solving problems and for quite some time now has fashioned its entire social and economic structure around the preparation for war
This is NOT something Obama has demonstrated any enthusiasm for changing. Yes, he's slightly reduced the USer military footprint in Iraq (though not the contractors). But he is on the verge of disastrously INCREASING the size of the USer commitment in Afghanistan.

But at least he isn't the Chimp, nest paw:
More likely the Obama critics who believe that Obama won this award for not being George Bush are right as well. The problem the international community had with Bush wasn’t that he believed in war and the use of force, it was that he believed in the unilateral use of these things. Bush did not believe in the use of force as an expression of a whole society’s values, he believed in it as an expression of his own machismo.

He was like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, flying through history with a bomb between his legs, shouting "Yee, haw!" It wasn’t so much that this behavior was wrong, it was just unseemly. (Bush) was like the drunk at a Victorian tea party who during the soup course makes jokes about the hostess’s secret pregnancy in France. We Westerners, we just don’t do things like that. Decorum, sir, decorum!
This is what Barack Obama did to "earn" the Nobel Prize. He put the benevolent face back on things. He is a good-looking black law professor with an obvious bent for dialogue and discussion and inclusion. That he hasn’t actually reversed any of Bush’s more notorious policies — hasn’t closed Guantanamo Bay, hasn’t ended secret detentions, hasn’t amped down Iraq or Afghanistan — is another matter. What he has done is remove the stink of unilateralism from those policies. (Just as his election "febrezed" the stench of endemic USer racism. W.)

They’re not crazy-ass, blatantly illegal, lunatic rampages anymore, but carefully-considered, collectively-run peacekeeping actions, prosecuted with meaningful input from our allies.

You see the difference? The Nobel committee sure did!
I have no idea what his award means, but I do know one thing; it doesn’t have a lot to do with peace.
Not a fucking thing, thank you very much!

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