Tag Archives: Nobel

Reflections on Obama’s acceptance speech

In response to my own blog earlier in the day,  I have to admit that Obama’s acceptance speech contains much that is good – I only hope that he is able to live up to these fine words!

It is good to see him acknowledge that there are others far more deserving: “Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics.  I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honor than I”.

Likewise, it is good to read his statement that “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war.  What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace”.

I cannot, though, agree with his statement that “the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans”.  He claims that “We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest”. I am quite convinced that there are many in the USA who have advocated war specifically because they want to impose their will on the world. The USA as a state has regularly promoted war  – in Iraq, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, in Grenada…  Many people across the world have suffered explicitly because of US foreign policy – this is indeed self-interest; whether or not it is enlightened is a matter for debate.

Obama’s  agenda is in the interest of a capitalist US economy based on the individual rather than the communal values that so many people elsewhere in the world value so much.  He says, “Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting”. To me, what matters more is how the individual behaves within the context of the communities that they are part of; it is the responsibilities that we have to others that are of more importance than a claim that we have any rights as individuals.

And, please, will he, along with other citizens of the USA, stop claiming that the USA is America. He claims that “America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens”.  This is debatable, but there is a huge difference between one country, the United States of America, and the entire continent, or indeed continents of America.


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Nobel peace prize today …

Just to note the irony that US President Obama is receiving the Nobel Peace Prize today only a few days after committing to sending 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.  If he is as great as so many would have us believe, he should have listened to the advice of others and politely declined what used to be seen as an honour.  I wrote about this at greater length in October, but it still appalls me that the Nobel Committee could have sunk so low.  I used to believe that the Nobel Prize meant something valuable.  It has been hugely tarnished by this serious error of judgement.

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Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

I saw this headline and could not believe it – the Nobel Peace Prize this year has been awarded to Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”!

How could someone who kept on saying in his election speeches that he would change a particular state, he would change America and then he would change the world if elected receive such a prize? What is this brave new world going to be like? Under his ‘leadership’ so far the USA is continuing to try to impose its authority on Iraq and Afghanistan, imposing ‘democracy’ by military force? Do people in the USA not realise that most of the world does not actually want to be changed by them, but would much prefer to have greater self-determination without US interference?  If Obama’s policies led to a substantial reduction in the size of the USA’s armed forces and their rapid withdrawal from parts of the world where they are seeking to impose their military power, then perhaps he would indeed be a worthy recipient. Such awards should surely be for achievement?  What evidence is there that Obama has yet made any serious impact on peace in the world?  As the UK’s Times notes, he “has yet to deliver on any of the major foreign policy initiatives upon which he has embarked”

Hamas, for example, according to the Xinhua News Agency has been outspoken in its criticism of this award: “Islamic Hamas movement said Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama does not deserve a Noble Peace Prize since he failed to give the Palestinian people their legitimate rights. Fawzi Barhoum, Gaza Hamas spokesman told Xinhua that “Obama does not deserve this prize,” after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.”We believe that there are lots of things needed from Obama to be presented to the Palestinian people in order to deserve this reward. Obama should change his manner and be fair,” said Barhoum”

This decision devalues the Nobel Peace Prize.  It may well be that Obama will indeed help to shape a more humble and peaceful USA, and in time therefore be a worthy recipient of a peace prize, but until then we should not be so full of sycophantic praise.  If Obama is as great as so many claim, then he will have the humility to decline this award.


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