Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Prize

Yes, I'm still on hiatus, but I can't let something as monumental as a sitting American President winning the Nobel Peace Prize pass without comment.

When Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the Peace Prize, it was a meaningful gesture to make up for the mixed blessing of his contribution to the world. When President Obama was awarded that Prize this week, it was a meaningful mixed-message about his contributions to the larger world and his own country.

As an avid supporter of Barack Obama, I'm very pleased that he won the Prize. It is still a great honor, even though the Nobel committee lowered the bar considerably by previously bestowing it on people like De Klerk and Arafat. And I'm glad that Mr. Obama said he saw the win as "a call to action," a prod to further success in peacemaking, rather than a reward for a peace job completed and well done.

I'm proud of him for taking bold, original and effective steps towards improving America's standing abroad and for advocating diplomacy and the peaceful resolution of age-old conflicts around the world. But I'm still shocked by the President's recent comments at the UN, indicating that to achieve a viable peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel should return to its pre-Six-Day-War-borders. That's not peace, it's surrender, and the President and his advisers should seriously reconsider this unfair and unreasonable solution.

Unless Obama truly uses the Peace Prize as a power tool to speed up our exit from Iraq, get us completely out of the futile bog that is Afghanistan, and totally depart from the Bush-era approach to handling prisoners of war and terror suspects, my feelings will continue to be mixed. I am certainly allowing for the fact that he's only been in office for less than a year. But he has not yet really begun to deliver on the change he asked us to believe in, nor has he been forceful enough in advancing a truly progressive agenda here at home. (Tomorrow, during the Gay March on Washington, he'll have an ideal opportunity to do something substantial.)

At the end of the New Day, Barack Obama cannot be a Peace Prize winner and a wartime president at the same time. While it is worthy that he's made great strides abroad, it's way past time to make greater strides at home. Peace in America means
meaningful health care reform, leadership-quality environmental legislation, and rescuing the middle class from the clutches of the banks, Corporate America, and the vast economic inequities between rich and poor.

Americans tend to be xenophobic about everything and everyone that is not us. Considering the mess left around the world by Cowboy Bush, Obama's success in the international arena is remarkable. But as he himself knows, it's nowhere near enough, not out there, and certainly not here. He still has a lot of work to do to finish earning this award.

1 comment:

Nadine B. Hack said...

MizB - you write, "At the end of the New Day, Barack Obama cannot be a Peace Prize winner and a wartime president at the same time." I fully agree with your sentiment. I hope President Obama will view his decisions on wars, what contributes to them, and what can help bring them to an end through the prism and with the burden of carrying this honor.