Juan Cole On Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize: Five Things He Needs To Do

10.12.09

Juan ColeI don’t have time to dissect how cleverly Obama’s speechwriters tried to spin a wartime President into a bearer of peace, or to explore how a promise to close Guantánamo and to ban torture doesn’t equate with holding prisoners without rights in Bagram. So here, instead, are five excellent proposals by Juan Cole, the Middle East expert and author of Engaging the Muslim World, a book that, noticeably, doesn’t include troop surges of 30,000 military personnel, which, even setting aside other complaints (the “collateral damage” of ongoing civilian deaths, for example), is unaffordable financially, and also threatens the mental health of an already overstretched military.

Top Things that would Redeem Obama’s Peace Prize
By Juan Cole

The world has noted the irony that President Barack Obama is delivering his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize after launching an escalation of the Afghanistan war. Of course, the critique is a little misplaced, since the prize is for a specific policy success, not for being a pacifist.

Still, Mr. Obama was clearly given the prize to encourage him in the direction of peace. It is the tragedy of the sole superpower that it is unconstrained by peers and so can launch wars of choice and shatter international law at will. It can be counseled but not blocked. He was awarded this honor as a counsel.

So here are the things Obama can do to redeem his prize.

1. Get out of Iraq on schedule. We can’t stop their low-intensity conflicts, and they are more likely to compromise with each other if we are not there.

2. Resist calls for Iran to be bombed. Such a raid would guarantee that Iran would start a crash program to develop a nuclear weapon, and there would be no way to stop it short of full-scale war.

3. Stop allowing the CIA to operate drones with which to assassinate people. It is illegal and shameful. […]

4. Get the Palestinians a state by the end of 2011, even if by unilateral recognition. Palestinian statelessness is the biggest human rights scandal in the world, since citizenship is the right to have rights. This step alone would solve the bulk of US problems in the Arab world and would deal a deadlier blow to al-Qaeda than capturing Bin Laden.

5. Stick to the plan of beginning a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in summer 2011. Karzai and the generals will attempt to embroil us in a decades-long quagmire. No one will remember his Nobel peace prize if President Obama lets that happen.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. Bill Jones says...

    I thought that Obomber’s “War is Peace” speech was both appalling and a real wake up for the clowns who gave the killingest man in the world today a “Peace” prize

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    That sounds about right to me, Bill.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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