By Kenneth J. Theisen
When I woke up this morning I received an email from a friend telling me that U.S. President Barack Obama was chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I had to think a moment to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.
I’ve been around awhile so I am not easily shocked, but this did shock me at first. I have been writing about Obama for a few years and have followed his career in politics and could not imagine why he had been chosen. But as I was more fully awake it made perfect sense to me, given some of the past winners of the Prize.
Past U.S. winners have included Teddy Roosevelt (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Henry Kissinger (1973) and Jimmy Carter (2002).
These winners did much to advance U.S. imperialism, as Obama is trying so hard to do as President and Commander-in-Chief. Roosevelt at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was truly an imperialist president. He sent the “great white fleet,” an armada of newly-constructed battleships, around the world to demonstrate that the U.S. was an imperial power. He was largely responsible for the construction of the Panama Canal, but only after ripping off the territory where it was built, from Columbia. His statement, “walk softly and carry a big stick” is in many textbooks in elementary schools. So is the “charge” he led in Cuba as the U.S seized that country from the fading imperialist power of Spain.
Then we have Woodrow Wilson who brought the U.S. into World War I, after campaigning and promising the voters that he would keep America out of the war. Wilson was also an ardent racist and segregationist. He introduced segregation into various federal departments (resulting in the firing of “colored workers,” and signed a law that made miscegenation a felony within the District of Columbia. Wilson’s entry of the U.S. into the world war enabled the U.S. to become a top imperialist contender in the early 20th century.
Next we have a living legend when it comes to peacemakers – Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was a National Security Advisor and U.S. Secretary of State. Literally millions of people have met their peace because of Henry – the peace of death. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, and other nations were turned into blood baths because of the U.S. “diplomacy” of Kissinger. Henry was instrumental in the first 9/11 – the CIA sponsored coup in Chile on September 11, 1973. That bloody coup brought Pinochet and the military to power, costing the lives of thousands of Chileans.
And what may you ask has Barack Obama done to be ranked among such distinguished gentleman? It is true that he has been in the Presidency less than a year, but he has done much to rank him among the truly noble Nobel winners, such as the three listed above.
Like Kissinger, he is doing his part in multiple wars. He has continued the Iraq war while convincing many that the war is ending. He has dramatically escalated the war in Afghanistan and is currently considering how to further escalate it to achieve U.S. imperialist goals. He has expanded the war in Afghanistan across the border into Pakistan, where U.S. missile strikes are now such a common occurrence that they barely rate any media coverage. He continues to keep the military option on the table in regard to Iran, and Iran could easily become a “hot war” under Obama.
Under Obama his administration has pressured some Palestinian leaders to shelf a request for an investigation into the war crimes committed by Israel in its war against Gaza. While calling for a peace settlement in Palestine, he has effectively allowed Israel to get its way and prevent any real peace.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said one of the reasons he was given the prize was because of his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” But if you look at his nuclear weapons speech, you will see that it really was nothing more than an attack on U.S. imperialism’s enemies in Iran and North Korea. It set the stage for further attacks on these two countries and was meant to strengthen the U.S. weapons of propaganda, diplomacy, and sanctions. It was also meant to set the stage for war if these other weapons do not achieve U.S. goals. Has Obama done anything to actually get rid of any of the 9,960 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal? Did the Nobel Committee take into account the advanced 15-ton bunker buster bomb production project where the U.S. is creating a weapon that can be used to attack Iran or Korea before it awarded the prize? This weapon may be deployed before the end of the year, according to the Pentagon statements made this week.
The Committee also noted Obama’s "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy." Diplomacy has always been used as a weapon to achieve U.S. imperialist hegemony. It is weapon often used to set the stage for war and to “legalize” imperialist conquests after war. Two of the other U.S. Nobel winners were Elihu Root (1912) and Cordell Hull (1945).
Root was the U.S. Secretary of War (This was when they did not even pretend it was a Department of Defense.) He helped modernize the U.S. war machine so that it could play a global role, instead of merely a continental role, in advancing U.S. imperialist interests. In this role he also helped consolidate U.S. rule in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines after these territories were seized by the U.S. in the 1898 Spanish-American War. He oversaw the brutal war against the Filipinos where a form of waterboarding was so commonly used by the U.S. that American soldiers created a song in praise of it. This war was also conducted against the civilian population which suffered many massacres at the hands of U.S. imperialist forces.
As an indication of how well war and diplomacy interact, Root was made Secretary of State after his stint as Secretary of War. He advocated the U.S. Open Door Policy which allowed U.S. imperialism to share in the spoils while dividing up China among the various imperialist powers. His role in achieving U.S. imperialist objectives through “diplomacy” earned him his Nobel Prize in 1912. At the beginning of World War I he opposed U.S. neutrality in the war and actively pushed for the entrance of U.S. forces into the war. It is evident that Obama fits into the company of such a man.
Cordell Hull was another U.S. diplomat that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. He was Secretary of State from 1933-1945. He fought in Cuba to take it from the Spanish, as did Teddy Roosevelt. Hull used the so-called “Good Neighbor Policy” in Latin America to help U.S. imperialism to penetrate and dominate the region. In 1939, Hull advised President Franklin Roosevelt to not allow the SS St. Louis to disembark 936 Jews who were seeking asylum from the Nazi regime. As a result they were sent back to Europe where many of them died in the Holocaust, but at least the U.S. did not offend Hitler by granting these refugees entry into the U.S. Hull’s actions also effectively deterred other Jews from looking to the U.S. as a place of refuge. We will never know how many died as a result.
Hull received his Prize for his role in creating the United Nations. In the creation of the U.N. he did his best to shape the U.N. into a body which would help the U.S. achieve various U.S. imperialist goals, thus showing that diplomacy could be used as an effective weapon by the U.S.
I have left Jimmy Carter, who received the Prize in 2002, until the end. Afghanistan has become Obama’s war. He describes it as a “war of necessity.” Carter is the president who first got the U.S. heavily involved in Afghanistan and in many ways helped create “terrorists” such as Osama bin Laden. In 1979 Carter decided to support the Islamic mujaheddin in Pakistan and Afghanistan to overthrow the Afghanistan government. At that time, the Afghan government was supported by the Soviet Union. Carter’s decision was made before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. escalated its support after the invasion.
In a 1997 interview, Zbigniew Brezinski, Carters National Security Advisor described the U.S. strategy.
“We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanction focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again—for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujaheddin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.”
The U.S. continued the policy of supporting the Islamic fundamentalists after Carter left office. One of these was none other than Osama. In a classic case of blowback, after the Soviets were defeated these reactionary forces turned their attention toward the U.S. Obama’s Afghan war is a legacy left by Jimmy Carter.
The Nobel Prize Committee cites Obama for his creation of "a new climate in international politics.” But this “new” climate is the same as the old imperialist climate that allowed the previous Committees to give “peace” prizes to other U.S. imperialist leaders. Obama is in the company of many with blood of their hands. It is the blood that has been spilled by generation of imperialist leaders. Blood is on Obama’s hands as well. He deserves the award.
image courtesy of Ryan Kowalchic