War and Peace
War and Peace Prizes
- Howard Zinn
(Source: Guardian October 10, 2009)
I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.
Yes, Wilson gets credit for the League of Nations - that ineffectual body which did nothing to prevent war. But he had bombarded the Mexican coast, sent troops to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic and brought the US into the slaughterhouse of Europe in the first World War, surely among stupid and deadly wars at the top of the list.
Sure, Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace between Japan and Russia. But he was a lover of war, who participated in the US conquest of Cuba, pretending to liberate it from Spain while fastening US chains on that tiny island. And as president he presided over the bloody war to subjugate the Filipinos, even congratulating a US general who had just massacred 600 helpless villagers in the Phillipines. The Committee did not give the Nobel prize to Mark Twain, who denounced Roosevelt and criticised the war, nor to William James, leader of the anti-imperialist league.
Oh yes, the committee saw fit to give a peace prize to Henry Kissinger, because he signed the final peace agreement ending the war in Vietnam, of which he had been one of the architects. Kissinger, who obsequiously went along with Nixon’s expansion of the war, with the bombing of peasant villages in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Kissinger, who matches the definition of a war criminal very accurately, is given a peace prize!
People should be given a peace prize not on the basis of promises they have made - as with Obama, an eloquent maker of promises - but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war, and Obama has continued deadly, inhuman military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Nobel peace committee should retire, and turn over its huge funds to some international peace organization which is not awed by stardom and rhetoric, and which has some understanding of history.
Peace Prize-Winner’s Secret Wars
- John Pilger
(Source: ‘War Is Peace, Ignorance Is Strength,’ the New Statesman, 16 October, 2009)
Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to add to his impressive record. In Afghanistan, his agents routinely extinguish wedding parties, farmers and construction workers with weapons such as the innovative Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of your lungs. According to the UN, 338,000 Afghan infants are dying under the Obama-led alliance, which permits only $29 per head annually to be spent on medical care.
Within weeks of his inauguration, Obama started a new war in Pakistan, causing more than a million people to flee their homes. In threatening Iran - which his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she was prepared to “obliterate” - Obama lied that the Iranians were covering up a “secret nuclear facility”, knowing that it had already been reported to the International Atomic Energy Authority. In colluding with the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, he bribed the Palestinian Authority to suppress a UN judgment that Israel had committed crimes against humanity in its assault on Gaza - crimes made possible with US weapons whose shipment Obama secretly approved before his inauguration.
…At home, the man of peace has approved a military budget exceeding that of any year since the end of the Second World War while presiding over a new kind of domestic repression.
…The Nobel Peace Prize-winner’s latest war is largely secret. On 15 July, Washington finalised a deal with Colombia that gives the US seven giant military bases. “The idea,” reported the Associated Press, “is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations . . . nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 [military transport] without refuelling”, which “helps achieve the regional engagement strategy”.
Translated, this means Obama is planning a “rollback” of the independence and democracy that the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay have achieved against the odds, along with a historic regional co-operation that rejects the notion of a US “sphere of influence”. The Colombian regime, which backs death squads and has the continent’s worst human rights record, has received US military support second in scale only to Israel. Britain provides military training. Guided by US military satellites, Colombian paramilitaries now infiltrate Venezuela with the goal of overthrowing the democratic government of Hugo Chávez, which George W Bush failed to do in 2002.
Obama’s war on peace and democracy in Latin America follows a style he has demonstrated since the coup against the democratic president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, in June. Zelaya had increased the minimum wage, granted subsidies to small farmers, cut back interest rates and reduced poverty. He planned to break a US pharmaceutical monopoly and manufacture cheap generic drugs. Although Obama has called for Zelaya’s reinstatement, he refuses to condemn the coup-makers and to recall the US ambassador or the US troops who train the Honduran forces determined to crush a popular resistance. Zelaya has been repeatedly refused a meeting with Obama, who has approved an IMF loan of $164m to the illegal regime. The message is clear and familiar: thugs can act with impunity on behalf of the US.