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Obama Gets $680 Billion Military Budget, Wins Nobel Peace Prize

October 9, 2009

Well, it’s hard not to know that US President Barack Obama has now won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Already there is a great deal of online buzz about how such a prize could be given to someone who has been in office only 9 months. Things are not always as they seem and it is worth exploring the context of the Nobel Committee’s announcement.

First, it should be noted that many other heads of state have won the Nobel Peace Prize as well as a few other US diplomats. Jimmy Carter (2002) won it after leaving the White House, Al Gore Jr. (2007) for Global Warming education and Woodrow Wilson (1919) for founding the League of Nations.

Second, the Nobel Committee has a long history of giving the award to questionable people for questionable actions. For instance, international war criminal Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. Several Israeli leaders have also won the award while their country was illegally occupying Palestinian land, such as Menachem Begin in 1978 and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994. So, we shouldn’t equate winning the Nobel Peace Prize with people who are committed to radical social change that results in lasting peace, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr or Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu Tum, both of whom also won the Nobel Prize.


Third, the reason that the Nobel Committee gave Obama the prize was because of his verbal commitments to reducing nuclear weapons proliferation and to improve relations with the Muslim world. While these are noble efforts, we should look at substance rather than rhetoric in determining whether or not someone is worthy of being called a peacemaker.

Just a few days ago the House voted to approve the Obama administration’s Military budget for 2010, a budget that is bigger than any during the Bush years standing at $680 Billion. How could this administration claim to be taking the country in a new direction if the military budget continues to grow? This budget includes operations for the ongoing US occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These occupations continue the murder of innocent civilians as Glenn Greenwald points out in his response to the Nobel announcement today. The bulking military budget also means maintaining roughly 750 military bases around the world, so US planners can continue to have easy access to the world’s natural resources. It includes $3 billion a year to Israel for weapons and military occupation. It includes money for new military bases in Colombia, which will no doubt be used to destabilize the Bolivarian revolution in South America.

Then there is the issue of torture, which the Obama administration has yet to renounce. Guantanamo is still open and still operating, habeas corpus is still being denied and the Obama administration refuses to prosecute Bush administration officials who knowingly advocate for torture.

So one has to ask, in his brief 9 months of occupying the White House, what evidence do we have a this US President’s commitment to peace? It would seem to this writer that there is more evidence of his commitment to war and torture than to anything that remotely resembles peace.

For some additional analysis of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded Barack Obama check out the interview on Democracy Now! With Naomi Klein and Tariq Ali.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Khrysso Heart LeFey permalink
    October 15, 2009 2:00 am

    What you have neglected to report is that the Committee stated clearly that another major justification for their choice was that Obama has done much to rehabilitate the US’s reputation that the foregoing eight years had demolished.

    You are asking them to fulfill the terms that you have set forth, not the terms that they set forth. Why should the Committee be held accountable for failing to live up to your expectations?

  2. October 15, 2009 2:07 am

    I would disagree, the committee based their decision on what he has said, not what Obama has done. They acknowledged what he has said about reducing nuclear weapons and reaching out to the Muslim world. He indeed has rhetorically done both of those, but there is no evidence that US policy and practice since Obama took office has done anything to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons that the US has or done anything to positively reach out to the Muslim world. These are not my expectations, rather the expectation of millions throughout the world.

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