I woke up this morning to the news that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Like for most people I'm sure, the news came as a surprise, mainly because there had been no prior rumors to the effect, or even knowledge that he had been nominated.
My first thought was that all those people who have been spitefully wishing for him to fail, in whatever endeavor he was involved in (such as his recent attempts to woo the Olympic Committee on behalf of the Chicago bid), would be gnashing their teeth in rage over this.
That's their problem.
And then surely there would be others on the opposite side of the political spectrum scratching their collective heads wondering how Obama could win such an award while escalating the level of troops involved in the Afghanistan War.
That's more complicated.
But when I asked myself who else may have been a better choice this past year, may have done more to promote and pursue peace around the world, I couldn't think of anyone else. It isn't like anyone has stood out as more deserving.
So the Nobel Committee decided instead to make a statement to encourage Obama to continue his efforts to return the U.S. to a position of diplomatic global leadership, engaging and working with the world, instead of unilaterally. This was a decision "to support what he is trying to achieve".
That's not unprecedented with this award.
Having just heard part of Obama's remarks in reaction to the announcement, I think Obama clearly recognizes the intent of the award, and accepts it as a further "call to action", and less as a suggestion that any of his goals have been achieved. Ironically, he'll receive most of the flack about the award from within - but I think he is skilled enough to not allow it to become a distraction or political liability, but rather judiciously use it to his benefit on the international diplomat front.
After all, the same people gnashing their teeth because he won the award, would be openly celebrating if they knew he had been nominated and not received the award. That small but vocal minority will seek to undermine Obama, and ridicule the Nobel Institute as they do other international institutions, but around the world, I suspect that this award will viewed much differently, and the chosen recipient will be viewed with respect for having won it.
At the end of the day, as surprises go, this is a pleasant one, much preferable to all the nasty ones we've had to suffer through in the past decade.
…a step that would likely increase Iran's isolation and alienate Western nations that have been trying to keep options open with Tehran despite its crackdown on protesters.
…At the same time, the arrests test the U.S. and Europe's policy, which has so far been to avoid an overly harsh reaction to Iran's postelection crisis. The West has been wary of condemnations of Iran's leadership, in part for fear of undermining prospects for future talks with Tehran, particularly over its controversial nuclear program. So far, the EU has taken an incremental approach. On Friday, a day after issuing a public call for the staffers' release, governments across the 27-nation bloc summoned Iran's ambassadors to present the demand in person. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the EU's "escalatory approach to Iran was working." But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country backs Britain's push for tougher action, "so that Iranian leaders will really understand that the path that they have chosen will be a dead end."
The dead end is that ABSOLUTE POWER in the hands of only “a few countries” in the world surely leads to more DEAD people in other countries. AND some day it will have to stop. For the sake of all of those who are living in the bombed and destroyed countries or being threatened…
These “spanking wars” only enriches the Western (military) industries, the News outlets and the whole Media industry behind it…. There is nothing “dignified” or “human rights” in them.
A human life is supposed to be more important than my pocket. Or is it?
A fair trial is actually a more civilized manner to blame someone of a wrongdoing rather than BOMBING a whole country for the wrongdoings of a few people.
Let’s see what we will see and let’s not worry too much about seeing criminal and illegal action stopped legally (whether they are normal citizens or “immuned” diplomats). If such a method is to be considered unacceptable, then the ICC should not exist either and no one will have to pay for humanitarian crimes that are so easily decided in round tables and white and red houses….
As if other human beings in the world are too “dumb” to think and decide for themselves about their OWN internal affairs.
Now that the UN has been “de-credibilized” thanks to the biased attitude of the SC, the only thing that is left for any global consensus is the UN Charter which all member countries are supposed to be respecting:
Article 2 – The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from their membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
All Members shall refrain in the international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
…. And finally
7- Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.
(Chapter VII – Article 39 – The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security…)
THANK YOU the Security Council. BUT NO THANK YOU for maintaining constant WAR by the constant AGGRESSIONS that you impose on the most peaceful and law-abiding countries, and their innocent populations which are simply doing/ respecting just what the first articles of the UN charter has set (as the most important principles).
Maybe it’s really time for a CHANGE? But in such way that countries and people are judged, for what they have actually done, and not only in what is promised by them or “expected” of them.
And we will see in time what will be really done, by who… and realize the excuses that are being prepared to justify the violence of what is already planned to happen in the future.
History will tell those who will and can still read history books in the future.
Keeping calm and maintaining peace is the best situation for intelligent and wise behavior. This doesn’t mean that if someone slaps you sadistically, that everyone is a masochist/a slave/or weak and wants, or accepts, to be hit again….
On this 4th of July, the United States of all countries should know that Independence is special. It is for other countries too.
And some people (and country leaders) if they are slapped, answer by slapping back. Because they are not someone's slave or child.
So it’s up to those who start thinking un-shrewdly of slapping someone they consider “weak”, to refrain from imposing their “bully powers”.
All attitude which leads to a massive attack on any country of the world, and for any sort of reason, is only a cultural interpretation of what people think is “a necessity” and what is not.
There are so many terrible events happening in the world these days (DR Congo…) and nobody is even trying to stop the despair of thousands of miserable humans around the world dying from famine, war, natural disasters and genocides…. while others are busy inaugurating dreamlands in Dubai or using jets to buy bread for their wives.
If a few countries decide to interfere in the affairs of other countries, unless it is in order to save other human beings from a disastrous event, absolutely no other reason can be acceptable in acting as a better person.
If we see a dying child at our neighbor’s house, will we break in and take the baby to the hospital?
Answer 1 - The parents have abandoned the child they are not home and we have to save the child.
Answer 2 - the parents have beaten up the child brutally and we feel that we have to interfere, but we need to call the police to figure it out
Answer 3 - We see the dying child but we don’t know that the child is simply dying of cancer and the parents are actually doing what they can to save their own kid.
Answer 4 - We do interfere, and take the neighbors child to the hospital, but we forget that we have left the kettle on our own oven and we return home to see the house burnt down while we were busy with somebody else’s business.
The Iraqi Cabinet has passed a resolution requiring US troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns by 30 June 2009. They have also set a date of 31 December 2011 for the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The dates are supposedly “set and fixed” and “not subject to circumstances on the ground.” These few tentative steps are resolutions that still need to be approved by the Iraqi Parliament but are signs that Iraq is starting to take a more substantial role in controlling its own future. Like a person recovering from a devastating injury, the road to recovery is slow and painful but requires the full commitment of the individual. Changes can not be forced upon the country by outside forces however well meaning the intent. It will be interesting to see if the incoming administration will allow Iraq to succeed, or fail, on its own. The question now is whether these next few faltering steps will keep the country moving forward on the road to recovery or if it signals the need for indefinite life support by the US.
These are times that make it hard to blog. There is so much happening that it almost makes it feel superfluous and futile to write blogs about any one thing. But if I were to choose one thing to blog about it is fear. We (and that means everybody in the world) need to be ready to keep our heads cool. Once fear becomes entrenched it can be manipulated. That has been proven so many times, it isn't even worth listing them. And every country has examples in its modern history of the nurturing and use and abuse of fear by groups of people and/or governments as a tool for enhancing that group or government's power. By not allowing ourselves to be in a chronic state of fear, we empower ourselves, we serve as an example to others, and we retain the judgement necessary to oppose anarchy or tyranny.
Watching the Charles Gibson interview with Sarah Palin, and listening to and reading about the McCain assertions regarding his running mate, and attacks against his opponent, I've come to the conclusion that the Republicans are running a McCain/Palin campaign built on hollow generalities and blatant lies.
He is literally running to be Liar in Chief!
After eight years of being lead on by the Bush administration, perhaps the press has finally had enough and the strategy to try to pull one over on the American public for just long enough to win this election will be exposed, and voters will reject it.
Gibson's interview exposed Palin to be a fraud. She clearly appeals to many people because of surface attributes; she looks young and attractive and folksy. But as we dig deeper, we find she's ill-versed on international issues, and her policies are based on generalities she cannot back up with specific actions to carry out. Reform? She's got no idea how she'll achieve it. Change? She's got no idea what to change. Washington D.C. isn't Wasilla. You're not dealing with the local librarian in this job, you're staring down Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao.
Her list of problems, false claims, and extreme positions keep piling up on a daily basis. Now she's the only candidate under investigation with a spouse that's been subpoenaed.
It would be one thing if this was the opposition ticket, but these guys are from the same team that gave us Bush and Cheney. Their appeal should be limited to the diehards who cling to the hope their eight year wrecking crew can get another four years. But this election we're dealing with a complicated electorate. We've got unreliable young voters. We've got racist voters. We've got vindictive voters. We've got friends who'd be happy with a loss, and enemies that would be friends. We've got the old guard pretending to be the new guard, and the extremists packaged in pretty ribbons.
And we've got a lot of liars clouding the facts in the minds of voters.
Post convention polling shows the race has levelled. The good news for Obama is that he was previously working from a lead, so as voters begin to see through the McCain/Palin lies and hollow talk, beyond the cheap candy kisses, those that have been waffling will likely come back to the Obama/Biden ticket.
If there is any hope for this country, that's the hope.
I was about to post something tongue-in-cheek about Sarah Palin's candidacy, but then I remembered which day of the year it is, so instead I am going to say that today is a day to remember that there is never a legitimate reason to kill innocent people.
Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are are breaking away and Russia is welcoming them into their fold with open arms - literally.
John McCain decided on Friday that politics were more important than experience when he picked Sarah Palin as his Joe Biden equivalent on the Republican ticket. Where before McCain suggested Barack Obama lacked experience, in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, he now has the gall to suggest experience is not important, what matters is judgment:
WALLACE: You have criticized Obama as being, quote, "dangerously unprepared to be president." In the sense of national security and foreign policy specifically, isn't Sarah Palin even more dangerously unprepared?
MCCAIN: Oh, no. Look, she has got the right judgment. She has got the right judgment. She doesn't think, like Senator Obama does, that Iran is a minor irritant. She knows that the surge worked and succeeded, and she supported that.
Senator Obama still, still to this day refuses to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. She has been commander-in-chief of the Alaska Guard, that has served back and back (ph). In fact, as you know, she has got a son who is getting ready to go.
But she has had the judgment on these issues and — that Senator Obama has not had in the — he has had all the wrong judgments. And Governor Palin understands these issues, and she understands the challenges that we face.
So she has had 12 years of elected office experience, including traveling to Kuwait, including being involved in these issues. And look, I'm so proud that she has displayed the kind of judgment and she has the experience and judgment as an executive. She has run a huge economy up there in the state of Alaska. Twenty percent of our energy comes from the state of Alaska, and energy is obviously one of the key issues for our nation's security.
WALLACE: But, Senator, you talked about her years of experience. Ten of those years were as a city councilwoman and mayor of a town of 9,800 people. And in terms of foreign policy, in March of 2007, after, two months after the surge had started, she was asked about it, and she said: "I've been focused on state government. I haven't focused on the war in Iraq." Understandable for a governor; not understandable for a vice president.
MCCAIN: Well, by the way, also she was a member of the PTA. I think it's wonderful.
Amazing. From PTA to staring down Putin and Medvedev.
How McCain can claim any judge of "judgment" after making a pick such as he made in Palin to be a heart beat away from the leadership of this nation, is beyond me. Putin and Medvedev must be licking their chops at the very real prospect Americans actually choose to make that a possibility in two months time.
“I am of course confident that I will fulfill my tasks as a writer in all circumstances -- from my grave even more successfully and more irrefutably than in my lifetime. No one can bar the road to truth, and to advance its cause I am prepared to accept even death. But may it be that repeated lessons will finally teach us not to stop the writer's pen during his lifetime? At no time has this ennobled our history.”
A couple years ago a columnist from "The Guardian" named Timothy Garton Ash wrote an article where he spoke of The Iraq War as America's Boer War. He claims that the 1905 Boer War kicked off the 50 year-long decline of the British Empire resulting in a loss of "top dog" status in the world. It's pretty convincing stuff actually.
If his claims are true (or even true-ish) then we have an interesting and not necessarily unattractive time ahead of us here in the States. Now, granted, that 50-year decline of the British Empire included two world wars and should this next protracted decline of a hyper-power also include such things then life will suck immeasurably. So let us hope that things like the Cold War's Mutually Assured Destruction will still apply through the coming years and that no big country knock-down, drag-outs will occur.
But barring the world war syndrome, we could see benefits from a slow releasing of America's grip on the world. Perhaps more money could be spent on schools and such. After all, half of the rest of the world's students want to study here (much like they did want to study in Britain back in the early to mid 20th century) and so becoming even more of a knowledge superpower (while discarding some of the ass-kicking superpower ways) would be a useful way to go.
If you look at Britain in those 50 years of imperial downsizing, there is a lot of good stuff! How many great British books were written, published and read worldwide from 1905 onward? How many great British plays were written and put on by theater companies worldwide? How much great rock and roll came off of those isles in the deep post-imperialist age? It's really almost as if the releasing of itself from empire spawned renewed creativity, isn't it? Take Monty Python. That is pure brilliance. It is also quintessentially English AND distinctly post-empire AND hugely influential on world culture. And did anyone think, when they heard and saw the Beatles, that England had lost its influence in the world? I think not.
Fast-forward to now. Washington is London a hundred years ago. Imperial over-stretch looms. One cannot conceive of a world where the US isn't all powerful and yet history teaches us that that world is coming. But it doesn't have to be that scary after all. And there could be benefits. There will also be some downsides to the end of US hegemony. You need only take a moment to imagine how Russia and China might behave toward their southern neighbors in a world free of those huge American fleets patrolling around tropical waters. I think certain countries will miss America's relatively friendly use of its powers. Let's be honest, if Russia or China had America's current power, they would never bother to spend 5, 10, or even 15 years merely warning a country to stop messing with their business interests, oil supplies, and diplomats of questionable motives. They would never allow tens of millions of their own citizens to vilify their own government's policies.
Be that as it may, and with the caveat that there is no current heir to US power (no you can't count China any time soon...not when they are still afraid to let their fighter pilots fly too far from base for fear that they might defect) US power will naturally diminish. I hope to see some good art, music, and literature come out of it.
I wonder if Rome's decline had any cultural benefits.