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Obama’s Paradox

Barack Obama is a man of peace—according to the Nobel Prize committee, the preeminent man of peace of our time—yet he sits astride an army that is waging two simultaneous wars; a network of client states, foreign military bases and secret prisons; a spy agency that consorts with gangsters and terrorists; and so on. The logic of his position requires him, first of all, to defend the interests of the American empire (as defined by whom? the voters? Congress? his military chiefs? a cabal of bankers and industrialists?) and only then, as a purely secondary matter, to pursue the humanistic goal of peace.

Let’s imagine for a moment that Obama really does have the goal of placing peace (and its correlates, global democracy and economic justice) at the heart and center of American foreign policy; that he is ready to redefine America’s strategic interests to bring them into line with these humanistic ends; and finally that before becoming president, he understood he would have to compromise his principles in order to get a chance to steer the ship of state, but nevertheless decided this was worth it in order to have a humanist like himself in charge, rather than someone like Dick Cheney who worships power for its own sake. “Better me than them,” he must have told himself. “If the logic of the role requires me to wage unjust wars against the world’s poor, at least it will be me doing it, someone who hates it and wants to change it, rather than someone who believes that force is kindness and the American empire is God’s plan for humanity.”

So we have the paradox of a man of peace who sends robot planes into the mountains of Pakistan to bomb civilians, who shakes hands with extremists like Netanyahu and puppets like Abbas while avoiding true democrats like Zelaya of Honduras; but we are so entranced by what he could be and might do, that we give him the Nobel Prize after nine months of being there. Now I’m an admirer of this paradoxical man myself, but are we really so starved for humanistic leadership in the world that we are ready to reward intentions as if they were accomplished facts?


Comment from yahia
Time: October 14, 2009, 20:24

Latuff’s caricature:

A person said that this Nobel prize didn’t come as a reward but a motivation to put the president into a dilemma of needing to stay even more faithful to what he was talking about in his first times as the president.

Comment from Abdoulaye BAH
Time: November 20, 2009, 18:43

Si vous avex contribué à décerner le prix Nobel pour la Paix au Président Obama, je ne pense pas que lui ayez fait une faveur car c’est trop tot. Il doit encore faire ses preuves, malgré la sympathie qu’il a su provoqué chez des millions d’Américains à travers le monde.

Mais vous devriez aussi considérer le lourd héritage de M. Bush qu’il doit gérer tant sur sur le plan militaire et les difficultés de sortir des différents bourbiers où pataugent les GI que sur le plan économique où il a pu arrêter la dégringolade.

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