In Good Company
In a Rose Garden speech responding to his Nobel win, President Obama stated that:
“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
Well, I’m sure many would agree with the “I do not feel that I deserve” part, but in a very narrow sense President Obama does deserve to be in the company of some previous laureates – specifically Henry Kissinger: the progenitor of the politically-motivated Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. Obama, as everyone knows, is currently weighing a large-scale escalation of our war in Afghanistan. Nobody is sure exactly how many more troops he should commit, but it is at least certain that none of the 68,000 there already will be withdrawn. The announcement of Obama’s award comes on the heels of several suicide bombings in Afghanistan, all in response to an illegal US occupation, along with the continuous US bombardment of Afghan and Pakistani villages, which have killed thousands of defenseless and blameless villagers, and which Mr. Obama has publicly supported on numerous occasions. In May a US air-strike killed 100 Afghan civilians, and only eight days ago a NATO bombing killed 9 civilians.
Nobel Laureate Obama also presides over the manufacture and sale of nearly all the world’s killing machines. The US National Security apparatus, of which Obama sits at the head, currently accounts for 70% of all arms sales in the world.
Strictly speaking, none of this is new. Indeed, the Nobel Committee has a rich history of giving the Peace Prize to war criminals, including the leader of the dreaded Viet Cong, Lê Ðức Thọ in 1972. But the interesting aspect here is that Henry Kissinger also won the prize that year.
Christoper Hitchens has written an excellent series of articles which he later turned into a book: The Trial of Henry Kissinger. To read them is to see what the Nobel Committee truly values, and surely puts the Obama prize into proper context.
Very simply put, Henry Kissinger, during his term as Secretary of State, personally ordered the deaths of nearly a million people in areas as far-flung as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile, and Cyprus.
In Cambodia he ordered a secret bombing campaign which decimated their countryside and greatly intensified their civil war, eventually setting the stage for a coup d’etat by the murderous Khmer Rouge. Tens of thousands died from the bombing, millions died in the political aftermath.
In Bangladesh, in 1971, Mr. Kissinger armed West Pakistani death squads and, after hearing numerous reports that those arms were being used for massacres, flatly refused to do anything. As Hitchens reports:
In late April 1971, at the very height of the mass murder, Kissinger sent a message to General Yahya Khan [President of West Pakistan], thanking him for his “delicacy and tact.”
In Chile, the year after he won his prize, Mr. Kissinger enacted a diabolical plan of political and economic warfare, first by giving the CIA a go-ahead to overthrow Chile’s democratically-elected government, then by installing military dictator Augusto Pinochet, and finally by recommending so-called “market reforms” which in his words were designed to “make the economy scream”. Tens of thousands died in political violence under Pinochet; hundreds of thousands found themselves flung into the depths of poverty.
And so on, and so forth. The crimes of Nobel Laurate Kissinger are perhaps too numerous to discuss in a so short an entry. Entire books have, after all, been written on the subject. In the aftermath of such a truly monstrous Peace Prize recipient, Obama’s sins look positively tame by comparison.
But I think it is a sign of our political culture’s degeneration that a man presiding over a massive expansion of our torture-centers in Afghanistan, who openly claims the right to kidnap people and transport them where he likes, and who reserves the “right” to bomb Iran (or whomever he pleases), could be mistaken for a man of peace.