Friday, June 18, 2010

Nobels, rogues and MIA

The Nobel Peace Prize is generally regarded as the planet's most prestigious acknowledgement of those who strive for peace. However, it misses badly quite often and has caused those who study peace and justice to think about who gets in who shouldn't get in and who is missing by mistake?

Henry Kissinger? Please. He's a signal war criminal with massive crimes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Chile and Ford knows where else. He's the Nobel Laureate with the most blood from the most nations on his hands.

Menachim Begin? Wow. As a member of Irgun, he was in on blowing up the King David Hotel and killing 91, mostly civilians, 22 July 1946, in the bloody campaign to drive the British out of Palestine in order to make it possible to seize that land to found modern Israel. As a militant Zionist founder of Israel, he helped formulate and execute massive ethnic cleansing, driving Palestinians from land they had lived on and villages in which they had lived for generations. Real Nobel material. He was dragged along to Camp David by Jimmy Carter and though he expressed great hatred for Anwar Sadat of Egypt (who in turn thought little of Begin), they were both awarded the Nobel for the Camp David Accords.

And what can we say about the five-times nominated Mohandas Gandhi, the man who gave humankind strategic libratory nonviolence? Never got one of those darn trophies. He only did more to free Dalits from the caste discrimation and near-enslavement than anyone ever had. He only reached out to Muslims for decades, becoming the only Hindu many of them trusted in an environment of massive ethnic and religious bicommunal hatred and violence. He only gave humanity a way to win without war.

The Nobel was generally reserved for white folks until about 1960 and Gandhi was held to extraordinarily higher standards in the critical reports the Nobel committee wrote in reviewing his nominations.

In these ways and more, the Nobel is a deeply flawed award and process. And that continues. Barack Obama was given the award for a nice nuclear disarmament speech without having achieved a thing for peace and in fact gave an acceptance speech in Oslo that justified war. It was an international embarrassment. The Norwegians mean well and sometimes get it right, but do not confer much on a Peace Laureate without doing your own background check. And do not hold your breath waiting for nonviolent civil society leaders to get an award from the Nobel folks, especially if those civil society leaders are in opposition to the US. Kathy Kelly gets nominated frequently, for instance, and will never get one, as she's only a pacifist who has served the victims of US wars, she's only a pacifist who has served time in several US prisons for her nonviolent resistance to the militaristic empire in which she is a citizen in contest with the largest military ever anywhere anytime on Earth.

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