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Tony Grist

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The Nobel Peace Prize [Oct. 11th, 2009|10:31 am]
Tony Grist
Here's a list of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize

I've got to admit I draw a blank on most of these names. 

A lot of them were diplomats who were simply doing their jobs.

There are one or two real jokers in the pack. Teddy Roosevelt- who loved nothing better than charging up hills with a revolver in his fist- got the prize for brokering a deal between Russia and Japan. Henry Kissinger got it for agreeing to end a war he'd previously been pursuing with vigour.

And then there's Yasser Arafat.  His citation was probably not the only one which- with hindsight- seems slightly premature.

Several of the recipients had nothing to do with promoting world peace but got it simply for being good eggs and an example to us all- among them Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.  

On several occasions the award has gone to organisations- like the Red Cross or Medecins Sans Frontiers- and quite often it hasn't been awarded at all.
 
It's a barmy prize with a barmy history. The award to Barack Obama is hardly out of keeping.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: qatsi
2009-10-11 01:59 pm (UTC)
One thing that strikes me is that the science prizes are frequently awarded for work done, say, 20 years ago. I don't have a problem with that in itself - it's fair enough to give new ideas time to bed in and be accepted, in fact that is probably necessary to determine which are the great ideas. But it's really inconsistent with the Peace Prize, which seems to be awarded at the first sign of progress in some area, before anyone really knows whether a development will turn out to be significant.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-11 08:56 pm (UTC)
The Science prizes are probably the ones that are most defensible. An achievement in science is usually rock solid. The prize I'm most familiar with is the one for Literature- and that has had a patchy history. People have been given the award who seemed big at the time but whose reputation has since faded. And certain big names have been ignored. The very first prize went to a very minor French poet called Sully Prudhomme when it could have gone to any number of literary giants
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[User Picture]From: calizen
2009-10-11 02:44 pm (UTC)
It's my humble opinion that Barack Obama got the Peace Prize because America is finally rid of George Bush.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-10-11 06:45 pm (UTC)
Bingo. It's actually the third award given to not-Bush: Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are also on the list. The effect will be to confirm the impression of a large swath of the U.S. citizenry that it's sort of the liberal politican's equivalent of the Oscar and no conservative need apply.
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[User Picture]From: calizen
2009-10-11 07:30 pm (UTC)
You got me thinking here just who the members were who awarded this prize. They're all Norwegian, apparently, and the award seems to have been based on the promise of Obama's presidency rather than any particular action.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-11 09:02 pm (UTC)
Bush treated Europeans with something like contempt. Obama got the prize because he makes Europeans feel like America loves them again.
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[User Picture]From: calizen
2009-10-11 09:28 pm (UTC)
And they wanted to show they loved America again -- in their own way of course.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-10-11 11:04 pm (UTC)
This comment bewilders me. In what way did Bush treat the Europeans with "something like contempt"...?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-12 08:58 am (UTC)
When I say "Bush" I mean not necessarily the man himself, but the political culture of which he was the figurehead. I'm talking about that whole "If you're not with us you're against us" attitude to diplomacy. More specifically there was the "cheese-eating surrender monkey" thing vis-a-vis the French.

The contempt, of course, went both ways. There was never a time when Europe's love affair with the USA was more severely tested.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2009-10-12 10:41 am (UTC)
You must be joking. "Freedom Fries"? The contemptuous sneers about "Old Europe"?

As Tony notes, while no particular act on Bush's part leaps immediately to mind, I have never seen such an embarrassing episode of Europe bashing as there was under his administration. If he or Darth Cheney or any other party leader disapproved of the childish sneers of their fellow Republicans, they certainly sat on their hands and did nothing about it.

The Republican contempt for Europe was on full display as recently as last fall, when so-called conservatives were openly mocking Obama for the warm reception he received in Germany and elsewhere. The freakout over Obama's Nobel prize is just more of the same.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-10-12 12:38 pm (UTC)
Okay, since you mention it: I think Old Europe was just plain nutso to heap that much adulation on anyone with as thin a resume as Mr. Obama's, and will come to regret it in due course. I gather the Poles aren't terribly happy with some bits of Mr. Obama's foreign policy right now, and Lech Walensa was publicly incredulous at the Nobel award.

I once was visiting a friend in Darlington, who made some snarky remarks about American policy (this was during the Clinton administration). When I asked him why, he replied, essentially, that it's because Europe is so very dependent on America and has very little influence over what she does. "When America sneezes, Europe catches cold" was how he put it. I'm glad I asked him -- otherwise I would have taken it as another contemptuous put-down of the crass and immature Yanks by an oh-so-superior European citizen-of-the-world. So perhaps there's a bit of bilateral resentment going on here. Mote, beam, eye, and all that. I'll admit to some if you will.

I read Mr. Obama's speech to the U.N. with great interest. If he was really saying "okay, you keep saying you want us to step back and be one of many instead of the 900-pound gorilla; we're ready to do it; who's ready to step up and shoulder some of the world's burdens once we've stepped back?" I say good for him -- one of the most sensible things anyone from the U.S. has said to the U.N. in years. Unfortunately, I don't think he meant it the same way I would have.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-12 02:34 pm (UTC)
Obama's reception abroad has little to do with policy or achievement. It's about the way he looks, the way he sounds- in short, about image. The last US president we took to our hearts was the equally insubstantial JFK.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2009-10-12 03:06 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I can't think of a meaningful defintion of "just plain nutso" that fits this context.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-10-12 09:09 pm (UTC)
He had no accomplishments. He hadn't done a blessed thing except give nice speeches until the last year of his state senatorship when the local kingmaker caused his name to be attached to all kinds of bills that others had toiled over. He spent precious little time in the U.S. Senate before going out on permanent campaign. See poliphilo's comment, directly above yours -- he gets it.

I don't get anyone going gaga over the guy. He's an empty suit with a great voice. I think you're all just plain nutso if you do.

Edited at 2009-10-12 09:10 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2009-10-13 02:42 pm (UTC)
Your insistance that Obama is just an "empty suit" and that anyone who believes otherwise is "just plain nuts" is simply a way of denegrating those who disagree with your political ideology.

You, my friend, are a sore loser. It's childish and unbecoming and I think rather obviously self-defeating, but I'm afraid all too common among those of a particular political bent.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-10-13 03:54 pm (UTC)
I love you too! Have a nice day.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-11 09:12 pm (UTC)
I think it's daft to award this prize to a politician who is actively engaged in running a war. Arguments as to whether the war is necessary or just shouldn't come into it.
It's a Peace prize, Goddammit.

Afghanistan should have rendered Obama ineligible.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-10-12 03:11 am (UTC)
Correct! My pacifist sentiments exactly.
Others argue with me that "without 'peacekeepers'(troops)there would be no peace. Bullshit, say I -- without warriors there would be no wars.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-10-12 03:12 am (UTC)
Sorry, that was me - failed to log in is all.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2009-10-12 11:14 am (UTC)
Well, I have to agree: the continued US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan should have disqualified Obama for any "Peace Prize", as should some of the bellicose noise he's been making about Iran since his days on the campaign trail.

On the other hand, Obama did stand up and stand against one of the darkest, ugliest periods in American history, a time when the US was widely seen as the greatest single threat to world peace and stability. Obama's leadership in the fight against American fascism must count for something and I think the prize is meant to encourage that effort, even if there isn't much real peace so far as a result.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-11 08:57 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't quarrel with that.
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From: algabal
2009-10-11 03:01 pm (UTC)
What could he have done to *not* receive the prize? Which of his "positive" actions in foreign policy have not been entirely symbolic?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-11 09:05 pm (UTC)
Good question. Apparently the fact that he's in the process of escalating the war in Afghanistan didn't stop the Nobel committee from seeing him as a peacemaker.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-10-12 03:14 am (UTC)
I feel better now, knowing that some of the people see it for what it is, and that it is not Obama's fault. However, I would feel better yet if he turned it down.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-10-12 09:04 am (UTC)
No, it's not Obama's fault. He's a new leader, struggling with inherited problems, who has made a good impression abroad without actually achieving anything yet. He didn't ask for the citation.
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