The Nobel committee awards Obama its peace prize and the reaction is a collective, “WTF!” The guy’s managing two wars and is getting ready to ramp up the war in Afghanistan even as he talks of spreading it to Pakistan, and the committee calls this peace?
Here again, Obama is benefiting from comparison with GWB. The Bush administration was to peace what Jack the Ripper was to feminism.
However, there’s another dynamic at work here. Compared to other winners, Obama is a milquetoast. He’s fallen far short of the body count amassed by previous winners, Woodrow Wilson and Henry Kissinger. (Tom Lehrer declared political satire dead the day they awarded Hank the prize.)
Much of the fuss over Obama being awarded the prize arises from a misunderstanding of what “peace” means. The meaning of the word had evolved over the years In its modern usage, it means much more than the absence of conflict and violence. In other words, the Nobel Peace Prize is not your great-grandfather's Nobel Peace Prize.
By the dawning of the twentieth century, peace had come to mean industrial peace, i.e., market stability. If millions had to be slaughtered to attain this stability that was simply the price you paid. And the leader who slaughtered the most to attain this stability was the leader awarded the Peace Prize because he had facilitated a return to market stability.
By the twenty-first century, the definition of peace had taken another twist. It now meant corporate peace. Corporate peace is all about policy. It is the alignment of the world order with the goals and objectives of the reigning corporate power, in this case the United States.
The problem faced by the contemporary world is not rogue states; it’s rogue policies. Saddam’s sin was not his supposed links with al Qaeda; it was his decision to stop denominating oil sales in dollars. World pace depends on a faithful adherence to corporate policy. Saddam failed to follow policy. We couldn’t fire him, so we had to kill him and trash his country.
The Taliban failed to follow corporate policy by refusing to allow the Great White Power to run a pipeline across its real estate. So, we had to kick some ass to get the country into proper alignment with our corporate policies.
Under this definition, war is peace in the making; so it is that a corporate leader engaged creating murder and mayhem in order to implement a corporate policy is indeed worth of the prize.
If anything, the Nobel Committee is going soft in the head. They really should have waited a year or two until Obama had racked up a decent body count before awarding him the prize.
But again, in vaudeville a mediocre act shines when it follows a terrible act.