Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel War Prize

Extreme Mortman has posted the following question:

Al Gore, Emissary of Peace...

...or merchant of war and death?

He supports this by quoting Gore's 2000 comments on Bush 41's failure to expel Saddam from Iraq, the need for a military buildup, and support for the death penalty.

However, an argument can be made that Nobel Peace Prize recipients aren't all wishy-washy namby-pamby lovemakers.

I'm one of those people who believe in the old phrase "peace through strength." Here's what Karita Hummer says about the concept in John Edward's blog:

I commend Senator John Edwards for his very articulate platform for a strategy for combating terrorism through a combination of strength and cooperation.

It showed intelligence, wisdom, moral conviction and determination.

The strength part of it is pretty clear and I believe we pretty much have that part of the equation in hand, if not excessively so, as far as expenditures and use of resources. But just as prevention is important in Medicine so it is in War and Peace.

We have not devoted nearly enough resources to the peace through cooperation side of the equation and it is high time we redress that deficit. Topics of conflict and dispute resolution, international mediation, peacekeeping and diplomacy deserve much more attention from our government.

But let's look at past Nobel Peace Prize winners. The BBC has classified them into three categories:

[The] first group comprises individuals and organisations which have sought to resolve wars or minimise the potential for conflict.

One such example is US President Theodore Roosevelt, who took the prize in 1906 for drawing up a peace treaty between Russia and Japan; another is the shared joint award to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the then foreign minister Shimon Peres for the now defunct Oslo peace accords in 1994.

Mr Kissinger was rewarded on the same grounds in 1973 for securing the withdrawal of US troops from South Vietnam.

If you look at the examples above, it's clear that none of these individuals was a pacifist, and that they often sought to prevent war by, in the words of one Nobel Peace Prize recipient, using "a big stick."

[T]he second category of recipients [consists of] those who have tried to bring humanitarian relief to others caught up in conflict.

The founder of the Red Cross won the first peace prize in 1901, and the organisation would win it again on several occasions over the following 100 years. Medecins sans Frontieres - the medical charity - was also recently awarded the accolade.

Those who have sought to further the march of democracy and human rights have formed the key third category of recipients.

Ms Maathai and Ms Ebadi come under this umbrella, as does the 1991 winner - Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - and rights group Amnesty International, which took the prize in 1977.

Wizbang declares that Gore's achievements do not stack up against those of past Peace Prize recipients. A few examples:

In 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed ElBaradei won it for their tireless efforts against nuclear proliferation. It was under their watch that India, Pakistan, and North Korea all tested bombs, Iran raced towards it own bomb, and Libya revealed that it had had a nuclear weapons program for years.

In 2002, Jimmy Carter won it for his repeated attacks on Israel, sanctifying "elections" of various dictators and other thugs, and other examples of being a worthless twit. Carter was the most ineffectual and worthless president in recent history, and built on that legacy to become the worst ex-president in history.

In 2001, Kofi Annan and the United Nations won the award for... well, I'm sure they did something decent. I just can't find it.

OK, so this raises a question - where does Al Gore fit into all of this? I'm not quite sure how global warming relates to peace. But Jennifer T. Berman at ActBlue is convinced of the connection:

Global warming is the greatest threat to humanity and our planet, and we have it in our power to prevent the worst consequences of our actions. However, because of Republican control of the House and Senate, the required federal legislation cannot even make it out of the committees.

The current administration and legislature is also sending the wrong message to the world – that we are set on domination rather than cooperation. A Democratic take-back this election will send the message that U.S. citizens want to join the world, that we represent the interests of not just the wealthy and powerful.

John Acher said more before the prize was announced:

Former Vice President Al Gore and other campaigners against climate change lead experts' choices for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, an award once reserved for statesmen, peacemakers and human rights activists.

If a campaigner against global warming carries off the high world accolade later this month, it will accentuate a shift to reward work outside traditional peacekeeping and reinforce the link between peace and the environment....

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, agreed the award committee could establish the link between peace and the environment.

"I think the whole issue of climate change and the environment will come at some point and reflect in the prize," Egeland told reporters last week.

"There are already climate wars unfolding ... And the worst area for that is the Sahel belt in Africa."

But I still question whether Gore's work necessarily leads to peace per se. If you look at the model where the First World restrains its chemical output while China and the rest of the Third World pollute with glee, or if you look at the alternative model in which the entire world restrains its chemical output, it's doubtful that either alternative will lead to the prosperity and happiness that is necessary to prevent war.

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