Monday, October 12, 2009

Reasoning Behind Obama's Peace Prize

By Robert Parry
October 12, 2009

Okay, I’ll admit that when I first saw on the Internet that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally gone to The Onion’s satirical news site. But the more I think about it – and the more I hear the laughter from Official Washington – the more I appreciate what the prize committee did.

Read on.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't agree. How can you say that Obama "wrested control of the U.S. government from a gang of duplicitous warmongers?" He has not done anythning of the sort. In fact, he seems to be just as much of a warmonger, even starting a new war with Pakistan, and acting totally belicose against Iran.

James said...

Perhaps it is naïve to expect much from wealthy liberals. From reading your own Secrecy and Privilege, it appears that the conservatives built up their media infrastructure with huge sums of money from capitalists, not to mention the dubious donations from the religious right. While there may be the occasional wealthy liberal who will donate substantial sums (and by substantial I mean millions), it is worth noting that their sheer wealth places them in a class position that is, on balance, likely to be in opposition to many progressive measures.

You rightly point out that it is unreasonable for journalists to commit career suicide by pursing stories which are certain to bring down a rain of fire from the right. The same applies to those who have the capital (i.e. the capitalists) to seriously finance any decent media project (paper, web, tv). Why would we expect them to pursue a progressive agenda that is against their own interest, i.e. the changing of a society divided into a wealthy elite and a fractured, emotionally impulsive population.

Surely the last thing they would want is for the population to start organising in their own interests as the day would not be far off when increased taxes, better welfare programs, public health care would eat into their fortune. If wealthy liberals starting funding progressive news outlets, who knows where it would lead? Perhaps they got more of a fright from the 1960s and 70s then is sometimes acknowledged.

The only realistic alternative is for grassroots organisations with the resources and the ability to reach members, e.g. trade unions, to fund their own or sympathetic news organs. The last time there was a labour movement capable of challenging the excesses of capitalism, if not of the system itself – at least in Europe – the trade union press was outselling the right wing press. The movement’s long term decline stems from many factors, but one significant one was the loss of its press.

But their potential remains. What ordinary working people lack in wealth, we make up in numbers. A million people donating €5 a month would add up to a lot. Of course it is difficult to reach that numbers, especially starting from where we are and the dominance of the current media. But that is exactly where the unions come in: they already exist as mass organisations and have access to millions of members already.

ETSpoon said...

Robert, the leading lights of what I call the ideologically pure left seem, at least from my worm's eye view, to all be members in good standing of the coordinator class.

The members of the coordinator class do not own the means of production, they run it for those who do and as such they are beholden to the upper one percent, the only real capitalists in this reality. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers, university professors and while economically comfortable they are dependent upon the largess of the ownership class.

No leading light of the ideologically pure left wants to end up like crazy Ward Churchill.

BARB said...


Saturday September 5

Sam Smith, Progressive Review

During the campaign the Review pointed out a number of uncomfortable facts about Barack Obama, including that he:

Aggressively opposed impeachment action against Bush

Had argued that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare,

Supported making it harder to file class action suits in state courts

Voted for a business-friendly "tort reform" bill

Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

Had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the primaries

Was even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain

Was the most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists

Was named in 2003 by the rightwing Democratic Leadership Council named Obama as one of its "100 to Watch." After he was criticized in the black media, Obama disassociated himself with the DLC. But his major economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, was still the chief economist of the conservative organization. Wrote Doug Henwood, "Goolsbee has written gushingly about Milton Friedman and denounced the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures."

Supported the war on drugs

Supported the crack-cocaine sentence disparity

Supported Real ID

Supported the PATRIOT Act

Supported the death penalty

Opposed lowering the drinking age to 18

Went to Connecticut to support Joe Lieberman in the primary against Ned Lamont

Lent his support, as Paul Street of Z Mag noted, " to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other Wall Street Democrats to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party. . . Obama was recently hailed as a Hamiltonian believer in limited government and free trade by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks."

Endorsed US involvement in the failed drug war in Colombia.

Voted for a nuclear energy bill that included money for bunker buster bombs and full funding for Yucca Mountain.

Came in at 48th in the ranking of senators by the League of Conservation Voters

Supported federally funded ethanol and was unusually close to the ethanol industry.

Promised to double funding for private charter schools, part of a national effort to undermine public education.

Supported the No Child Left Behind Act

Favored expanding the war in Afghanistan

Supported Israeli aggression and apartheid.

Favored turning over Jerusalem to Israel

Wouldn't rule out first strike nuclear attack on Iran

Called Pakistan "the right battlefield ... in the war on terrorism." Threatened to invade Pakistan

Opposed gay marriage

Opposed single payer healthcare

Supported restricting damage awards in medical malpractice suits

Favored healthcare individual mandates that would help insurance companies and banks but not citizens

Wanted to expand the size of the military.

Wouldn't have photo taken with San Francisco mayor because he was afraid it would seem that he supported gay marriage

Dissed Ralph Nader for daring to run for president again

Called the late Paul Wellstone "something of a gadfly"

Was ranked 24th in the Senate by Progressive Punch

Said "everything is on the table" with Social Security.

That's 38 reasons for starters why liberals might have been uncomfortable with Obama. Instead they treated him as if he had descended from heaven and heavily chastised those who failed to join their crusade.

Florence Chan said...

I don't think people on the Left want to be heroes who seek moral high ground just because. I think they truly feel betrayed.

I'm not going to add to the long list of reasons why people are disappointed by Obama. Regardless of how much I'm in disagreement with the Nobel Committee, however, I believe that they gave the award out of desperation. I'm sure that they had known how much criticism and ridicule they'd receive. Given the fact that the UN, various kinds of international treaties, etc., failed so miserably in the past, maybe, just maybe, this last resort might work to save lives. I hope they were right.

Realist said...

Regarding the lack of media ownership by the Left: You are correct to state that the Left abandoned the field to the corporatists due to not taking them or their money seriously, but to expect that this can be reversed now is a fallacy. There aren't enough wealthy liberals left to be able to make a dent in the media ownership numbers, and too often liberals aren't experienced in running large organizations. Look at all the trouble Air America has had remaining a viable organization!

I don't see any realistic way that the Left can again be a major force in the current media structure, but there are other media developing where the Left can and should be an important force. It costs far less and can still reach millions if used correctly - Twitter, Facebook, etc. - all are used frequently by the very people the GOP has lost influence with - the young of the future. We should be directing our efforts toward claiming that sector of the media as our own and leave the hyper-expensive television buggy-whips and radio dinosaurs to the corporatists.

John L. OPPERMAN said...

When I saw Obama starting to make serious headway in the last Presidential race, I decided if he were to be what we wanted, truely a "reformer" in regards to the miserable system, he would almost certainly be assasinated, decided NOT to vote for him. You could say I (helped) save Obama's life...

Don't thank me.
~John L.