Just what the hell is he supposed to do? (a rant)

Okay, I do get why people are saying that giving Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize seems premature, when he’s been in office a bare nine months. On the other hand, the committee seemed quite clear that the award is meant as encouragement for his positions as much as for anything he’s accomplished. It’s a great honor, not only for Obama, but for the American people. He did not seek it. And I believe he has made some significant accomplishments already. And so I have very little patience for all the cavilling.

But for the people (on the right and on the left) who think he should “accomplish” something before he gets the prize: Just what is it you think he should accomplish? World peace? Is that what it takes before people stop bitching about whoever wins the Peace Prize?

I agree that Obama could get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq. And yes, I think he should, and yes, that’s a big part of why I voted for him. On the other hand, George W. Bush and company put us into a big, fucking mess. A BIG FUCKING MESS THAT WILL BE A BIG FUCKING MESS TO GET OUT OF. It seems likely there is no good outcome for either Iraq or Afghanistan. So I have some sympathy for Obama. But yes, I agree, Obama could put on his big boy pants, order us out of those wars, and take the inevitable shit that would come.

But Israel and Palestine? Islamist militants in a score of countries? The Iranian republic edging into a dictatorship? North Korean nukes? Give me a break. One person, even the president of the United States, cannot fix those problems. The Nobel Peace Prize committee has handed out awards for people who have “accomplished” something in the Middle East like candy, and Israel still illegally occupies the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian militants still illegally attack and terrorize Israel. They are going to have to find their own way out of the mess they’re in (and everyone else who is in a mess will, too). As for the unconscionable military aid the U.S. government gives to Israel, stopping that will require some backbone in the U.S. Congress, not the Executive Branch.

What do I think he’s accomplished? I think he was elected president. And if you don’t think that is an accomplishment on behalf of peace, I think you underestimate the depth of racial animosity that has characterized U.S. history, or are tone deaf to the hope and potential for reconciliation that Obama’s election represent.

And I think the effects of his words are accomplishments. Many comments are of the nature that he is, so far, all talk and no action. But see above: There are many problems in this world which no president of the United States can solve. But there are problems that the person holding that office can speak to, and if people listen, if their minds and hearts are changed or encouraged, then they might act. And really, talking is in fact how politicians act. The budget? Passed by Congress. Laws? Enacted by Congress. How? They talk to each other and try to convince one another. (Or lobbyists talk to them and try to give them convincing cover stories for getting in bed with big money concerns.) How does a president influence the budget and laws? Talking. (Excepting, of course, the use of the veto.)

Lasting goodwill among nations? Talking! Fairness in trade and international affairs requires acting in certain ways, but really, these actions need to be taken in concert, and need to reflect the desires and needs of all the parties. How do you do that? Talking! So don’t give me this “all talk and no action” crap. Talking is an act.

Here endeth the rant. And my non-ranting olive branch to the nay-sayers? Yes, I agree with many who say Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize because he isn’t George W. Bush. And you know what I say to that? Amen! Hallelujah! I just wish that war criminal and his war criminal cronies were in prison for the rest of their natural lives. (Oops! The ranting wasn’t all out of my system!)

That’s called irony, Mr President

But I don’t think you intended it.

What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it’s hard, not just when it’s easy; even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it’s expedient to do so. That’s what makes us different.

via The White House — Blog Post — “What Makes the United States Special”.

CIA agents (or any government officials or military personnel) who tortured captives were not upholding any values or ideals I recognize as American. They were, in fact, taking the easy way out, following the orders of their superiors or hiding behind legal memos from administration hacks.

I appreciate that they were in very difficult situations. But I’m sorry, that doesn’t make it okay to torture another human being. I’m disappointed that President Obama has not moved to carry out his responsibilities under U.S. and international law to bring U.S. war criminals to justice.