I’ve found myself in a bruehah (always happy to oblige) over my recent post regarding Barack Obama and his Nobel Prize. You can refer to that here: let’s compromise on the nobel peace Prize.
Far from from here, and engaged in a titanic struggle through the comments section of another blog, there arose a comparison of Obama to Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Le Duc Tho and the Dali Lama.
For me, Henry Kissinger was a no brainer. The terms “sheer genius” and “inspiring” would never due him enough credit. His complex thinking and ability to understand all sides of both an argument and solution enabled him to serve both a number of U.S. Presidents, and numerous foreign leaders (many of whom sent their own children to learn from him at Georgetown University – so, there’s an interesting perspective). His views and efforts around Diplomacy were harsh, but effective. If respect from one’s global peers is a gauge for the Nobel Prize, then it’s possible Kissinger established the bar.
Yasser Arafat gives me pause. I’ve researched this a bit. The best I can come up with is he was indirectly rewarded for not being an asshole as much as he could have been.
In a way, this might put him in the same category as Obama… This notion of being rewarded for not being George Bush has merit if you squint your eyes and stand on one foot. Those silly little men under big hats in Oslo are sending a message that they are relieved Obama is simply taking the U.S. in another direction. Our country is (I know this is obvious) such a world driver, that such an effort needs to be acknowledged.
So… Having just written this, it makes me feel no better, but, I can almost grasp the odd thinking behind Obama’s award – but, only if my theories around Arafat are correct, and his award, then, represents a kind of awkward precedent.
On another hand, I might try to argue later (after more investigation) that Arafat set the stage for his prize during the Battle of Karameh where he generated international pattention by standing up to Israel in a very bloody twenty four hour battle fought for what appears to have been more for pride, and less so prejudice. Thirty years later he found himself at the Oslo Accords hosted by then U.S. President Bill Clinton (so… this raises a question around why didn’t Clinton get a Nobel Prize?).
Le Duc Tho still has me scratching my head. I know he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kissinger over the Paris Peace Accords. I’m told he declined the Prize because his country was still divided at the time – and, the fighting was bitter and ugly by any historical standard. This has me thinking he probably earned a prize more for taking this position, and not being a hypocrite, than any work leading up to the Accords. So… This actually puts a LOT of pressure on Obama, because his name and hypocrisy could well become synonymous. Could those fellows in Oslo be that smart?
Please feel free to wade in.
The Dali Lama? He stood up to the Chinese as a symbol of strength, courage and change. He’s inspired billions of people to stand against anarchy and communism. He confounds evil.
The irony there is that Obama is the first President in decades not to invite the Dali Lama to the White House. And, unfortunately, that raises the ugly specter of some underlying political game being attached to Obama’s prize.
“Tainted” is a word that keeps popping into my head.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork