OK, maybe Rocky hasn't yet amassed the resume of previous recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, but to hear the nasty protestations of his deranged, right-wing detractors, you'd think they gave the prize to Yasser Arafat or something. I mean, let the man broker a treaty first. Even Obama seemed perplexed at having been chosen International Homecoming King, but there are worse things than having the U.S. President regarded as a peacemaker by the rest of the world. Obama's public statements regarding the prohibition of nuclear weapons, torture, the elevation of diplomacy, human rights, and an outstretched American hand to nations once our adversaries, stand in such stark contrast to his predecessor, that the Nobel Peace Prize is as much a rebuke of the former administration as an expression of approval in the country's change of direction. George W. Bush must have misread the Sermon on the Mount to think it said, "Blessed are the warmongers."
The Nobel awards have never been beyond politics, but Obama accepted with a humility that was nearly uncomfortable. It was as if he were awakened by Rahm Emmanuel and answered, "I won what?" John F. Kennedy got a Pulitzer Prize for "Profiles in Courage," a tome composed when he was still a junior senator from Massachusetts, with the uncredited assistance of a professional journalist. Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his "Peace is at hand" speech, when in reality, he interfered with the Paris Peace Talks of 1968 in order to get his man Nixon elected. So, it is not uncommon that these awards are given to a mission in progress rather than the completed work. The last sitting American President to win the Peace Prize was Woodrow Wilson for authoring "The Fourteen Points," and configuring the Treaty of Versailles which ended "The War to End All Wars." But when Wilson attempted to establish the League of Nations, he was thwarted by an obstructionist Republican congress who wished no part of a world governing body. The result? World War Two. Obama rightfully noted that the prize was, "a means to give momentum to a set of causes," rather than for a new President with precious few political victories to brag about.
One would hope that the "loyal" opposition would be gracious enough, just for once, to say "way to go," and press on, but immediately, Fox News went into overdrive with indignity and condemnation and the wing-nut radio talkers exploded in revulsion. Fox's Brian Kilmeade speculated that Obama delayed sending more troops to Afghanistan in order to win the prize, and Rush Limbaugh brayed, "The Nobel gang just suicide bombed themselves," and, "Something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban..about, and that is he doesn't deserve the award." RedState's Erick Erickson artfully said the Nobel committee must have been trying to fill an "affirmative action quota." The Obama-haters applaud and cheer when he loses the Olympics and grouse when he wins the Nobel Prize, and these are the self-described "patriots." Yet even a partisan like Bill O'Reilly said, in an unusual spasm of conscience, "Deserved or not, having a U.S. President honored with a peace prize is good for the country." The voodoo wing of the conservative movement remained mute.
All Republicans were not as typically obnoxious as the party's right wing. John McCain and Tim Pawlenty were gracious with their remarks, which puts them out of the mainstream these days. Pawlenty is running for President, and McCain is wise enough to realize that Obama is not the Anti-Christ, as suggested in the above mentioned RedState blog and other internet sites, just the Anti-Bush, who must be sitting in Dallas with the relief that no one is searching for the three sixes on him anymore. Had you told the conservatives in advance, omitting any physical description, that their new president was not only a family man with a beautiful wife and two adorable children, but also a constitutional scholar, lawyer, and college professor, who agreed to let his mother-in-law move in, they would have named him a Saint. And the thing is, Obama's not all that liberal. People see in him what they wish to see in him, including the Nobel Prize Committee, who awarded the honor for noble intentions and the desire for peace. It's like my mother says about eating chicken soup for a cold; "It couldn't hurt."
Depending on where Obama decides to go on Afghanistan will determine his mettle and mantel. A large part of the battle we are fighting, as General William Westmoreland used to say, is for the hearts and minds of the people we are trying to assist. It does us no harm for the Afghan civilian population to perceive that Obama has peaceful intentions for their country. He has already accepted the indigenous nature of the Taliban and recognizes that they are not the enemy; Al Qaeda is. Before we commit more troops to this struggle, it would be wise to remember that the Soviets lasted ten years fighting in Afghanistan before going broke. The U.S. is now into its' ninth year of conflict. The battle against the guerrilla insurgents that this country armed to fight the Russians would be better waged with special forces, spies, and bribes. Obama is walking a fine line between giving humanitarian aid to our friends and the Green Berets to our enemies, but if this bloody conflict is merely to prop up another corrupt dictatorship friendly to the U.S., then it's Vietnam redux. If the President can bring some semblance of normalcy to the Afghan people, and draw down the combat forces in Iraq, he may well deserve the recognition bestowed upon him by the Nobel Committee as "peacemaker." Until then, I can already hear the heathen rage, "Sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace."