Consolation Prize (Amended)*- Español
By Atilio A. Boron
English translation: Machetera
In an astonishing decision, the Norwegian Nobel Committee put an end to seven months of searching among the 205 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize and conferred it upon Barack Obama. Piedad Córdoba, the brave Colombian senator whose efforts in search of peace for her violence-ridden country largely deserved to be rewarded with the Nobel Prize was tossed to the wayside so that it might be granted to the American president. It is not a minor surprise to know that Obama’s nomination was submitted to the Norwegian Committee two months after his inauguration. What did he do in such a short period of time on behalf of the world peace? He delivered gentle speeches and made rather nebulous exhortations to end violent confrontations. The Colombian senator, on the other hand, has spent the last ten years in a tireless effort to put an end to armed struggle and to pacify her country. She put her own body and her actions on the line. But the Norwegian Committee did not share this appreciation and Piedad was once again passed over. A woman, black, leftist, and Latin American: too many flaws and defects for the cautious members of the Committee, always politically correct, forever sanctimonious, who only by mistake would it confer the prize upon a public figure whose struggles for peace were unacceptable to the empire. The Dalai Lama is acceptable; Piedad Córdoba is not. For him, the Prize; for her, the cold shoulder.
The Norwegian committee’s decision provoked very mixed international reactions: ranging from stupefaction to huge laughter. The statement by the organization’s president, Thorbjørn Jagland got straight to the point: “It’s important for the Committee to recognize those people who are struggling and idealistic, but we cannot do that every year. We must from time to time go into the realm of realpolitik. It is always a mix of idealism and realpolitik that can change the world.” The problem with Obama is that his idealism remains at the level of rhetoric, while in the world of realpolitik, his initiatives could not be more antagonistic to the search for peace in this world.
According to Robert Higgs, a specialist in military expenditures for the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, the way Washington prepares its defense budget systematically conceals the real total. Upon analyzing the figures submitted to Congress by George W. Bush for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Higgs concluded that they represented just over half of the figure that would actually be disbursed, therefore surpassing the previously unthinkable barrier of a trillion dollars, that is, a million times a million. And this because, according to Higgs, one must add to the base sum originally designated for the Pentagon, the expenditures related to defense which are spent outside the Pentagon; the extraordinary funds demanded by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the interest associated with the indebtedness incurred by the White House to meet these expenses; and those arising from the medical and psychological attention for the 33,000 men and women wounded in the wars of the United States which require a hefty budget for the National Veterans Administration. Obama has done absolutely nothing to stop this infernal machine of death and destruction whose total budget is now well over the one trillion dollar mark, and when through the mouthpiece of his Secretary of State he denounces arms purchases which “outpace all other countries,” instead of beholding the beam in his own eye, the target of his criticism is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela!
Obama increased the budget for the war in Afghanistan while pondering to increase the number of troops to be deployed in that country as the American forces continue its ruthless occupation of Iraq; he has given no sign of changing George Bush Jr.’s decision to activate the Fourth Fleet; he has moved ahead with a still secret treaty with Álvaro Uribe to open seven new U.S. military bases in Colombia, and it is said that there are five more that are about to be confirmed, through which he is preparing (or has become complicit in) a new wave of warmongering against Latin America; he maintains his ambassador in Tegucigalpa when practically all others have been withdrawn, thereby supporting the Honduran putschists; he maintains the blockade against Cuba and is not in the least perturbed by the unjust imprisonment of the five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters incarcerated in the United States. Of course, the Norwegian Committee periodically suffers some delusions which translate into decisions as absurd as the present one – whether brought on by its ignorance of world affairs, opportunistic pressures, or the delights of Norwegian aquavit, no-one can be totally sure. But if at one time it granted the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger, correctly defined by Gore Vidal as the biggest war criminal wandering loose in the world, how could they have denied it to Obama, especially after the rebuff he suffered at the hands of Lula in Copenhagen? Realpolitik demanded an immediate rectification of this error. Because after all, as the very President of the United States stated upon learning of his prize, it represents a “reaffirmation of [U.S.] American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.” And so, in a sudden attack of “realism,” the comrades on the Committee put forward their grain of sand to fortify the declining hegemony of the United States in the international system. Many people suspect that for this little help the members of the Committee will in due time be properly rewarded.
*Boron revised this piece slightly after the original English translation was posted.
Argentinean sociologist and author Atilio Boron is a friend of Tlaxcala.
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.