Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Nobel Prize for the Imperial Chief

When the news that Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize became concrete in my mind, I thought, a Nobel Prize for the imperial chief; a man who is president of a country involved in two wars. He opposed the Iraq war, but was not yet in the Senate. If he had been in the Senate back then, it is not an exageration to think that he perhaps would have voted for the resolution that authorized the use of force, given the pressure that is exerted on senators and the fact that Barack Obama is a centrist. This is a quality that has contributed to his success, even since the days as president of the Harvard Law Review, based on what I've read.

It's not just ironic that he be awarded the Nobel Prize at the same time that there is talk of escalating the war in Afghanistan, it is also ironic and disillusioning, that Barack Obama has not yet acknowledged that the invasion of Afghanistan was wrong.

Another irony is that he still maintains the economic blockade against Cuba, in spite of the fact that all of the governments of the western hemisphere have asked him to lift it, the majority of Americans are against the blockade, and he does not need the consent of Congress to lift it. This is revealing of the fact that the empire has owners. He also has not closed the prison in Guantanamo.

The seven new American military bases proposed within Colombia are also contrary to the process of peace. When Barack Obama refers to Venezuela as a "rogue state" that supports terrorism, one does not know if Barack Obama genuinely believes what he says or is cynically apealing to right wing and imperialist tendencies within his country. They are belicose and conflagrant words that collide with the image of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

There is a video on Youtube titled, "El Discurso Que Estados Unidos No Esperaba"(The Speech which the United States Did Not Expect) in which all of the presidents of the continent are gathered around a table and Hugo Chavez talks about and denies the alleged economic aid he gives to the FARC. Immediately afterwards, the Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, gets up, goes straight to the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, shakes his hand, and exchanges a few words with him. Immediately after this he goes straight to Hugo Chavez and does the same thing. What this video suggests to me is that not even the President of Colombia believes in the shit which Barack Obama says.

On other occasions, he appeals to the ignorance and the prejudice of Americans, like when he proposes eliminating oil imports from Venezuela and the Middle East within ten years. When he made this proposal, the latest available data was from 2007, and such reductions would barely amount to a reduction of 17.3% of the total oil which Americans consume. The Nobel Prize committee has awarded the prize to Al Gore for his work in the area of climate change, and now awards the prize to Barack Obama in part for the same reason, but according to its criteria, is a reduction of 17.3% over 10 years on the part of a country which consumes 24% of the world's oil a goal which is commensurate with the threat that climate change represents?

Barack Obama could have proposed to reduce oil consumption by 17%, 25%, or 35% without having to wrap the goal in a turban and dress it in the military uniform of a dictator who hates America, which is how many media outlets portray Hugo Chavez. In the meanwhile, the vast majority of the rest of the industrialized countries of the world have per capita oil consumption rates which are 40-60% below that of the U.S. A country can be rich without consuming so much oil.

The U.S. can reach a similar rate, but it would have to develop mass transit, a "socialist" solution which would not go well with oil coompanies, which the vast majority of Americans are compelled to make rich because of the lack of mass transit, and who are some of the owners of the empire and the bosses of Barack Obama himself. You all cannot imagine the isolation, the loss of social and economic opportunities which results from living in a city like Los Angeles without a car. We are compelled to destroy the planet simply to be able to live our lives to the fullest.

The contradiction is immense and reminds me of something which Fidel Castro recently wrote. That the immense American military power is not a necessity of the world, but a necessity for maintaining the economic system which it has imposed on the world.

On the other hand, like Barack Obama said in his acceptance speech, "The Nobel Peace Prize has not been used just to honor specific achievement, it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes." Perhaps Barack Obama and the rest of the world will be conditioned. In determining what steps to follow in Afhanistan and other regions of the world, Barack Obama will have in mind that he is a Noble Peace Prize winner and that he should do more to achieve peace. Perhaps leaders of the world, especially from the so called "third world," will have in mind that he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, in part because of his ambitions to confront global warming, and demand more and be more firm in Copenhagen and beyond. Perhaps Americans ourselves can demand more, like instead of perpetuating a transportation system that compels us to make oil companies rich and which requires invasions of other countries in order to sustain, we can develop mass transit as the primary mode of transportation.

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