Monthly Archives: March 2011

Will Obama Return The Nobel Prize?

“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- – -/ one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel) – nobelprize.org

I expected to hear Barack Obama’s statement, during his speech justifying military action in Libya on 28/03, of his willingness to return the Nobel Peace Prize he won in 2009 as what he’s done is not in line with Nobel’s will after all.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009 was awarded to US President Barack Obama on the grounds that he was to bring diplomacy in resolving world challenges. The announcement of him become the Laureate said that the award was “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.” – nobelprize.org

Is it still relevant after he approved the US military intervention in Libya? Libya is a sovereign country like USA. This is the first war that he has declared since he moved to the White House. His worth for the Prize is, therefore, becoming much more questionable at this very time.

Nobel Peace Prize is normally awarded to individuals or organisations who have done a real action to bring peace on, at least, a part of the globe in the presided year. The Prize for Obama was awarded less than ten months after he took office.

Press questioned how early in Obama’s Presidency the award was being made. In fact the Prize was given by Nobel Committee merely “to demonstrate its support for the approaches he is taking towards global problems” (Committee release). It’s obvious that it was a little too early to acknowledge his worth for the Prize which was based solely on his speeches. Not his action for peace. It was given for what he intended doing and not for what he had done as stated in Nobel’s last will.

To maintain the nobility of the Prize, it’s worth consideration that a Nobel Peace Prize could be withdrawn should a Laureate shows inconsistency. Or, the Laureate him/herself humbly returns it if he/she prefers to betray the values of peace shared by Nobel. Will Obama?

Controversial history

In 1973 Le Duc Tho shared the Nobel Peace Prize with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The Prize was awarded to both for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Duc Tho represented North Vietnam. Kissinger represented US-backed South Vietnam. Le Duc Tho declined the Prize on the grounds that his opponent violated the ceasefire. He is the only person who has declined the Prize.

On the other side, as much as the Prize for US President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 was seen controversial, the choice of Kissinger has been the most criticised decision in the history of Nobel Peace Prize. Not only did the criticisms target America’s war in Vietnam, it concerned on Kissinger being more associated with the war than with the peace. (Controversies and Criticisms surrounding Nobel Peace Prize)

As president, Roosevelt showed his determination to see the US as a Great Power using military force, primarily in the Caribbean, and this even in the year he became a Nobel Laureate. Many American newspapers found the award curious, and The New York Times later commented that “a broad smile illuminated the face of the globe when the prize was awarded … to the most warlike citizen of these United States.” (Controversies and Criticisms surrounding Nobel Peace Prize)

What Roosevelt said is slightly different from what Obama has said that he “would not hesitate to use military force to defend our people, our interests…”

Recommended reading:

Is It Time to Revoke Obama’s Peace Prize? (Newser)

‘Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama ups spending on nuclear weapons to even more than George Bush’ (Daily Mail)

Obama ‘doesn’t deserve’ peace prize (The Independent)

Barack Obama ‘did nothing to earn Nobel Peace Prize’ (The Telegraph)

Robert Fisk: Obama, man of peace? No, just a Nobel prize of a mistake (The Independent)

Praise and skepticism greet Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize (CNN)

Surprise Nobel for Obama Stirs Praise and Doubts (The New York Times)

Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Is this a joke? (New Statesman)

Praise and skepticism greet Obama’s Nobel Peace Priz


Abstain and Then Regret

It was a shame that the two balancing powers in the UN Security Council—Russia and China—stood abstain in the vote to the Resolution 1973 against Libya on 17 March . And yet, another two BRIC members—Brazil and India—took the same stance. The four world’s emerging economies in the UNSC at the same period 2010-2012—China and Russia are permanent members; India and Brazil are non-permanent members—did not use their voices optimally to keep a peaceful world. China and Russia could have vetoed the resolution. It’s a big question why they did not play their part like they always did on issues regarding military intervention against any country.

The reasons of the abstentions are generally the concerns over consequences to the civilians if a military action is taken. They doubted military intervention would resolve the problem as quoted from the UNSC minutes.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said he had abstained, although his country’s position opposing violence against civilians in Libya was clear… His country, in fact, had pressed earlier for a resolution calling for such a ceasefire, which could have saved many additional lives. Cautioning against unpredicted consequences, he stressed that there was a need to avoid further destabilisation in the region.

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Li Baodong said that the continuing deterioration of the situation in Libya was of great concern to China. However, the United Nations Charter must be respected and the current crisis must be ended through peaceful means. China was always against the use of force when those means were not exhausted.

Brazilian Ambassador to the UN Maria Luiza Riberio Viotti said not convinced that the use of force … will lead to the realisation of our common objective—the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians. She added that Brazil was also concerned that the measures approved today might have the unintended effect of exacerbating the current tensions on the ground and “causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting”. No military action alone would succeed in ending the conflict.

Indian Ambassador to the UN Manjeev Singh Puri said today’s resolution was based on very little clear information, including a lack of certainty regarding who was going to enforce the measures. There must be certainty that negative outcomes were not likely before such wide-ranging measures were adopted. Political efforts must be the priority in resolving the situation.

In the end they regret that the execution of no-fly zone has gone too wild. The Arab League, who proposed the use of Resolution 1973, even expressed deep regret.

@jakpost Russia: Stop ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of Libya http://bit.ly/gFvEm7

@Reuters Arab League says air strikes on Libya differ from the no-fly zone which was called for; aim was to protect civilians not bombard them

@jakpost China expresses regret over allied strike on #Libya http://bit.ly/fmIW5T

@FRANCE24 Arab League chief slams air strikes despite support for Libyan no-fly zone http://f24.my/ho42Bt

@jakpost China paper blasts Western air attacks in Libya http://bit.ly/fP2OZx

@BBCNews India, which abstained at the #UN Security Council vote, calls for end to #Libya air strikes, from AFP

@BBCNews Russian Prime Minister Vladimir #Putin says UN resolution on #Libya resembles Medieval calls for crusades

@Reuters Putin says Gaddafi regime does not meet democratic criteria, but that does not justify military intervention


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