Peace and Conflict

The Nobel Peace Farce: President Obama

What do you get for being the President of a country that is illegally occupying two sovereign countries, and has just recently killed 90 civilians in an airstrike? Answer: a Nobel Peace Prize!

And it gets worse: his administration criticized the Pakistani government for attempting to make peace with the Taliban, and pressured them to launch a massive military offensive in the Swat alley, which they obediently did. The offensive has killed thousands and displaced over two million people from their homes. President Obama has also continued to use airstrikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan, even in spite of the attacks killing thousands of civilians.

He promised a fair trial for all the inmates at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, but backtracked on his promise shortly thereafter to much criticism from human rights groups. He has promised to close Guantanamo Bay by January next year, but the latest news is that ‘it’s going to be difficult’ to keep that promise too.

To be fair by Obama, he has improved relations with Russia and negotiated a reduction in nuclear warheads (about 30%) with President Medvedev. A laudable achievement, but warhead reductions are nothing new; there have been several nuclear disarmament treaties before, most notably the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) that started in the late sixties. And unlike today, when we barely give nuclear war a second thought, the SALT treaties were signed at a time when nuclear war was an imminent threat.

There is of course the promise of much to come from President Obama. We have all been moved by his campaign speeches celebrating the hope for a better tomorrow, and he has continued the same rhetoric into his presidency. He has made a speech extending the hand of friendship to the Muslim world (while he considers sending more troops to Afghanistan); he has spoken often of the need for peace between Israel and Palestine (Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Palestinian National Authority says, “We are in need of actions, not sayings”); and he has acknowledged the U.S. role in climate change (though he has not yet passed any significant legislation to address it). In short, he wants to do a lot of good–he just hasn’t done it yet. Lech Walesa, former Polish President and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 puts it best: “So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act. This is probably an encouragement for him to act. Let’s see if he perseveres. Let’s give him time to act.”

Judging by his actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the thousands of people who have died in these countries because of his actions, and the millions of people who are homeless because of his actions, you’ll forgive me if I keep my head down.

  • Lakmal

    Mahinda deserves the prize more than Obama, IMO. Why? Cause he actually brought peace to a country after more than 25 years of war. Obviously for the Nobel committee it’s more important to reward intentions rather than achievements.

  • jansee

    Oh my god, Nobel prize for peace and Obama, just doesn’t click. Aung San Syu Ki, Nelson Mandela and even former President Jimmy Carter – they did something tangible and good. I just cannot see that in Obama – not just yet.


    MR should be given a prize for being the head of the butchers. Mind you, he will even beat Prabhakaran in the race. With so much blood in his hands, enough of your spinning that he brought peace. If locking up 300,000 of the citizens of SL in internment camps with guns pointed at them is your idea of peace then buy yourself a ticket to Myanmar – maybe you will learn a thing or two there.

  • Rohan De Livera

    Well, Nobel did invent dynamite and was in the armament biz

  • doomed to repeat it

    I basically agree with this piece, although I do quibble with some of the details. For example, you can’t make peace with the Taliban; they are a 100% win or lose type of group. Nor can you suddenly change everything overnight from the previous administration in terms of the military and diplomacy.

    Details aside, I had thought the Nobel Prize was to acknowledge a legacy in one of the subject areas. Tutu and Mandela fought the good fight for years and years before getting any results in South Africa. They have a legacy, and so were justly acknowledged. Some important scientists, artists and writers have waiting decades.

    I had hoped that, rather than accept the prize, Obama had politely refused it, saying “my work hasn’t even really started yet; ask again in 10, 20 years.” THAT would have shown real integrity. I would have been very impressed, as would the rest of the world, even, I bet some of his Republican opponents.

    I also agree with the writer that there is hope in Obama, realizing that it takes more than 10 months to change what was built up over 8 long years. The man does have a very full plate right now and so I also acknowledge that without a healthy economy, many of the changes he wants to accomplish are even more difficult.

    But then the Nobel committee does make mistakes. The prize to Begin and Arafat (or was it Sadat?) is a prime example.

    The Peace prize is completely premature. Give the man time to actually do something and see if it is cohesive and brings change. THEN, if you feel he is still deserving, give it to him.

  • nowadays it’s the thought that counts.

  • Heshan

    The Americans never killed thousands of Afghans and Iraqi’s with their airstrikes. If that was their intention, it would be easy to level the whole place in minutes. The US military does not beg like a certain military I know of. You have no idea about the scale of American manufacturing.

    Invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Only the Iraqi invasion was illegal, and that is not meant to be permanent. Afghanistan is a NATO effort. Do you know what NATO is? As for the displacement you speak of, it is due to sectarian violence. The real problem here is that some radical Muslims do not accept Western-style democracy.

    The only thing this article does is display the ignorance of people in Southern Sri Lanka. Its fine to oppose the Nobel for Obama, but find a better justification than this nonsense anti-Western imperial hype.

  • Heshan

    By the way, the USA that provided more money after the tsunami than any other country. But we know how your beloved politicians used even that money.

  • Heshan

    I nominate China for the Nobel Peace Prize. For chasing the Dalai Lama out of Tibet, destroying thousands of Buddhist temples, murdering and imprisoning thousands of Tibetan citizens, threatening Taiwan, and of course, valiantly defending Sri Lanka against the imperialist pro-LTTE West. Not to mention, aiding poor innocent Sinhala-Buddhist Sri Lanka in its fight against the brutal Tamil invaders and their terrorist organization, the LTTE.

  • Leanie Meanie

    Upon my reading the title and first few lines of this piece, I had decided to make a certain sarcastic side comment… But, then …. GASP…….. I discovered that Lakmal has already beaten me to it by making the identical sarcastic comment….

    But then … double GASP…. I realized that Lakmal was not being sarcastic.

    Then, with a sigh of relief, I read Jansee’s sane response to Lakmal.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Lakmal, the end of combat and peace are two different things. In fact, peace is often more complicated than winning the fight. Yes the fighting has ended, but the peace part is still being figured out, rather ineptly, in my opinion. There is no peace in Sri Lanka right now, and it doesn’t look like there will be any time soon.

  • There are many others in Sri Lanka who have written about Obama getting the prize, joining divided opinion in American and international media. Almost presciently, Dayan Jayatilleka noted a week ago that,

    “The current outbreak of criticism in the Lankan press is not so much nationalist as ultra-nationalist, not so much patriotic as chauvinist, and not so much anti-imperialist as xenophobic. It reveals how isolated we are from the global Zeitgeist, while isolating us further from it, because it is Obama who has shaped that Zeitgeist with his style and substance, cerebration and cool, firmness and flexibility, cross cultural dialogue and deadly drone strikes, drive to defeat al Qaeda while outlawing torture under any circumstances thus “forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law”, disarmament and climate change goals, rejection of unilateralism and establishing a new architecture of relations with China and Russia, more robust healthcare plans and a more regulated, responsible capitalism. What is dismaying is the utterly uncivil, unbalanced, near-hysterical nature of the current Sri Lankan ultranationalist criticism.” (Obama or Osama? a critique of crude Anti-Americanism, The Island, 4 October 2009)

    Groundviews has written Dayan, known as one of the most pro-Obama voices in Sri Lanka, to share what he thinks of this unexpected award.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    For a little perspective I’d like to share something with all you folks out there. This is from someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for the underdog. Note the contrast with GV’s:

    Castro congratulates Obama
    2009-10-10 16:05

    Havana – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro lauded the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama, saying on Saturday it was “a positive measure” that was more a criticism of past US policies than a recognition of Obama’s accomplishments.

    Castro said the prize made up for the blow Obama suffered last week when the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro after Obama had flown to Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago, his adoptive hometown.

    The Nobel Committee announced on Friday that Obama had won the peace price for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

    Castro pleased

    The decision prompted surprise in many quarters and anger from Obama’s conservative foes in the United States.

    But Castro, who has generally written positively about Obama, was pleased at the decision by the committee.

    “I don’t always share the positions of that institution but I’m obligated to recognise that in this instance it was, in my judgment, a positive measure,” Castro wrote in a column published in state-run media.

    “Many will say that he still hasn’t earned the right to receive such distinction.

    “We prefer to see in the decision, more than a prize for the president of the United States, a criticism of the genocidal policies that not a few presidents of that country have followed.”

    Such policies, Castro said, had “brought the world to the crossroads where it finds itself; an exhortation for peace and the search for solutions to assure the survival of the species”.

    The Nobel prize made up for “the reverse Obama suffered in Copenhagen … which provoked angry attacks by his adversaries of the extreme right,” Castro wrote.

    Bell tolls for the dollar

    His comments were part of a long piece entitled “The Bell Tolls for the Dollar” in which he said the US dollar was losing its position as the preeminent world currency.

    – Reuters

  • The Underdog

    A few points based on the comments so far:
    1. For those doubting the civilian death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan, one only has to tabulate the deaths reported in the news over time. Some websites have cumulative totals–two listed below:

    2. By suggesting that Obama does not deserve the Nobel, I am not suggesting that Mahinda Rajapaksha does. In fact, if the latter had occurred, this article would be titled The Nobel Peace Farce: President Rajapaksha.

    3. I like Castro too, but I see his vote of confidence in Obama’s award as a shrewd political move at a time when the U.S. is making positive overtures towards Cuba. In other word, Castro is pandering. Nothing wrong in that I suppose. He’s a shrewd man.

  • Heshan

    Most of these people who criticize the USA, whether it be Underdog, Castro, or Observer, are simply jealous of its standing in the world. Power breeds envy, and envy breeds resentment. The US can invade any country in the span of two weeks… whereas it took Sri Lanka 30 years to subdue a minor rebellion in its own tiny backyard. As I’ve said though, the fault does not lie with the USA… the fault lies with you, with your half-functioning institutions, with your failure to industrialize, embrace technology, and empower the youth (with something other than anti-Tamil propaganda). Give up your silly nationalism and embrace modern ideas like federalism, checks-and-balances in the Constitution, private universities, etc.

  • Reza

    To Mr. Heshan: I don’t understand what bloody stand that the USA holds in the world to feel so jealous at it, as you put it. If there is anything against this evil force, it is only anger, and directed at its ruthless behavior.

    You said “the Americans never killed thousands of Afghans and Iraqi’s with their air strikes”, you are a big liar, shame on you for attempting to give a human face to an atrocious monster. 16,000 air raids in Iraq and Afghanistan during the year 2007 alone, what about the years before and after? How many hundreds of millions of tons of deadly explosives it may have been? They never dropped all those harmless stuff in the deserts of Arabia just for fun, but over the people and their property destroying and killing innocent men, women and children without any respect or value for their lives.

    You praised about the ability of the US military – I am asking you – why are they on the run in Iraq and Afghanistan after waging eight years of war?

    What…? “The real problem here is that some radical Muslims do not accept Western-style democracy.” Very interesting! What bloody Western-style democracy are you talking about? Is it the brutal and cowardly act of dropping bombs indiscriminately, killing in millions, install puppet regimes and having control over a nation’s national resources? Listen, be it radical or moderate, Islam and Muslims NEVER brought evil to the doorsteps of the Westerners. It is they who came across continents and running rampage, killing, maiming and terrorizing the Muslims in their lands. One may ask what about 9-11, 7-7 or the other acts of terror alleged to be carried out by the Muslims? All I can say is, the West asked for it, and unless they change course there will be more and with even higher magnitude. You don’t need to be a rock scientist to understand this simple phenomenon. The so-called Muslim radicals are not just there because they love violence and they feel cool to have them self blown up. They are there with a valid reason and for a valid objective i.e. to kick the western criminal invaders out homes.

  • Reza

    To comment on the subject, Mr. Obama so far has been merely a barking dog and did nothing tangible. And all this Noble Peace Prize is neo-ziocon saga goes as if throwing a piece of meat at an advancing dog to subdue its advancement… we can only wait to see how genuine and strong the integrity of Mr. Obama is!

  • Heshan

    @ Reza:

    Every air-raid does not cause civilian casualties. If every air-raid caused civilian casualties, there would be no more Iraqis or Afghani’s left. Air-raids are done with pin-point precision… the bombs are laser guided, they are dropped by multi-million dollar fighter jets from 5000 ft above. The targets are based on real-time ground and satellite intelligence.

    On the other hand, when your Jihadi brothers go on suicide expeditions, they don’t care who dies. When they drive cars with bombs attached to the ignition, into busy marketplaces, or when they dress as FEMALES and hide bombs under the birqa and explode themselves… this is where MOST of the casualties are. MUSLIMS are killing MUSLIMS… that is the SAD but true FACT in Iraq and Afghanistan. Less than 5000 Americans have died in Iraq… yet your Jihadi brothers have exploded how many thousands of bombs so far? How many IED’s… how many bombs strapped to the a-s, d–k, waist, armpits, etc. have they exploded so far? Americans are protected by armor plated steel; they can easily call for reinforcements – therefore the American casualty rate is pretty low. So kindly tell us who these bombs are killing that your Jihadi brothers love to explode on a daily basis?

    And before you complain about Afghanistan, we know your Taliban brothers did not allow women to go to school. They did not allow women to STEP outside of the house without a male companion. They did not allow women to WORK. Your Taliban brothers did not allow movie theaters, they did not allow MUSIC, they flogged men who did not wear beards… this is what I mean by DEMOCRACY. EVERYONE has the RIGHT to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. There is no PLACE in this world for SHARIA LAW.

    God bless the USA! I am so sure every KURD is saying that today, and every AFGHAN girl who goes to school.

  • Nimesh

    Heshan, just because Reza might be Muslim, how does that link him to the Taliban? Comments such as “your jihadi brothers” and “your Taliban brothers” are just juvenile and unwarranted and signify weakness in your arguments. And before pointing fingers I think you should count how many suicide bombers have come from the 2.5 – 3 million Sri Lankan Tamil population as compared to the 1.57 billion Muslim population. The bra bomb was not pioneered by Muslim militants, the pioneers of that and pregnant suicide bombers are to be found much closer to home in Sri Lanka.

  • Reza

    Oh yah, the whole world knows about the pin-point precision and the real-time intelligence…that is why those cowards end up bombing their own every now and then and get blown up whenever stepped out of their way.

    “Muslims are killing Muslims…” how simple it is? It is nothing but the racist impulse that runs in the blood of your kind that keeps your eyes, ears and mind closed from seeing the truth. If that is the case, why not the invaders get [Edited out] out of the occupied lands and prove their innocence to the world? Why on earth the likes of you wanted to have your [Edited out] throats cut in vain in a far away land?

    You talked about the “Jihadist” trapping the bombs to their [Edited out] waist and armpit, if that is what it takes to defeat the enemy and regain the freedom and dignity, let it be, after all there can not be a more pin-pointed precision guided bomb than a human one!

    As all those who wish to see the extinctions of Muslims and Islam your hate for Muslim and Islam are also all over your wring – but your dismay, you know what?
    Islam is THE fastest growing religion in the world and especially in North America!! Go bury your head in the sand.

    God damn the imperialistic invaders their stoogs who are running rampage around the world to fulfill their lustful criminal agendas at the cost of innocent lives.

    [Editors note: Dear Reza, please follow the site guidelines regarding the use of profanity in your comments. GV is a moderated forum and self-censorship by merely editing out some of the letters of the word does not cover up the actual use of profanity in your comment. Thank you.]

  • Heshan


    It is a question of scale. If you ignore the scaling factor then you are missing the forest for the trees. More Iraqi civilians have died in a single yr of suicide bombings, than have Sri Lankans died in 30 yrs due to suicide bombs. Just because Sri Lankan Tamils may have pioneered the use of the suicide bomb does not give them a monopoly over it. What is a bra bomb compared to two planes crashing into two buildings, in the heart of the financial capital of the world? In any event, there is a significant difference between the LTTE and radical Islamic groups. Radical Islamic groups enjoy a much wider support base. Perhaps you did not know that Osama Bin Laden is a billionaire? There many wealthy Muslims all over the world who fund religious extremist religious schools called madrassas (in a madrassa there is only one subject: memorizing Q’uran) . For them, it is a religious duty. While the activities of the LTTE were confined to Sri Lanka, Islamic fundamentalism spans the globe. It is not just a problem that the US is dealing with. Russia, China, India, England, France, Australia, many countries in Africa, and of course the Middle East… the fact that Islamic fundamentalism spans the globe shows the wide extent of the support base. While the LTTE support base was certainly significant, it is nothing compared to the one that propels Islamic fundamentalism. In the final analysis, your argument that Sri Lankan Tamils pioneered the suicide bomb becomes dwarfed by the sheer scale of radical Islamic fundamentalism.

  • Heshan


    “Muslims are killing Muslims…” how simple it is?

    Yes that how simple it is. Perhaps a bit blunt, but that is the truth of the matter. You ask why the Americans don’t pack up and leave? I will give you one example. When Saddam Hussein tried to invade Saudi Arabia, it was the Americans who stopped him. Now Saddam is gone, but the Americans are still there. The King of Saudi Arabia has requested that Americans protect his country from all future attacks. If the King wants, he can kick them out tomorrow itself. So before you complain about infidels occupying the Holy Land, who gave them permission to be there? The same is true in Pakistan. Americans are there with the permission of the Pakistani government. Afghanistan – when the Americans asked that Bin Laden and all other leaders of the terror groups be handed over, the request was denied. So there was no choice but to invade Afghanistan. So Americans are really guilty of only one illegal invasion – Iraq. But let us not forget how Jordan, Syria with help from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria tried to invade Israel in 1967. Let us imagine for a moment, if they had been successful in their invasion, would there be Jews left in Israel today… would there even be an Israel at all. So let us not pretend that the Americans are the only invaders. Maybe the problem here is not that they are invaders, but that they can get away with invading, unlike the Arab countries.

  • Reza

    To Heshan:

    No matter how much lipsticks you put on pig, a pig will still remain a pig! When the Americans themselves have realized the ruthlessness of the Bush’s cruel regime and have opted for peace, it is so silly that you a “Sri Lankan” rattling on behalf of a demised terror group.

    Thank you for your history class, but I am sorry to say that all those cause and effects that you talked about just sums up that you are an imbecile. When you say that the invaders are there in the lands of the Muslims at the invitation of the uncrowned kings, sheiks and western puppets to safeguard them from the very people that they are supposed to be safeguarding, you sound even more ludicrous. What, “Americans are really guilty of only one illegal invasion”? Go, say this to the Hmong community still rotting in the jungles of Laos or to the Vietnamese suffering from the orange agent sprayed on them thirty years before or to the left out Red Indians to whom the America really belongs.

    Once again, you are twisting facts on the issue of Israel. Israel and the Israelis have been one among the Arabs for thousands of years however it is the baseless, fanatical Zionist ideology which took phase at the early 21st century that ruined the prospect of co-existence, and for a fact it this very Zionist force that is taking the world on a ride with its racist sentiment of being the God’s chosen people! The current Israel is racist entity standing over the dead Palestinian men, women and children.

    The only way forward for the world to attain peace and tranquility is to live and let live, in other words, we all together live in peace and harmony or we all together die in despair and horror one day or another. There can not be a single winner as you are falsely propagating.

  • Observer

    why shouldn’t obama get the peace price?
    he brought peace to the middle east.
    pulled troops out of illegal wars.
    stopped famine in africa.
    stopped the collapse of financial system with tax payer money (this i am not being sarcastic, he actually might have merit here for the peace price lol).
    he’s greater than mandella, mother theresa and ghandi combined.
    really this is political correctness gone bonkers. just coz the man’s black u don’t have to shower him with complements. let him do something first. then awards!
    in my book he still hasn’t achieved anything other than his personal commendable achievement of becoming the US president against many hurdles. in fact he’s a weak leader in the war front. maybe that’s why. what sort of commander in chief would express doubt over the commitment to a war and turn around and say they haven’t given up. he had shown his hand to the enemy. game over!

  • Heshan


    It seems you are unable to respond to my basic points. So I will repeat them:

    (1) More Iraqi and Afghan civilians have been killed in attacks carried out by Muslim suicide bombers, than American airstrikes

    (2) King of Saudi Arabia has requested the Americans to stay in Saudi

    (3) Pakistani government has given permission to Americans to stay in Pakistan

    (4) Three Muslims countries tried to invade Israel in 1967. 9 Muslim Arab countries supported the invasion of Israel

    (5) Most (Muslim) Arab countries do not accept the existence of Israel

    (6) Sharia Law practiced by Taliban did not give women any rights. Under Sharia Law practiced by Taliban, women were treated as slaves

    In the future, I request that in any future response you give, you address these points.

  • Reza

    To Heshan:

    It is not that I did not respond to your points rather you don’t have the nerve to accept the answers or to produce a factual rebuttal so you end-up posing the same nonsensical notions again and again, but I have no problem spending a few more minutes in the defense of humanity.

    [1] Was there any suicide bombings in Iraq or Afghanistan prior to the illegal invasion of those nations by the coalition of the killing? Or is there any suicide bombing in the market places of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia or Brunei? Why is it happening only in the places where the infidels are let loose? What do you think, apart from the world known 300,000 invading soldiers, the other 500,000+ armed mercenaries, contractors, intelligence, security and spy personnel and their collaborators are up to? For sure, those criminals are not there just for fun! Hence, every single explosion in Iraq and Afghanistan are a subject for investigation. Therefore, your argument of America being responsible for only a part of the killing goes out of the window. Whoever the killers, whatever their motives the culprits are the occupiers and they will remain to be so as long as they occupy those countries. Check out, this is what even the international law points to!

    [2] & [3] So what? Do you mean to say that it is a noble thing to go out and support the self-appointed dictators to kill their own countrymen? And so pathetically jump up and down when the victims decide to take on the dictators and their foreign sponsors!

    [4] & [5] Israel is an expanding terror project, not a country. What do you expect when some aliens land on your back yard and start annihilating the indigenous people and eat into their lands day in and day out? Recognize their illegal settlement and just give in and become silent victims? It is so bad that the Arabs let this Zionist monster to evolve so big however, by all means the legs of this monster are fast becoming feeble and for sure, soon will fall apart.

    [6] Maybe there were faults in the way the Taliban implemented the Sharia Law but how does it permits the Yankees to force in their own way of immoral life style to a society on the other side of the earth? After all, we know all very well what does it mean to be a FREE woman in the west? Once again, to your dismay, you know what? More than 80% of those who converts to Islam in the West are women and lately, the numbers are staggering it seems!