President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in October 2009, looks even more ridiculous now than it did at the time.
The president has made it clear that he intends to stay in Afghanistan for years.
My editorial page colleague Rufus Sanders, writing on our editorial page on Oct. 25, predicted that by 2012 under President Obama, “the war in Afghanistan will be over.”
Pastor Sanders agrees with me that the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan — he wrote a column laying out his own views that ran in July and remains on our Web site — but I’m afraid his prediction turned out to be optimistic.
Obama and other NATO leaders reached an agreement Saturday that they will remain in control of Afghanistan’s security until the end of 2014.
The New York Times article on the agreement, headlined “NATO Sees Long-Term Role After Afghan Combat,” stressed that 2014 is just a goal, not a promise.
“NATO and American officials also warned that if Afghanistan had not made sufficient progress in managing its own security, 2014 was not a hard and fast deadline for the end of combat operations,” the article stated.
There have been 451 U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan so far this year, more than in any other year since our war there began in 2001.
I can’t see how the decision to spend several more years in Afghanistan differs from what a victory for the McCain-Palin ticket would have produced.
In looking back at Obama’s peace prize, it’s worth remembering what it was supposed to stand for. Alfred Nobel, who died in 1896 and set up the prize in his will, wanted it to go to the person who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace.”
How’s the “reduction of standing armies” coming along in the U.S.? Don’t look for hope or change.
Globalissues.org says that as of 2009, U.S. military spending accounted for 46.5 of the world total. (China is in a distant second place at 6.6 percent).
It is apparently politically impossible, even in an age of huge federal deficits, to talk about whether the U.S. could settle for 40 percent of the world total, or 30 percent. An October article posted at The Daily Beast’s Web site, written by Leslie Gelb, says that President Obama and his defense secretary, Robert Gates — a holdover from the George W. Bush administration — plan to actually increase military spending.
A couple of sentences from Gelb’s article: “The Obama administration is requesting $738.7 billion for the current fiscal year (beginning Oct. 1, 2010 and ending Sept. 30, 2011). That is not a reduction from the previous year. It’s actually an increase.”
It seems to me that real change in U.S. military policy, including an end to endless war around the globe, must come from a coalition across the political spectrum. Liberal Democrats such as Dennis Kucinich can’t do it alone, because they don’t have the numbers, even in their own party.
They need help from libertarians (such as Ron Paul), conservatives and moderates. No one has to embrace the entire liberal Democratic agenda (unless you want to, of course) but if peace is the goal, only a coalition can win.
It would also help if everyone seeking a more peaceful world could support an organization working for that end.
Here are a couple of useful Web sites. Antiwar.com represents a variety of political opinions, although it is run by peace-minded libertarians. It includes articles written by conservatives. Leftists may feel more comfortable at Tom Hayden's Peace and Justice Center. Both sites offer e-mail bulletins, blog feeds and so on.
Both reported well before the mainstream media did on Obama’s plan to stay in Afghanistan for years.