Coleen Rowley Interviews and Challenges the Nobel Committee Secretary on Obama’s Laughable Peace Prize
On March 3, 2012, Coleen Rowley attended the 3rd and final day of the Nobel Peace Forum in Minneapolis, and was able to interview Oslo-based long-time Secretary of the Nobel Committee Geir Lundestad after he spoke at a Forum event at Augsburg College. Coleen had helped draft this “Petition (to) Investigate Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize" a few days earlier, which has now gathered the endorsements of over 40 peace organizations. Yesterday she sent me her very sobering article and video clip from that interview. Here are a few important excerpts and the video:
Secretary Lundestad began the interview by denying he has been dodging Heffermehl’s questions and advising that “a very long response” has been prepared to respond to the allegations lodged against his Committee. Lundestad said Heffermehl’s problem is he is a “purist” and an “originalist” who thinks the prize should only go to peace activists as narrowly defined; that Heffermehl’s understanding of Alfred Nobel as a “one dimensional person” is wrong. (Note: Lundestad had begun his earlier talk by describing Alfred Nobel as profoundly unhappy, romantically frustrated and someone who would have been diagnosed with mental problems or institutionalized if he had lived now.)
When questioned about Obama’s Nobel nomination—which was in fact submitted only 11 days after Obama became President, Lundestad denied that Obama was awarded for his campaign promises or his election to the presidency, but instead claimed that since their selection of Obama did not become final until September 2009, it was therefore based on the President’s actions during his first months in office (8 ½ months to be precise). (However in an earlier interview, Lundestad emphasized how Obama’s election as a black American to president of the United States—something “believed impossible”—had inspired the world.)
Secretary Lundestad mentions Nobel Prizes being “aspirational” but he denied that Obama’s Prize was completely aspirational. During an earlier panel discussion that followed the de Klerk speech in which all of the South African panelists were largely critical of de Klerk, Naomi Tutu criticized de Klerk’s Nobel award as “premature”, stating that after he shared the prize with Mandela, de Klerk never sincerely followed up or participated in the truth and reconciliation efforts. The potential for such embarrassing and contradictory aftermaths of too hastily-given awards didn’t matter, however, to the Nobel Secretary who strongly affirmed that no peace prize would ever be rescinded, not even if the “peace” prize recipient immediately starts wars after receiving the “peace” award. (In this 2009 interview, Lundestad repeats several times that the Norwegian Committee “always stands by its laureates and never denounces them”, no matter what they do.)
When Lundestad was asked for examples of awards for “the reduction or abolition of standing armies”, he claimed that at least ten had been handed out for efforts to reduce the nuclear stockpile. Obama’s major cited “achievement” was one example in this category, his “Global Zero” speech given on April 5, 2009, wherein Obama outlined his vision for a nuclear-free world. The timing of that April 4 speech, given only 10 weeks after Obama took office, would jibe with April being key in the Nobel Committee’s secret weeding out selection process previously described by Lundestad: “So we go very quickly from almost 250 candidates, down to five or six and then we spend much time (conducting research) on these remaining five or six candidates.”
Unfortunately haste often makes waste. The Atlantic later revealed the reality of basing Obama’s Nobel Award on one speech in his ten-week presidency: “Nuclear-weapons policy has become yet another area where the heady optimism of the administration's early days has largely evaporated…many of those following weapons policy say Obama's effort to begin reshaping the U.S.'s own massive nuclear arsenal in light of the zero goal has proceeded far more slowly than expected. In fact, despite Obama's pledge, he's spending more than President Bush did to upgrade and modernize our weapons.”
There is a long history, according to Lundestad, of awarding Nobel “Peace” Awards to outstanding humanitarians like Mother Teresa or to people and/or organizations for their human rights work. Although it may seem a bit of a stretch, such human rights work is said to fall under “working for fraternity between nations”. Lundestad went on to note that more and more political scientists and writers are linking the fight for democracy and human rights to peace although these links “don’t necessarily support Bush’s policy on Iraq or mean you should bomb countries into democracy”. Lundestad ended the interview before responding to my last question about the similar dangers of using “humanitarian intervention” as the guise to rationalize and enable Obama’s and NATO’s recent bombing of Libya.
Lundestad has apparently been a perennial favorite at the Minnesota Nobel Peace Forum and this year he brought his wife to accompany him. But he simply failed to answer why no one who wants to abolish or reduce militarization can get the prize. He has said nearly the opposite explaining how it is to be expected that 2009 recipient Obama would be engaged in two wars as leader of the world’s “superpower”. So how can the Prize continue to inspire peacemaking when it no longer is in keeping with Alfred Nobel’s original intent, but instead has been turned on its head to promote militarism and war?
What a mockery of an award! No? I am trying very hard to be polite and not call this guy a schmuck! Here is the video clip from Coleen’s interview:
You can read Coleen Rowley’s article in its entirety here at warisacrime.Org
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