Neil Gaiman wrote:
Sunday, February 01, 2004I wrote:
Or dead again, anyway
You know, in a world in which Bush and Blair can be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, "for having dared to take the necessary decision to launch a war on Iraq without having the support of the UN" I find myself agreeing with Tom Lehrer: satire is dead.
re: satire is deadI get that it’s bizarre to award a “peace prize” to people for a war, and if you don’t believe that Saddam had weapons or had programs in place to create weapons, and don’t believe that he was in any way a threat to the general international peace, then by all means oppose the nomination. (I’ve actually read things linking him to Al Qaeda, but i can’t put my finger on them.) Did some quick Googling and although i was half-expecting many many “Nobel Peace Prizes” awarded for mere human rights work, it appears that most of them do in fact relate to efforts toward international peace.
I understand the objections people have to the action taken against Iraq, particularly the rationale given by the US government, but can we talk about what a cruel man Saddam Hussein was and how the world is unequivocally a better place with him out of power? I understand the arguments in favor of having UN support, but the UN keeps undermining its own credibility (Libya chairing the Commission on Human Rights, for example) and sometimes i think the real joke is that people keep insisting that one needs the backing of the UN to have legitimacy.
It’s far easier to be nominated than to actually win one of these things, and i would be astonished, given the general atmosphere of world opinion on the subject, but i would be far from appalled if B&B won. I feel like i’ve already talked this issue (the war) to death, but i’ll still gladly engage anyone in debate.
It occurred to me as i was writing this that i talked about this last year:
So, people are upset that Bush&Blair were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.I did an InstaPundit search just now to try to find something i remembered from this debate last year. (It was a piece that talked about how inappropriate so many of the Nobel Peace Prize awards have been, given to people who didn’t deserve them or whatever. Like "the winners are frequently those, such as Yasser Arafat, who have been instrumental in creating the very problem they are applauded for attempting to resolve." and "Am I alone in thinking this story - that the former President of South Korea effectvely bought himself a Nobel Peace Prize by funnelling millions of dollars to the world's most insane dictator - should be getting a lot more attention?") I couldn’t find it, but i found a lot of other interesting stuff.
When i first heard this i thought, "Well, the rationale is obvious (even if you don't agree with it). The idea was that they were preventing future violence. Sacrificing some for the greater good and all that." But i was eating a strawberry after having handed in my last assignment of my sophomore year and a commercial break in ER during exam week is not the best time to have a political discussion. (One of the things i love about LJ is that you can choose to engage people and their ideas and do it through writing where you can look over what you've said before you actually say it. Though "real" interaction has its benefits in this area of conversation as well.)
So, then i found this article. Since we're all so gung-ho about being like the Scandanavians i love that it was a Norwegian who proposed this. (And of course he's "a right-wing independent," because now that we know that we can just write him off as one of those crazy right-wingers. /snark) I'm not sure why he had to mention Israel as the example of whom Saddam could have attacked ('cause the other Middle Eastern countries don't matter?) but let's see: 'Sometimes it's necessary to use a small and effective war to prevent a much more dangerous war in the future' and "Simonsen said the war had 'made it possible to create democracy and respect for human rights in a country which for so many years has been ruled by one of the worst dictators in modern times.' " I get the issues that people have with the war, and for all my utilitarian verging on "ends justifies the means" i have really troubled feelings about giving someone a peace prize for a war. I remember the furor over Jimmy Carter getting one, the idea that it was done just to say "We bite our thumbs at you" to the warmongers and (while as always i really should do more research on this before making a statement) the idea of using that merely to make a political statement tarnishes the whole process and this has analogies to the issues so many people have with the UN but i really don't know enough about all this so i'm stopping now.
Teddy Roosevelt on the Nobel Peace Prize
InstaPundit points to a Yahoo piece:
MONTREAL (AFP) - Nobel peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel said the war on Iraq is justified and blamed unnamed European countries for failing to prevent it through pressuring President Saddam Hussein.Because i like pointing out hypocrisy. (Okay, maybe it’s not so much hypocrisy as holding the past against someone, but i feel like people on the other side of this issue do it a lot -- holding someone’s past against them -- so i feel justified in turning the tables. Feel free to call me petty and childish.)
"If some European countries put as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as on (US President George W.) Bush, there would have been no war," he told a press conference in Montreal.
Jimmy Carter, Saddam Hussein, 1980
Norway [far too nasty in tone for my taste, but does make interesting points]
Should the Nobel Peace Prize should go to coalition forces? (Reasons why i can’t be a full-on pacifist.)
Eugene Volokh quotes Michael Kelly on the necessity of war for peace. Pandagon rebutts, and Eugene counters.
InstaPundit has the full Lehrer quote about Kissinger. Checking the Nobel Peace Prize site, it seems rather justified, and it was awarded to Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State, and Le Duc Tho, Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, for jointly negotiating the Vietnam peace accord in 1973. I know next to nothing about Vietnam, but i’m guessing it’s the whole “Kissinger helped fuel the war and now he’s being awarded for helping end it. The hell?” kinda thing. I don’t see it as grounds for saying “political satire is obsolete,” but i wasn’t around in 1973.