AFP Video: Barack Obama, War, and Peace

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— Steve Clemons

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19 comments on “AFP Video: Barack Obama, War, and Peace

  1. pauline says:

    War and Peace
    By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
    I suppose we should not begrudge Barack Obama his Nobel Peace Prize, though it represents a radical break in tradition, since he’s only had slightly less than nine months to discharge his imperial duties, most concretely through the agency of high explosives in the Hindu Kush whereas laureates like Henry Kissinger had been diligently slaughtering people across the world for years.
    Woodrow Wilson, the liberal imperialist with whom Obama bears some marked affinities, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, having brought America into the carnage of the First World War. The peace laureate president who preceded him was Teddy Roosevelt, who got the prize in 1906 as reward for sponsorship of the Spanish-American war and ardent bloodletting in the Philippines. Senator George Hoar’s famous denunciation of Roosevelt on the floor of the US Senate in May of 1902 was probably what alerted the Nobel Committee to Roosevelt’s eligibility for the Peace Prize:
    “You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives—the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind. You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture. ”
    TR was given the peace prize not long after he’d displayed his boundless compassion for humanity by sponsoring an exhibition of Filipino “monkey men” in the 1904 St Louis World Fair as “the missing link” in the evolution of Man from ape to Aryan, and thus in sore need of assimilation, forcible if necessary, to the American way. On receipt of the prize, Roosevelt promptly dispatched the Great White Fleet (sixteen U.S. Navy ships of the Atlantic Fleet including four battleships) on a worldwide tour to display Uncle Sam’s imperial credentials, anticipating by scarce more than a century, Obama’s award, as he prepares to impose Pax Americana on the Hindukush and portions of Pakistan.
    People marvel at the idiocy of these Nobel awards, but there’s method in the madness, since in the end they train people to accept without demur or protest absurdity as part and parcel of the human condition, which they should accept as representing the considered opinion of rational men, albeit Norwegian. It’s a twist on the Alger myth, inspiring to youth: you too can get to murder Filipinos, or Palestinians, or Vietnamese or Afghans and still win a Peace Prize. That’s the audacity of hope at full stretch.
    It’s dawning even on those predisposed to like the guy that when it comes to burning issues the first black president of the United States truly hates to come down on one side or the other. He dreads making powerful people mad. He won’t stand up for his own people when they’re being savaged by the nutball right, edges them out, then has his press secretary claim that they jumped of their own accord. This may impress the peaceniks of Oslo, but from the American perspective he’s looking like a wimp.
    Obama’s Afghan policy evolved on the campaign trail last year as a one-liner designed to deflect charges that he was a peacenik on Iraq. Not so, he cried. The Global War on Terror was being fought in the wrong place. His pledge was to hunt down and “kill” Osama bin Laden.
    Once ensconced in the Oval Office Obama, invoking “bipartiship”, instantly nailed a white flag to the mast by keeping on Robert Gates, Bush’s secretary of defense.
    He formed a foreign policy team mostly composed of Clinton-era neo-liberal hawks, headed by Hilary Clinton and Richard Holbrook. His next step was to eject the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, and install Gen. Stanley McChrystal, best known for running the assassination wing of the military’s joint special-operations command. (JSOC). Then he ordered 17,000 new US troops to be deployed to Afghanistan.
    It was a fine exhibition of Obama’s eerie skill – also demonstrated in the politicking over health reform – in foreclosing his own range of choices and allowing opponents to coalesce and seize the initiative. If, on his second day in office he’d announced a full and complete review of US aims in Afghanistan, with no option left off the table he’d have had some purchase on the situation. But the months drifted by and finally the worsening situation forced a review of Afghan policy, precisely when Obama’s poll numbers were dropping, the war lobby heartened and the liberals already dejected by Obama’s surrender to Goldman Sachs and Wall Street and disastrous efforts in the health fight.
    At this point fate handed Obama a golden opportunity. With astounding insolence Gen. McChrystal began to conduct a public lobbying campaign for his appeal for 40,000 more troops. His rationale for new troops ended up in the hands of Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.
    Harry Truman was an indifferent president who needlessly dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, designed to intimidate Stalin. He launched the cold war arms race in 1948. Yet Americans venerate him for two things: the sign on his desk saying the buck stops here, and his dramatic firing of war hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur, for insubordination in challenging Truman’s overall direction of the war in Korea (not to mention Truman’s fears of likely MacArthur excess in administering plans being carefully evolved in Truman’s high command to deploy and use nuclear weapons on the Koran peninsula.)
    Truman didn’t allow MacArthur time to stage a grandiose resignation. In April, 1951, he fired him on late night radio, announcing that “With deep regret I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the U.S. Government and of the U.N. in matters pertaining to his official duties. In view of the specific responsibilities imposed upon me by the Constitution of the U.S. …I have decided that I must make a change in command in the Far East. I have, therefore, relieved General MacArthur of his command.”
    It’s clear that McChrystal stepped over the line conclusively in his speech in London at the Institute for Strategic Studies where he contemptuously dismissed the “small footprint” counter-terrorism strategy proposed by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, saying that it would lead to Afghanistan becoming Chaos-istan. Obama’s National Security Advisor, Gen Jim Jones declared that it would have been better that McChrystal’s criticisms had come up through the Army’s chain of command. That was the moment Obama could have fired McChrystal for MacArthur’s offense – insubordination and defiance of civilian control of military policy.
    McChrystal is no war hero, like McArthur. People crave some evidence that Obama has steel in his soul. High risk, maybe, but potentially a huge coup for Obama at a fraught political moment, also a brisk exit from the humiliation of the failed booster trip to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. Obama did nothing, except further irk his liberal base by saying withdrawal isn’t an option. Pundits solemnly explained that given Democrats’ distaste for the war in Afghanistan – backed by strong popular hostility, Obama might have to go to Republicans to get the votes for the necessary appropriations of money.
    It’s all much too late for any sensible policy review. There have been two moments in the last 40 years when life might have improved for ordinary Afghans, particularly women. The first came with the the reforming left regime of the late 1970s, destroyed by the warlords with US backing. The second arrived with the US eviction of the Taliban in 2001-2, which was welcomed by many Afghans. But at this stage in the game, simply by definition, no American intervention overseas can be anything other than a ghastly disaster, usually bloodstained. Allready the US had too many chits out to the warlords of the Northern Alliance. The US “nation building” apparat is irreversibly corrupt – with a network of $250,000 a year consultancies, insider contracts, and beyond that a de facto stake in the drug industry now supply most of the West’s heroin and opium.
    There’s no possible light at the end of any tunnel. The robot war via Predator missiles and other instruments in the arsenal infuriates all Afghans, as wedding parties are blown to bits every weekend. With more troops and mercenaries now in Afghanistan than during the Russian military presence at its peak, there’s zero chance for America playing a long-term constructive role in Afghanistan. The US presence is just a recruiting poster for the Taliban.
    But Obama has now surrounded himself with just the same breed of intellectuals who persuaded Lyndon Johnson to destroy his presidency by escalating the war. They’re easily as mad as the bible thumper I heard last week on my truck radio as I drove over the Tehachapi pass on route 58, between Barstow and Bakersfield. Harold Camping, president of Family Stations Ministry, was patiently explaining that God’s plan was to end the world by flooding on May 21, 2011, thus trumping the end of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012. In the Biblical perspective 5/21/2011 is the end of the world. The elect will be saved, the rest will perish, not even given brief probation like the inhabitants of Nineveh. Camping’s voice was calm and seemingly rational , no doubt like those of the men and women briefing Obama. A doubter called in, emphasizing that he was a 100 per cent believer in the veracity of each line in the Bible, but how to explain verse 4 of the ninetieth psalm? “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night”? Why had the divine author permitted himself the ambiguity of simile? Camping plunged confidently into biblical numerology: God revealed to Noah in the year 4990 BC that there would be yet 7 days until the flood of waters would be upon the earth. Substitute 1000 years for each one of those 7 days, and we get 7000 years. And when we project 7000 years into the future from 4990 BC, we find that it falls on the year 2011 AD. 4990 + 2011 = 7001. He counseled us to remember, when counting from an Old Testament date to a New Testament date, always to subtract one year because there is no year zero, resulting in: 4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000 years exactly.
    But May 21? On May 21, 1988, God finished using the churches and congregations of the world. The Spirit of God left all churches and Satan entered into the churches to rule at that point in time. The Bible decrees that this period of judgment upon the churches wil last for 23 years. A full 23 years (8400 days exactly) would be from May 21, 1988 until May 21, 2011. Camping took pains to remind his vast world audience that this information was discovered in the Bible completely apart from the information regarding the 7000 years from the flood.
    At this point the geological contours of the Tehachapi pass interrupted the radio signal and soon I was descending into the inferno of sunset over Bakersfield. Is Campoing madder than the augurers who have been counseling Obama on his Afghan policy? Is his devoted audience more gullible than the President?
    Last week Obama invited Republicans as well as Democrats to the White House for further review of the options. Obama has let events overtake him, exactly as he allowed the health policy debate to spin out of his control in the summer and early fall. He’ll shoot for some sort of lethal semi-compromise on reinforcements, thus feeding the right and angering his liberal supporters. A year from now he’ll be paying the penalty in the mid-term elections, just as Clinton did.
    Anthropology at War
    Don’t miss the marvelous new edition of our Subscriber-Only Newsletter. David Price, an anthropologist and season contributor to CounterPunch excavates a story of particular relevance right now: the way the Pentagon is recruiting PhDs to fight its counter-insurgency campaigns: today Afghanistan, tomorrow the world. Price writes:
    “While political science was the academic discipline, which the wars of the twentieth century drew upon, the asymmetrical wars of the twenty-first century now look toward anthropology with hopes of finding models of culture, or data on specific cultures, to be conquered or to be used in counterinsurgency operations. ..
    “The counterinsurgency program generating the greatest friction among anthropologists is the Human Terrain Systems (HTS) – a program with over 400 employees, originally operating through private contractors and now in the process of being taken over by the U.S. Army. Human Terrain embeds anthropologists with military units to ease the occupation and conquest of Iraqi and Afghanis – with plans to extend these operations in Africa through expanding units with AFRICOM. Some HTS social scientists are armed, others choose not to. In the last two years, three HTS social scientists have been killed in the course of their work, and HTS member Don Ayala recently pled guilty in U.S. District Court to killing the Afghan (whom Ayala shot in the head-execution style while the victim was detained with his hands cuffed behind him) who had attacked THS social scientist Paula Loyd…
    “Supporters of HTS claim the program uses embedded social scientists to help reduce “kinetic engagements,” or unnecessary violent contacts with the populations they encounter. The idea is to use these social scientists to interact with members of the community, creating liaison relationships between occupiers and occupied, as well as using HTS’s social scientists’ cultural knowledge to reduce misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessarily violent interactions.”
    HTS has been selling itself to the public through remarkably well-organized domestic propaganda campaigns that have seen dozens of uncritical articles on HTS , with personality profiles on HTS’s personnel appearing in American newspapers, The New Yorker, Harpers, Elle, More, etc.) In his essay, exclusive to the newsletter, Price lays out the full, ugly story of these recipes for “better killing”.
    Also in the newsletter: Mark Grueter reports from Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, on a multi-million dollar campus designed to sell the American way of life. Welcome to the American University of Iraq. “Move your ass and your brains will follow”: Joe Paff remembers an astounding mobilization in San Francisco, 1967-1973 and the lessons it holds for left organizers today.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/

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  2. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The Nobel Peace Committee’s decision of awarding of the Nobel peace prize for the year-2009 to President Brack Obama-seems highly judiciousc since the US foreign policy under the new US administration seems to have given the positive reflections on promoting peace and a conducive climate of moving toward the path of positive interfaith dialogue accompanied by the seemingly benign diplomacy to rediscover the correct and meaningful ways of resolving conflict resolution regarding the Mideast problem and the Iranian nuclear conflict.

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  3. ... says:

    that’s zero on the nadine-ometer for anyone bored enough to want to know…

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  4. nadine says:

    Steve, That was a 10 on the Obamamometer.

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  5. Josh Meah says:

    Steve’s comments are right on. I think the cynics
    are on the wrong road here.
    To me, anyone looking at the policy-making process
    up close will realize exactly how important the
    “Obama Bubble” is to crafting new policy. If
    realism is often “descriptive,” the critique of
    liberalism has been that it’s too “prescriptive.”
    The reality though is that a description of the
    world is predicated on the ethics and morals of
    today’s world, which were founded not today, but
    yesterday.
    Critique this president all you want, but his
    “policy” failures are not nearly as massive as his
    major contributions to global ethics. Tomorrow
    will likely be a better place than today.
    Is it true in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Palestine?
    Probably not. But it’s easy to criticize the
    President for his failures, but what about all of
    the things that could have happened but didnt?
    Yea, i know, it sucks to weigh counterfactuals
    against the stuff that’s on the ground, but at
    least it should provide some perspective for this
    conversation.
    Politics is about the organization of peoples and
    societies. Policy — as has been brought up in
    most of these comments thus far — is a means to
    that end, but formal legislation can only go so
    far. Instilling hope — compelling people to BE
    different by believing in new ideas — that’s
    inspiration.
    You can shoot this idea of inspiration down, but
    what’s the point? Last year, non-governmental
    organizations like the Ford Foundation, the Gates
    Foundation, etc. contributed far more to
    international development than the U.S.
    government. So what’s wrong with a little
    inspiration? Inspiration inspires policy
    entrepreneurship — social entrepreneurship.
    This Nobel Prize is justified.

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  6. Clint says:

    “They recognized how impactful he’s already been.”
    I don’t know, Steve. There’s is a clear change in *rhetoric*, but where are the policy changes? Where are the proposed policy changes, even?
    This might as well be an award for successful marketing of the Obama Change Brand.

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    “Posted by DonS, Oct 10 2009, 12:10PM – Link
    My concern about the impact of the Nobel on the immediate question of Afghanistan is that
    Obama will feel constrained, if he is not already of a mind to add 25,000-40,000 troops
    to the force. In fact I’d call it a slam dunk.”
    Don, I doubt that the Nobel will have any impact on his decisions. Business as usual. My
    guess is: An addition of 15.000 troops.

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And further, on this posturing frauds ACTUAL policies, rather than his constant stream of horseshit promises….
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iTP0bKUzgSqMDMrJVCMhKpx7xS5wD9B70OU80
    Talking Transparency Isn’t the Same as Seeing It Through
    By Dana Milbank
    Thursday, September 24, 2009
    Somewhere, in a secure, undisclosed location, John Ashcroft is chuckling.
    President Obama campaigned on a promise to restore transparency to government. But now the time has come to renew the USA Patriot Act, the bete noire of civil libertarians. When the Obama administration’s point man on the legislation came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he sounded very much like his predecessors in the Bush administration.
    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked Assistant Attorney General David Kris whether the administration would support congressional oversight as part of the Patriot Act. “We don’t have a position on anything particularly yet,” Kris answered.
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, asked whether the Democrats’ proposed changes to the Patriot Act would impede current investigations. “We’re not going to discuss classified matters here, and also there is this Justice Department policy about commenting on ongoing investigations,” the official commented.
    Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) pointed out that of the several hundred “sneak and peek” search warrants issued under the Patriot Act, only three were for terrorism cases and most were for drugs. “I guess it’s not surprising to me that it applies in drug cases,” Kris replied.
    Feingold was surprised by the witness’s lack of surprise. “As I recall, it was in something called the USA Patriot Act,” he said scornfully, “which was passed in a rush after an attack on 9/11 that had to do with terrorism.”
    The performance must have been disheartening for Democrats, because Kris was supposed to be one of the good guys. Once a Clinton and Bush Justice Department official, he scolded his former Bush colleagues in 2006 for their “weak justification” of the warrantless wiretapping program.
    But if disappointing, Kris’s guardedness was to be expected. Obama may have promised new openness, but “so far, the continuities between the Obama and Bush administration overwhelm the differences,” says Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.
    Obama gets credit for making public a 2004 report on CIA interrogations and Justice Department torture memos, and for releasing more records of White House visitors. He restored news coverage of returning caskets of fallen soldiers. On Wednesday, he earned mixed reviews from civil libertarians when he signaled an intention to keep fewer things hidden under the “state secrets” policy.
    But transparency advocates such as Aftergood and Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center point to many more shortfalls: refusing to release information about detainees held at the Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan, reneging on a decision to release photos of detainee abuse, using signing statements to undermine legislation, defending the granting of immunity to telecom companies that participated in the wiretap program, and opposing a request that all intelligence committee members be briefed on covert operations.
    Of course, these moves could be evidence that Obama is being cautious and responsible as campaigning yields to governing. But whatever the reason, civil libertarians have reason to feel that Obama sold them a bill of goods — and Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee was unlikely to change this feeling.
    continues…

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, on the domestic front, as the public is distracted by Obama’s completely undeserved award…..
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iTP0bKUzgSqMDMrJVCMhKpx7xS5wD9B70OU80
    Justice officials won’t take oath before briefing
    By PAMELA HESS (AP)
    WASHINGTON — A House intelligence committee meeting was abruptly terminated when Justice Department officials refused to be sworn in before briefing the lawmakers.
    The officials had been expected to brief the committee Wednesday on the department’s review of an internal CIA report on the 2001 shootdown of a plane over Peru that was carrying American missionaries. Two of the passengers were killed.
    Officials are routinely sworn in before giving testimony at formal congressional hearings, but the meeting was billed as an informal briefing — which normally does not require taking an oath.
    Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Justice employees “have previously briefed committee staff on this matter and were prepared to provide a similar informal briefing to committee members.”
    “We are unaware of any precedent for Department officials providing informal briefings to be placed under oath,” she said.
    Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the committee, questioned Wednesday why the Justice officials refused to be sworn in. “Why is Attorney General Eric Holder afraid of having Justice Department employees be required to tell the truth?” Hoekstra said.
    Hoekstra said Justice’s refusal to brief under oath is part of a “disturbing pattern that has emerged of the Obama administration refusing or finding reasons to refuse to share information with Congress.”
    Both the House and the Senate intelligence committees have advanced legislation that would require more intelligence disclosures to Congress, though the details of the bills differ. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the House legislation if it is passed.
    Hoekstra has raised concerns about the CIA’s handling of the Peru incident, saying the classified CIA report identified the names of personnel who misled Congress and obstructed a Justice Department investigation into whether criminal charges should have been filed in the case. The Justice Department in 2005 decided against filing charges.

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….a more unified and coherent approach to Iran, one that further internationalizes the issue” (of Iran)
    Such an eventuality is impossible unless a “more unified and coherent approach” to Israel’s nukes is adopted. And Obama, this past week, took such an option off the table.
    Dan, you can blind yourself to certain facts in order to rationalize and sugar coat unfounded optimism, but eventually that nasty spoiler, the truth, will rear its ugly head.

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  11. ... says:

    good job steve… obama has to have the smarts to think of dropping something other then ammo on the afganistans.. i think he has it in him, but it will require a humanitarian mindset, rather then a military one on the part of all of the usa… i’m not sure how much of an infrastructure exists for this in the usa… it seems that mostly all the infrastructure in the usa is for the military so it makes sense that it is used regularly..
    the analogy of a plumbing leak being fixed by an electrician, or carpenter comes to mind… perhaps the usa could consider creating a different response to everything then just calling in the military to fix everything… i realize this would be changing the direction of usa foreign policy from about the past 50 years, but unless it happens the usa will continue to be screwed, no matter how visionary or idealistic their leader is… and, if they get someone who isn’t – like bush/cheney, they are doubly screwed… create a different system… it is the only way to go..

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  12. DonS says:

    ” . . . stoned on highest quality hasH”.
    Note: reading Raimundo above one could swear of reality with not too much regret.

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  13. DonS says:

    My concern about the impact of the Nobel on the immediate question of Afghanistan is that Obama will feel constrained, if he is not already of a mind to add 25,000-40,000 troops to the force. In fact I’d call it a slam dunk. (I notice a 60K third “option” was included in the DOD reort; sounds like a strawman to me). Anything less looks like surrender monkey territory.
    This link to Digby has a you tube embedded by Alan Grayson on the futility of trying to fit the square peg of Afghanistan into the round hole of western thinking on governance. He explains that Afghanistan is not even a country as such. And I get a sobering chuckle out of the knowledge that all Afghani men are stoned on highest quality has 24/7. Even if it’s only 75%, or 50% . . . I wonder if the Afghan army and police force does pee tests and has a zero tolerance policy.
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/knowledge-worker-by-digby-grayson-has.html
    I note with additional dismay recent Senate Judiciary Committee action to reauthorize and add “updated” amendments to the “Patriot” Act. Sadly, some of the more regressive amendments were provided by the administration through the good offices of Sen Jeff Sessions. Not directly related to the Nobel of course, but is this the kind of future fallout we might anticipate if Obama reads the Nobel tea leaves as requiring him to prove he is indeed no surrender monkey?
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/10/10/obamas-bipartisanship-hiding-behind-jeff-sessions-when-eliminating-civil-rights-protections/

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  14. Outraged American says:

    TODAY, Bill of Rights expert Dane von Breichenruchardt on What
    Really Happened radio show Noon Central/ 1 PM Eastern/ 10
    AM Pacific. Stream the show at:
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/
    Call in at 800-259-9231 and ask about Obama and the Patriot
    Act. Dane’s probably going to talk about his fight to get the
    Second Amendment incorporated by the Supreme Court.
    Dane von Breichenruchardt is the founder and President of the
    U. S. Bill of Rights Foundation formed in 1996 in Washington
    DC.
    The Foundation is a non-partisan public interest advocacy
    organization seeking remedies at law and public policy
    improvements on targeted issues that contravene the Bill of
    Rights & related Constitutional law.
    He serves on the “Heritage Foundation’s Public Interest law
    Group” and the “Over Criminalization Work Group” and is listed
    with the Heritage Foundation as a Policy Expert on an array of
    topics.
    He is a partner in the “Liberty Coalition” and the “National
    Whistle Blower Center” among many other watchdog, policy and
    privacy groups.
    Dane has just joined with the “Washington D.C. Lawyer Chapter
    of the American Constitution Society” to teach constitutional law
    subjects to high school students in a program entitled
    “Constitution in the Classroom Project.”
    He also currently serves as an Associate Policy Researcher for
    the American Conservative Defense Alliance in Washington DC.
    He served in the U.S. Air Force and the Army National guard
    until 1983.

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Raimondo gets it right…….
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/10/09/bizarro-peace-prize-awarded-to-obama/
    Bizarro Peace Prize Awarded to Obama
    By Justin Raimondo
    Let’s say you’re the President of the United States — okay? And you’re on the brink of escalating what promises to be a wider, more intense war than that which George W. Bush launched in Iraq. You’ve already sent in reinforcements, but you’re undecided about just how many more troops you’re going to send to Afghanistan – could be 20,000, could be 40,000, or even 60,000. But, in any case, you’ve ruled out withdrawal and diplomacy: the only option you have left is more war.
    In addition, you’re moving – slowly but surely – toward full-scale involvement in Pakistan, where your drones are daily wreaking death and destruction on innocent civilians, and destabilizing a government that is increasingly hostile to your machinations – even though you’re bribing them with billions that never reach their ostensible beneficiaries and only serve to fatten the purses of your Pakistani sock-puppets.
    On top of that, you’ve just told the Palestinians that they must live with Israeli “settlements” and forced the UN to ignore an official report detailing the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children by IDF forces armed by the US.
    On top of that, you’re pushing through Congress a record military spending bill that keeps the US spending more than the top 45 nations on earth combined on weapons and methods of war.
    So, naturally, as a reward for all your strenuous efforts on behalf of keeping the world a place that is less safe, less stable, and less worth living in than at any time since the outbreak of World War II, you are bestowed with – yes, that’s right, the Nobel Peace Prize. This, however, isn’t just any Nobel Peace Prize – oh no It’s a Bizarro Peace Prize – the natural result of us having slipped through a crack in the space-time continuum, and landed in a world where up is down, right is left, and war is peace – Bizarro World!
    For years – ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks – I’ve been saying that the sheer force of the explosions that sent us hurtling into a nightmare world of color-coded terrorist alerts and hunts for “weapons of mass destruction,” must have ripped a hole in the very fabric of reality. So that, today, we’re living in an alternate universe, where the laws of logic and reason are repealed – Bizarro World.
    For a while there I thought we might be heading back toward reality, or at least some more rational version of it, and that what I call the Bizarro Effect might be wearing off. However, this morning’s shocker – the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to an American president about to launch a decades-long military occupation, even as he promises (so far to little effect) to bring another occupation to an end — has dashed that hope beyond redemption.
    And as if to underscore the fact that we are still living in the world we woke up to on September 11, 2001, a top official of the Democratic National Committee – communications director Brad Woodhouse – has issued the following statement in response to guffaws from the peanut gallery:
    “The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists – the Taliban and Hamas this morning – in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize.”
    As Obama prepares for war, and yet more war, anyone who questions this is a terrorist – and peace be with you, my son.

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  16. Franklin says:

    Well done! Although, “impactful” is one of those words that just drives me nuts.
    “Consequential,” great.
    “Significant,” yes.
    “Momentous,” understood.
    “Substantial,” a little bland, but OK.
    Impact, itself, has some punch to it.
    But “impactful” is one of those coinages that loses some of its power in combination.
    A bit of a digression . .
    Regardless, I’m curious to see if Obama is actually able to leverage any sort of moral authority conferred by the award in his international negotiations; perhaps the award will serve as a kind of compass during his time in office; or maybe it’ll end up being a footnote. Who knows.
    No harm though in giving him the award — it was a surprise, but after hearing some of the explanations, I understand the reasoning a little better.

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  17. Dan Kervick says:

    Nice job Steve.
    I’m interested in how the prize will or will not influence the approach Obama takes to the issues on his plate, and particularly how it influences the way he communicates about those issues. For the most part, I suspect he will just continue doing what he is doing. On the other hand, there is no way he can simply pretend the award of the prize hasn’t happened. Nor does he want to squander the additional opportunities the international recognition gives him.
    I’m thinking he should have a good long conversation with Medvedev. He can publicly call on Medvedev as a “partner” in global non-proliferation, thus giving Medvedev a boost by rubbing some of the Nobel cache off on him. In exchange, Medvedev can help Obama develop a more unified and coherent approach to Iran, one that further internationalizes the issue.
    Others might have some ideas about whether and how this helps on the North Korea proliferation issue.
    Overall, it would seem that the award of the prize, if exploited deftly and circumspectly, can help Obama gain more tangible international support for various initiatives.

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  18. brigid says:

    Concise and well stated.. an installment on Obama foreign policy by the Nobel Committee. So much of the bloviating class talks about the Nobel prize as if it were a meritocracy instead of an investment in public voices and communication to the world community. And right now Obama’s voice is the most public on the international scene and has injected an aspirational leadership on to the world scene.

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