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December 02, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies of the Past on Afghanistan

Back in olden times, the speeches at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony used to decry wars in Afghanistan. I'm guessing that won't be happening this December 10th in Oslo.

Nobel Peace Prize presentation speech by Norwegian Nobel Committee, awarder of the prize, to Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980:

The war in Afghanistan, more than anything else, has cast its dark shadow on men and women in the part of the world to which we Norwegians belong.

Nobel Peace Prize presentation speech by Norwegian Nobel Committee to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1981: Asia a new overwhelming refugee problem has arisen as a result of the war in Afghanistan. Well over two million Afghans have sought refuge in Pakistan — a developing country which, without the assistance of international organisations, is not in a position to tackle the problem involved in caring for these refugees. As yet we can see no solution to the problem that their future entails.

Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Bishop Tutu, 1984:

I have spoken extensively about South Africa, first because it is the land I know best, but because it is also a microcosm of the world and an example of what is to be found in other lands in differing degree...Fellow citizens are pitted against one another, sometimes attracting the unhelpful attention and interest of outside powers, who want to extend their spheres of influence. We see this in the Middle Afghanistan...

Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Dalai Lama, 1989:

I am very encouraged by the developments which are taking place around us...Serious efforts to bring peace to war-torn zones and to implement the right to self-determination of some people have resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan...

Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Jody Williams, 1997:

Let me take a moment to give a few examples of the degree of the epidemic...Afghanistan is littered with perhaps nine million landmines.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 2, 2009 10:24 AM

Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Barack Obama, 2009:

>> War is bad. War is horrible. So don't think of the Afghanistan war as a war. Think of it as the continuation of my reelection campaign by other means.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at December 2, 2009 11:45 AM

Oh, and Jon, so long as you've brought up Jody Williams - let's not forget that the Obama administration has quietly rejected - er, continued the ongoing review of - the landmine treaty. I'm sure you know, but I mention it here because I've barely seen it mentioned anywhere else.

Posted by: Chris Ekman at December 2, 2009 01:05 PM

Chris, thanks. I meant to include that in the post -- will add it.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at December 2, 2009 01:17 PM

Wow, I forgot about December 10. That date sure will be a little awkward for the peace-loving Norsk-snokkers over there in paradise, where my people a millenium ago gave up their out-of-control imperial looting and pillaging and instead now have health care and free university education.

Posted by: N E at December 2, 2009 01:43 PM

i believe obama's speech has already been written, in verse

Posted by: almostinfamous at December 2, 2009 03:01 PM

It is just the least bit incongruous that the recent recipient of a prize honoring the foremost peacemaker in the world should have last night committed 30 THOUSAND more soldiers to be sent into a war that is neither necessary nor, in any rational sense, winnable.

But then it’s equally incongruous that such a peace-maker would be worried about ‘winning’ any war, doesn’t it?


Posted by: woody at December 2, 2009 03:04 PM

I've never been to Afghanistan, but I've heard about it

On the topic of Afghanistan, and war, back in the early 1990s I attended a lecture on the subject of infant mortality rates, and noticed on one of the slides that Afghanistan had the very worst rate in the world.

During the question period I asked what the data had been like there before the period of the war (at that time the war I was thinking of was the struggle of the Afghanis to expell the Russkis).

I was told, "This IS the data from before the war."

Well. Or rather, not so well.

Fast forward to tonight. I am in range of one of the digital broadcast stations of the MHz Worldview networks, which I discovered when I got my digital converter box in the ramp-up to abolishing analog TV broadcasting. Now I can see RT (Russia TV's English language channel - they show Max Keiser) and Aljazeera and EuroNews and DeutscheWelle. Within the last half hour one of those was showing a displaced person in Afghanistan, explaining how he'd ended up in a refugee camp. He claimed (according to the translator - I had no way of understanding his foreign jibberjabber, of course) that whenever the American [he probably meant "NATO"] forces are shot at, they level several nearby villages - that's why he's homeless now.

As the people at MHz Worldview put at the beginning of every broadcast, "News broadcasts are brought to you direct from the source, and may contain objectionable material. Viewer discretion is advised."

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 2, 2009 08:12 PM

Two other lyrical renditions of the Obomber's speech:

Posted by: Marcus at December 2, 2009 11:18 PM

"free education"?

Is it provided by volunteers?

It's provided by state coercion.

You forgot to mention Norway's strict environmental policies, like dumping their toxic waste on Somalians:

Something Larry Summers can be proud of. I'm just glad that scumbag got run out of Washington.

Posted by: Marcus at December 2, 2009 11:40 PM

just another bought out stooge of the empire. pathetic indeed.

Posted by: john at December 4, 2009 12:05 PM

iam very proud to be an Asian American because of the civilized governing of President Obama.
BAM IS THE WORLD indeed.he has so much classiness in him.
Palin and other republican pundits are just disgracing our country.

Posted by: Carol Bautista at December 4, 2009 12:50 PM

iam very proud to be an Asian American because of the civilized governing of President Obama.
BAM IS THE WORLD indeed.he has so much classiness in him.
Palin and other republican pundits are just disgracing our country.

Posted by: Carol Bautista at December 4, 2009 12:50 PM

Obama the "peace" prize winner has kept contractors like Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the fact that these contractors have been CONVICTED of massacring civilians and running child prostitution rings. Convicted, not accused! I thought the Orwellian nightmare would end with Bush, but Obama- in charge of the world's LARGEST military being awarded a peace prize makes me sick.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 4, 2009 01:13 PM

Nobel peace prize goes to a war mongerer. I love the fact that Obama just announced an escalation in the war, days before he accepts the prize. Ironic, huh?

Posted by: steve at December 4, 2009 01:27 PM

Goodness gracious! What do you people think? That Obama was a pacifist? No. That ending two wars would happen overnight? No. That we elected a king who has supreme power to do whatever the hell he wants, wherever in the world? No.

Obama is busy cleaning up W's mess. War sucks big time, but he at least intends to end it.

Posted by: Alfred at December 4, 2009 01:49 PM

How can you end a war when this is not a traditional war, when there is no end in sight because a war like this has never been fought before now. War is never the solution to peace, it is a band-aid to be worn around the neck of the loser like a Scarlet A singed into their chest. War is never the solution and a war time president should never receive this award. It tarnishes the good name of the nobel peace prize, you know the guy who helped create the devastating good uses of dynamite: blowing off limbs of soldiers and innocent victims who come across land mines. The prize is therefore a joke, given as a joke to a man who just put over 70,000 lives in danger. Good job Norway.

Posted by: Selfless douche at December 4, 2009 02:06 PM

you suck my balls you ball licker ill cum in your eye

Posted by: Corn in Your Stool at December 4, 2009 02:10 PM

Borrowing and continuing Prof Chazelle's comment...

>> War is bad. War is horrible. So don't think of the Afghanistan war as a war. Think of it as the continuation of my reelection campaign by other means........and I never promised a Rose Garden. If a naive fellow Chicagoan voted for me in the last election ( inspite of being warned), I am not apologising as she knew that even before my race for senate from Illinois, I had suggested to Chicago Tribune staff, "United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs".*

And I promised to keep our troops from harm's way and the Drones are doing a wonderful job, helping me to keep my promise. Registered democrats elected me but I see, now, we have lot of disagreements on how to run the country and after a long deliberation ( like escalating the war in Afghanistan ), I have changed my party affiliation and have registered as a Republican.

I thank the Nobel committee for their foresight and their vision for the future of our humanity.......

*Chicago tribune removed the article with headlines, "Obama would consider missile strikes on Iran" By David Mendell published on September 25, 2004 TWICE but one can read it on other websites.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 4, 2009 04:02 PM

First off I gotta say that it's quite remarkable that within the TPM website, if one wants information or discussion regards Afghanistan, it either isn't there or else one has to go and dig for it. It certainly has been absent from the main page and that to me means only one thing: Josh desires to remain a player with major sources in Washington. That and nothing more. For evidence, simply look again at his main page. You'd think that we're still in the center of campaign '08. I've followed Marshall for years and with each week, my admiration and respect declines.

Regards Afghanistan, here is what Kim Barker, the Edward R. Murrow Fellow of the Council of Foreign Relations presently reports, from Kabul - of all places:

Corruption in the country has reached such a scale that Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank executive and presidential candidate, says that a senior Karzai adviser told him that one government minister made $25 million in a single year, and a northern governor, $75 million. Two of Karzai's brothers -- Mahmoud Karzai and Ahmed Wali Karzai -- and relatives of at least one governor, Gul Agha Shirzai, and the country's defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, have either earned money with questionable tactics or been awarded lucrative Western contracts with little fair competition. They have been helped by their relatives' political clout and suspicious bidding practices.

Some of the shifting public support toward the Taliban is due to the fact that the Taliban, unlike the central government, seem to take such widespread corruption seriously. In 33 of the country's 34 provinces, the Taliban has set up its own anticorruption committees, which allow local Afghans to complain about any injustice, including those inflicted by the Taliban. One Afghan official told me that such committees would be "a good idea" for the government. The Taliban also runs its own courts, which are known for quick justice without the need to pay bribes.

But for now, paying money remains the only way to efficiently accomplish anything with the Afghan government. Daniel Grey, the local head of a large U.S. contracting company that works on roads and power, said that his company refuses to pay bribes. As a result, its work is made more onerous and ultimately more expensive. In one case, the customs department held 13 vehicles for a year before releasing them. Another time, in Kandahar, when Grey's company was trying to load supplies onto a helicopter that costs $16,000 an hour to operate, an Afghan official came over to say that the helicopter would have to be loaded somewhere else. That cost the company an hour of time, or $16,000. But the official just wanted a $100 kickback. "The cost of avoiding a bribe was much more than we ever would have paid for a bribe," Grey said.

Good 'ol Barak, he really thinks that he can build his foundation upon a quagmire. Gawd, if only Halberstam were still with us.

Posted by: John Crandell at December 4, 2009 05:49 PM

This American president has just earned his new nickname:

Posted by: David at December 4, 2009 06:07 PM

In order for Obama's "policy" to even look remotely plausible, he has to pretend that there is a reliable central government in Afghanistan. He's "required" by the "logic" of the "discourse" he's conducting to regard Karzai as the legitimate ruler, because his 'strategy' requires turning over authority to a central government, in the form opf a 200,000 -man army and a police force twice that size.

Which, I suspect, even the 'lowly villagers' in Afghanistan probably know is a recipe for totalitarianism as bad as or worse than that which they experienced under the Taliban. Maybe a dictatorial kleptocracy IS worse than a putatively egalitarian theocracy.

There's another thing: civil war. Afghanistan is riven by ethnic rivalries and animosities. The Taliban is Pashto, who comprise about 40-45% of the population. Not only that, but the Taliban comprise the ruling theocratic hierarchy of the Pashto people, who are uncompromising adversaries of the Tajik/Usbek "northern alliance," and will never, ever accede to the puppet Karzai's nepotistic narco-kleptocracy. By attacking the Taliban, and allying with the US, Karzai is alienating his tribal base (such as it was/is), and he doesn't have many friends in the north, either...He's relying on US support to keep him alive until the army and the police are "trained."

Ah, democracy!

Posted by: woody at December 6, 2009 01:41 PM


the whole situation is so absurdly complicated that 1 american in a hundred probably couldn't pass a basic quiz, and yet there we are. i don't know if anybody knows what the hell the chinese are up to, other than seducing the pakistanis and indians and anyone else they can, but obviously they are protecting their own interests with soft power. the pakistanis want to keep most of afghanistan as their "strategic depth" in case india kicks their ass again, not that their nukes don't lower the risk of that happening. The indians support the northern alliance to undermine the pakistani strategy. the tajiks and uzbekis and other central asian ethnic groups have their own longstanding gripes with the pashtun and their own economic and political interests to protect. the russians are pissed about losing their control over central asia with the dissolution of the ussr and are strongly resisting further losses. and since 9/11 we barged into the neighborhood like gang busters, trying to do what neither napoleon nor the brits nor hitler was ever able to do, control the caucasus and the caspian basin. apparently we can't do that with predators and other air power, so we need boots on the ground supposedly to bring democracy and prevent the emergence of groups that will support terrorism.

i don't know how everyone is going to react to this, but the more we entrench ourselves in central asia, the more difficult it will be to get out. And if we don't get out, our arrogant declining power is going to eventually run into an ascending power, or coalition of ascending powers, that might not back down. And then this multi-trillion dollar escapade of ours and its horrible unnecessary casualties will be the least of our worries.

Posted by: N E at December 8, 2009 12:10 AM