Saturday, December 12, 2009

War Is Peace

A couple of days ago I originally posted this blog post, but then I thought it sounded sort of sombre -- which it is not meant to be -- so I took it down. However, I have had a few enquiries about it, so I am putting it back up. Occasionally thoughts run through my head and at the time I think those thoughts, I decide to do a blog post. But some of my thoughts don't fit into the trend that blogging seems to be going towards lately, and that is one of gentle people all being very nice to each other. I wish I could be like that, but sometimes I am just -- not. I often have strong opinions about various issues, and I know that not all folks are going to agree with my point of view. But when I started my blog, I wanted it to be a place of controversy, discussion and debate -- at least occasionally. If I had one wish in life, it would be to host wonderful soirées every evening, where people could discuss music, art, culture, politics, philosophy, literature and so much more. Great ideas would be exchanged, and everyone would have a wonderful time. People would be welcome to join in -- or not -- depending on whatever they wished. I love hearing new ideas and new points of view. We may not always agree with each other, but there is nothing more exciting than stimulating conversation, don't you agree? I have never stopped reading a blog because I disagreed with their point of view. I have stopped, however, when I have become bored.

So here, in its original form, is the blog post that I took down, and I am now putting it back up.

Some things that are very obvious to other people, often elude me. I sometimes need things explained to me. So, I am a bit puzzled about something. The President of the United States won the Nobel Peace Prize -- not for something he did -- but in anticipation of something he was yet to do. Resolve world peace? And so a few days ago he accepted his prize at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Oslo, Norway. This is the part that needs to be explained to me, in language I can understand. Obama won a Peace Prize -- which is no small feat -- and at the same time he just escalated the war in Afghanistan, agreeing to send 30,000 more American troops, which of course will mean troops from other countries as well -- including Canada. We have already lost 133 Canadian lives in Afghanistan. That is 133 too many Canadians to have died in some God-forsaken country on the other side of the world.

In his acceptance speech in Oslo, Obama referred to "war as an instrument designed to secure the peace". It reminded me of Newspeak in George Orwell's "1984" -- "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength". I guess anything can sound reasonable, but it still doesn't make any sense to me. Al Qaeda is in so many countries, from Sudan to Hamburg, Islamic terrorism won't be stopped by escalating the war in Afghanistan. And now the American people face another war, and young men and women face another few years of killing and dying.

When I was a little girl, and we didn't understand the dangers of mercury, we sometimes used to play with it if it spilled on the ground from a broken thermometer. Have you ever tried to pick up mercury? You can't do it. Beads of mercury are impossible to pick up. This is what it's going to be like, trying to eradicate Al Qaeda. It can't be done, and it's too late.

I really do hope the American President earns his Peace Prize. I wish him all the best, but I think he has a long road -- and a reality check -- ahead of him. I think of all those young men and women who will be deployed, who may be spending their last few weeks at home with their families, and my heart breaks. War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

A brilliant analogy - Orwell. Sometimes you simply amaze me.

I am puzzled too. I have never before heard of the Nobel Peace Prize being given on spec; all the previous recipients have actually earned it. And much as we all hope that Obama will fulfill his promise, it's hard to understand how war will ever cause peace. Picking up mercury beads indeed. It seems that not only is Al Qaeda impossible to catch, so is peace itself. Things seem to have stopped making sense while I was otherwise occupied.

the walking man said...

When you have it explained and understand it Jo...dumb it down for me so I can understand it too.

Reader Wil said...

I have been a member of "Women for Peace"and "IKV,Pax Christi"for almost 30 years now. We demostrated when and wherever we could. I was glad that we liberated from the concetration camp by the A-bomb on Hiroshima but I am very sorry that it happened at the cost of so many innocent lives. I am against war all wars, Vietnam, Korea, Irak, Afghanistan. I think that Obama cannot undo what the idiot G.W.Bush has started. He said it himself and also said that he was embarassed to receive the Nobel Prize. He promised to give the money to a good cause.
Your post is good, keep going the way you want to go. My blog will be open to all kind of visitors, whom I will answer all, with the exception of spammers and people who insult me.

Pauline said...

this may speak to what you ask, Jo:

Jo said...

Susan, goodness, thank you. :-) I thought the same thing last night, that things have stopped making sense. It seems that WW3 has indeed started, not with a bang, but a whimper.

Mark, gosh, I was hoping you would be able to explain it to me. You usually understand these things. I certainly don't understand it.

Reader Wil, "I think that Obama cannot undo what the idiot G.W.Bush has started." I agree. Obama has inherited probably the worst mess any president has ever inherited. But he campaigned on "change you can believe it..." and he's just doing more of the same.

Pauline, thank you for the link. I checked it out, and it's very interesting. I had no idea such an organization existed.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

I am an American and proud to be one. I am not proud of what is happening to my great country. A Nobel Peace Prize awarded on the assumption that something great will be happening is simply wrong. There are so many truly deserving people out there who should have won. I believe our government is out of control and it scares the bejeebers out of me! There is such a great need right here in the United States that to try to settle difficulties in remote parts of the world while our country falls apart simply appalls me.

Mia said...

Never take down a post because you're worried about how it will play. The worst blog anybody can write is the one that panders.

As soon as you post for your followers the terrorists win.

Jo said...

Connie, oh gosh, I totally agree with you. America is an amazing country, but it seems to be imploding lately. I was hoping you folks would elect a president who would be concerned about domestic problems, but that doesn't seem to have happened. There is a bigger danger in folks dying from poverty than dying from terrorism. I just don't understand it.

Mia said...

And Obama getting the Nobel Prize was just stupid.

Alissa said...

I was really surprised when I learned that Obama won the peace prize. Not because I don't support him, I do, but because he hasn't really had a chance to do much yet. I think he was a bit surprised, too. It is an accomplishment that an African American became president of a country that is still working towards equality, and I think this might be the reason he was awarded the peace prize.

As for Afghanistan. It's a mess. I think it's going to be a mess for a long time to come, and while I think the idea of helping that country is noble, I don't know that the methods being used to achieve those ends are best. I don't have an easy answer, but I am uneasy with the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Jo, I do appreciate the way you are always able to write thought-provoking and discussion-provoking posts, and for that reason I have passed on a blog award to you.

Mia said...

If he was given the prize because he's black that's just racist.

Jo said...

Mia, I agree with you on both counts. I don't believe Obama was qualified yet to even become president. It was a weird sort of a frenzy, and he hasn't lived up to the Obamania "hype". If something seems to good to be true, it usually is. I feel very bad for the American folks. They deserve much better.

Alissa, yes, I think it's important to support a president, whomever he may be. But to elect a president because of the color of his skin, that's just wrong. I think there were many more African Americans who were more qualified to be president than Obama, and sadly I think he is going to prove that. And thank you for the compliment! I notice I have just lost another one of my followers. But if people don't want to read my blog, that's okay. It is officially declared a recipe-free zone. That's not what I want my blog to be about. No offense to the folks who post recipes, it's just not for me. Every recipe known to man is already on the Internet. :-)

Irina said...

Hi Jo,
I came here to see and find out about new follower of Moscow blog, and stayed here for very long. First of all, thank you. My experience is blogging is mostly watching, not reading, here I break my rule and will be devoted reader-follower, as your themes are so interesting ans close to me.
As for your post, I ask "Why??" so often to the siuation in my country and all over the world. Looks like politics live life of here and now, forgetting about the consequences of their decisions. Maybe they are not that clever as we want them to be...

Jo said...

Irina, welcome, and thank you for visiting. You live in the most interesting country in the world, and I was so pleased to stumble upon your blog yesterday. I can hardly wait to read more, and to see your wonderful (!!!) pictures.


ivan said...


I am a little frazzled, my computer has all but crashed, and while I meant to give you a tight and logical response to your blog,I am now at wit's end with both my computer and banker having "crashed". I think with allthe shoes dropping around my house, I too am about to crash.
But to the heart of the matter:

I think you were one of the few in the world,especially the American mass media to be confounded by the oxymoron of a president in the midst of two wars to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Even respected political writers like Mark Shieds or David Brooks--aren't quite getting it.
They are focussing on ephemera like "winning the hearts and minds of the people"--(Sounds like Lyndon Johnson?) and how the Republican Party,especially Dick Cheney sees all this...Who cares?

They talk about building up the Afghan National Army,who to my mind are so few in real numbers that they can all be moved in one bus...At least that's how many there will be once the U.S. pulls out. How can you "nation-build" a puppet state run byHamid Karzain, himself,to my mind,
a puppet?
It is a house of cards built on a narco state where people really can't vote for whom they want. Put Taliban on the ballot and it would be a hands-down win for the warlords and the drug shippers.
So thereis a sense of unreality when a wartime president is awarded the peace prize,even when he authorizes a troop surge.
A child could probably see that the
solution is simple.
Pull out. Yesterday.

But Mr.Obama is a mediator.He wants to please both sides,both hawk and dove,and it this he has certainly succeeded.
The comedian Bill Maher ha said "we need a new sheriff in town and not a racially conscious president who wants to please everybody."
I really hope there is a logic to Mr. Obama's decision.

To my mind, here is probably a logic: Do as in Iraq. A quick surge and then pay everybody off in petrobucks.
It migh work,but the U.S economy has three pawnbroker's balls hanging off it and it seems Walmart,who is Chinese, owns the mart.

Time and chance. I think Mr. Obama is going on Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
Time and chance.

"And I beheld under the sun that the race goeth neither to the swift or to the strong,neither yet bread unto the wise.
Time and chance overcometh all."

He might just do it!

Jo said...

Ivan, I wish I had as much faith in Obama as you do. I think he is a people-pleaser and I sensed that from the beginning. In his pre-election speeches, he gave the people what they wanted to hear.

"Change you can believe in...!"

"Yes, we can...!"

And then he immediately settled in to sitting on the fence.

My dislike and distrust of Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin -- black, white, or purple with yellow polka-dots -- I think he is extremely disingenuous and is more interested in winning popularity contests than actually doing the job.

I can see the numbers in my followers dropping as I say this, but I have to speak what I think. I did not drink the Obamamania Cool-aid.

The war in Afghanistan cannot be won, because it is supported by too many diverse organizations. It's not a political war, it's a drug war, and how many of those have been won? Would none be about right?

Americans are wonderful people, and World War 2 would never have been won without the Americans. But they can't save the world, and they certainly can't fight an enemy they can't see.

Land of shimp said...

Yup, I can explain it. I don't know if it will help anyone understand, and may I just say before embarking on this that I do not agree with the War in Iraq, or Afghanistan, and we need to withdraw. That's my belief.

First off, @heartinsanfrancisco -- actually, many Nobel Peace Prizes have been given as a speculation, for engendering a feeling. For instance, freaking Yasser Arafat has won:

and that's just a sample. When Al Gore shared the prize, a lot of people did not understand that, and I ended up explaining it to very bright people (not because I'm any brighter than they are, I'm not, I've just studied more history than some) that Environmentalism was also a form of protection of resources. Melting icecaps would eventually infringe upon land, causing diminishing resources such as food, drinking water, and fuel.

Throughout history many wars have been fought for the acquisition of resources, whether it is gaining land so as to control resources, or gaining control over profitable resources, but also because of shortage of resources. Environmentalism=protection of resources for the greater number, thereby negating a specific reason that wars have been, and arguably could be fought = Peace Prize for promoting peace through protection of resources.

So when Obama won, it was a similar sort of extrapolation: Barack Obama has been viewed as having a better/more workable view of diplomacy. Diplomacy = a way to circumvent war = the possibility of fewer wars = the Nobel Prize for making us of tools typically used to prevent wars after eight years of a negation of diplomacy by our previous administration = a peace prize.

Onwards to the Afghan War (with which I do not agree, and find it deeply ironic that I'm about to say something that could be construed as support of it): The peace prize is not about complete peace, but about making possible the greatest percentage of peace, for the greatest number. Just as Arafat engendering peace seems a contradiction, some of his actions courting diplomacy (viewed as the only peaceful solution to violence) were seen as having the possibility of engendering peace.

Allegedly by continuing to pursue terrorists in Afghanistan, this lessens the number of terrorists acts that can be committed and therefore promotes peace. Yeah, I know, if that's ringing a bit hollow to anyone, it's partially that I don't have the stomach to go into this in-depth, but that's the basic premise.

However, Obama won in spite of the Afghan War, not because of it. He won for engendering diplomacy (viewed as the greatest tool against war, and war-like actions).

His defense of he war -- War as a tool of peace -- has to do with the prevention of larger scale violence (in theory), and of removing the hierarchy of terrorist planning, thereby dismantling the greater risk of larger scale violence.

Woo hoo. Wasn't that fun?

Sorry I can't really put my back into it, I understand it fully, I just don't happen to agree with it, and am currently damned ticked at the decision to pour 30k more soldiers into Afghanistan.

Jo said...

Alane, first let me say that I always love getting your comments. I learn SO MUCH from you. You are brilliant. It's exactly what I want my blog to be about -- intelligent people having intelligent conversations. So for that, I say thank you...! You have helped me to understand it a bit more, although I do not agree with the basic approach. To me, it still sounds like Newspeak from 1984. Why do we continue to have wars? None of them ever lead to peace. They just quieten down for a while a foment, and then start up again.

I believe going into another country (Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan) and trying to win a war in foreign territory is futile and cannot lead to peace. But only time will tell with Afghanistan.

I hate to make this prediction here on my blog, but I believe escalating the war in Afghanistan will lead to an escalation of war between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. It frightens the h*ll out of me.

Cedar said...

The "War on Terrorism" is a war on shadows and we all cast a shadow.

Jo said...

Risley, yes. My goodness, that is well-said. It could be any one of us, couldn't it? That's the terrifying part.

VioletSky said...

At least Obama has been gracious in accepting these accolades and admitting that there are others more deserving than he.
I like your mercury analogy - very apt.

Jo said...

VioletSky, yes, he has been, but really what else can he do? It must actually be quite embarrassing for him. I guess he is learning that change is not so easy, after all.

susie said...

Jo, I read your blog because you are NOT boring. I too have stopped reading blogs because they have become boring. Yours is always full of interesting topics.

I'm not really very political, but I am also not a supported of Obama. I feel that he is more "celebrity" than anything else. I also feel that he has surrounded himself with people who are, at the least, inept and inexperienced.

I don't know what we're looking for in Afganistan. It's a country run by war lords, it has no resources (except maybe poppies), it has corrupt government, and I don't think they really want us there.

I'm fearful of where this country, United States, is heading. I'm beginning to suspect that celebrity Obama will be running against celebrity Palin in 2012. I would rather have someone who knows government, someone who has strong values, and someone who knows when to demand respect running, and I don't see any one like that.

I would also like to see the voters start thinking long term and big picture. I know several women who voted for Obama because they didn't want some old man taking away women's right to abortion.

And I guess I'll have to check out '1984' from the library and read it finally.

Hope I didn't upset anyone.

Jo said...

Susie, I don't think you upset anyone, and certainly not me. I watched Obama's campaign, and I didn't believe he was ready yet to be president. Maybe the past year has taught him some humility and a few other things -- kind of like Scrooge on Christmas morning. :-) I think American got derailed a while back, and as a Canadian watching from the other side of the border, it makes me very sad. American is a wonderful country, and it seems to be imploding. It needs good leaders. Hopefully you will not have to choose between Obama and Palin in 2012. Palin just might win, and no one even wants to think about that...!

Katy said...

I did not see Obama's speach but I did see the gentalman from the Nobel Committee who spoke before him (I had to leave for work). He basically said that many awards are given in anticipation of peace (ie for Middle East peace negosiations) and that the award is meant to encourage and create a an expectation of peace.

He said something like... if we waited for peace before we gave the award, no one would ever win it.

I thought that speach was moving. I still don't think it explains why Obama won. I don't see that he is even working toward peace. Like you said, war does not create peace.

If Obama had decided NOT to send more combat troops to Afganistain. If he had decided to send in the Army Corp of engineers to help the Afghans build roads, bridges, schools, homes etc. THAT would have been something.

Mia said...

It sounds like you're worried about losing followers so let me ask you this: would you rather have a blog of knock-knock jokes with 1000 followers or a blog where you talk about whatever's on your mind with 1 follower?

Jennifer D said...

I love this blog... I love it just the way it is. I love your fire. The way you make me think and I hope to be as brave as you someday.
Don't hold back... ever. Please.

Jo said...

Katy, "If Obama had decided NOT to send more combat troops to Afganistain. If he had decided to send in the Army Corp of engineers to help the Afghans build roads, bridges, schools, homes etc. THAT would have been something."
You're so right!!!

Mia, yes, I do find people drop off when I post what is on my mind. On the other hand, the blogs who post lots of recipes get lots of followers, but I find myself getting bored with them after a while. :-) Your blog is fabulous...!

Jennifer, thank you, thank you, thank you...!!!

Mia said...

I've posted a few recipes. Maybe I'll do my famous roasted potatoes next.

Bill said...

If lack of qualifications had ever been an issue, that would have disqualified 80% of those who held the office. The best you can ever do is choose the least objectionable option from the ones presented. In my view, there's no question that America made the right choice on that count. And it's not that I didn't like McCain. I had a lot of time for him back before he started trying to impress Karl Rove.

It is heartening though, to see America wanting a higher standard after years of saying, "Well, he's not the brightest spark but he tries hard and he means well."

Who said Obama won the prize for what he's done in office?
It would appear that America was awarded the prize for turning away from policies of paranoia and warmongering, and Obama is the nation's ultimate representative. So now he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. I think he's pretty embarrassed about the whole thing. But what else could he do? If he declined it, he would again be accused of apologising for America. Perhaps Taylor Swift should have said, "Yeah, sorry. Kanye's right!"