Friday, December 11, 2009

War and Peace and Prize

This post titled “War and Peace and Prize” is no appendix/synopsis to the famous work – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. After reading several articles in newspapers, Nat Geo and considerable browsing, I have been driven to add a third dimension to WAR and PEACE.

Today, we have four US presidents in the list of the Nobel Peace Prize winners, starting with Theodore Roosevelt (1906), Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1919), Jimmy Carter (2002) and Barack Obama (2009). I remember a one-line mention of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the founder of League of Nations while studying for a test on United Nations at school. Though the LoN was a failure, it served as a brainchild for the United Nations and brought some order post First World War. Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Israel-Egypt conflict over Sinai Peninsula in the year 1979 through a peace agreement. Years later in 2002, he received the honors for brokering the peace agreement. May be the committee took time to circumspect. Though good number of articles tell me how influential a president Theodore Roosevelt was, it is not very clear why he received the Nobel Peace Prize. His career was dotted with the war on Cuba but he was known more for ending the Russo-Japanese war. May be the committee then granted him the Nobel Peace Prize for not hunting a bear when in Mississippi, an act that gave birth to “Teddy’s Bear – Theodore(Teddy) Roosevelt’s bears or teddy bear” in toy shops, first in USA and now world over.
An overpowering sense of astonishment still lingers in case of Barack Obama. Just close to finishing an year as US President, the African American President has created history of unprecedented scale. He has sent an additional troop of 30,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan on a war to curb Taliban, then was present at Oslo to receive the honors. He neatly completes the three dimensions – War and Peace and Prize and that he has managed it in the shortest time frame speaks of his potential, his skill with words and his tact to reign over the world. If Guzton Borglum were alive today, he would definitely have sculpted Obama’s face on Mt.Rushmore.

Right from Indonesia, where a statue of a 10 year old Obama with a butterfly in hand has been unveiled to inspire youngsters, to China where Wen Jiabo is yearning to get the green signal to boss over Asia and its affairs, to India where the PM’s highest personal achievement is an invitation to the black tie dinner hosted at White House, to Israel’s Benjamin Nitanyahu temporarily suspending the expansion of settlements in West Bank fearing a US crackdown, to Copenhagen where officials are accused of working more behind closed doors to allow USA circumvent awkward legal binding on emission cuts, to Oslo-Norwegian Nobel Committee for granting peace prize, the world largely, has fallen flat in salutation to the USA and to Barack Obama.

They not only accept the United States as the omnipotent power but have also acknowledged it openly, some very charismatically and some sheepishly. May be for the first time, an award has been provided even before the results were achieved.

I seriously pity the Nobel Prize winners in the science and medicine category who do not live long enough to receive the honor. They research for years with meticulous care to pave way for a better understanding of some deep mysteries in science and medicine. However, Barack Obama has clinched the honor effortlessly.
The honor, it seems, is not for the work done but an advance extended for work to happen, more precisely, for duties expected of the United States and from Obama who leads it. However, Obama was not moved by this cosseting act. He clearly said that a nation cannot be run, only on ideals preached by King and Gandhi, every nation has the right to defend itself. Though his words are pragmatic, the intentions and outcome are thoroughly myopic. This “every nation” is restricted to only USA. Every nation has the right to progress – but emission cuts are legally binding only on developing nations. And US as a nation, has the right to progress, that is why it has until now evaded the Kyoto protocol.

Obama has talked of leaving a beautiful earth for children and grandchildren of tomorrow. Where and how will that happen with US mining corporations minting money over gold and diamond mining activities? The vulnerable victims are poorer and ignorant nations of Africa and Asia who for a considerable and never seen before urban development sacrifice their natural habitats. They are caught in problems like destruction of rain forests, greater soil erosion, vulnerability to either droughts or flash floods and nasty civil wars.

USA has not even spared its neighbor, Canada. It imports billions of barrels of crude oil from the state of Alberta in Canada. The oil sands in the Athabasca basin are churned in heavy machines fuelled by natural gas, heat and steam run over under high temperature and pressure to separate bitumen from oil so that the final product is neatly transported. Tons and tons of natural gas (a non-renewable energy source) are burnt in these behemoth machines in Canada to generate barrels of crude oil (another non-renewable energy source) and tailings/end materials of the process are left carelessly at the river basin choking aquatic life and stifling migratory birds to death.

What made the world infer that United States is a responsible power, clairvoyant enough to preserve the world as is for future generations? Yes, I accept, USA is a power, a supreme power that can impose sanctions on Iran, toughen its stand on Afghanistan and Taliban, indefinitely carry on war in Iraq. Is it a responsible power to take the lead in cutting green house gas emissions, providing relief to hunger infested African nations, take onus and not trample upon other nations’ valuable resources for its benefits in the name of globalization?

If the Nobel Committee expected all good work to be done by USA with Obama leading from the front, I feel it is too wild and big an expectation. Many have believed and still believe that Obama will harness change, but to reward him even before he proves his mettle will only lead to dejection and dismay. When the world realizes that time has flown by, another presidential term has come to an end, yet nothing has changed, it will be too late.


Mokshi said...

Like your post.. mirrors my thoughts exactly!

Vikram Shu said...

Very insightful and damning! Yes, it is the reality and the worst part is no one seems to be too bothered about it.
Individuals will mirror your thoughts but nations will turn hypocrites. Let us hope there is some silver lining somewhere.