Monday, October 18, 2010

WHY NOT A NOBEL FOR WESTERN DISSIDENTS?



Liu Xiao Bo, received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. An ethnic Chinese; whose primary merit to many is his pro-west stance against the state policies of the Chinese Peoples Republic.
 
Photo: REUTERS


by danps


The Nobel Peace prize has been awarded for many different people and for many different reasons, but there appears to be one area the committee is reluctant to go

Where is the Nobel Prize for Western Dissidents? | Congress Matters

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


Why not a Nobel for Western dissidents?


Note for WoP readers:Starting from dissident novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov in the former USSR, to dissidents in Iran and other parts of the world, there is long array of individuals who receive the coveted Nobel Prize in different fields of intellectual excellence and for discoveries in the realm of physical science. But of late many recipients are now subject to objection for fitting into political requirements of the west; no more reaching the height of exclusive intellectual merit but only such dissidents who somehow oppose the regimes who are mostly not to the liking of Uncle Sam. The writer therefore raises a highly pertinent question, why not Nobel for western dissidents? [Nayyar]

In recent years the Nobel committee has been willing to wade into controversies.  A couple of years ago it awarded its economic prize to Paul Krugman, in what appeared to be a swipe at a sitting president and the still (inexplicably) dominant Chicago school of economics.  Their selection reverberated politically as well; witness the various freakouts among conservative observers and commentators.  


This year Nobel awarded the economics prize to Peter Diamond, thus making Richard Shelby look like a dumb hillbilly.  By highlighting reflexive Republican opposition (one might say America has been Gop-blocked) the selection puts conservatives on the defensive.  Considering the damage their royalist economic policies have wrought, this is a very good thing.

Their science awards have been political too.  The 2007 award was another direct challenge to the American right, which even now continues to pretend the issue does not even exist.  Considering the resolute ignorance of modern conservatives, awarding a science prize at all may be provocative.

That is what makes its Peace Prize awards somewhat curious.  I remember reading years ago (I don't remember the source) that it might be awarded to political leaders or activists just about anywhere, but only non-Western dissidents could win.  Looking at the list from the past thirty years or so that certainly seems to hold up.  Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama and Oscar Arias S├ínchez all have won for raising their voices against local governments, but no one in the West has.

In the same way some people were greatly agitated by calling those displaced by hurricane Katrina "refugees," there may be a reluctance to refer to dissidents in our backyard.  Such people only exist in other cultures, where foreign regimes use heavy handed tactics to suppress dissent.  But the fact is, we stifle those we don't want to hear, too.  We do it with more subtlety - nothing as gauche as house arrest or imprisonment, thank you - but we unquestionably find ways to ostracize those who tell us things we do not want to hear.

One example of a Western dissident is Scott Ritter.  Back when America's leaders were nearly trembling with excitement at the prospect of launching a war of aggression, Ritter was one of a handful of well-placed voices raising legitimate questions.  He consistently pointed out that Iraq most likely did not have WMD.  For his efforts he wasmercilessly attacked, made the target of a smear campaign and sneeringly mocked as suffering from Stockholm syndrome.  Washington political and media elites turned on him, launching all manner of character assassination but never taking on the substance of his arguments.
It worked.  He was (and remains) marginalized.  For all the static Paul Krugman has gotten in challenging Milton Friedman's acolytes, how much worse was it for Ritter?  How much higher were the stakes, more uniform the opposition and more coordinated the attacks?  By October 2002 Ritter had been making the argument for months that "we cannot go to war on guesswork, hypothesis and speculation."  How much would it have legitimized him to have won the Nobel Peace prize at that crucial moment?

Liu Xiaobo's recent win of the prize brought this back to mind, because it looks somewhat timid.  Right now America is engaged in a hot war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. People are getting killed there on a daily basis.  Is there anyone trying to bring that war to an end?  Someone being targeted by a smear campaign?  Whose critics are not engaging on the facts?  Who maybe could use the shot in the arm of good PR that a Nobel would bring?  Of course there is: Julian Assange.  His posting of video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007 gave the world an unvarnished look at what happens when America's war machine goes wrong.  Then he followed up with a massive document dump from Afghanistan.  By the end of summer there was a precipitous drop in support for the war.

WikiLeaks seems partially responsible for that.  Awarding the Nobel to Assange would certainly be controversial, but the committee has not shied from that elsewhere.  If not Assange then some other thorn in the side of America's war cheerleaders.  It would probably not be any more welcome than Xiaobo's win was to Chinabut isn't that kind of the point?  It seems that in this one area the committee has a blind spot, one that mitigates the good it can do.  It has the reputation to be able to withstand some hostility from presumed allies.  It would be nice to see them risk a little bit of that.
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Source: Pruning Shears 

Title Image: telegraph.co.uk 
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1 comment:

  1. Award of Nobel Peace Prize 2 a dissident who serves interests of foreign powers, turns this prestigious award 2a petty medal awarded as a graft2 intellectuals who serve as lackeys of da west. Like many other right thinking quarters, surprisingly the Pakistan Govt. too has condemned award of dis prize on political grounds. Here is a piece from Instablogs.

    Wasi of Kundian

    PAKISTAN CONDEMNS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AWARD TO LIU XIAOBOAND

    Read more: http://freebird.instablogs.com/entry/pakistan-condemns-nobel-peace-prize-award-to-liu-xiaoboand/#ixzz12ps9LYbY
    Not only China but Pakistan too is unhappy over the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaoboand. In a Foreign Office Statement, issued in the federal capital on Friday (October 15, 2010), Pakistan officially expressed its perturbation over the award.
    The statement said that the award can be seen as detracting from prestige associated with its name. It also said that Liu Xiaoboand had done nothing to qualify for the award and hence the award’s decision signifies politicization of the award for interfering in a state’s domestic affairs.
    Liu Xiaoboand was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 for his peaceful struggle for human rights and political reforms in China while he serves a sentence of 11 years in prison due to charges of subversion of state power brought against him by the Chinese government.


    Read more: http://freebird.instablogs.com/entry/pakistan-condemns-nobel-peace-prize-award-to-liu-xiaoboand/#ixzz12prgbavI

    ReplyDelete

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