Friday, April 13, 2018

A Nobel Peace Prize Awarded in spite of a Troop Surge

In December of 2009, Barak Obama was the first sitting U.S. president in 90 years and the third ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet he did so under the long shadow of the war in Afghanistan, where he was ordering 30,000 more troops into battle.  Could Truman’s decision to drop the A-bomb on Japan be along the same logic because it was meant to preempt the loss of life that would have come had the US invaded Japan?  President Reagan’s peace through strength logic was that a military build-up would forestall or prevent war from breaking out (hence no loss of life would be involved even in the forestalling).   The logic of awarding a surge President with a peace prize seems more dubious.  However, few today would compliment Chamberlain for having appeased Hitler (even though the prime minister was secretly stalling for time to build up the British forces). Perhaps with the dangerous plans presumably being hatched in Afganistan in 2009 against American cities, it could be argued that a surge is preventative of future conflict.  However, such a logic introduces a slippery slope.   In other words, if the ends justify the means, then virtually anything can be justified as means as long as it is tied to the end.  Human beings have a rather creative ability to rationalize their expedient and self-serving actions.  It would be far simpler were the peace prize awarded to someone who clearly opposed war and did something about it without engaging in it himself; even so, there are few like Gandhi in any given generation, and far more leaders wage war in the supposed (or real) interests of peace.  I contend that there are in any year enough people who stand up for peace without engaging in war that the peace prize could be awarded to them. Such a policy would clearly distinguish such role models from the ends justify the means rationalizers rather than enable the latter under a subterfuge of peace.