Sunday, October 14, 2007
Al Gore and that Nobel Peace Prize
By Gabriele Zamparini
The Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore opened a heated debate: was it right to award a mass murderer and war criminal? This is a curious question that certainly would have a meaning in a sane world, certainly not in ours. A few days ago, commenting on this blog about this ordinary episode of folly, I wrote that Al Gore was
“(…) a top war criminal that in a sane world would be hanged or imprisoned for life. But we are not living in a sane world – just in case someone wonders – and it’s not the first time that a war criminal and mass murderer has been rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize.”On CounterPunch, Alexander Cockburn wrote,
“When Gore goes to get the prize [… he] should be forced to march through a gauntlet of widows and orphans, Serbs, Iraqis, Palestinians, Colombians, and other victims of the Clinton era.”These words give exactly the value of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore. Unfortunately Cockburn mixes this argument (that I share totally) with his skepticism (just to use an euphemism) about the man-made climate change and – in my opinion – this other argument risks to delegitimize the main point of Cockburn analysis.
The problem is not the topic, climate change, whose consequences are of so huge importance to jeopardize the very survival of life on this planet. I personally welcome the Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But I think there is a problem when a Nobel Peace Prize goes to a war criminal and mass murderer. This problem I believe is called insanity.
Always on Cockburn’s CounterPunch, Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden, wrote,
“The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize - particularly the part to Al Gore - is a populist choice that cannot but devalue the Prize itself.”I don’t know how much value and prestige (another word used by the author in his article) the Nobel Peace Prize has, probably it depends on whom you ask. Who knows how the East and the South of the world see this Prize given from the North and the West to "one of them", and one who has the blood of millions of innocent lives on his hands? It seems more like the West celebrating itself, another Oscar one could say, just in Scandinavian flavour.
Maybe the problem comes when the word "peace" is separated from the word "justice" in a world that completely forgot the meaning of the latter while the word “peace” is used by ruthless mass murderers. Signs of sanity could be still seen when the Nobel Prize was given (for Literature) to (among others) Fo, Saramago, Pinter - as in the past to Sartre and Russell. That sanity coming from the West paying attention to its own critical voices rather than five people, appointed by the Norwegian parliament, deciding what peace is and who should be rewarded with a prize for it.
It’s frankly difficult to understand what Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the 14th Dalai Lama and the likes have in common with Al Gore, Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger, (or Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for that matters). It’s difficult to understand the meaning of this year Nobel Peace Prize given while the genocide in Iraq is completely ignored by the same world that now celebrates the new laureate [who’s much responsibility for that genocide as well]. It’s difficult to understand it but it’s certainly not the only sign of insanity.
It’s difficult to understand the meaning of the U.S. Congressional Resolution, calling to recognize the Armenian genocide committed a century ago while that very same US Congress is responsible, now and here, for the Iraq genocide and the carnages in Afghanistan and Palestine and while the Native Americans are still waiting for their genocide to be recognized.
It’s difficult to understand why a British historian should be sentenced to prison in another European country for his opinion on facts happened sixty years ago when in the same days the government of his country is co-responsible, here and now, for the genocide of the Iraqi people and the carnage in Afghanistan.
It’s difficult to understand why we should have an organization called United Nations when that organization, year after year, has done just the opposite of what its Charter states.
And with all the due respect for the man and his highly valuable teaching, it’s very difficult to understand why the 14th Dalai Lama, already Nobel Peace Laureate, decided to accept the Gold Medal from that same US Congress
It’s difficult to understand the insane world we live in and probably not understanding it is the only sign of sanity we can count on.
Dr. Gideon Polya, an Australian scientist, has just published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007; 220 pages, 24 tables; ISBN 1921377051)
Polya ends the preface to his book with this line: responsible for the Iraq genocide and for the carnages in Afghanistan and Palestine (among many, many, many other places).
“Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. We cannot walk by on the other side.”Probably that’s also the only way to keep our own sanity.