Only in an upside down world could the US president win the Noble peace prize. Only in an upside down world could a man presiding over two foreign occupations and controlling the largest military complex in the world win the peace prize. Only in an upside down world could Obama win the peace prize while simultaneously expanding the occupation in Afghanistan and the bombing in Pakistan. Only in an upside down world could Obama win the peace prize before actually bringing peace to the world. Only in an upside down world could recognition for acts come before the acts themselves.
Somewhat surprisingly, the reaction from world leaders has been cautiously optimistic at the announcement. I have to think the reaction from most of the people that these leaders represent is notably different. I know in my own little corner of the world everyone I have spoke with has been skeptical. It seems that the potential for a progressive change towards a more peaceful and safe world is what lies behind this reaction. Certainly the potential is there. Obama has perhaps a once in a generation opportunity to make huge strides on a range of issues from nuclear disarmament, environmental catastrophe, the military industrial complex, and ending embargos and trade sanctions against those countries that do not bend to the will of the imperium. The opportunity is only a fleeting one though and the impetus to grasp a hold of it will only come from genuine public pressure and outcry. It is naïve to think Obama will do it on his own. Regardless of the personal convictions and makeup of his character, Obama will be under the same pressure to keep the imperial ship afloat that all US presidents face. In order to do so he will have to turn to the same people and interest that helped formulate the state of affairs that we currently find ourselves in. One only has to look to the economic crisis to and the banking bailout under Bush II and Obama. Obama inherited a crisis in the process of unfolding, not caused by Bush II but certainly coming to the fore under his reign. In order to deal with the situation Obama appointed former Clinton era bureaucrats and other Wall Street insiders into positions of official influence and power. With all the rhetoric about change in the lead up to his election, Obama couldn’t have done anything else than stick with the status quo. With the financial system in a mess he was forced to turn to the same people who helped create the bubble to fix it, that being the paradoxical logic behind the labyrinthine complexity of the financial system.
This same pattern will play itself out time and time again in all spheres of Obama’s administration unless there is a substantial pressure from without that forces him to make changes. The imperial wars launched by Bush II and continued by Obama, via Robert Gates, are a case in point. Unless he is literally forced to change the status quo, Obama will be under intense pressure to maintain the imperium at a dear cost to all of us. Until he is forced by the US public to renounce pre-emptive strike and foreign occupation a legitimate means of promoting a safer and more peaceful world we will all be living under the spectre of impending war, oppression, immiseration, and alienation. In an upside down world our only chance for peace is to turn it right side up and demand the act of peace before the recognition of it.