How Obama Can Earn the Nobel Prize

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamanobel-medal_thumbnail_0Below is today’s brief column in the Los Angeles Times where I joined other writers on how each of us believes President Obama can earn the Nobel Prize, here. For civil libertarians, Obama’s selection is the ultimate triumph of hope over experience. My suggestion is probably predictable for people on this blog.

Appoint a prosecutor for war crimes
Jonathan Turley

To truly earn the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama needs to transform himself from a barrier to a beacon when it comes to human rights and international law.

The most obvious start would be to fulfill our obligations under treaties and international law to appoint a special prosecutor, without limitations, to investigate and prosecute any war crimes committed by U.S. officials. Obama already has acknowledged that waterboarding is torture and that torture is a war crime, yet his administration is blocking investigations that are the prerequisite to justice. Obama has promised CIA employees as a group that they would not be prosecuted for torture for following orders, despite the long-standing finding from the Nuremburg trials that “just following orders” is no defense for a war crime. Appointing a special prosecutor would show that Obama will not continue to circumvent principle for politics. He could further demonstrate his commitment to international law by dropping his opposition to the release of photographs and other records showing our abuse of detainees.

Doing the right thing often demands decisions that are neither popular nor easy. If Obama wants to show that the peace prize is more than the superficial triumph of a cult of personality, he can start by showing that his own country is willing to pay the price demanded by the law of nations.

Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University and has served as lead counsel in various major national security and constitutional cases.

68 thoughts on “How Obama Can Earn the Nobel Prize”

  1. scribadiva,

    I don’t think anything badly of you and I’m so sorry if I somehow conveyed that impression. I am not a member of the democratic underground so I don’t know anything about how they work. I have looked to them for information on say, Obama’s voting record which I found to be accurate by crosschecking with several other sources that I trusted. I try to confirm from several sources whenever possible. I would like to read what you have to say from your prior political experience. My best wishes, and apology for any misunderstanding.


  2. Jill

    I read an earlier post you had written, about how policy decisions are made, and the use of experts to “consult.” I’ve worked enough in politics to know that is exactly how it happens.

    I’ll do a search on Democratic Underground, but would you tell me about it as well? In spite of what you may think of me, I’m genuinely interested, and value your opinion.

  3. ‘the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies.’ It is an irony approaching fiction.”

    I think the relevant words are in the future perfect tense: “the person who shall have done…”

    The fact is, Obama is fighting a war that should have been completed properly, insead of killing our men and women, not to mention Iraqis who lost at least 10 times the amount of people.

    I’d like to be a pacifist, I really would. But my idealism is tempered by the reality. Did you lose anyone on September 11? That’s not the point, but we can not allow these guys into our country and kill us. Period. I don’t like it, I don’t like what’s referred to as “collateral damage.”

    I’m beginning to agree with people that call the prize, “not W.” prize. That administration literally destroyed this country, where thugs were pillaging, and the last two payoffs was skyrocketing oil prices, and of course, TARP.

    Jill, I get why you are pissed; so am I. But I just can’t let that go. The war is wrong for so many reasons; I don’t believe in baby -killing. And if I were Afghani, I’d be even angrier. Hope your demonstration went well. My blessings. The most I can do is send letters via ACLU, AI, The Pen, etc. I really wish you luck. the word that comes to mind is “quagmire” and I don’t want that.

    No, you can’t lighten up. It was a moment of brevity. Believe me. Chazzbo and I know much in the way of families going up in smoke. I’m the most Zionist leftist you’ll ever meet, and that was after five years of study.
    Please don’t take this the wrong way. I know the anger you feel. Jill, if you think there is anything I can do, just ask. In the meantime, I’d like to hear what the Professor says.

  4. NEW YORK – December 9 – On December 10, as President Barack Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, members of the New York City chapter of the War Resisters League will carry cardboard coffins across mid-town Manhattan in a solemn and silent procession, to dramatize the human costs of the war in Afghanistan—a war that the President had pledged to accelerate in the coming weeks and months.

    The group will gather at noon, on Thursday, December 10, at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza (East 47th street, near First Avenue), and then process across 42nd Street to the Times Square Military Recruiting Station. Joined by members of Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait and other groups, the marchers will carry black draped coffins, and the faces of war victims.

    “Peace prizes should not go to war presidents,” says WRL organizer Ruth Benn. “Just a week after he announced ‘surge’ of 30,000 troops to the deadly Afghan quagmire, we feel that President Barack Obama cannot accept a prize established to recognize—in the words of Alfred Nobel—‘the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies.’ It is an irony approaching fiction.”

  5. He can’t: Part V

    The war is in Pakistan. Didn’t hear much about that in dear leader’s speech. We conduct military operations there, in secret, no Congressional or any kind of oversight. We must pay attention. We are destabilizing Pakistan.

  6. Why he can’t, Part IV:

    “The Privatized War in Afghanistan

    by Sue Sturgis

    Sue Sturgis, writing today in Facing South: the Online Magazine of the Institute for Southern Studies:

    Additional number of American troops President Obama plans to deploy to Afghanistan: 30,000

    Total number of U.S. troops that will be there after the deployment: 98,000

    Number of private contractors working for the U.S. in Afghanistan as of September 2009: 104,101

    Percent by which that number grew between June and September: 40

    Percent of the Defense Department’s workforce in Afghanistan accounted for by contractors: 57

    Number of conflicts in U.S. history involving a higher percentage of contractors: 0

    Percent of the U.S. presence on the ground during the Vietnam War accounted for by contractors: 13

    Percent of the Defense Department’s 2008 budget devoted to contracts and grants: 82

    Estimated value of Defense Department contracts in Afghanistan awarded to Texas-based Fluor and Virginia’s DynCorp: $7.5 billion

    Amount Fluor’s PAC contributed to federal candidates in 2008: $305,499

    Amount DynCorp’s PAC contributed to federal candidates in 2008: $51,999

    Date on which a financial analyst announced that Fluor and DynCorp stood to benefit from deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan: 12/2/2009

    Amount by which Fluor’s share prices rose in that afternoon’s trading: 33 cents

    Amount by which DynCorp’s share prices rose: 30 cents

    Month in which DynCorp disclosed in a regulatory filing that it had made payments to expedite visas and licenses, potentially violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: 11/2009

    The estimated total for these illegal payments: $300,000

    Date on which an investigation was announced on behalf of DynCorp investors over possible securities law violations by the company: 12/3/2009

    Value of a U.S. contract with DynCorp to train Iraqi police that federal auditors said was so mismanaged they were unable to determine how the money was spent: $1.3 billion

    Year in which the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting is scheduled to release a comprehensive study of contracting in war zones: 2011”

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