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Nobel employs a Bush-era “Preemptive Strike” on Obama: What is the statesman like response?

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“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures that have been honored by this prize,” said U.S. President Barak Obama. And so the opinions and debate raged between the various sides and agendas of U.S. and world politics. While entertaining, the dialogue was sorely missing constructive suggestions on how to best move forward.

Of course blaming Obama for being awarded the prize is absurd.

Nobel keeps its selection process a secret for fifty years and Nobel reported that its five person committee was unanimous, so speculation here is of no use.

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I found myself having a sympathetic ear for a very unlikely source, Bill O’Reilly who sidestepped the opportunity to sling political mud and presented the award as “good for America”:

However, I can’t accept this stance (the idea that it is good that the world is “hearing” America and Peace in the same sentence) as the realities on the ground show that every major hotspot (Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine) have further degenerated since Obama’s term began.

Along with the famous sense of hope, human suffering has also increased and because of the pivotal role of American policy in the major conflicts occurring in Muslims lands, the number of my brothers and sisters in faith who are perishing continues to rise. Not exactly a change toward peace…

This idea that Obama was chosen for his efforts as President seems ridiculous due to the brevity (nine months) of his administration. So does the more accurate and definitely more outlandish nomination which happened in, count them folks, eleven days! You read that correctly; the deadline for nominations for the prize was a mere eleven days into Obama’s term. That means, for the nominator at least, Obama was worthy of this tremendous honor in less than two full weeks of service and authority!

So what does it mean to have an American President awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for announcing his good intentions? Does it devalue the prize or the previous awardees’ actual accomplishments?

Consider these important sentiments:

  • UK Journalist Robert Fisk is quoted saying that, “this isn’t the Nobel Peace Prize; it is the Nobel Speech Prize.”
  • Fidel Castro essentially said that this prize is more of a rebuke of past administrations.
  • Reporters covering the announcement gasped upon hearing that Obama was selected!

Explaining, or perhaps defending their decision, the Nobel spokesperson pointed out that they are commending Obama for “…creating a new climate in international politics.” I find myself forced to ask, just how does one measure political weather? Is there a consensus on “political global warming?”

As a Muslim activist I have to ask; what good can be done?

Certainly, Obama was correct in labeling it a “call to action.” Yet, considering the response from Israel on settlements and Iran on non-civilian nuclear technology or our own increase of the use of drones in Pakistan, despite the resulting civilian casualties and increased violence, one has to wonder if accepting the award will actually strengthen the cause for peace?

I for one, believe that accepting this award is a hugely missed opportunity.

President Obama, on Dec. 10th at the Nobel Award Ceremony, I urge you to table your acceptance of this once, noble prize. Use the occasion to call on those whose actions and policies are roadblocks toward peace. Table your acceptance by naming names, and applying political pressure to each diplomatic failure and stalemate you have ran into this far in your efforts.

President Obama, you once told Republicans the plain truth, that you won the election. Now it is time to act with similar boldness. Act so that illegal settlements are stopped, the siege in Gaza is lifted, genocides are not ignored, torture is truly repudiated and nuclear nonproliferation is moved forward. Then with renewed political pressure you can share the award with those who are currently the very obstacles to peace, should they decided to embrace change. With this clear demonstration of your resolve they might be persuaded to take steps on these most pressing problems.

Tabling your acceptance based on tangible results creates a no lose scenario. Regardless of your progress on these important fronts, you will be able to take home something much more valuable than the Noble Prize. You will have harmony with your stated principles and our nation’s honor as an honest broker for peace. What better legacy for a statesman is there than one where action and rhetoric are in unison?

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Paul "Iesa" Galloway is a native born Texan. He was recently called "the Yoda of interfaith affairs" by a colleague from his daytime gig. After hours Iesa serves as a consultant, messaging strategist and trainer on media, government and community relations. Iesa is a product of the "Military Brat" experience of the 1990's on US Army bases in Germany he has traveled extensively, for extended periods in Kenya, Hungary and Communist Poland on missionary trips, visited Communist East Germany with the Boy Scouts of America, as well as enjoyed time in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Austria. Since embracing Islam, Iesa was asked to be the founding Executive Director of CAIR-Houston, where he served the community from 2002 to 2006, he has completed the Hajj pilgrimage, participated in an interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Society for Biblical Studies and completed a study abroad program on the history of Islamic Spain, Morocco and Andalusian Philosophy with the University of Houston. Iesa's education is rooted in History and Public Relations and he has a interfaith and multiracial background.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Ibn AbuAisha

    October 13, 2009 at 7:25 AM

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum,

    Very valid points and excellent suggestions to the President. Brother Iesa, could you please take care of the typo/missing words in the 2nd sentence of the last paragraph, I couldn’t completely understand the sentence. JazakAllah Khair.

    • Iesa Galloway

      October 13, 2009 at 11:51 AM

      JazakAllahu Khairan, hope it reads clearly now! :)

  2. TheAlexandrian

    October 13, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    Salam All,

    Here is Rachel Maddow’s well-thought out and researched distillation of the Peace prize controversy. She makes a good case that the awarding of the Nobel for work towards peace (even before any tangible results) is not unprecedented. Unfortunately, she largely ducks the two wars & Palestine issue.

    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/rachel-maddow-nobel-peace-prize-and-obama

    • Iesa Galloway

      October 13, 2009 at 12:06 PM

      Good clip! Maddow’s comparisons are interesting and do rebuke the claim that historically you need results for the award. Each case is of course very unique and should be judged on its own merit.

      Simply put, I believe it was premature. Using the award as a way to rally public opinion, diplomatic and international pressure toward accomplishing even small steps toward peace would be a much more statesman like response than saying essentially, I don’t deserve it but thanks!

      I do hope that progress is made!

  3. MR

    October 13, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    FOX News on MM in a positive manner. :-D

    Obviously the post wasn’t done by Amad, hahaha.

  4. Nadim

    October 13, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    Obama is probably as bad as his predecessor in terms of foreign policy. The only difference is probably the way he delivers the message as ‘war for peace’ vs ‘war on terror’. The US policy has now reached the climax in terms of double standard (at least with Bush, it was more clear who the enemy was):

    Obama is against peace in Palestine between Fatah and Hamas:
    U.S. to Egypt: Fatah-Hamas deal undermines Israel-PA talks (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1120633.html)

    Obama is against international justice:
    U.S. Rejects U.N. Proposal to Compel War Crimes Probes of Gaza Conflict (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/17/AR2009091704278.html)

    Obama rejects the elections in Iran but at the same accepts the elections in Afghanistan despite thousand of cases of fraud: (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/09/washington-and-its-nato-allies-are-preparing-for-a/)

  5. Ghayyoor Muslim

    October 13, 2009 at 4:48 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Isn’t it ironic that we have a huge post by MuslimMatters condemning the illegitimate acts of violence done by some of the Muslims (and rightly so, for as Muslims we should always speak justly, even if it be against our own selves, relatives or people)….followed by this post where a mass-murdering Crusading terrorist by the name of Barack Obama is being treated with kid-gloves and given “advice” and “suggestions”….Perhaps the author would have a different attitude if he had innocent relatives locked up in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or if his family had been wiped off the face of the earth by an illegitimate terrorist drone attack…and frankly, I expected better from a brother who has been working tirelessly for the cause of Sister Aafiaa (may Allah free her).

    Perhaps we all need to open that copy of the Quran on our shelves which has been gathering dust along with a good tafseer (I recommend Ibn Katheer) and re-learn our aqeedah, especially the aqeedah of al-walaaa’ wal-baraaa’.

    Remember, that even the most sinning, criminal Muslim is still your brother in faith, but the disbelievers can NEVER be your awliyaa’, i.e. friends, allies and protectors. To say or believe otherwise is putting your own Islam in danger.

    May Allah guide us all to the Siraat Al-Mustaqeem.

    • Iesa Galloway

      October 13, 2009 at 7:13 PM

      Walaikum Asalaam Wa Barrakatu,

      While I understand the spirit behind your comment, we have to beware of mixing the issues.

      I made a choice quite some time ago to work with a focus on building rather than tearing down. I wasn’t in the ranks of the Obama cheerleaders during the campaign and I have not joined the hysteria since.

      However dismal Obama’s effectiveness has been, when composing a current affairs piece you can choose to polarize yourself or offer something constructive.

      It is amazing many times the Quran encourages us overcome evil with good. For example see: 13:22, 23:96, 41:34 & 28:54

      May Allah cause us to work tirelessly for His cause alone and only His pleasure in the best manner.

      JazakAllahu Khairan, we can all use more Quran in our lives!

      • ibn Bukhari

        December 12, 2009 at 6:28 PM

        Salaamualykum,

        You know every time a brother speaks the truth as ghayoor has done, MM always tells them to stop mixing issues, stop being extremist or go do somethign contructive. Maybe you guys are the one who are mixing the issues, muddling fiqh and being deconstructive.

        Just as an example, Tarek was a pharmacist, taught kids Quran in an islamic school, helped organize letters, fund raisers etc for prisoners. But as soon as he was labeled ”extreme” by the media, everyone disowned him and called anyone who supported him an extremist, not helping the community, etc.

        I think you should just say thank you Ghayoor for his advice and not offer some random quotes from the quran saying overcome evil with good, which do not apply in this case. Should we overcome shirk and kufr by participating in it? Should we give advice to a kafir who has killed more muslims than al qaeda or any muslim in recent history ever has(and please dont use compare yourself to musa giving advice to firawn)? You think by writing a ”contructive” piece Obama will change his policies to fit your idea of a good kafir president?

        Inna lillahi , wa inna ileyhi rajioon.

    • MM Associates

      October 14, 2009 at 3:50 AM

      “Remember, that even the most sinning, criminal Muslim is still your brother in faith, but the disbelievers can NEVER be your awliyaa’, i.e. friends, allies and protectors. To say or believe otherwise is putting your own Islam in danger.”

      Ghayyoor Muslim:

      Does your argument that “even the most sinning, criminal Muslim is still your brother in faith” also apply to Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari, the Kings of Saudi Arabia, Hosni Mubarak, etc.? Or does this oft-repeated phrase only apply to terrorists? I’ve often seen overzealous Muslims defend Al-Qaeda with this phrase, yet I see those same people mercilessly attacking other Muslims on the other side of the spectrum.

      • Abu Dajanaa

        October 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM

        You all had a article criticising Al Qaeda. Fair and square.. I appreciate that. Why dont u all criticise the terrorist action and occupation of country by terrorist rogue armies?

        • Amad

          October 14, 2009 at 1:52 PM

          As for comments that suggest that we only talk about terrorism conducted by Muslims and not by non-Muslims, those comments are as disingenuous in addition to not being factual. See this comment for a list of posts that talk about injustice against Muslims and Muslim lands.

          • MM Associates

            October 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM

            Amad is 100% correct.

            Additionally, I personally think we Muslims spend way too much time being critical of the West instead of being self-critical.

      • ibn Bukhari

        December 12, 2009 at 6:34 PM

        Salaam,

        He said ”even the most sinning, criminal Muslim is still your brother in faith”. He did not say ” even the person who commits shirk and leaves the fold of islam” as the people you listed are.

        Please read Sh. Muhammad Shaqeeti’s fatwa on the one who completely dismantles the shariah of islam.

        Stop mixing issues. A person who accidently kills a muslim by targeting enemies is still a muslim, a leader who completely dismantles the shariah and replaces it with a system of kufr and shirk, while making istihlal of muslims blood is not a muslim anymore in this life and allah will judge him in the next.

  6. Abu Dajanaa

    October 14, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    Obama and the Nobel Prize: When War becomes Peace, When the Lie becomes the Truth

    by Michel Chossudovsky

    When war becomes peace,

    When concepts and realities are turned upside down,

    When fiction becomes truth and truth becomes fiction.

    When a global military agenda is heralded as a humanitarian endeavor,

    When the killing of civilians is upheld as “collateral damage”,

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.p…t=va&aid=15622

    • Iesa Galloway

      October 14, 2009 at 1:54 PM

      The link you brought is actually: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15622

      Though, I don’t put much stock in conspiracy theorists. I mean really, this website claims the Swine Flu vaccine is more dangerous than the Swine Flu and the vaccine is really a secret militarization of health care!!!

      Also, comments are for you to sound off on the topic and article posted, not to paste entire articles from other websites.

  7. Pingback: Open Thread Sunday 10-18-2009 | Eeyaaka Nasta’een | MuslimMatters.org

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