Today in Oslo, Norway, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite his potentially inspiring rhetoric and calm demeanor, the President of the United States received the award amid much controversy. Although there were many guests in attendance, and many people do welcome Obama's diplomatic rhetoric in comparison to George Bush's, does he deserve it?
The United States, referred to as the "unacknowledged empire" by some critical observers, currently occupies two foreign countries in the Middle East, leads the world in arms sales, and supports regimes with dire human rights records (e.g., Israel, Turkey, Columbia, etc.).
The United States' waning status in the world is marked by its tremendous debt and hellish foreign policies. While politicians and elite opinion continue to provide Americans and the rest of the world with never ending justifications for Afghanistan's occupation, a majority of Americans currently oppose U.S. involvement according to a December CNN poll.
The cost of America's two occupations is quickly approaching a trillion dollars. Regardless of Obama's regular denunciations about America's initial invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of troops still occupy the country and permanent military bases have been established. America's "empire of bases," to borrow from Chalmers Johnson, is increasing.
Obama is a representative of American empire in decline, a person who obviously does not believe violence begets violence, and one who finds no fault in private companies making massive profits from war and "defense" spending. He is our new war president, the figurehead of unchecked American greed and perpetual war.
Unfortunately, history repeats itself. Some say Obama is continuing George W. Bush's third term in office, which may seem fundamentally accurate. While those inside the inner walls of the empire rot from unconcern and scraps leftover from wars and war buildup, they might hear a message thought to be reserved for totalitarian countries--Orwell's dreaded saying in 1984: "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."