Time for Obama to Give Back His Nobel Peace Prize
He can’t have it both ways: he can’t be both the most peaceful president and the most recklessly warmongering.
President Obama’s ill-considered attempts to negotiate with Iran suggest that he still hopes to be remembered for “peace,” but he has engaged in scores of military actions around the world, with few successes other than killing bin Laden. It was considered premature to award him the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after entering office, before he had done much of anything. Several years later, it is even more clear that award was unjustified. as peace seems more illusive now than it did in 2008.
In April 2012, The New York Times was calling Obama “warrior in chief,” saying he “has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.” Law professor Jonathan Turley, considered one of the top left-leaning constitutional experts in the country, told MSNBC that Obama is worse than Bush or Nixon at launching unilateral, unconstitutional wars. Jack Goldsmith, who led the Office of Legal Counsel for part of the George W. Bush administration, says Obama has expanded war powers beyond any previous president. To adverse effect, as it turns out.
The New York Times listed Obama’s supposed military accomplishments as of April 2012:
Mr. Obama decimated Al Qaeda’s leadership. He overthrew the Libyan dictator. He ramped up drone attacks in Pakistan, waged effective covert wars in Yemen and Somalia and authorized a threefold increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan. He became the first president to authorize the assassination of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and played an operational role in Al Qaeda, and was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen. And, of course, Mr. Obama ordered and oversaw the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Since then, Obama has embarked on military action against ISIS, without bothering to obtain congressional approval. Even George W. Bush sought and received congressional authorization for military action against al Qaeda and Iraq.
In 2011, a bipartisan group of congressmen filed a lawsuit against Obama for taking military action in Libya without congressional approval. Obama continued the hostilities longer than 60 days, likely violating the War Powers Resolution. Obama contradicted his own position earlier, when the pre-president 2007 version of himself told The Boston Globe, “History has shown us time and again . . . that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
But there has been little outcry from the left. With the exception of a few far left groups like Code Pink, there is mostly silence with regard to Obama’s drone strikes and Middle East bombings. In contrast, George W. Bush was loudly denounced throughout much of his administration for Guantanamo and waterboarding, and accused of running the country like the world’s policeman. The strongest criticism of Obama’s military actions is coming from Senator Rand Paul, a Republican.
Of course, this is a partial picture. The president has hardly been a consistent interventionist hawk. He chose to do nothing when pro-freedom forces began to gather steam in Iran. He has lauded the importance of “leading from behind,” spoken skeptically of American power, and endorsed hasty troop withdrawals, even if that meant leaving behind deadly power vacuums. Two other major differences with the George W. Bush years: the disappearance of the phrase “war on terror” and the lack of any discernible strategy.
Still on the surface the president might seem to be rooting out terrorism. The U.S. is now engaged in six Muslim countries. Drone strikes have increased massively under his administration. Unfortunately, despite their reputation as smart bombs, innocent civilians have died in the drone strikes. Obama intervened militarily in Libya so fast that even the right criticized him, correctly believing that toppling Qaddafi would backfire and destabilize the region.
Unfortunately, instead of beating the Islamic terrorists back, ISIS is increasing in power, size, territory and ruthlessness. Obama is woefully in over his head, no doubt in part because his vice president Joe Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” according to Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under both Bush and Obama.
Why has this far left Alinsky disciple taken such a reckless, on-again-off-again military approach? The answer is simple. Obama wants a legacy but lacks a coherent vision of reality. Most of the presidents considered the greatest achieved the biggest military and foreign policy victories. Obama wants to join the ranks of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. But a hawkish military position contradicts both his base and his left wing preferences. Hence the seemingly-random nature of his engagement.
It was obvious at the time, and even more so now, that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize due to liberal anticipation of his coming greatness, when the oceans would cease to rise and the Muslim world would embrace him as the Great Uniter. Virtually no one thought he deserved it only nine months into office. He deserves it even less after seeing the effects of his foreign policy. The Middle East and north Africa are more chaotic than ever, the Muslim world hates us now more than ever and Iran is much closer to becoming a nuclear power.
Certainly one need not be a pacifist to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize. If Obama’s foreign policy had actually reduced terrorism and guaranteed us a non-nuclear Iran, then perhaps he would now deserve it. But his efforts have had the opposite effect. At this point, the honest thing to do would be to return the prize. But I won’t be holding my breath.