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Sat

10

Oct

2009

Veterans For Peace Reacts To President Obama Receiving Nobel Peace Prize
Saturday, 10 October 2009 06:20
by Mike Ferner, President, Veterans For Peace

Once you had to help lead one of the most important social movements in U.S. history or minister to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Now you can promise change and international cooperation while ordering more drone bombings that kill innocent civilians -- and still get a Nobel Peace Prize. There’s something wrong with this picture.

As a Navy Hospital Corpsman serving during the Vietnam war, I’ve seen what happens to people at the receiving end of bombs. For two years I took care of hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers coming back from Vietnam and Cambodia. Sadly, President Obama continues to rely on violence to carry out foreign policy. Obama has moved from the 'go it alone' approach of the Bush administration and he pledges to reduce nuclear weapons. All that is good, but not enough -- not even close. In a sane world, he would have to do far better to deserve even a nomination for this prestigious award.

Past Peace Prize awardees include Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, major forces in eliminating South African apartheid; Lech Walesa, who, as leader of the "Solidarity" union, defied the power of the Communist Party to win rights for Polish workers; Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and helped end the Cold War; Rigoberta Menchu Tum, campaigner for human rights in Guatemala during the reign of the death squads; Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Dr. Linus Pauling, early leader in the movement to oppose the nuclear bomb; Doctors Without Borders; Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Others have been nominated, sometimes more than once, like Kathy Kelly, coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness. This Chicago-based group organized over 70 citizen delegations to Iraq to report how sanctions were affecting people in that country during the 1990's. In addition, Kelly twice led delegations that literally camped out in the way of the U.S. invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003. These are the kinds of people who have taken huge risks for peace over many years and continue doing so. They have shown by their actions, not just words, we are inspired to look within ourselves and find the best of our natures, with hopes that will change how we live. President Obama has the ability to turn away from violence and the two longest wars in our history. He says he wants to. Actually doing so is the sort of thing for which Nobel Peace Prizes should be reserved.


Mike Ferner is author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq," and is national president of VFP. He lives in Ohio where you can contact him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net .

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