Nobel Peace Prize


Nobelist Oscar Arias says US is “most dangerous government in world” | 

President Oscar Arias poses for a photo with Arnold Candray - a former military man who, as part of the Reagan Administration, thought he was on the wrong side of the Cold War
President Oscar Arias poses for a photo with Arnold Candray – a former military man who, as part of the Reagan Administration, thought he was on the wrong side of the Cold War

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning former President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias was in Seattle the other day and said in a gentle voice to a roomful of nicely dressed folks gathered downtown at the refined Washington Athletic Club that “your government is the most dangerous government on Earth.”

Humanosphere caught up with him to do a video and Q & A, posted below.

Arias — in town to do a commencement speech for UW Bothell, among other speaking events — had plenty of praise for the United States, for the generous and enterprising spirit of Americans.

But he also couldn’t help noting our country’s history of “supporting military dictatorships,” of only doing foreign aid when we can see how it helps us and, as the world’s leading arms dealer and military power, of exporting violence. Recalling his long and successful struggle to bring peace decades ago to a war-torn Central America, he said:

“I used to say that the world’s superpowers supply the weapons and we in Latin America supply the bodies.”

He actually still says that, or something like it. I caught up with Arias when he spoke at the WAC, at an event on Friday sponsored by the Seattle International Foundation (one of my sponsors as well) that was co-hosted by the World Affairs Council.

One curious moment came after Arias spoke and posed for photos. One of those photo poses is shown up top right, with Arias standing next to Arnold Candray, a former military intelligence man for the Reagan Administration who said his job was focused on undermining leaders like Arias who — from the US government’s perspective at the time — were putting the hemisphere at risk of infiltration by the Soviet Union.

“Yeah, we didn’t like him at the time,” acknowledged Candray.

But times change. Arias – who was criticized during his efforts to end the civil wars raging across Central America by the right wing as a tool for the Soviet-backed commies and also by the left as a proxy for US-backed imperialists – was willing to sit down and talk about what has been accomplished, and what more needs to be done to further progress in Latin America:

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Next year’s Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the Moon | 

The committee of Norwegians (that already sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?) which decides who or what deserves the Nobel Peace Prize has this year given the prestigious award to a political and geographic entity known as the European Union.

It was confusing enough when the Norskies gave the prize to President Barack Obama before he had even done anything (a criticism that some would contend still stands…). It seems even more Odd (which, I should note, is a common male name in Norway along with Radar, Gunner, Dog, Bizarre and Gloom) to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Europe. We’re all sympathetic to the EU’s troubles, of course, but really.

What would people think if Obama gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to, I don’t know, Minnesota?

Putting all that aside and accepting this new trend, I would like to nominate the Moon for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Flickr, ViaMoi

If it wasn’t for the Moon orbiting Earth, all hell would break loose. (Jupiter should also be considered, in all fairness). The case for the Moon:

  • The tidal cycles of our oceans are produced by the Moon.
  • The Moon’s has a critical stabilizing influence on Earth’s rotational tilt — which creates our growing seasons and also dictates how we orbit the sun.
  • If not for the Moon’s gravitational pull, some scientists believe there would be no tectonic forces, no dynamism for change, on the planet — which some say we can credit for the very evolution of life on Earth.

So I say let’s nominate the Moon for the Nobel. No peace without lunatics.

The Nobel Peace Prize: Women are the key to peace & prosperity | 

The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to three women’s rights advocates “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

They are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fellow Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. Here’s a video from UN Women on how women played a role in Liberia’s peace efforts:

As the New York Times story on the Peace Prize noted:

They were the first women to win the prize since Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004. Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men, and Friday’s decision seemed designed to give impetus to the fight for women’s rights around the world.

Human Rights Watch, the ONE campaign and most news reports described it as a victory for women’s rights. The Guardian noted the controversial side to this recognition, reporting on some saying it appeared “too political.” (I’m not sure how you can make issues of peace non-political, but I suspect this debate will die down sooner than after the Nobel Committee gave President Barack Obama the prize.)

But it really is about more than just equal rights for women.

Numerous studies have shown that empowering girls and women translates into significant improvements in child health, nutrition, education and their communities’ economic development. This is true in both poor countries and wealthier countries.

It’s not just about women’s rights and peace-making. It’s about what works.

An empty chair at Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, International Human Rights Day | 

Today is a stark reminder that China still has a long way to go when it comes to human rights.

It is International Human Rights Day and also the day for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize. For the first time since 1936, the Peace Prize committee is unable to directly honor the recipient, Chinese activist Liu Xiabao, who is in prison for dissident activities.

The last time this happened the Peace Prize recipient lived in Nazi Germany. Here’s a PBS NewsHour clip:!