Where’s Jonathan Swift when you need him? Surely he’d throw an Irish baby onto the barbecue to celebrate a Nobel Peace Prize awarded as Barack Obama deliberates how best to escalate a war.
Well, we live, now, in post-ironical times, where we all dutifully believe six impossible things before breakfast. In his forensic response to the decision, Glenn Greenwald notes the ongoing carnage in Afghanistan and Iraq (remember it?), where the only peacemaking under way is of the kind that Colt’s Manufacturing Company once promoted via its famous Single Action Army Revolver.
In passing, he points out that, while we endlessly scare ourselves about the threat from Iran or North Korea, Obama presides over a military budget that almost amounts to the arms spending of the rest of the world combined, a comparison nicely rendered in graphical form here. That includes perhaps 10,000 nuclear weapons, an arsenal capable of clinically destroying all life on the planet.
But is that doomsday cache any obstacle to a peace prize? Not a bit of it. Indeed, according to Time magazine (let me say it again — Time, not some wingnut blog!), nuclear weapons are in fact quite as hopey and changey as Obama himself — perhaps even more so. David Von Drehle explains it this way:
As bad as they are, nukes have been instrumental in reversing the long, seemingly inexorable trend in modernity toward deadlier and deadlier conflicts. If the Nobel committee wants someday to honour the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, they will award a peace prize to the bomb.
It’s a fantastic idea — double-plus good, in fact. One can already imagine the presentation, with the medal handed over to a modestly blushing warhead, at a ceremony held somewhere in the vicinity of Hiroshima. And then afterwards we can all celebrate with a performance in blackface.