Friday, October 12, 2007

Inconvenient Truths

The world must have improved a tad since the seventies when Nobel Peace Prizes went to the likes of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat and, hard as it still is to believe, Henry Kissinger. The last of these awards came at a heavy price: it caused Tom Lehrer to stop writing satirical songs. As he later said, when Kissinger won the Nobel Prize, there was nothing left to satirize.

So, congratulations to Al Gore. After all, he did turn a corner after getting off to a bad start. Having been “the corporate whore” of popular slogans and the darling of the Israel lobby (or, at least, of The New Republic), he evidently “bottomed out” seven years ago after picking Joe Lieberman for a running mate and then letting Bush family fixers cheat him of the Oval Office. Now he warns of global warming, a worthwhile cause. The Nobel Committee could have done worse – much worse.

They could also have done better had their politics been better and had they known more about the United States. For one thing, they could have dealt Clintonism a blow by giving the prize to someone who really deserves it – not for a mid-life conversion but for a lifetime of achievement. They should have given the prize to Ralph Nader. However, for that, they would need a sense of irony, a capacity in short supply among do-gooders. Better still, they could have given the prize again to Jimmy Carter. In the past year, Carter, to his everlasting credit, made himself a pariah to the Clintonite faithful and, what comes to the same thing, the base, servile and cowardly leadership of the Democratic Party by doing just what Gore has done: publicizing some “inconvenient,” though perfectly obvious truths. To paraphrase some of the main ones (in language slightly more direct, less qualified and less civil than Jimmy Carter, ever the gentleman, would use), there is the fact that Israel has imposed an Apartheid regime on the Occupied Territories; that the tragedy in Darfur is not a “genocide” and that claims to the contrary are motivated by base imperialist interests; that George W. Bush is about as bad as a President can get (within the framework of our Constitutional government) and that his crimes include turning the United States into a torture regime; that starting yet another war, this time targeting Iran, would unleash a disaster of catastrophic proportions; and, not unrelatedly, that Dick Cheney is a shameless chicken hawk who is not only a dismal practitioner of geopolitical strategy but also a moral reprobate. For uttering these inconvenient truths Carter deserves two Nobel Peace Prizes far more than Gore deserves one.

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