I will readily admit - I am befuddled about Pres. Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize as are a large number of Americans. I always labored under the assumption that the prize was given for either past accomplishments, or for work done in advancing a goal that may not yet be accomplished. Giving the Nobel for prospective work that may be done is a new one. By the way - to the Nobel Committee: I promise I will have the Israelis and Palestinians declare eternal peace by 2012. Please make my travel arrangements for Oslo for 2010, check payable to "Jay Fisher."
Whether or not he deserves it is a debate beyond the scope of this blog. However, I want to add fuel to this fire.
One criticism Obama has received for getting the Nobel is that he is ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and not winding down the war in Iraq sufficiently fast. Let's talk about another war he has put himself into - the drug war.
Is the drug war a fair area to assess Obama for evaluating whether or not he deserves the Nobel? I argue it is. If you look at the subject of "domestic tranquility" as a standard for giving the prize, it is a fair category for consideration. Look at and Solidarity for their work in promoting democracy within Poland, or and de Klerk for their efforts to end apartheid within South Africa. Both are domestic situations that had international ramifications which earned the respective parties the Peace Prize.
So, has Obama done anything about the "drug war" to change it into a "drug peace"? Sadly, I would say no. First, look at his words on raiding pharmacies. Initially, he promised to end federal raids on the pharmacies - a promise that was quickly broken. One San Diego dispensary was raided as recently as September 9, 2009, with help from the federal DEA.
Second, while Obama has backed eliminating the disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentences, and there has been movement in the House on this subject, the disparities still exist. There has been no final vote on this bill in the House, and there appears to be nothing going on in the Senate on this topic. Considering how quickly Obama demanded from Congress literally trillions of dollars to support the economy and got it, the progress on the crack cocaine sentencing bill can be fairly described as "glacial" to "expectantly dead."
Third, consider all the shenanigans going on south of the border. Mexico is on the verge of a civil war fueled by drug money. Business in appears to be "business as usual." Cocaine cultivation in Peru appears to be increasing, with a slow resurgency of the Shining Path rebels and their madness. Evo Morales, a coca cultivator, is the president of Bolivia, saber rattling towards Washington and increasing international dissonance between the two countries.
Fourth is and sending American men and women to fight a war there and, in conjunction, fight the opium trade. Well, you can research the news on this. This exercise is becoming tiring....
We in the drug reform community are more prone to give Obama a pass on many topics because, and least in his words, he is radically different from the previous administration. However, we must remember: words are nice, but actions speak louder than words. While Obama may speak in a fashion that promises much potential, his actions fall far short. The Nobel Prize Committee should use this as a standard, and I argue should have considered this when evaluating the president for the Peace Prize. Any active participant in the drug reform movement has done more than the president to promote domestic tranquility by opposing the drug war, and would have been a better recipient of the award on that basis alone.