Robert J. Burrowes
In a recent letter to US President Barack Obama twelve Nobel Peace laureates declared their support for the long history of US elite violence against Native Americans and enslaved Africans, as well as the US imperial violence around the world that has butchered tens of millions of people over the past 200 years. See ‘US: An End to Torture: Twelve Nobel Peace Prize laureates write to President Barack Obama asking the US to close the dark chapter on torture once and for all. Obama responds’.
The letter to Obama was signed by ex-President JosÃ© Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste, prize recipient in 1996), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa, 1984), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia, 2011), Mohammad ElBaradei (Egypt, 2005), Jody Williams (USA, 1997), Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh, 2006), F.W. De Klerk (South Africa, 1993), John Hume (Northern Ireland, 1998), Oscar Arias Sanchez (Costa Rica, 1987), Bishop Carlos X. Belo (Timor-Leste, 1996), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina, 1980) and Betty Williams (Northern Ireland, 1976).
The letter, the response from Obama and a subsequent article written by Ramos-Horta — see ‘Obama: The Courage to Say “We Were Wrong”’ — were a stark reminder to those of us who struggle to end the violence in our world of what genuine peace activists are up against.
It was also a stark reminder that the Nobel Peace Prize, founded in response to the will of Alfred Nobel following his death in 1896, to be awarded to a person ‘who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses’ — see ‘The establishment of the Peace Prize’ — was corrupted beyond recognition a long time ago, as has been carefully documented by Fredrik S. Heffermehl in ‘The Nobel Peace Prize Watch’ and again graphically illustrated by its recent award to a prominent perpetrator of violence like Barack Obama. See ‘Understanding Obama and Other People Who Kill’. (In fairness, perhaps, it should be noted that Obama is not the most violent recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize: that title should no doubt go to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.)
Ostensibly written by the twelve laureates to ask Obama to end the extensive US torture program, the letter includes the following words: ‘The United States, born of the concept of the inherent equality of all before the law, has been since its inception a hallmark that would be emulated by countries and entire regions of the world. For more than two centuries, it has been the enlightened ideals of America’s founders that changed civilization on Earth for the better, and made the US a giant among nations.’
Given the systematic atrocities planned, organised, sponsored, financed and committed by the US government throughout its history, which have been carefully documented by one author after another, one can only presume that the authors of the letter are delusional, incredibly ignorant or utterly devoid of compassion for those who have suffered or are still suffering from the extraordinary violence inflicted by military and economic forces controlled by the United States elite.
In relation to the domestic history of the United States, perhaps they should read Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States: 1492 — Present or they might try a shorter, more recent book in which Professor Timothy Braatz noted that US society was organized around the violent dispossession of Native communities, the enslavement of blacks, the marginalization of women, the exploitation of working people and industrial warfare. See Peace Lessons.
This seems a long way from the ‘enlightened ideals of America’s founders that changed civilization on Earth for the better’ to which our Noble peace laureates refer. And I’m sure that if they care to go out and ask a sample of Native Americans, African-Americans, women, working people and soldiers suffering from PTSD, they will get more insight into the accuracy of their claim as it stands today.
And what of the US impact on the rest of the world? Incredibly, in his article, Ramos-Horta says that ‘many of us on the other side of the world were touched forever when the Kennedys came out in support of the rights of Africans to rule themselves’. Is he naÃ¯ve? A sycophant? Has he forgotten the vital role, extensively documented in the US National Security Archive, played by the US government in supporting the Indonesian occupation of his own country? See ‘A Quarter Century of U.S. Support for Occupation’.
I wonder what Desmond Tutu thinks of Ramos-Horta’s comment. Tutu, at least, should know what happened to the visionary leader of the newly independent Congo — see ‘Patrice Lumumba: the most important assassination of the 20th century’ — and have some idea of the history of US violence throughout Africa, Asia and Central/South America, killing true leaders and installing US stooges so that western corporations can ruthlessly exploit their natural resources. For a taste of the extensive documentation of this point, see many of the books by Noam Chomsky and the recent book by Andre Vltchek Exposing Lies of the Empire.
I am only too familiar with the truth being butchered by elites and their agents in academia and the corporate media. But to read the truth being butchered so ruthlessly by Nobel Peace laureates is nauseating indeed.
Let us hope that those Nobel peace laureates who did not sign this letter will share their response to it with us.
I am deeply committed to searching out ways to resolve all conflicts nonviolently. But we must always start with the truth. Deluding ourselves about history or letting perpetrators get away with violence in the hope that they will be kinder to us next time does not work. Despite his pretty words, Obama will not change — see ‘The Destruction of Barack Obama’ — and the US elite would not allow him to change should he seriously consider doing so. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’.
If you have the courage to acknowledge and act on the truth, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ which has been signed by one honest and genuinely admirable Nobel peace laureate already.
And remember this: if you have not won the Nobel Peace Prize, you are in the same category as Mohandas K. Gandhi and many other fine people around the world who still struggle relentlessly for a world without violence whatever personal price they may pay.
Biodata: Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is here.