Nobel Politics

Stephen Lendman

Since first awarded in 1901, Nobel Peace recognition went to 98 individuals and 23 organizations. Last year, another war criminal won, Barack Obama, one among many previous ones. A earlier article on the Nobel Committee's long and inglorious tradition may be accessed through THIS link.

Nearly always, politics, not merit, determines awards. Consider past winners, including Henry Kissinger, three Israeli war criminals (Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, and Menachem Begin), the Dalai Lama (a past and likely current CIA asset), Elie Wiesel (a hawkish Islamophobe), Kofi Annan (a reliable imperial stooge), and Al Gore, (another war criminal, neoliberal extremist, and no friend of the earth), a previous article on him may be accessed through THIS link.

A celebratory Western media hailed this year's winner, jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a man New York Times writers Andrew Jacobs and Jonathan Ansfield called:

"an impassioned literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate repeatedly jailed (for) his activism,
the Nobel Committee "recogni(zing) his long and non-violent (stand) for fundamental human rights in China."

Long supportive of US adventurism, The Nation magazine hailed Obama's award but said little about Liu, save for writer Robert Dreyfuss calling him "a Chinese dissident and author of a manifesto for human rights," then adding:

"It's well and good to draw attention to China's treatment of political dissidents and its harsh restrictions on free speech, meeting, and Internet communications." However, the award "isn't likely to cause Chinese authorities to change their minds; if anything, it's more likely to cause them to crack down even harder," especially after Obama's disingenuous September 23 General Assembly speech, talking peace and stressing human rights while waging war and defiling them at home and abroad even more egregiously than Bush.

Two Wall Street Journal editorials praised "A Nobel for China" and a "Nobel Vision for a Better China," using the award to bash Beijing, less on human rights violations than for becoming an economic superpower, challenging America's dominance. That's the core issue, not pretending humanitarian considerations matter.

A Financial Times editorial called the award "A Nobel Peace Prize to celebrate," saying:

The Nobel Committee "reinstated itself into the best traditions of the award," recalling past winners like Martin Luther King and Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, but omitting names listed above and numerous other non-worthies. Saying nothing either about Western imperial wars, co-sponsored by America, Britain and Israel, topics major media accounts suppress or gloss over superficially.

Broadcasting US propaganda globally, the Voice of America was jubilant over Liu's award, saying the Nobel Committee "issued an explicit challenge, calling on China to respect political rights as it rises toward economic great-power status." Omitted was America's support for wealth and privilege, not populist and human rights it disdains.

Al Jazeera's Imran Kahn reported accurately, calling Liu's award "controversial" and "contentious," citing past winners like Kissinger, the Israelis and Obama, choices exalting war, not peace.

An In-Depth Alternative View

Posted October 11 on, Professor Peter Baofu, headlined "The Nobel Peace Prize, and an Instrument of Western Power," explaining what major media accounts omitted.

Saying awarding Liu doesn't promote peace and prosperity, he gave seven reasons:

(1) Despite more improvement needed, China, in fact, "has done much to promote freedom at home in the last few decades," in contrast to America where it's eroded. According to Anne-Marie Brady, a New Zealand University of Canterbury China expert:

"the average person has so much more freedom than they ever had in the post-'49 period. There's a strong feeling of 'don't rock the boat too far, don't prod into sensitive areas," but, compared to earlier, much now is tolerated. Understandably, China resents being "under-appreciated."

(2) China has "done much to contribute to world peace and prosperity in the last few decades." For example, it "lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty," in contrast to America where it's growing exponentially. In China, poverty dropped from 64% around 30 years ago to 16% in 2004, "a tremendous achievement for human rights" gone unrecognized.

In addition, China's explosive growth "became a major engine of the world's economic growth" because it depends so heavily on raw material and other imports. While it has trade surpluses with America and elsewhere, it's in deficit to other countries. It also invests heavily overseas to build "roads, railways, sports complexes, hospitals, bridges, schools," and other projects. Though exploiting labor, many nations and consumers benefit from Chinese low prices.

(3) Liu isn't "an innocent defender of peace and freedom in China as popularly depicted." For example, in a 1988 Hong Kong Open Magazine interview, he said it would take "300 years of colonialism for (China) to transform into how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough," he added. It caused an uproar, but he never retracted.

He was also instrumental in drafting "Charter 08," a political manifesto modeled after Czechoslovakia's "Charter '77,' calling for an end to one-party rule, respect for human rights, and other freedoms.

"Charter 08" principles include:

free speech, belief, assembly and the press;
respect for human rights, dignity, equality, and freedom;
republicanism, democracy and constitutionalism; and
for China to move in these directions, but not as fully as misreported.

In fact, Liu and other drafters endorse China's ruling interests, advocating improved, but limited freedoms, to prevent a potential social eruption. The Charter warned about protests and strikes "becoming more militant and raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous proportions."

(4) Because of its growing economic strength and independence, China-bashing, opposition group backing, and saber rattling try pressuring Beijing to be more pro-Western and subservient. Though ineffective and counterproductive, it continues.

For example, years of arm-twisting hasn't gotten Beijing to weaken its currency nor should it. Currently, just the opposite is practiced by its expanding its money supply at a 20% annual rate to prevent appreciation, despite intense Western efforts to encourage strengthening.

China knows how the 1985 Plaza Accord affected Japan. After 1989, the stronger yen toppled equities and real estate valuations, causing two decades of deflationary stagnation, what China is determined to avoid.

(5) No "one-style-fits-all" political system suits all societies equally. Liu learned Western values at Columbia University, the University of Oslo, and University of Hawaii. However, China's history goes back thousands of years, its modern state a product of those times. As a result, it's arrogant, offensive, and mindless to expect Beijing to abandon its traditions for Western ones that disdain principles rhetorically endorsed.

In 2009, Chinese actor Jackie Chan notably said:

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic. I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

(6) Western societies, especially America, have "no genuine interest in promoting the human rights of the Chinese people," or their own. Globally, in fact, they exploit other societies much like they do internally, and wage wars when other methods don't work.


"The West has no respect towards the ideas and values of the Non-West and has time and again indulged, since the modern era, in lecturing and dictating to other peoples (on how) to behave," either peacefully, subversively, or violently.

Western countries, especially America, fear China as a rival, apprehensive it will supplant their supremacy through a better model, much like Asian Tiger economies did until targeted in 1997-98 to become US satellites, exploiting them through foreign investments, weakening them in the process. China has lots such investments under its rules, not others.

(7) The award "perpetuate(s) the vicious cycle of mistrust between China" and the West, mainly America. As a result, it fuels "Chinese nationalism" and reinforces internal sentiment that China doesn't get the respect it deserves, whatever its faults.

At the least, the glass house analogy applies. More importantly, its history of Western colonization and dominance gives China justifiable reason to want more even-handed, stable relationships, and won't tolerate less. Bashing its policies won't help, nor is rewarding Liu, Beijing lashing out at the West in response.

A Final Comment

The Nobel Committee is a notorious Western tool. Its Peace and other awards promote unshared global values, nor should they be when for belligerence, human exploitation, and imperial dominance, principles America espouses to the detriment of other societies and its own.

Moreover, according to Alfred Nobel's will, the award's made to persons and/or organizations that:

"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."

In other words, it's for opposing war and promoting peace. Though advocating human rights helps achieve it, those doing it focus largely on Universal Declaration of Human Rights principles, including:

respecting everyone's rights equally;
opposing discrimination, slavery, torture and other forms of abuse;
respecting the rule of law and rights to life and fair treatment;
advocating free expression, movement, personal safety, a nationality, and right to leave and return to one's country, as well as other human rights provisions, not specifically advocacy for peace over war.

That aside, awarding one political prisoner the Peace Prize ignores all others and the greater problem overall, aggressively suppressed because of its prevalence in the West.

Narrowly defined, America alone has hundreds of political prisoners, many, perhaps most more deserving than Liu. Broadly defined, it has thousands - unheralded, unmentioned, and lawlessly punished.

Many other countries, including China, have theirs. Israel for one, that at any time holds up to 12,000 or more, including women and young children, unfairly subjecting them to torture, abuse and humiliation - issues Nobel Committee members ignore and won't recognize as a way to condemn rogue practices, expose their lawlessness, and support equal justice everywhere vigorously.

Instead, choosing Liu bashes China politically. Moreover, recognizing notorious war criminals like Obama, Al Gore, and numerous others flouts peace and related free society and human rights principles, ones Nobel Committee members reject as their honorees attest.


Stephen Lendman: I was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. Raised in a modest middle class family, attended public schools, received a BA from Harvard University in 1956 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of PA in 1960 following 2 years of obligatory military service in the US Army. Spent the next 6 years as a marketing research analyst for several large US corporations before becoming part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at the end of 1999. Have since devoted my time and efforts to the progressive causes and organizations I support, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. My efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. Also co-hosting The Global Research News Hour, occasional public talks, and frequent appearances on radio and at times television.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Photo: AFP/Getty


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