The EU (European Union) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by its Committee. The award (like so many in the past, including for Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, and Obama) hasn't gone down well among the media babblers, especially on the Right. In his Saturday morning program 'Up With Chris Hayes', Hayes remarked: "The occasion triggered a whole lot of snark”. Which is an understatement.
Some of the examples cited by Chris:
Jeff Goldberg of the WaPo tweeted: “Next Year let’s award the Peace Prize to puppies”
Moron Dave Weigel tweeted: “You know who else deserves a Nobel for not committing genocide? ME!”
Fox & Friends babbled:
“Really? Let Sports writers do it – they’re good at picking Cy Young!”
This led off a "special comment" by Chris that was memorable and not only included putting the EU jabs in perspective but the recurring laments over the "negativity" of the current U.S. presidential campaign.
"But to mock the EU is to lose sight of what a monumental accomplishment it has been: a small patch of earth that was the site of some of the most horrifying war, violence, brutality, sadism and genocide ever seen in the history of human life on the planet. At the end of six years at least 40 million people perished on Europe’s soil. And the EU was constructed as a means of bringing peace and stability to a continent that hitherto had known only war.”
Chris went on to point out the EU hasn’t a whole lot of defenders at this point, but this is understandable given that Americans haven’t had to face the level of bloodshed and slaughter on THEIR land that the Europeans have. Also, Americans are more worried about their portfolio (stock, 401k) balances and the impact EU monetary moves might have than that the continent has attained a kind of relatively peaceful political stability under its organization. Even the former German Wehrmacht soldiers I met in 1985 (while on a visit for the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII- See my blog from Sept. 30, 2010) agreed that the best step Europe could take to avoid another calamitous war on the scale of WWII is to unify – preferably both politically and economically.
Interestingly, Chris Hayes connected the ridicule of the EU Nobel Peace award to another complaint that bears on our own election’s perceived “negativity”:
“The mockery of the EU rests on the same impulse we see in the laments on the nastiness of the presidential campaign and the huffing and puffing about the inadequacy of Iran diplomacy”, he said.
This, of course, was tied in to another of Radditz’s questions when she brought up “a decorated military vet” who bemoaned all the negative ads and asked the debaters whether they felt ashamed.”
Hayes goes on:
“In each case, the process may be ugly, messy and torturous but it’s almost always better than the alternative. Conflict is part of the human condition – there are limited resources, there are different interests, cultures and tribes and value systems with different conceptions of the good, with vastly different priorities and first principles.
Democracy is a system we’ve come up with to resolve those inevitable conflicts but there’s no such thing as a placid equilibrium in which those conflicts somehow disappear or are only articulate in the gentlest of fashions. THAT is the point: conflict is the underlying constant of human society. The question is what we do with it.
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say we either have people killing each other in the streets like dogs, or we have people running attack ads against each other. Bureaucracy, parliamentary procedure, multilateral talks, the back and forth of campaign ads are largely glory-less enterprises. In the grand sweep of history they are beautiful, sublime achievements that represent unthinkable progress and point the way towards a future a full human flourishing.”
Chris’ take is spot on, and I wish that when people wince or tune out the ads, they try to understand what the alternative would be. If they also see bloggers attacking each other the same way, well, it’s better than shooting each other in the streets. Or...emulating what transpired in the Congo not very long ago, when tribal passions were unleashed with nothing to keep them in check.
This is the point the Wehrmacht soldiers came to understand, and if they were alive today they’d be screaming it to the rooftops at all the snarky idiot Americans trying to disparage the EU and its much deserved Nobel Peace Prize! They'd likely reply: "So you have a problem with the EU? Would you prefer Europe return to genocidal warfare and drag you into it again, dumpkopfen!"
Oh, one final note: the Cuban Missile Crisis - for which we're commemorating the 50th anniversary this month- was a triumph of back scene diplomacy not mano-a-mano, macho brinksmanship. It wasn't that Khrushchev and the Russkies backed down at the 11th hour, it was that JFK secretly negotiated a deal that allowed Moscow to 'win' even as it lost face at the superficial level with its missile-bearing tankers being turned back. The secretly hatched deal implemented the withdrawal, removal of all the U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey some 6 months after the main event. It was THIS part of the deal that enabled the Russkies to have faith in JFK, and made them cooperate and turn their ships back.
It was also, in hindsight, plausibly one more nail in JFK's coffin when the Joint Chiefs (especially Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay) already saw him as an "appeaser" for not going into Cuba and bombing it into the Stone Age.