Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Nobel Peace Prize and Liu Xiaobo

By Deirdre Griswold
Published Nov 23, 2010 10:12 PM

Who is Liu Xiaobo and why was he given this year’s Nobel Peace Prize? To understand this, it’s necessary to know the history of the prize and how it came about.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer and the inventor of dynamite, who made a fortune in the 19th century, becoming known as “The Merchant of Death.” He willed that his huge fortune be used to set up a number of prizes, one of them for peace.

Nobel decreed that a five-person committee set up by the Norwegian Parliament should pick the recipients of the annual Peace Prize. Norway, a founding member of NATO, today houses several U.S. air bases and has troops in Afghanistan.

The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901. Since that time, the people of the world have suffered from devastating wars that together have killed more than 100 million civilians and combatants and laid waste entire countries. The underlying cause of these wars and the rise of the military-industrial complex has been the ravenous appetite of the vying imperialist powers to conquer new markets and territories for superexploitation and profits.

So naturally the people of the world want peace. They come out in demonstrations again and again protesting current wars and new terror weapons. What do the imperialists do about that? They talk peace and democracy while they mobilize the cannon fodder and money needed for new wars.

Nothing better illustrates this corruption of the popular yearning for peace than the annual Nobel Peace Prize. The prize has been given many times to the very individuals responsible for the horror of imperialist wars.

In 1906 the prize was given to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. His slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” fit his own career as leader of the Rough Riders, who stormed into Cuba in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The war was supposedly to free Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain, but its real purpose was to bring them under U.S. imperialist domination — as exposed by Mark Twain, a member of the Anti-Imperialist League at the time.

In 1912 the prize went to Elihu Root, who had been secretary of war under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Root established neocolonial governments in the three countries mentioned above. He then became president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, set up with money from one of the richest robber baron capitalists and strike breakers of that time, Andrew Carnegie.

In 1919 the Peace Prize went to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who had led the U.S. into World War I in 1917 in spite of broad opposition. That same year, a U.S. socialist and leader of the working class, Eugene V. Debs, was sentenced to 10 years under the Sedition Act for having opposed the war. Debs ran for president from his jail cell in 1920 and got nearly a million votes, but the Nobel committee wouldn’t think of giving him the Peace Prize.

In the years that followed, the prize went to such luminaries of U.S. imperialist diplomacy as Cordell Hull (secretary of state during World War II), Gen. George Marshall (Army chief of staff, World War II; secretary of defense, Korean War), Henry Kissinger (secretary of state, Vietnam War), President Jimmy Carter and, last year, President Barack Obama, whose election promise to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan has been abandoned.

When, facing criticism for ignoring the mass movements against war and ruling-class violence, the Nobel committee did recognize popular figures, it almost always coupled them with enemies of the people. Thus, the prize went jointly to Kissinger and Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho in 1973 (Tho refused it!); to African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela and apartheid South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1993; and to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat but also Israelis Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.

Once the Cold War began, the Peace Prize was given to figures in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe who facilitated the return of capitalism and imperialism: Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1990).

It is in this tradition that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 was given to Liu Xiaobo. It is not because Liu is in any way a man of peace. In fact, he has been an ardent supporter of U.S. wars.

Defending George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, Liu wrote on Oct. 31, 2004, in “The Iraqi War and the U.S. Election,” that the U.S. “led the fight against communist totalitarianism in the Vietnam and Korean wars, ... helped Egypt to achieve independence, and has consistently protected Israel, surrounded as it is by Arab nations.”

Saying that John Kerry, who ran against Bush in that year’s election, condoned “evil governments,” Liu added: “In response to existential threats to civilization such as terrorism, the U.S. should not hesitate to use force. Only resolute determination will prevent another 9/11, reduce international terrorism, and reduce the threat of WMDs.” (

How could the Nobel committee even think of giving Liu the Peace Prize, after everything that is known about the Bush administration deliberately deceiving the world about “weapons of mass destruction” in order to invade Iraq?

For the same reasons they chose Sakharov, Walesa and Gorbachev. Liu is a leading advocate for overthrowing the Communist Party of China, privatizing the entire economy, including all the land, and returning China to the arms of the Western imperialists, whom he sees as the great liberators of humanity.

Liu is the main author of Charter 08, which openly declares its counterrevolutionary goals, even as it embellishes them in the language of “democracy” and “human rights” used so deceptively by capitalist bloodsuckers in the West.

Liu is not popular in China. Even those on the left who criticize the government’s reliance on the market want nothing to do with him, recognizing him as an enemy of the workers and of China’s hard-won sovereignty. He is strictly a creature of imperialism — and of an overblown, completely undemocratic organization that owes its prestige and power to blood money.
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