The Instigator
Rambo
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
Skeptikitten
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Barack Obama should return his Nobel Peace Prize

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Skeptikitten
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,802 times Debate No: 32434
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (6)

 

Rambo

Pro

Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009 for his "efforts to support international bodies and nuclear disarmament" (1).

Yet, since taking his office, he has massively expanded the US-funded and directed drone bombings around the world, not only indifferently targeting civilians (2a) but also lying about this fact to the media and public (2b). And finally, one cannot forget the extreme veil of secrecy under which this campaign is being conducted, effectively shielding the executive branch from any sort of public or legal scrutiny (2c).

He promised to and yet has failed to close Guantanamo Bay - indeed, he really wanted to just relocate it to within the USA (3).

He signed the National Defence Authorization Act, a law which permits the US military to indefinitely detain any civilian (USA or not) around the world without a trial - something that is considered unconstitutional (4).

My contention is that by continuing to hold onto the Nobel Peace Prize he makes a mockery of it.

Debate rules: Round 1 should include rebuttals of my initial argument.
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(1) http://news.bbc.co.uk...
(2a) http://www.salon.com...
(2b) http://www.salon.com...
(2c) http://www.guardian.co.uk...
(3) http://www.salon.com...
(4) http://www.counterpunch.org...
Skeptikitten

Con

I accept this debate, and for the first round of rebuttal challenge the very premise of the arguments made for the Pro.

To begin, the Nobel Peace Prize was delineated in Alfred Nobel's will as an award to honor "the person who shall have done the most or the best for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace conferences". The deadline for submission of potential candidates in any given Nobel year is February, despite the prize not being awarded until December. The advisory and review portions of the short list of contenders is from June through August. Therefore, any potential laureate's merits for the prize are only considered from actions before August of that year. In the case of Barack Obama, this would be July of 2009 or earlier. Not a single one of Pro's arguments apply to that time period. In addition, Thorborn Jagland (chairman of the Nobel Committee) expressly stated "We have not given the prize for what may happen in the future. We are awarding Obama for what he has done in the past year."

Secondly the merit listed for President Obama's award was, as Pro quoted previously, "efforts to support international bodies and nuclear disarmament". None of Pro's arguments are against those criteria. So by definition and by criteria of the award, none of Pro's arguments show that Obama has gone against the spirit of his Nobel.

Further, Obama has indeed lived up to the criteria for which he was nominated. One of the major incidents sparking the Committee's decision was a speech Obama gave in Cairo in June of 2009 reaching out to the Muslim world in the hopes of building "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect". The other important factors included the President's efforts towards nuclear nonproliferation and his commitment towards pursuing foreign policy goals through established international bodies such as the United Nations.

Obama's acceptance of the award, he stated "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations" and that historically the Peace Prize has been given to "give momentum to a set of causes". He also, in his acceptance speech discussed the idea of peace as not necessarily being pacifistic, and mentioned the philosophical concepts of a "just war": "To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason". So it seems both the Committee and the recipient himself viewed the award as a recognition of a promising start to foreign policy damaged under previous American leadership and hoped it would give a boost to future policy- not that the President would never undertake another action that could be considered counter to a pacifistic notion of peace again. Therefore, it is spurious to suggest he should reject an award given in 2009 for policy undertaken years later. This is rather akin to telling a student he should give up his top ranking on the first examination of the semester because he got a C on the following exam.

Finally, there have been a number of Nobel Peace Laureates and nominees who have been controversial world leaders or were not even engaged in the matters of peace-keeping by profession. Nobel himself became interested in the issue because of his inventions in the field of weaponry. Should we call the entire Peace Prize a mockery because the Nobel Company flourished by selling arms during the Crimean War?
Three Laureates were under arrest at the time of the award. Joseph Stalin was nominated TWICE and made the short list both times for his efforts to end World War II. Just a few of the controversial awards of the Peace Prize include:
Liu Xiaobo (2010)- had a history of supporting American invasion of other nations, despite his work on human rights in China.
Wangari Maathai (2004)- stated that HIV was engineered by Western scientists to depopulate Africa.
Yasser Arafat (1994)- a member of the Committee resigned in protest over this one, calling Arafat a "terrorist" and many former laureates decried his long history of promoting violence.
Nelson Mandela (1993)- never renounced political violence and was a founder member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress; it was classified as a terrorist organization by both South Africa and the US and subsequently banned, due to use of urban guerilla warfare and civilian bombings.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (1989)- received funding from the CIA to stage a violent coup d'etat in Tibet.
Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin (1973)- Begin was involved in a failed plot to assassinate German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
Cordell Hull (1945)- FDR's Secretary of State during the SS St. Louis Crisis. This ship sailed from Hamburg containing 950 Jewish refugees; FDR showed some willingness to take them in initially, but Hull vehemently objected, threatening to withdraw support in the 1940 election. The ship was eventually denied entry and forced to return to Europe, where over a quarter of the refugees died in the Holocaust.
And let's not forget one of the most controversial- Henry Kissinger in 1973, for the Paris Peace Accords which brought a cease-fire in the Vietnam War. Kissinger's non-peaceful legacy includes the secret 1969-1975 bombing campaigns against North Vietnamese Army troops, Operation Condor, alleged involvement in the death of French nationals by the Chilean junta, and support for the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus. Two Committee members resigned in protest over this nomination and the arguments were still ongoing at the time of the award.
By claiming Obama makes a "mockery" of the award when a great many other Laureates also proved to have some actions that went against a blanket pacifistic definition of "peace", Pro seems to wish to make a special case out of a politician with whose policies he does not personally agree.

To sum up this rebuttal, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for a very specific action or time period, unrelated to future or past actions of the Laureate in the matter of "peace" and therefore need not be given up. Of course, these awards are not "given up" to begin with, they are either accepted or declined when the Laureates are announced, making the suggestion of Pro even more unreasonable.
Debate Round No. 1
Rambo

Pro

Rambo forfeited this round.
Skeptikitten

Con

As Pro has forfeited this round, I must assume he has no refutation of my rebuttals and no further points for his argument.


Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2
Rambo

Pro

Rambo forfeited this round.
Skeptikitten

Con

Since Pro has once again forfeit his round, I suggest he has not fulfilled his burden of proof for his argument.


Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Adam2 3 years ago
Adam2
@Skeptikitten
S.M.D.
Posted by Rambo 3 years ago
Rambo
Good point. I would say Round 1 should include rebuttals of my round one argument.
Posted by Skeptikitten 3 years ago
Skeptikitten
You did not lay out any specific rules for the debate.

Is Round One just for summary of argument, then further rounds for rebuttal? Or, as it may seem since you have already listed references, that he first round should include rebuttals of your round one argument?
Posted by Rambo 3 years ago
Rambo
@Ragnar Thanks. I know I have a lot to learn about the art of debating. But if doing this makes me better able to reason about my viewpoints generally then that's a good thing.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Good luck on your first debate! Be prepared for some strong counter points, and/or your points being overlooked on grounds of relevance to the peace prize itself... Yes people can skip most of an argument, and attack just the conclusion.
Posted by Rambo 3 years ago
Rambo
Just some notes...

Obama has used the Espionage Act to crack down on whistleblowers more so than all previous US presidents combined (5). Yet at the same time fails to prosecute high-level officials who leak tidbits of supposedly classified and top-secret missions to the press (6).

The Obama administration declared that the Bin Laden raid was too top-secret to be talked about in public yet gave backing to a Hollywood movie which was hoped would act as a propaganda bolstering the president's rating amongst the public (8). A clear double-standard on policy.

(5) http://www.thenation.com...#
(6) http://www.salon.com...
(8) http://www.dailymail.co.uk...
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Magicr 3 years ago
Magicr
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FFs
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for forfeit. Arguments for con's rebuttal being unchallenged (plus good). Sources clearly stay with pro. I think con made a great point about how horrible some of the winners of it are; I mean does it actually mean what we wish it would?
Vote Placed by Misterscruffles 3 years ago
Misterscruffles
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
imabench
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Eitan_Zohar 3 years ago
Eitan_Zohar
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited after an overwhelming case by Con, although I note that Con could have used some sources.
Vote Placed by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.