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Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize Thoughts, Part 2 of at Least 2 (Updated)

Update: Thanks to Shawn for linking this over on the American Spectator’s blog.

What might Robert Heinlein have thought of President Barrack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize? While it’s never quite nice to speak for the dead, here’s a clue:

“Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” He had been still looking at me and added, “If you boys and girls had to sweat for your toys the way a newly born baby has to struggle to live you would be happier . . . and much richer. As it is, with some of you, I pity the poverty of your wealth. You! I’ve just awarded you the prize for the hundred-meter dash. Does it make you happy?”

“Uh, I suppose it would.”

“No dodging, please. You have the prize—here, I’ll write it out:`Grand prize for the championship, one hundred-meter sprint.’ “ He had actually come back to my seat and pinned it on my chest. “There! Are you happy? You value it—or don’t you?”

I was sore. First that dirty crack about rich kids—a typical sneer of those who haven’t got it—and now this farce. I ripped it off and chucked it at him.

Mr. Dubois had looked surprised. “It doesn’t make you happy?”

“You know darn well I placed fourth!”

“Exactly! The prize for first place is worthless to you . . . because you haven’t earned it.

That, of course, is from one of the History and Moral Philosophy lectures in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

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Merit comes from having one’s merit certified. That’s self-evident.

on Oct 09 2009 @ 02:30 PM

Can you imagine how fun it would be to actually write the textbook / syllabus for a course in “History and Moral Philosophy” as Heinlein envisioned it?

on Oct 09 2009 @ 06:24 PM

How could we say that any prize given by a committee that anyone would have deserved it? Could any one bitch about this years winner for Literature? I am at most times puzzeled in prizes given, other than Chemistry, Physics or Medicine. I am sure there are some scientist that feel that there could have been better choices in those disciplines.

on Oct 10 2009 @ 05:05 AM

As Lech Walesa said, “So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far.”

The award being given on purely political grounds I understand. I thought it was laughable when Carter won it, for instance, but at least there was some substance there. In this case, there really is no substance to the award other than hopeful thinking. And I won’t even go into the happy fun coincidence that it was awarded to him while some of us were still talking about his refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama in a blatant sop to the Chinese government.

That’s no act of bravery in the cause of peace.

Certainly, the committee can give the prize to whomever they want. But it further cheapens the prize and it does no favors to a president who already has an uphill battle on domestic and international issues. Strangely, while it was awarded in hopes of strengthening him, my guess is that it might do the opposite by keeping his lack of accomplishment front and center in the American mind.

on Oct 10 2009 @ 11:01 AM

Megan McCardle:

The committee claims they awarded it for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”?  Can even his most ardent supporters come up with any effort he’s made that really qualifies as more extraordinary than those of everyone else in the world?

It’s not like I want to take the prize away, and I’m certainly not angry about it . . . but I’d rather have seen Barack Obama honored for something besides not being George W. Bush.

on Oct 10 2009 @ 11:06 AM

Hey, shouldn’t we be drinking at some point in the near future?

on Oct 12 2009 @ 12:27 AM

I also recall that in this particular future you were not allowed to run for political office unless you served.  That would have excluded our last vice president and president.

I’ll take an early politicized Nobel Peace Prize over a chickenhawk vice president that beats the drums for war but doesn’t have the guts to server himself.

Reversing the very bad decision to start an arms race in Europe by placing missiles in eastern Europe is almost enough reason alone for a peace prize.

on Oct 13 2009 @ 04:16 PM

Clearly, increasing the probability of nuclear war or nuclear terrorism is an excellent reason to give out a Nobel prize.  Heck, it’s pretty much the same reason as that for the one given to Carter.

on Oct 13 2009 @ 06:05 PM

Ed, you have a common misunderstanding of the book. The service required by the political system described in the book is not military service--although that is the focus of what is indeed a love letter to the bloody infantry. And in precisely what world did our last president not qualify?

Besides which, whatever sins might have been committed by the former administration in no way makes it okay to give a Nobel Peace Prize to his successor. “Early” isn’t the word I’d use by the way; “utterly unearned” would be the phrase I would choose. Hanging out our allies to dry--who took a chance by supporting us against pressure from others surrounding them--doesn’t qualify as a diplomatic success to me. And count me as agreeing with Doug on the outcome.

As for your comment on the Spectator blog, Heinlein had no problem at all in calling out politicians when he thought they were wrong or supporting what he considered bad foreign policy. He did it in his books and he certainly did it in his private life, so that particular criticism of what Heinlein would have thought of Shawn’s “Big O” snipe seems a little strange to me.

on Oct 13 2009 @ 06:53 PM

Ed, why is it that you misrepresent George W. Bush’s service?

on Oct 13 2009 @ 07:23 PM

And in precisely what world did our last president not qualify?

The one in which qualifying to fly the most dangerous (to its pilots) fighter jet in the fleet at the time, is “draft-dodging.”

on Oct 13 2009 @ 07:24 PM

Ed’s wrong about more than the previous administration - in the society of Starship Troopers, you couldn’t even vote unless you had done your time. Most people didn’t believe it was worth it, and were content to let others run the country.

IIRC, in one of the essays in Expanded Universe, Heinlein analogizes the “government service” requirement to the “landholder” requirements the states had early on, in the sense that they both were ways of showing that a voter had a demonstrable stake in the community.

on Oct 13 2009 @ 09:34 PM

Oh, and one more thing, Ed:

I’ll take Richard Cheney’s service to his country over your service to your country without even knowing what that service is.  He spent his life serving us, and serving well.

I voted for him when he was in the house, I voted for him when he ran for VP, he was a fine SecDef (that would be in the military chain of command, though his uniform was a business suit), and I would cheerfully vote for him as President.

You, not so much.

on Oct 14 2009 @ 08:18 AM

Well, he deserves a Nobel prize for receiving a Nobel prize before doing anything notable.

on Nov 27 2009 @ 12:24 AM
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