Friday, October 9, 2009

Prodigies

Last night the 28 year old prodigy Gustavo Dudamel made his triumphant debut as the new director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (and I have tickets for the same program tonight), with giant screens set up on the street so more people could see it. The Dodgers won game 2 of the Division Series after being down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth (after strong pitching by their 21 year old prodigy Clayton Kershaw). And to top it off, this morning, 48 year old prodigy Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize! I'm not sure I could stand any more good news.

9 comments:

  1. Would you care to comment on this president's list of accomplishments that have made him deserving of this prize?

    I'm interested in your take on the award.

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  2. I will admit that my first reaction was probably the same as that of a lot of people, including the president himself, which was that he has not accomplished enough yet in a concrete way, to deserve the Peace Prize. But then you look at the criteria for awarding this prize, and you wonder, who did more to advance the cause of peace in the past year than Barack Obama? His major accomplishment for the cause of peace was turning the direction of this country, from what many in the world think of as the greatest threat to peace, to the greatest champion of peace. He did that just by spending two years getting his message of hope and reconciliation across to the American people, and getting elected. Then if you look at the initiatives he has begun as president, you can point to his renunciation of the use of torture, and his commitment to abide by international law. You can look at his speech in Cairo and other openings to the Muslim world. You can add in his renewed commitment to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. And you can also count his efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Granted, many of these efforts have not yet resulted in lasting peace agreements, but the prize was obviously given to recognize and encourage those efforts. Granted also, there is a political aspect to this award, and a lot of people who don't agree with Obama's politics are not happy that he is receiving it. But then you just might have to ask yourself whether the reason you don't like him getting this award is that you're not really that much of a believer in the cause of peace.

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  3. You had me until the last sentence when you called anyone who thought he didn't deserve the award a warmonger.

    Do you really feel that anyone who doesn't agree with you is some cartoonish representation of Yosemite Sam, or were you just engaging in some lighthearted hyperbole?

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  4. I don't think John Bolton is a believer in peace, or the United Nations. And Rush Limbaugh said that he agreed with the government of Iran and the Taliban that Obama does not deserve the award. So my point is that at least some of the people who are criticizing it have a vested interest in promoting conflict, not peace.

    I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether you are on the side of peace or not. And I think it is certainly possible for someone to be a promoter of peace and still think that this award was unjustified or at least premature. But I also think it's fair to raise the question whether people who are criticizing this award are really interested in peace. So it's just a question, an I am not calling you Yosemite Sam.

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  5. I like you implied Rush Limbaugh is like Taliban because they agree on one point. I should note that the government of Iran and the Taliban also believe the sky is blue. Do you agree with them?

    Your opinion that John Bolton and the UN are not in favor of peace is your opinion, and I will not argue it. But to qualify your blanket statement after it has been made smacks of dishonesty. Offering to give me the benefit of the doubt after calling me a warmonger is little comfort. You'll note that I didn't offer an opinion on the matter, and asked only for your comment.

    Your assumption of my opinion and instant jump to namecalling is telling.

    But if you want my opinion, I'll offer it. I believe there are only two kinds of peace that can be had between men. The first is peace through mutually assured destruction, and the second is peace through superior firepower.

    Enemies of America should be happy we are not the warmongers they believe us to be. We have the ability and the power to bend the world under our thumb, but lack the will. Even after WWII, it would have taken only the slightest effort for us become the sole power in the world. We did not.

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  6. So rush and iran and the taliban don't think obama deserves the prize?

    You know who else agrees with them?

    Obama.

    You disagree with obama? Say it ain't so, Joe!

    Don't bother with this lib ernest he's hopeless.

    -Ryan the warmongering Republican

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  7. I believe there is a third kind of peace, which is based on the recognition of common interests. That is the kind of peace that is achieved by trade, and that is sometimes achieved by diplomacy.

    Sometimes the threat of war can help keep the peace. One of the tools of diplomacy is to remind competing parties of the high costs of resolving disputes by military means. But there are other tools as well. Cross-cultural exchange, education, travel, and simply exchanging ideas, are all means of achieving peace that do not always depend on the iron fist inside the velvet glove.

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  8. Diplomacy between two peoples, one with the power of force and one without is not diplomacy. It's a surrender.

    The idea that groups of people don't need threats of violence, but only the exchange of powerful ideas to exert will and keep enemies at bay is a lofty one. However, this world of peace loving non-violence comes crashing down as soon as one man realizes that by striking an opponent with a stick he can exert his will with the much more timely threat of painful death.

    How would you stop this man? Argue that violence never solves anything? Or simply ignore him as he bashes in the heads of your intellectuals?

    Civilized society, intellectual pursuits, and scientific developments requires that men man the battlements with swords and bows to keep the barbarians at bay. Without those men who would do violence to protect civilization, shortsighted men with sticks would rule the world.

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  9. I think it is rarely the case that one side has all the tools of force and the other side has none. Even when a country has overwhelming military superiority, and is able to occupy another country, the occupier often finds that the occupied have weapons at their disposal: they might be home-made bombs or sabotage or they might only have the power of non-violent resistance that was effectively used by Gandhi and others. Similarly, in a labor dispute, guns would not not be of much use against a determined strike, even if it were legal to murder all of your workers. The US spends more on its military than all other nations combined, but we still could not afford to keep the whole world at bay merely by force of arms. The power of our ideas is often much stronger.

    When two opposing sides meet at the peace table, you can always demonstrate that war has costs even to the side that has military superiority. And you can always point out the economic and many other benefits of peace to both sides.

    I am a trial lawyer by trade, so I know that parties can choose to solve their problems by litigation or by negotiation. Sometimes you have to fight, but if both sides exercise enlightened self-interest, they can usually arrive at a negotiated outcome that is better and cheaper than the outcome they will get by battling the matter out in court. I have two other blogs: one is about litigation (war) and the other is about mediation (peace). In life and business, you have to know how to practice both.

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