Alfred Nobel, Nobel Prize and Irony

As most of the readers must know, Alfred Nobel invented Dynamite. What you might not know is he also owned “Bofors,” a major armaments manufacturer, which he had redirected from its previous role as an iron and steel mill.

According to Wikipedia, “The erroneous publication in 1888 of a premature obituary of Nobel by a French newspaper, condemning him for his invention of dynamite, is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death.The obituary stated Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”[

Dr. Nobel didn’t, clearly, change his entrepreneurial activities before he died in 1896, eight years after the publication of the erroneous obituary. Instead, in his last will he decides to bequeath much of his enormous fortune to the five Nobel Prizes. One each in Physical Sciences, Chemistry, Medical Sciences, Literature and Peace (a new one has been added in Economics). The Peace Prize “is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.”

Bofors is still, to this date, one of the largest arms manufacturer in the world.

I am surprised that not too many of the talking heads or the pundits point-out the base irony fundamentally present in the Nobel Peace prize. Nobel, the merchant of death, and Peace is an oxymoron. And to me, it does little but expose the hypocrisy of human kind that money collected by creating and selling Dynamite is used to award the most prestigious “Peace Prize.” Not sure how Dr. Nobel could write “…suppression or reduction of standing armies” and not see the naked irony of it all. I forget the author’s name but she hit the nail on the head when she said, in a matter of fact manner, “the beauty of childhood is that it is not afflicted with hypocrisy yet, the very cornerstone of adulthood is hypocrisy especially the hypocrisies that the self doesn’t even see.” A very important goal of mine is thus to stay a child in this context.

It is good that President Obama has pledged to donate the prize money to charity.

My opinion, and I know President Obama did not apply for the Prize, President Obama doesn’t deserve it and it is going to be nothing but an impossible standard to meet when he ends up making tough decisions on Afghanistan, Iraq and may be Iran. Oh, and I don’t think he will make the easy decision on the domestic front — Gun Control — that 540 Mayors just petitioned him for. Isn’t that ironic: acting on gun control can taken away some “business” from Bofors reducing the Nobel families fortunes and may be their ability to dish out the Peace Prize (hey! I can dream, can’t I?).


The only possible solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict – Part III of III

We Need True Leadership

The hour is getting late and we are heading towards the precipice. Innocent people are dying in hordes as a result of twisted thinking being called sane policy. Generations will live with untold damages to their Psyche.

We need true leadership from Barack Obama, the next Israeli PM, Mahmoud Abbas, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and Putin. Why, Putin you may ask?

The Road to Middle East Peace goes through Moscow!

Last American administration’s insistence of not talking to Iran and Syria has only strengthened Moscow’s historical ties with Iran to a point where Kremlin alone has some sway on Tehran. In addition, the planned Missile Defense System in Poland has ensured that Moscow does not use its leverage on Iran for furthering US and hence Israel’s interest.

In a great article in NY Times titled “Let Russia Stop Iran” the authors Oded Eran, Giora Eiland and Emily Landau argue, in essence, that Obama should improve relations with Russia and ask in return for Russia to have Iran stop its Nuclear program.

I believe the following minimal steps need to be undertaken urgently:

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The only possible solution to the Israel-Palestine Conflict – Part II of III

The Current War – Hamas is to blame for triggering this conflict and Israel is to blame for triggering a war.

Hamas’ rocket attacks in violation of the peace deal are absolutely to blame for the start of the conflict, but we can always leave it to Israel to escalate it to a disproportionate level with, very importantly, rather murky objectives that, like I have argues in part 1, never really get fulfilled.

And lest anyone is thinking the war is only between Israel and Hamas they are sadly mistaken. For this war is not only between Israel and Hamas, it is a high stakes geo-political chess game being played by Iran, Hezbollah and Syria on one side – who use Hamas as a mere proxy — and Israel is doing the bidding of the out-going American administration along with, possibly, reacting to internal political dynamics.  An interesting article by William Kristol at New York Times website on why America needs Israel to fight. I find the probability of success of the approach postulated by Mr. Kristol – even if it were to succeed – to actually weaken Iran to be close to zero.

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The only possible solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict – Part I of III

Why violence is not the answer?

Because despite 60 years of violence the problem obviously still exists. Everytime Israel attacks or retaliates violently, the actions in the mid to long run result in emblodening the violent arm of the Pan-Palestine resistance even if the military objective is successful. Two examples , also referred to in an interesting  NY Times Article , from past history to back the assertion:

1. In 1982, Israel drove out Yasser Arafat and his PLO forces from South Lebanon. The military objective was achieved, its own Northern border was secured, Yasser Arafat came to the negotiating table but in the mean time Iran set up an even more potent and radical force on Israel’s Nothern border in the form of Hezbollah.

2. In 2006, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and Israel retaliated with a war on Lebanon resulting in deaths of at least a thousand Lebanese (including Hezbollah fighters) but resulting in strengthening Hezbollah, Iran and Hamas to a point where Hezbollah has replaced a moderate US leaning party as the most powerful party in Lebanon.

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