Today President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. He accepts this honor just over a week after he announced he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of roughly $30 billion.
Besides the obvious question as to how a man who has expanded two wars could have received a prize for peace, I want to know how a man whose campaign was about change can abandon so many promises he made to the American people.
During his campaign Obama promised to cut poverty in half within 10 years. Mr. President, how will you reduce the rising numbers of poor in this nation when you are spending $30 billion of our hard-earned dollars on the escalation of a foreign war? How do you plan to help the 10 percent of workers who are unemployed? How do you plan to ensure that even after health care is guaranteed for all that workers can afford to take a day off when they are sick?
I understand this country has much work to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. We cannot destroy a nation’s government and infrastructure and then call it a day. But similarly we cannot endlessly throw money at the problem without a plan as to how to rebuild in a timely fashion. Schools, wells and roads are far more successful toward gaining peace than bullets and bombs.
And it should not be forgotten that hard-working Americans are footing the bill while millions in this nation are unemployed and living in poverty. Last Friday the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics announced unexpected good news, the unemployment rate had dropped slightly to 10 percent for November 2009. But that number is still more than double what it was two years ago at the start of the recession. The numbers of those living in poverty is also expected to rise this year. Last year the poverty rate rose to the highest level in 11 years, rising from 12.5 percent to 13.2 percent in 2008 according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Eliminating poverty, like ending a war, is a complex problem with no easy solution. But it is a problem that needs and deserves attention. Mr. President, it is my hope that being awarded the Nobel prize gives you a cause to contemplate the multiple meanings of peace, and how to bring a little more of it to this world.
–by Jennifer E. Cooper