Monday, October 12, 2009
By Drew Westen, AlterNet.
A spokesman from the Nobel Committee yesterday spoke on condition of anonymity about the controversial decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, who as yet has solved no international crisis or created peaceful resolution to any conflict but has delivered some awesome speeches that have breathed new life into the Norwegian stock exchange, the Red Herring 500, according to the committee member. "There's derivatives trading now in virtually every commodity known to humankind," noted the source. "So why not peace?" He added that rare commodities with unpredictable futures are particularly attractive to derivatives traders, and that peace certainly falls into that category. With many on the right objecting that Obama hasn't done anything to earn the prize and many on the left complaining that his record domestically has been to deliver magnificent speeches without following up with any decisive actions and to paper over conflicts with inspiring words and half-measures, the Nobel Committee member admitted on background that he wasn't sure whether the action of the committee technically could be considered hedging or derivatives trading, but he was counting on it to create a competitive market for both peace and Obama memorabilia.
According to inside sources, the decision to award Obama the peace prize represented an unprecedented joint decision of the committees charged with selecting winners in economics and peace. Derivatives are complex financial products that no one on the peace committee understood. However, it had help from the committee on economics, which has been considering co-awarding its Nobel this year to Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers for their collaboration in both creating and then halting the economic crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September. One member of the economics committee pointed out the extraordinary nature of their achievement: "Before Geithner and Summers we could only perform econometric computer simulations. They were the first to demonstrate experimentally, in real time, that you can collapse the world economy with neoclassical economic theories and then revive it with Keynesian principles. We've been waiting for someone to test Keynesian principles definitively in the real world for over 60 years. This is a truly stunning achievement."
Members of the peace committee were moved by the arguments of their colleagues in economics. "The possibilities of trading in secondary peace products are extremely exciting," noted the anonymous source. "Imagine if we could have used the Peace Prize to leverage Mussolini into not exercising his option to buy fascism from Hitler in the early to mid 1930s." Unfortunately, the Great Depression made any attempt at deregulation of peace commodities at that time untenable.
Upon hearing about the Committee's decision to introduce speculation into the peace market, a number of experts expressed serious concerns. "Now is not the time to introduce sub-prime honorees into the Nobel portfolio," argued one experienced diplomat, who worried that the Committee might next award the Prize to Libyan not-so-strong-man-anymore Mohamar Qaddafi. Doing so, he argued, could lead to an inflated peace market that could produce the equivalent of a housing bubble, or at least an inflated tent. The committee had apparently strongly considered Qaddafi as an alternative to Obama, noting that his decision not to blow up any planes in over 20 years constituted a Nobel-caliber contribution to world peace, and that, like Obama, he had done something by doing nothing. However, his chances were dramatically reduced when the Libyan government gave a hero's welcome to the returning Lockerbee bomber who had been released on humanitarian grounds with 3 months left to live after doctors in Ireland determined him either to be, or to have, a "malignant asshole."
Insiders have acknowledged that this was a weak year for candidates for the Peace prize, leading to the unusual decision to bet on futures rather than follow the century-old precedent of selecting someone who has actually accomplished something, like Yassir Arafat, who once shaved for an episode of Terrorists Gone Wild. Given its interest in borrowing methods from the financial industry, however, the committee did consider short-selling the Prize to former Vice President Dick Cheney. However, it ultimately decided that Cheney had already been awarded the title of "Dick" and that they couldn't really top that. The committee's decision ultimately came down to the choice between either Obama for not being George Bush or Bush for not being President.
Drew Westen, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University, founder of Westen Strategies, and author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation."
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