Nobel Peace Prize Ironic as Death Toll Rises

Ashley Chang

Only nine months into his presidency, it was announced last week that Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The award committee praised the commander in chief for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Ironically, the same nine months claimed the largest loss in military lives since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, with nearly 400 soldiers dead and buried and thousands of Afghan casualties laid to rest.

People are dying. Faceless names of young men and women who died in Afghanistan drift across our television screens on the nightly news as we eat our TV dinners.

The dichotomy between Obama’s Nobel Prize award and the war in Afghanistan have only fueled a tug-of-war between conservatives and liberals, as both sides await the president’s decision on whether to send thousands of additional troops.

As reports allude to Obama’s win as an award for “not being President George W. Bush,” policies enacted during the previous administration still stand.

“On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan,” said Bush on Oct. 7, 2001.

Here we are, eight bloody years later, with about 2,000 Afghan civilians and 1,446 U.S. and coalition soldiers dead in the midst of “Operation Enduring Freedom,” as reported by

Soldiers are no longer mothers, fathers, sons or daughters, but another number, another percentage. Numbers used and tossed around like rag dolls by politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, as they feed us their rhetoric.

As the Taliban occupy the majority of Afghanistan and 68,000 American men and women attempt to diminish conflict and apathy, at home, we feverishly debate about “Octomom” and Kanye West. We continue our day-to-day lives, distracted by the swine flu and iPhones, as others mourn the deaths of family members.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal requested thousands of additional troops, stating, “I don’t think if we align our goals and our resources we will have a significant problem. Our problem will be if we didn’t.”

The problem is we did. Invading Afghanistan has only caused an increase in tension and terrorism. There is more animosity towards the United States than ever before. Those who were once neutral and passive observers have seen villages bombed, family and friends mutilated, therefore fueling cynicism and hatred towards the U.S.

When will the majority of Americans no longer be passive observers and become active in the fight for peace? We must realize this is America’s war, not only a war for those who are thrown into desert sands and bombarded with bullets and missiles.

It’s a “call to action.used as a means to give momentum to a set cause,” Obama said in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. That cause is Afghanistan and the time is now. Obama must implement policies for peace and amity, rather than the destructive and “warmongering” scare tactics in place now.

With villages burned and families displaced, thousands wounded and frightened, hope and peace is a far cry from reality.

We must demand change; the kind of change we can hold and embrace as soldiers return from fighting a war most supporters would never fight themselves. We must see the kind of change that exceeds campaign slogans and promises.

Slogans of “Hope,” “Change,” and “Yes We Can” seem like nothing but a distant memory for the many young Americans who supported Obama’s vision of universal nuclear disarmament, the closing of Guantanamo, and the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As many of us students live as if we are indestructible, speeding through the journey we call life, many of our young soldiers have come to the realization too soon they are no longer invincible.

Many will never experience the anxiety of their first job interview and the serenity of driving top down through the Pacific Coast Highway. Many fathers will not stumble upon the first dance with their newly wed daughters, while mothers are left without experiencing the gift of becoming grandmothers.

Yet, we debate over “evil doers” and financial costs, reviewing how much taxpayers have spent per soldier, not realizing the true loss of this eight-year war.

People are dying.

This is no video game, movie or bad dream. There is no waking from this nightmare. We must right our wrong and support our troops, not by hanging American flags outside our homes or sending postcards on holidays, but by ending this war and bringing soldiers home.

Patriotism is not measured by bumper stickers or the “Star Spangled Banner,” or by celebrating the Fourth of July; it is in fact measured by our pursuit of enacting global policies that reflect the high morals and ethics we attempt to preach.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize comes with responsibility and duty. Not only on the shoulders of our president, but also on the shoulders of all Americans. We cannot sit back as people continue to die for a country that refuses to save the lives of troops who try to protect us.

It is our “call to action” and our obligation to fulfill the task at hand, so that finally, there will no longer be a need for the postcards on holidays and the faceless names that drift across our television screens as we eat our TV dinners.