Award Ethics: Just In Case You Forgot, The Nobel Peace Prize Is Confirmed As Having No Integrity Whatsoever

…sort of like the Academy Awards.

The ex-Secretary for the Nobel Prize Geir Lundestad admitted in a recent interview that President Barack Obama did not deserve the 2009 prize but was given  the award to strengthen Obama politically. This is, or should be, no surprise. However, the brazen admission is nauseating.

Not only were there real, deserving candidates for the prize. it is clear that they were passed over in a cynical effort to influence U.S. politics and policy. In his memoir entitled Secretary of Peace, Lundestad writes, “No Nobel Peace Prize ever elicited more attention than the 2009 prize to Barack Obama . . . Even many of Obama’s supporters believed that the prize was a mistake. In that sense the committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.”

By using Nobel’s honor this way, the committee devalued the award for all past and future recipients, no matter how deserving. Lundestad, meanwhile, shows that those who have controlled the most ethics oriented of major awards have no comprehension of ethics. His regrets about the award being given to an individual who had done nothing to earn it arise only from the fact that it didn’t work. Indeed it did not, as Obama drone-killed hundreds without due process, carried on illegal bombing in Libya, refused to act when Syria used chemical weapons, and generally practiced feckless, timid, principle-free politics in international affairs. That, however, was moral luck, and the argument is consequentialism. It would have been equally wrong to give the award to Obama if he had achieved real success in promoting world peace afterwards.

I want to be explicit that no one should hold Barack Obama responsible for this fiasco in any way. Awarding  the prize was unfair to him as well. Nor should he have allowed the honor to influence his decision-making at any time during his Presidency. There is no evidence that he did.

Once an award has been given based on politics and ideology rather than merit, it is no longer an award, but a lie. The Nobel Peace Prize is meaningless, not because it was awarded unethically once, but because there is no evidence that it won’t be again, the next time the Committee thinks they can manipulate a nation’s leadership and policies.

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Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

 

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part Two of Three)

Snowden

The Ethics Alarms review of a truly disheartening year in ethics continues with fallen heroes, ficks, fools and follies with Part Two of the 2013 Worst of Ethics awards….and there’s one last section to come. Be afraid..be very afraid:

Fallen Hero of the Year

Edward Snowden, whose claim to civil disobedience was marred by his unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions, whose pose as a whistle-blower was ruined by the disclosure that he took his job with the intention of exposing national secrets, and whose status as a freedom-defending patriot lies in ruins as he seeks harbor with not only America’s enemy, but a human rights-crushing enemy at that. The NSA’s over-reach and mismanagement is a scandal, but Snowden proved that he is no hero.

Unmitigated Gall of  The Year

Minnesota divorce lawyer Thomas P. Lowes not only violated the bar’s ethics rules by having sex with his female  client…he also billed her his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex , a breach of the legal profession’s rule against “unreasonable fees.” Yes, he was suspended. But for not long enough…

Jumbo Of The Year

(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)

Jumbo film

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

—–President Obama

2013 Conflicts of Interest of the Year Continue reading

I Regret Being Obligated To Say It, But I Told You So…

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

(I have wrestled to the floor past urges to write a post like this, but this time, I think I have to.)

In May, I concluded a post about the “scandal trifecta” with this:

“Four years of hyperpartisan, arrogant, irresponsible, rudder-less and badly managed government have had the predictable result, and I will be stunned if we have yet seen the worst of it.”

I was not stunned, unfortunately. And we may see worse yet. We probably will.

May 2013 was far from the first time I noted the apparent vacuum of leadership in the Oval Office. Two years earlier, when the Administration was breaching security to take credit for Bin Laden’s death, I wrote, “To hell with “Hope and Change”…I’ll settle for responsibility and competence.” Of course, we have gotten neither, nor did I expect a different result even then. I didn’t expect a different result in January of 2009, to be frank. Oh, I hoped, as I think almost everyone but Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell did, that Obama would prove adept at the job he had the audacity to seek.  Some Presidents with leadership credentials almost as thin as Obama’s have turned themselves into competent executives, though I suspect that those successes had the self-awareness and humility to know that they had some learning to do, as Obama does not. They also did not have a chorus of sycophants in the media and the public telling them how magical they were. It was quickly obvious, however, that President Obama’s concept of leadership was (and is) to give speeches, raise campaign funds, appoint loyalists, and sit back while they do the best job they can until they royally screw up, then express surprise and disappointment and let the same people have another crack at it.

And lie, of course. Can’t forget that. Continue reading

The Authority Trap: Elizabeth O’Bagey’s Three Ethics Strikes

Woman-pulling-off-a-mask

It is not, you see, enough to have a good idea, an original argument, or a brilliant solution.There must be reason for important people, people who make decisions that affect lives, to pay any more attention to you than they do anyone else who claims to have such things, because its is often difficult for even intelligent and experienced individuals to distinguish genius from well-expressed garbage. There must be something that elevates that unique and valuable perspective you bring to a problem above the swirling mess and noise generated by the blabbering and shouting competition, and the thing is, if you really have a valuable perspective to contribute, you owe it to not just yourself, but to your country, even humanity.

There is one asset, if you are otherwise unknown, that will provide that elevation besides the inherent virtues of your brilliant idea, and that is authority...a book, a connection everybody knows and respects, or, perhaps most of all, academic credentials. And there are two things that will make it impossible to raise your special contribution above the throng, and they are a conflict of interest, and a reputation for hiding the truth. These are the murderers of trust.

This brings us to the strange case of Elizabeth O’Bagy, a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, who managed to get the Wall Street Journal to publish her analysis of the civil war in Syria, and her conclusions, based, we were to assume, on her study, analysis and time in the country, regarding the benefits of U.S. employment of military force in the region. Continue reading