Green Party urges widespread antiwar protests on the day President Obama accepts his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders expressed puzzlement and outrage over the decision to award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, and urged widespread demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to take place in Oslo, Washington, and other cities on the day Mr. Obama picks up his prize in Oslo.

"The chief difference between President Obama and President Bush on war policy is one of salesmanship. The international cooperation that the Nobel Committee praises means only that Mr. Obama has had more success in selling aggressive war policies -- maintaining the Afghanistan and Iraq occupations, with plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan," said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States (and a Norwegian-American).

"We hope that those who support the Nobel Committee's decision and are proud of President Obama will join antiwar protests and urge Mr. Obama to honor the Peace Prize by ending the occupations," Ms. Grage added.

The Green Party supports peace rallies and other antiwar events planned for the rest of October.

Greens asserted that President Obama's willingness to sit down and talk with other leaders around the world, including those from Muslim nations, was not enough to merit the Peace Prize, only that the Obama White House was behaving more like administrations before George W. Bush became president.

"Created a 'new climate in international politics'? This means that the Nobel Prize committee is giving President Obama an award for not being George W. Bush," said Craig Thorsen, national co-chair of the Green Party (also Norwegian-American). "Mr. Obama should turn down the prize, or risk comparison to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Mr. Kissinger accepted the Peace Prize in 1973 after his criminal actions with President Nixon to expand the Vietnam War into Cambodia and Laos -- just as Mr. Obama has moved the Afghanistan War into Pakistan."

Greens listed some details the Nobel Committee should have considered before awarding President Obama the Peace Prize:

• President Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, with air attacks now inside Pakistan's borders. He will send 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan, raising the number to 68,000 by November. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and maimed in the Afghanistan War, with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) counting 1,500 civilian deaths from January to August in 2009. Mr. Obama's preemptive deployment of drones since his inauguration has resulted in at least 700 civilian deaths. (UNAMA admits that Afghan civilian casualty figures are significantly underreported.)

• He has maintained an occupation force of 124,000 US troops in Iraq (to be reduced to 120,000 later in October). While pledging to withdraw troops in 2010, he intends to leave up to 50,000 military personnel to protect western interests -- which means US and UK control over Iraqi oil resources. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed because of the US invasion and occupation, with millions more injured and displaced.

• He has maintained most Bush policies on the Middle East, with little criticism of Israel's brutal record of human rights abuses against Palestinians, no accountability for Israel's invasion of Gaza, and continued arms shipments to Israel.

• He has allowed an increase in the export of weapons, with the US now supplying 2/3 of arms around the world. He has refused to sign the treaty to ban cluster bombs, which mainly kill and maim civilians.

• He has pressed for more military funding, which is now at the highest level in US history. The day before the Peace Prize was announced, the US House complied with the Pentagon's budget request and passed a 680-billion-dollar defense authorization bill. Mr. Obama has also increased the use of private mercenary forces, which are unaccountable to laws that curtail abuses in the US armed forces.

• He has threatened sanctions against Iran over the latter's nuclear plants, recently accusing Iran of secrecy on its Qom facility despite Iran's voluntary report to the IAEA on the site. While repeating unproven claims that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, President Obama is cooperating with Israel's attempts to keep its own nuclear arms a secret. (See also Juan Cole on US disinformation about Iran.) Sanctions and other actions against Iran, including a possible Israeli air strike with US permission, risk a greater regional or global conflict.

• He has failed to join other world and Latin American leaders in condemning the military coup in Honduras. Instead, the Obama administration has negotiated with the coup leaders before and after the coup, siding with wealthy interests seeking to block the democratically elected government's efforts to improve the living standards of the country's workers. By refusing to call it a coup, Mr. Obama has blocked automatic sanctions that would legally be triggered against the coup leaders and would help restore Honduras' constitutional government.

• In his efforts to curb global warming, President Obama's concessions to corporate polluters (cap and trade schemes, unregulated markets, etc.) are placing future generations at risk of war over resources. (See Green Party press releases.)

• Despite the new ban on torture, the Obama Administration has maintained most Bush policies on the suppression of US war crimes evidence, denial of habeas corpus rights to victims of extraordinary rendition and torture, warrantless surveillance of US citizens, attempts to chisel away protections for whistleblowers and investigative journalists, and other violations of US constitutional and international law.

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