Vail Daily column: Does it take a war to earn a Nobel Peace Prize? |

Vail Daily column: Does it take a war to earn a Nobel Peace Prize?

Jackie Cartier

In 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Considering that the newly elected president had had little opportunity to live up to that claim, particularly in comparison to others in consideration, some might say that it was the Nobel Committee’s attempt at influencing U.S. foreign policy by putting the new president in charge of world “peace.” It would certainly run counter to an existing war in the Middle East. If this was the strategy, it has certainly run into some complications.

Foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, is no place for the inexperienced; the challenge and complexity requires a high level of expertise which must extend beyond the theoretical. Just as someone can become an expert on swimming by reading every book written, they are not an actual swimmer until they hit the water. President Obama had not even had a chance to suit up. Yet, the pressure to make peace around the world was immense and his ego was prime as he engaged on his “apology” tour of the Middle East, vowing to withdraw troops and close Guantanamo. Then came the time to suit up, and the suit just didn’t fit. The rhetoric promoted during the campaign did not fit the scenario of world events. While his intentions were honorable, they were a bit naive. Theory does not always match reality in the field. We assume that we can communicate in the language of peace, but not all are receptive. For some, understanding only comes when their selected language of violence is thrust back at them; when the stakes become too high to continue engagement.

The international theater includes some rather sinister characters that prey on innocent victims to inflate their power and domination. Exerting this control requires expanded financial and territorial resources, which will be acquired at any cost. Do not mistake this aggression for a religious or cultural difference; it is pure greed, which is not subject to negotiation. The result: We are still engaged in a war and Guantanamo remains open.

While it is true that we have plenty of our own challenges and shortcomings, our greatest strength is in the ideals we value of freedom and human dignity. There is a reason why we have a problem with immigration and not emigration. Although we sometimes tire of the responsibility, we uphold the belief that “from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Like it or not, we have assumed this job; not to be the world’s policemen but rather to be the world’s hope. Although we have limitations on what we are able to do for others and thus cannot combat heinous acts everywhere, we can do something somewhere and consider it a moral obligation to respond. It is often a thankless job that tends to go unappreciated by those who resent the fact that they couldn’t do it for themselves, and it sometimes involves helping the lesser of two evils, but that is simply a reality of life.

Malevolence has banged on the door of decency, and we are expected to answer. It is time to suit up and defeat those who seek to destroy all that the world holds as good and honorable. Whether secular or religious, what the world now faces is a true battle of good versus evil. No imaginary “red lines” or “strongly worded messages” will suffice. It has taken six years for President Obama to come to this realization, but he is finally ready to start swimming in the unfriendly waters of tactical diplomacy, which adapts theory and strategy to the current environment and resources. This is not a mission we can lead from behind. It is time to send a message to those who would behead, torture, rape and murder innocents, that their days are numbered. ISIS must be destroyed and since they will accept nothing less, we are here to oblige. Inasmuch as we would like to handle this virtually, as if in a video game with drones, it will unfortunately require blood and sacrifice, i.e., war. Sometimes it takes a war to earn peace.

Jacqueline Cartier, who has more than 25 years of political communications experience and is the president and CEO of Winning Images, recently moved back to Eagle-Vail from Washington, D.C. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at

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