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12/16/02

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, THEODORE ROOSEVELT, AND HENRY KISSINGER

By Sheldon Drobny

As part of my analysis of history according to Charles Drobny, my father, here is his view of 20th century American leaders. 

Sagamore HillMy father's first experience with political leaders was Teddy Roosevelt.  As a child, I was taught in my history class all the positive things about TR. His "Rough Riders" military heroism in the Spanish American War and his bold and progressive presidency were the major subjects taught to us in U.S. history class.  However, one of his major life achievements was his award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his part in the peace process ending the Russo-Japanese War.  Not many Americans even are aware that there was a war between Czarist Russia and Japan in the early 20th century.  It is something that I was not taught in my history class, nor do I suspect it is being taught seriously today in primary and secondary schools.  I will attempt to tell you why, and to reveal why TR was no more deserving of winning the Peace Prize than Henry Kissinger, who won the prize for his role in ending the Viet Nam War.

My father was very selective about which 20th century American leaders he respected.  The only ones he really thought highly of were: Franklin Roosevelt, Senator Albert Gore Sr., Senator Wayne Morse, and Senator William Fulbright.  He may have liked some others, but these are the leaders he repeatedly mentioned as being truly courageous.  Obviously, by the process of elimination, TR was not one of Dad's favorites.  Why?  Because he believed that TR was the first American imperial president, a man who advocated an American empire and who set the tone for the kind of foreign policy now causing most of the world to hate us to this day.

So how did the great Theodore Rex contribute to this hatred?

The U.S. emerged as an imperial world power from the Spanish American war, really a phony war.  We had taken from Spain, among other territory, the Philippine Islands.  America was becoming a great naval power in the Pacific, and the only real threat to our dominance in the Pacific was Japan.  This fight for dominance with Japan was finally concluded in 1945.  TR thought of a clever way to incite Russia to engage Japan in conflict on land and sea, to help eliminate Japan without the U.S. having to do the job itself.

The results were a disaster for Russia and many other countries in the Far East.  Japan essentially destroyed the Russian fleet, and was winning the war handily until TR intervened to help negotiate a Russian surrender under the best terms possible.  This furthered Japan's continuing military policy in the Pacific, and ultimately led to the final conflict between Japan and the U.S. in World War II.  Obviously, Japan was not happy with the fact that TR had incited Russia to start a war with them.  That action is responsible for Japanís most horrible genocidal acts in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, causing the deaths of millions.  Arguably, TRís action caused the militarists in Japan to be emboldened to try to become an imperial power in the 20th century.

TR, attempting to create an American empire, set in motion events that caused a war in 1904, which caused Japan to seriously consider the U.S. a natural enemy, which then set in motion the events that led to the U.S. war with Japan between 1941 and 1945.  For this, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Which brings us back to Henry Kissinger, another winner of that coveted award.

Kissinger and NixonHenry Kissinger, as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, participated in expanding the Viet Nam War into Cambodia and Laos.  This reckless and heartless policy caused the deaths of millions of people in those countries. And most of the American deaths in that war occurred under Kissinger's stewardship of our military policy.   The process that finally led to a treaty between the U.S. and North Viet Nam was led by Kissinger in very much the same way that TR stopped the Russo-Japanese War.  The treaty Kissinger negotiated set in motion the fall of South Viet Nam and the "Killing Fields" in Cambodia.  For that, Kissinger joined TR in the honor of receiving the coveted Nobel Peace Prize.

Kissinger is honored to this day as a brilliant statesman, and was recently appointed to co-chair the inquiry into the causes of the 9/11 disasters.  That is the ultimate slap in the face to the American people.  If the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials were to be applied fairly, Kissinger should have been tried as a war criminal.  Instead, he has been given great honors by a country blinded by a media that keeps the population uninformed.

I was lucky enough to have my father to make me aware of the things that were so invisible to others in my peer group.  He lived through these times, and contemporaneously followed the events of 20th century world history, so as to influence me and the rest of the family to always scrutinize the facts and not be fooled into belief systems that advance the cause of those who have nefarious goals.  That is why my father rightfully had a very high standard for political leaders.  In his mind, those leaders who engaged in deceitful and cruel policies against humanity were to be judged harshly no matter what their other achievements were.  It is the right standard.  It is the standard that we apply to all citizens no matter how noble their other achievements may be.

If someone does great things, but is responsible for even a single human death, we still convict him of murder.  There should not be an exception for our leaders, who are capable of murders on a much grander scale.

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Sheldon Drobny is co-founder of Air America Radio, providing talk radio for the majority of Americans.

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