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NEW YORK — The news that President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize immediately brought to mind comparisons with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who received the same prize back in 1973. In the outpourings of sharply divided reactions that ensued, a great many, it turned out, conjured the same specter — natural enough for those of us who lived through those oppressive years of the monstrous hegemon, the United States, on the rampage.

Rewarding a man for burning and pulverizing women and children is just like a prize committee named for the inventor of dynamite, a poet friend said. That may have been a bit unkind to Alfred Nobel, but Kissinger never struck us as a man of peace. He was merely devious. As it turned out, he had a heavy hand in the overthrow and death of Chilean President Salvador Allende that had occurred just about a month before the Nobel Committee decided to give him the prize.

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