Taliban suggest "Nobel violence prize" for Obama

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s Taliban mocked the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday, saying he should get a Nobel prize for violence instead.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it was absurd to give a peace award to a man who had sent 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to escalate a war.

“The Nobel prize for peace? Obama should have won the ‘Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians’,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“When Obama replaced President Bush, the Afghan people thought that he would not follow in Bush’s footsteps. Unfortunately, Obama actually even went one step further.”

In awarding the Nobel Prize to Obama, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said he had “created a new climate in international politics” and praised his promotion of multi-lateral diplomacy and advocacy for arms control.

“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman,” it said.

Obama ordered 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan this year, continuing a strategy of dramatically ramping up forces that began in the final months of the presidency of his predecessor George W. Bush.

There are now more than 100,000 Western troops in Afghanistan, two thirds of them American. In July, thousands of newly arrived U.S. Marines launched the biggest offensive of the eight-year-old war.

The United Nations says 1,500 civilians have died so far this year, with insurgents killing three times as many as Western and government forces.

The new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has asked for 40,000 more troops to implement an overhauled counter-insurgency strategy.

The White House is still deciding how to respond, and Obama has described himself as a skeptical audience for the case.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; writing by Peter Graff; editing by David Stamp