You’re not sure. I’m not sure either. When I turned on the television this morning I saw the crawling headline across the bottom of the screen and said to my roommate (I’m on a business trip), “Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize.” Unlike me, he is a dedicated supporter of Obama and his response was, “This must be some kind of joke.”
Joke indeed. But alas, it is no joke.
OSLO (AP) – President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.
The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama’s name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.
Now I don’t know much about winning prizes, but in general awards are given in light of some actual accomplishment rather than in a speculative hope about what someone might possibly accomplish at some point. Mr. Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States of America has accomplished precisely nothing that can be cited as evidence that he is a man of peace. Nothing that is other than talking in soft tones about nice things.
The prize itself, established by scientist and industrialist Alfred Nobel, was to be given, “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”
I’m having difficulty finding Obama anywhere in that description. In fact, the political left in this country are rather disquieted by Obama’s continued support for G.W. Bush’s policies in Iraq and the potential escalation in Afghanistan, neither of which evince much of a propensity towards peacemaking on Obama’s part. However the committee seems to have been influenced by the school of thought that encourages giving A’s for effort.
Rather than recognizing concrete achievement, the 2009 prize appeared intended to support initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said. “In the past year Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a completely new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations.”
He added that the committee endorsed “Obama’s appeal that ‘Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'”
Um… yeah. So basically the committee is awarding him for being NOT George Bush, whom everyone hated. Even on the left there seems to be a great deal of incredulity about the whole thing.
Why else give him the honor now? Whatever one might feel about Obama, he has not earned this singular award. Few American presidents have received it and of those who have it was bestowed after they’d been engaged in something special. Theodore Roosevelt had helped to negotiate peace in the Russo-Japanese War. Woodrow Wilson had tirelessly worked for the creation of the League of Nations — a struggle that was blamed for causing the serious stroke he suffered, which left him disengaged in the last years of his presidency.
Jimmy Carter received the Peace Prize after he left office, but in the wake of huge achievements monitoring worldwide elections and in his efforts with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for the poor.
Former Vice President Al Gore got the prize after years of working for the environment. And whether you appreciated Henry Kissinger’s getting the award it was in response to his efforts to effect a peace in the Vietnam War.
So, at the moment, I believe it is enormously premature for Obama to be getting this great tribute, which to a certain extent cheapens the prior recipients and the work all of them performed over so many years.
At that’s from a guy who supports him! Well since it is a prize, let’s at least consider those people our illustrious and unaccomplished president beat out for the award. They are probably all slackers with razor thin accomplishments. From the Weekly Standard blog:
Sima Samar, women’s rights activist in Afghanistan: “With dogged persistence and at great personal risk, she kept her schools and clinics open in Afghanistan even during the most repressive days of the Taliban regime, whose laws prohibited the education of girls past the age of eight. When the Taliban fell, Samar returned to Kabul and accepted the post of Minister for Women’s Affairs.”
Ingrid Betancourt: French-Colombian ex-hostage held for six years.
“Dr. Denis Mukwege: Doctor, founder and head of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. He has dedicated his life to helping Congolese women and girls who are victims of gang rape and brutal sexual violence.”
Handicap International and Cluster Munition Coalition: “These organizations are recognized for their consistently serious efforts to clean up cluster bombs, also known as land mines. Innocent civilians are regularly killed worldwide because the unseen bombs explode when stepped upon.”
“Hu Jia, a human rights activist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, who was sentenced last year to a three-and-a-half-year prison term for ‘inciting subversion of state power.'”
“Wei Jingsheng, who spent 17 years in Chinese prisons for urging reforms of China’s communist system. He now lives in the United States.”
Ahh now I see it. It is so obvious that none of these people deserved the award.