Nobel Laureate Barack Obama?
Nobel laureate Barack Obama?
I admire President Obama, but I was surprised when the Nobel Committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize this year.
According to the Nobel Committee, it chose him because of “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” It also cited his efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.
Those are both good things. But are they really why he got the award?
The first reason, “efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation,” seems like part of the unofficial job description of the U.S. president. President Obama is certainly making such efforts, but the most important thing he did was not to be George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. Everything else he’s done follows from that.
Both in America and other countries, we are so relieved to be rid of the previous administration — with its paranoia, torture, aggression, and bigotry — that almost any sane president would seem like a hero.
As for the second reason, reducing nuclear weapons — well, I’m for it. But every president says he wants to reduce nuclear weapons, and almost all the other countries publicly agree. But then nothing changes, except that more countries get nuclear weapons. So I’m skeptical about that reason.
Unlike other Nobel prizes, which are awarded for great achievements in science or literature, the Peace Prize is kind of a feel-good prize. It’s also much more influenced by politics. Some previous winners have done great things to deserve it. Others, like President Obama, seem like good people doing a good job who just happened to be there at the right time. Previous winners have included:
- Doctors Without Borders for its international humanitarian work
- U.S. Vice President Al Gore for his work on global warming
- U.S. President Jimmy Carter for promoting peace in the Middle East
- Dr. Martin Luther King for promoting social justice and non-violence
- Biochemist Linus Pauling for opposing nuclear-weapons testing
- Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin for seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians
- A whole lot of people you’ve never heard of
What I really think is this:
The Nobel Committee honored Obama’s sincere efforts to do the right thing. At the same time, it gave a big raised middle finger to the previous administration.
What I really hope is this:
President Obama’s award will help him promote peaceful resolutions to international problems and sensible, humane resolutions to our problems at home in the United States.
Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.