Question of the moment

By giving a peace prize to a president who hasn’t yet been in office for a year (indeed, he was nominated for the prize only two weeks after taking office), thus we haven’t seen the result of his policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine (to mention nothing of the smaller hotspots, like Zimbabwe and China; or hotspots which could soon explode like another civil war in southern Sudan coupled with the genocide in western Sudan, otherwise known as Darfur), has the Nobel committee delegitimized itself by awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama?

Update: Random blathering after the jump.

This post got linked by Jules Crittenden.  Experience tells me that when I receive approving links from the right, I’ve managed to piss a lot of people on my side off.  So the following may make some people happy, more angry, or may ostracize me completely on this issue.

Crittenden has a round up of posts from the left blogophere defending the Nobel committee’s reasoning to award Obama a peace prize.  This post from Crooked Timber is a good representation of those defenses:

But this isn’t about domestic politics, or about what he’s done yet. President Obama has changed how the world feels about America. He’s lifted the planet’s mood. This guy is global Prozac.

There’s more to it than just the Bush presidency being a total downer for everyone in the world who cares about multi-lateralism or just wants to do business with the US. The tidal wave of bad faith Bush’s presidency created washed away any chance of progress in so many international initiatives.

Obama’s not a game changer per se, but he’s changed how people feel about playing the game, or whether they even want to.

If the “feeling” about Obama is the “game changer”, then why not award the Nobel Peace Prize to the entire American electorate?  After all, we’re the ones whose feelings have changed — as shown by us collectively doing as much as possible to remove Republicans from power in Washington and treat the world better.

I’d also agree with those who say that Obama has accomplished some international diplomatic victories, like his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.  But the point is that Obama hasn’t accomplished much yet.  This isn’t his fault — he’s only been in office for 10 months.  That hasn’t given him time to do much.

The right will lob insults at the Nobel committee for awarding prizes to President Jimmy Carter and Al Gore in the past, but whether they like it or not, those men accomplished something.  With the way global warming will effect resources, thus instigating wars in the future if global warming isn’t combated now, Al Gore’s efforts to shine light on those issue does, in effect, help peace.  And as I type these words from Cairo right now, I realize that the peace treaty President Carter secured between Egypt and Israel allows me to sit here without fear of another Egyptian-led Arab/Israeli war breaking out.  It wasn’t too long ago that those wars broke out on a regular basis, engulfing the whole Middle Eastern region into conflict.  If brokering a peace treaty between two combatants helps limit the possibility of regional war in the Middle East, then Carter deserves the prize.

In the past, a politician would have to do something to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.  It’s that that Obama hasn’t done anything — he’s had some bright spots, though a lot of his international policies cause me concern — but Obama hasn’t been afforded the time to do anything substantial.  He was nominated for the prize two weeks after assuming the presidency.  Awarding him a Nobel Peace Prize simply because he caused the world to feel better is ridiculous.  This prize should only be awarded to those who, as can be shown empirically, brought more peace to the world.  To throw the prize at Obama — or anybody else — who simply causes the Nobel committee to “feel good” only cheapens the award.

6 Responses to “Question of the moment”

  1. opit says:

    The most spontaneous reaction I saw was a ‘Hoo-Haw!’ of derision, followed by a pictorial essay on the results of current military activities. Here’s the way I ran it
    http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2009/10/anniversary-afghanistan-peace-prize.html

  2. VH says:

    It is pathetic that the Nobel committee chose to give the Peace price to someone who has done nothing to deserve it. There are far more worthy candidates for the Peace Prize.

  3. radical_moderate says:

    I couldn’t agree more tas; when I heard about Obama’s “win” this morning it was truly a WTF? moment, and I say that as an Obama supporter and a life long Democrat. Clearly this was a NOBush prize meant as much as a sop to the American Electorate for ousting a much hated President, as it was an individual prize to Obama, and I also think that the Prize was meant as an encouragement to Obama to “do the right thing” in International matters, so to speak. I personally think that the Nobel Prize Committee didn’t do Obama any favors, but it behooves me to point out that Obama didn’t go after it. Ultimately, I hope that Obama can live up to the expectations that both American Citizens, and Citizens of the World have for him.

  4. Kathy says:

    I think your objections are fair, tas — and you’re certainly not the only one on the left making them. I have mixed feelings about Obama getting the Nobel, but here is at least one alternate way of looking at the fact that he has not actually brokered or been actively involved in any peace agreements yet, or in ending any wars, etc., etc. If you believe (as I do) that peace is a process as much as an achievement (perhaps more so), then the fact that Obama has moved the U.S. from 7th to 1st place as most admired nation, as well as everything else he has done to increase global good will and move away from the anger people have felt about Bush’s policies, is actually a significant achievement in and of itself. It’s not physical or tangible, but you could say it’s a prerequisite to other milestones toward a more peaceful world.

    Speaking only for myself, I know that the feeling I had on January 20, and the days immediately after, of waking up each day and just being overcome with this feeling of relief and gratitude that the nightmare of the Bush years was over, is a feeling that hasn’t gone away, and it’s hard to describe how powerful it is. Even when I’ve been feeling most blue and down (about the world, about some of Obama’s decisions, about my own personal financial problems), hearing him respond to critics, or give a speech, or just answer questions at a presser, invariably lifts my spirits. Not because he’s “the One” as the loons on the right put it — it’s because of the personal qualities that come through. His humor, his intelligence, his obvious concern for the issues he’s talking about… It just feels like such a blessing to have this man in the White House.

    Now if I feel this way, imagine how much more the rest of the world (not all of it, I know, but a lot) feels knowing that they no longer have to fear what Cowboy George might do to their countries.

    I think there is something to be said for the Nobel Committee giving this award to Obama for the way he’s moved global opinion of the U.S. from the sub-basement to, I don’t know… the Appalachian Mountains? Certainly not Mt. Everest, but it’s a start. There is also something to be said for the Prize being given to Obama at this time — as opposed to in a second term that isn’t guaranteed to happen — in order to encourage him to continue in this path.

  5. Adam Ellis says:

    I don’t think Obama deserved to win…yet. It’s a well done so far and keep going from the Nobel Committee. They want Obama to deliver on his promises and have awarded him ahead of actually achieveing anything!! I have written a blog post on the topic, ‘Will the real President Obama please stand up?’ if anyone wants to take a look http://wp.me/pCIZY-Y

  6. I’m not holding this against Obama, obviously he didn’t deserve to win. Most people agree here. What this news does is further denigrate the Nobel Peace Prize itself. Terrorists like Yassar Arafat won, Al Gore won although his issue had little to do with peace, Jimmy Carter didn’t accomplish anything towards peace .. meanwhile people who truly sacraficed their whole lives for peace have never received the prize … ie: Ghandi and MLK. The Nobel Peace Prize has become rather meaningless, it has become an acknowledgement for Liberals by Liberals, that’s all.

    Obama seemed kinda humble in his acceptance, again I don’t blame him for the untimeliness of this selection, the Nobel Committee is what has denegrated itself through this vote.

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