Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Since Obama's performance in office has arguably been closer to toe-stubbing than exemplary over the past nine months, the award was apparently based on hopey-changey expectations.

Either that or the prize committee has affirmed that the Nobel Peace Prize is now a vehicle to push a political agenda rather than an award which recognizes superior achievement.

[Add.] Here are some reactions:
- "I am a genuine admirer of Obama. And I am very pleased that George W Bush is no longer president. But I doubt that I am alone in wondering whether this award is slightly premature. It is hard to point to a single place where Obama’s efforts have actually brought about peace - Gaza, Iran, Sri Lanka? The peace prize committee say that he is being rewarded for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy”. But while it is OK to give school children prizes for “effort” - my kids get them all the time - I think international statesmen should probably be held to a higher standard." - Gideon Rachman at

- "Obviously, the award is based on the hope that Obama will achieve real progress in advancing diplomacy rather than confrontation around the globe." - Jacob Heilbrunn at HuffPo

- "The simple explanation for the Committee’s decision to cite Mr. Obama at this stage of his presidency is that he is not George W. Bush. The more generous interpretation is that the decision is hortatory; that is, it is designed to encourage the President to follow a path in U.S. foreign policy that is preferred by Committee members." - Norman Spector at The Globe and Mail

- "The Taliban Friday condemned the decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying he had 'not taken a single step towards peace in Afghanistan'." - AFP report
There are many raised eyebrows. The receipt of the prize may ultimately be a negative since it encourages people to actually assess what Obama has done in his short time in office. I contend that an honest assessment would not be flattering.

More reactions:
- The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (Svenska Freds) has classified as "shameful" the decision by the Nobel Committee in Oslo to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 to Barack Obama. "The choice of Barack Obama as the recipient of the world's foremost peace prize is shocking," said the group's chairwoman Anna Ek in a statement.

Ek conceded that the US president had sent "positive signals" with regard to his future commitment to global peace. "But at the same time Obama is the president of the biggest military power in the world and is waging two wars in the world. That should certainly disqualify him from a peace prize," said Ek. - The Local (Sweden)

- The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and opposes a peace treaty with Israel, said the award was premature at best. "Obama has a long way to go still and lots of work to do before he can deserve a reward," said Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri. "Obama only made promises and did not contribute any substance to world peace. And he has not done anything to ensure justice for the sake of Arab and Muslim causes." - Kyiv Post

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