expanded edition cross-posted at Huffington Post
The Nobel Committee announced Friday that the annual peace prize was awarded to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The award cited in particular Mr. Obama’s effort to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. “He has created a new international climate,” the committee said. – In Surprise, Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for Diplomacy
Robert Gibbs had the common reaction: “wow.” It is a huge surprise. The White House says Pres. Obama wasn’t even aware he’d been nominated.
The Nobel awarded through an international eye on world events, having nothing to do with U.S. domestic affairs. The Nobel committee looking not just at achievements, which clearly was not the measure here because Pres. Obama has just begun, but something more foundational.
Pres. Obama should thank Dick Cheney and his sidekick George W. Bush, because it’s obvious after this announcement that never has an international community looked to America for a change in direction more than they did in last year’s election. Longing for something beyond fear, the “axis of evil,” preemptive foreign policy, smaller yield nuclear weapons, and that all time Bush-Cheney favorite, “war on terror.”
This is going to put Rush, Sean, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and the conservative townhall brawlers right off their weekend. Cue up the “Yasser Arafat won it too” brigade, which is exactly what the UK Times did; but considering they’re also the outlet that used our soldiers for their own purposes yesterday I’m not surprised. Ignorance is seldom gracious. Mickey Klaus already saying Pres. Obama should turn it down. This insulting right wing post mild compared to what we’ll hear on wingnut radio. Michael Steele being, well, Michael Steele: ‘What has Pres Obama actually accomplished?’
For Pres. Obama’s outreach to the Muslim community, which is nothing less than historic, especially looking through the prism of Bush-Cheney; when you look at his preliminary preparations for Middle East dialogue; when he took the bold step to demand a freeze in Israeli settlements. Barack Obama foreshadows what could be if partners come forth, even if nothing concrete has manifested. In Afghanistan, his determination to help the Afghans help themselves, but particularly the women of that country rise up.
From Foreign Policy, “Dangerous Prize,” an article revealing the mixed blessing of Obama’s award:
The Nobel Peace Prize’s aims are expressly political. The Nobel committee seeks to change the world through the prize’s very conferral, and, unlike its fellow prizes, the peace prize goes well beyond recognizing past accomplishments. As Francis Sejersted, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the 1990s, once proudly admitted, “The prize … is not only for past achievement. … The committee also takes the possible positive effects of its choices into account [because] … Nobel wanted the prize to have political effects. Awarding a peace prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act.”
It’s a huge honor of hope and promise given to a man who represents the best of America in his rise to the presidency. But with Nobel Prize for Peace also comes expectations that have not yet been met. I just hope it becomes something Pres. Obama utilizes to push harder and farther, with more energy than he is currently expressing. Because there are enough challenges Pres. Obama is facing that we can all hope this will give him new energy to face them all.
The American jury is still out.