Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

Written by  //  December 10, 2009  //  David/Terry Jones, Foreign Policy, U.S., World  //  1 Comment

Like the rest of the world, when we woke to the news, we were astonished, and while we believe that the Nobel committee sought to encourage President Obama’s efforts, we would be more comfortable had they waited a couple of years. The award puts undue pressure on the President, whose commitment we do not question,  while giving his right-wing antagonists yet more fodder for their attacks on him. We are dismayed by the numbers of American public figures in politics and the media who have wasted no time in making disparaging, hateful, comments – they are so blinded by their ideology (if one may call it that) that they do not hesitate to advocate anything that will make him, and our country, fail. In another time, such actions would have been called treasonous.

Obama addresses war and Peace Prize
U.S. President Barack Obama defended the doctrine of war for humanitarian ends in his acceptance speech for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Obama acknowledged his own accomplishments to date were slight compared with the quiet efforts of dissidents and humanitarian organizations working around the world — and with those of the luminaries who have received the award in the past such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Elie Wiesel. The Washington Post (12/10) , CBC.ca (Canada) (12/10)
21 October
Postscript from our West Wing  sibling (Vancouver’s Wednesday Night)
The challenge was to explain why Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mark Masterson … by converting even the most cynical amongst us. Quoting this passage from James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century”, p. 382:
“…Days after 9/11, President George W. Bush promised to lead a “crusade” against “evil.” Even though he later retracted the word “crusade,” he would us it again in the months to come. […] In just a few short years, the world has been remade into a place where the phrase “American exceptionalism” has become a euphemism for “you are either with us or against us” and has been used to explain the American withdrawal from the 1972 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the failure of the U.S. Congress to even consider the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, the pursuit of the weaponization of space, the imposition of a right-wing Christian ideology onto American foreign and international health policies, the rewriting of the rules of war to create non-status POWs, and the co-option of traditional notions of humanitarianism as weapons of war itself.”,
Mark’s point was that within the first 6 months of his administration Obama undid all of the measures Orbinski listed that were implemented under Bush.

Chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, holds up a photo of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama at The Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo Friday.

Obama ‘Humbled’ by Nobel Prize Video
(CBS) President Obama said he felt he did not deserve to be among past Nobel Peace Prize winners during a press conference at the White House.
19 October
David Jones: Nobel Peace Prize for Obama premature
(Hill Times) U.S. President Barack Obama is a man of great potential; high intelligence, and remarkable rhetorical brilliance. But at this point in his presidency, regrettably, he has yet to match this potential with accomplishment. (Subscription only)
14 October
Joe Conason on the Meaning of Obama’s Nobel Prize
“A Nobel for Defeating Cheneyism” — (Truthdig) Outraged babble and sanctimonious tut-tutting over President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize will pour forth for years. His critics are infuriated, they say, because he didn’t earn the prestigious award, or because he didn’t refuse it—or just because those left-wing Norwegians have a lot of nerve. How dare they insult us by bestowing their highest honor on the president of the United States and inviting him to deliver a lecture?
Top 20 Reactions From Pundits and Politicians on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

(Fast Company) President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is a lightning rod of debate. Here are the best quotes from the maelstrom.
Nobel Geopoliticsan informative and entertaining analysis
(Stratfor) The mechanism for awarding the peace prize is very different from the other Nobel categories. Academic bodies, such as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, decide who wins the other prizes. Alfred Nobel’s will stated, however, that a committee of five selected by the Norwegian legislature, or Storting, should award the peace prize. …Two things must be remembered about the Nobel Peace Prize. The first is that Nobel was never clear about his intentions for it. The second is his decision to have it awarded by politicians from — and we hope the Norwegians will accept our advance apologies — a marginal country relative to the international system.
10 October
Thomas Friedman: The Peace (Keepers) Prize
The Nobel committee did President Obama no favors by prematurely awarding him its peace prize. As he himself acknowledged, he has not done anything yet on the scale that would normally merit such an award — and it dismays me that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way. … I thought the president showed great grace in accepting the prize not for himself but “as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”All that said, I hope Mr. Obama will take this instinct a step further when he travels to Oslo on Dec. 10 for the peace prize ceremony. Here is the speech I hope he will give … Please read this; we hope Mr. Obama will consider it as the basis of his text.
9 October
Our Laureate: Neda of Iran
President Obama has won the Nobel Prize for Peace — but that’s not his fault.
(WaPo Editorial) We understand how much Scandinavians and other Europeans welcomed the end of the Bush administration; in that sense, Mr. Obama’s prize confirms that his ascension to the presidency has improved America’s image in the world, or at least parts of it. But in offering this latest Euro-celebration of the 2008 election, the Norwegian committee has also demonstrated a certain cluelessness about America. If anything animates Mr. Obama’s critics in this country, it is the impression that he is the focus of a global cult of personality. [Sadly, we must agree.] This prize, at this time, only feeds that impression, and thus does him no favors politically.
Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize
In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, a surprised U.S. President Barack Obama said he considered it a call to action, saying he accepted on behalf of people who fought for freedom across the world. Nobel authorities said they chose Obama for the change in international dialog spurred by his election, an indirect swipe at the George W. Bush administration. South African archbishop Desmond Tutu described Obama as a young Nelson Mandela, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted the news as a sign global confidence in the U.S. has been restored. The New York Times (10/9) , Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (10/9)
Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize
(HuffPost) 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. More
RNC, DNC feud over Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize
(Politico) The Republican National Committee says President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve his Nobel Prize. The Democratic National Committee says the RNC sounds just the Taliban and Hamas, sworn enemies of the United States. And all this debate was over a “peace” prize.
Obama’s award touched off a bitter fight between the two national parties Friday morning – just the latest example of a rhetorical one-upmanship that seems to have overtaken Washington, on matters from health care to Obama’s birth certificate. But the reactions to Obama’s Nobel seemed particularly pungent. Obama hadn’t even taken to the White House podium to accept the honor when Republican Chairman Michael Steele issued a statement questioning what Obama has done to deserve the honor.
Democrats have not remained silent either and are hitting back, reports Sam Stein in the Huffington Post.
“Either sensing an opening to cast the Republican Party as actively rooting against America, or just fed up with the stream of negative responses, the Democratic National Committee put out an unusually blunt statement Friday morning. The gist: that the GOP sides with the terrorists.
‘The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize,’ wrote DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. ‘Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honour in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20% of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore — it’s an embarrassing label to claim.’ ”
(NYT) Weekend Opinionator: Does the Nobel Hate America?
The concluding paragraph:
We are born and raised to believe that dissent is, or at least can be, patriotic. Over the last six years, liberals and conservatives have each accused the other of breaking that link in the social contract. And in the vortex of this week’s Nobel debate, the lines between patriotism, anti-Americanism, dissent and nationalism have blurred into triviality — Irving Kristol’s neoconservativism has mutated into some meaningless form of postmodernism. Obama’s Nobel will soon be yesterday’s news, but the argument over what it means to love America will be alive and well.
(Foreign Policy) In a stunning upset, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded U.S. President Barack Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, only nine months into his presidency. The committee cited Obama’s efforts at nuclear nonproliferation, his outreach to the Muslim world, and emphasis on multilateralism saying, “Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics.”
The choice of Obama is even more surprising given that he had assumed office only two weeks before the Feb. 1 deadline for nominations. When asked whether the award was, perhaps, premature, Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland compared Obama to Willy Brandt and and Mikhail Gorbachev, two leaders whose reforms had not come to fruition when they had received the prize. “The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” Jagland said. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?” Nobel Peace Prize Also-Rans Seven people who that never won the prize, but should have From Henry Kissinger to Yasir Arafat, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has made some controversial picks over the years.
The international politics behind Obama’s Nobel Peace prize

(CSM) The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama appears to be an effort to spur on, rather than reward, peacemaking. A commentator on Britain’s Sky News captured the mood well when he said it appeared Obama had won the prize for “not being George Bush.” America’s international standing was at a nadir by the end of the Bush administration, and Obama’s decision to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program (already bearing some fruit) and promises to reinvigorate US efforts in Israel-Palestinian peacemaking have quickly remade America’s international image, with the US leaping into the top spot in a recent survey on the world’s most admired countries. That’s especially so in Europe, where Obama’s decision to cancel a planned missile-shield system in Eastern Europe that had rankled Russia has been widely praised. And the five-member Norwegian committee that picks the annual peace-prizewinner clearly has something more in mind than simply giving Obama a $1 million high-five for being such a popular guy. Unlike the other Nobels, which are given for a lifetime of generally indisputable high achievement in areas like physics, chemistry, and literature, the peace prize has often been awarded more in hope than hindsight — and with an eye to nudging world events.
Obama’s Nobel win draws mixed reaction (many quotes from other leaders)
(CBC) The selection of U.S. President Barack Obama as the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate has raised questions worldwide about whether it is too early in his mandate to bestow the award. The prize citation said Obama, 48, has shown “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between people.”
Praise and skepticism greet Obama Nobel award
(Reuters) – A surprised world greeted the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama with a mixture of praise and skepticism on Friday.
Doubts over Obama Nobel win
(Al Jazeera) In Afghanistan, the Taliban mocked the award, saying it was absurd to give it to Obama when he had ordered 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan this year. Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said in a statement: “The award of the prize to president Obama, leader of the most significant military power in the world, at the beginning of his mandate, is a reflection of the hopes he has raised globally with his vision of a world without nuclear weapons.” Mikhail Gorbachev and Wangari Maathai, two other former recipients, were among the first to offer their congratulations.
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize triumph praised by many
(AP) The choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize was cheered Friday by a global chorus from European leaders to minibus passengers in Kenya — but it also elicited criticism over the decision to break with tradition and recognize hopeful promise over concrete achievement.
Is it premature to give Barack Obama the Nobel peace prize, less than a year into his presidency?
(The Economist) Mr Obama’s main achievement is a change of tone in foreign policy. A speech given in Egypt in June was an eloquent call for a new understanding between America and Islam. It was designed both to assure Muslims, now thought to number 1.6 billion around the world, that America is not set on a crusade. Similarly it was intended to convey to any Americans (and others) who believe in the notion of a “clash of civilisations” that friendly ties between religions is eminently possible.
Similarly, American policy towards small and repressive regimes, ranging from Myanmar to Cuba, has shifted in mood, if not yet substance, by offering the prospect of engagement if governments demonstrate progress towards democracy. Some may also see Mr Obama’s push for more action to tackle climate change as a factor—he is urging Congress to pass a cap-and-trade bill and has said that his administration would decree new environmental rules if Congress fails to do so. (Al Gore, another Democratic figure, also won the Nobel prize, for his campaigns against climate change.)
Yet critics will have plenty to complain about. The prize-giving committee was at pains to emphasise Mr Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. In the citation, the committee argued that his “diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.” But is the award premature? Although the prize may be given in the spirit of encouraging Mr Obama’s government, it might have been better to wait for more solid achievements. With so many good intentions, and so many initiatives scattered around the world (and an immensely busy domestic agenda, including health-care reform and averting economic collapse), Mr Obama appears to be racing around trying everything without yet achieving much.
Mr Obama’s aspirations may be laudable, but he has several tough years ahead. The Nobel committee evidently wants to encourage him but it might have been wiser to hold judgment until he has achieved more. In America itself, the decision has already infuriated conservative commentators, ensuring there will be no peace on the home front, at least.
Michael Hirsh: Thanks for Not Being Bush
(Newsweek) Why Obama won the Nobel peace prize.
This prize shows two things: one, the prize committee wishes to express the world’s delight at being rid of George W. Bush; and two, there is still a yearning out there to have the “old America” back
And then we get to Canada’s mean-spirited Right.
Jonathan Kay: Giving Barack Obama the Nobel peace prize is ridiculous
(National Post) It’s so much more fashionable to honour a man such as Mr. Obama, whose foreign-policy record hasn’t been sullied by the moral trade-offs that inevitably accompany actually doing something to create peace on the battlefield. Since the entire body of work for which Mr. Obama is being honoured consists of idealistic pronouncements, the Nobel prize committee was able to pick him without worrying that the choice could stir up controversy among umbraged minority groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, or the UN’s various institutional cheerleaders.
With this pick, the Nobel committee has declared itself to be a debating society — and it has given its shiny prize to the nice man who gave the best speech. It’s like those beauty pageants wherein the MC asks contestants what they would do to promote world peace. The best answer earns applause, flowers and a trophy. But no one expects the winner to actually go out in her tiara and ballroom gown and stop people from fighting.
Obama won what? Political pundits do a spit-take  (Highly selective – from the National Posthowever, we do agree with the comment from TIME)
Time Magazine makes an excellent point:
Compare this to Greg Mortenson, nominated for the prize by some members of Congress, who the bookies gave 20-to-1 odds of winning. Son of a missionary, a former army Medic and mountaineer, he has made it his mission to build schools for girls in places where opium dealers and tribal warlords kill people for trying. His Central Asia Institute has built more than 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a mission which has, along the way, inspired millions of people to view the protection and education of girls as a key to peace and prosperity and progress.
And Matt Cooper on the Atlantic Monthly politics blog:
Bill Clinton is So Pissed. After everything Clinton did to promote peace in Ireland, the Balkans and especially the Middle East. After his global initiative to save lives, can he not be kicking himself this morning? Obama wins less than a year into his presidency with no major peace agreement under his belt but just gauzy applause for contributing to global good will. Nick Kristof thought it an odd choice. I bet Clinton, um, feels the same way. And since they’re unlikely to give it to another American anytime soon, let alone another American president, the odds of Clinton ever getting the Nobel just got a lot dimmer.  Forget about Hillary. Note that this quote, selected by Jonathan Kay & the National Post, is part of a longer and far more positive appraisal.
There’s more on NP
How to keep Republicans happy: Dick Cheney wins Nobel Prize for war
8 October
Who is favourite to win the Nobel peace prize?

(The Economist) THE winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize will be announced on Friday October 9th. In recent years the prize-giving academy has been critised for awarding the prize for services to non-specific do-goodery rather than for promoting peace directly. The odds offered by Paddy Power, an online bookmakers, show that both types of candidate are reckoned to be in the running. The favourite is Sima Samar, an Afghan human-rights activist, with Piedad Córdoba, a Colombian senator who has pushed for peace in her country, not far behind. But the language of Esperanto and Pete Seeger, an American folk singer, are also thought to be in the running. Punters looking for a long-odds bet might pop their cash on Michael Jackson (ineligible because he is dead) or George Bush.

One Comment on "Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize"

  1. brett nichols October 14, 2009 at 8:25 am ·

    obama rules hes the greatest thing to ever happen to america first african american president obama is my hero he is a symbol that anything can happen

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