You could knock me over with a feather. I just heard this news and it’s a shocker. Barack Obama has indeed won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is the committee’s statement:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. 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.
Now, I respect Pres. Obama. But what has he actually done to deserve it? Yes, his agenda, if he realizes it, would certainly be Nobel-worthy. But he hasn’t come close to realizing any of his foreign policy agenda. He’s made some great speeches no doubt (Cairo for one). But speeches are neither deeds nor concrete achievements.
So I think this award is really a shot in the dark. A big gamble. They’re telling Obama and the world that they have enormous hopes for him. They’re also telling us what deep straits the world is in. From Gaza to Teheran to Kabul to Baghdad, things are a mess. A military attack against Iran hangs like a question mark over the Middle East. The committee is essentially saying that tough times demand risk and this award is a risk. It could be that Obama will merit it over time. It could be that the award will make it that much easier for him to achieve some of his agenda. If so, the Swedes are telling us that’s all to the good.
Lately, Obama has taken hits both at home and abroad. This award is meant as a shot in the arm, a bit of courage for the tough times ahead. He’ll need it.
I hope against hope that this award will encourage the realist camp in dealing with Iran. I hope it will give pause to the Israeli adventurists gunning for a fight with Iran. I do think it will make it that much harder for Obama himself to turn hawkish, as he has intimated he might do if negotiations fail. So maybe there’s some shrewdness to this award as well.