October 10, 2009

How to feel about Obama's Nobel

Disbelief was bipartisan Friday morning as news broke that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. The honor would have likely make it Obama's way eventually, but American commentators seemed uniformly convinced that awarding it to him now was premature to say the least. Obama is still a very green President, who has set out a bold agenda but has not made much headway in accomplishing it. Case in point: Guantanamo. Though he used his first act as President to authorize its closure, he is unlikely to meet his self-imposed one-year deadline in actually shutting it down.

That is the perception among Americans. No results, no award.

But American commentators did not decide the winner. The Nobel Committee (which is based out of Norway and selected by the Norwegian Parliament) did. And their perspective is decidedly different.

For non-Americans generally, and Europeans specifically, Obama's abrupt change in the the tone of U.S. Foreign Policy is results enough. Obama has moved America back into a leadership position in world affairs. By reengaging the Middle East, by working to finish and win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by working to ameliorate the world's major social ills, Obama is doing more for peace and "fraternity between nations" than any other human in the world today.

The Nobel Committee could have given the prize to an inspiring, though largely irrelevant social worker in some grim corner of the world (the right-wing has wasted little time in arguing for this point), though that would not have been true to form or Mr. Nobel's wishes.


  1. Anonymous1:36 AM

    So by irrelevant you mean that we shouldn't give awards to people who aren't celebrities? Just because someone is an unsung hero doesn't make them any less deserving of a prize. The Nobel Peace Prize isn't a beauty contest that awards the most popular; they award the person who had the most substantial impact on establishing peace.

    By your same argument, Barack Obama deserves to win the Heisman Trophy for "inspiring" other college football layers to play their hardest more than Sam Bradford or someone less known by the general population. Maybe an Oscar for inspiring better performances? Teen Choice Award? VMA?

  2. Anonymous2:06 AM

    Agreed with the person above, Obama does not deserve the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for simply inspiring people, it's a little bit extreme.

    And what is your point by talking about irrelvencies? In my perspective it makes more sense to give a social worker the Prize for inspiring people "in some grim corner of the world" rather than to Obama for his abrupt changes in foreign policy. Let's think about this: this is the same guy who was declined an honorary degree from ASU because "his body of work is yet to come."

    I mean don't get me wrong, congratulations, but it was hardly deserved.

  3. Anonymous12:30 PM

    i agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion on this... but apparently the european board saw a revelation in the way obama has conducted himself on foreign policy compared to the closed world that we were in for too long... i agree with nb

  4. The Heisman Trophy is "awarded annually by the Heisman Trophy Trust to the most outstanding player in collegiate football." Hence is makes sense that the recipient play football and have a lot of game time. MTV Video Music Awards are awarded to the best/most popular musical artist/song of a year. Thus it makes sense that the recipient be both talented and well known. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to whoever does "the most or the best work for fraternity between nations." Thus it makes sense that the recipient either have a contribution so significant or a stature so grand to live up to such a large expectation.

    No one sane enough to form complete sentences can argue that Obama's shift in foreign policy has not done a lot for the advancement of world peace. Tensions are lowered, dialogue is restored, and nations look to us for leadership. We may be amazed that all it took was a few inspiring words and a willingness to listen, but the result is the same.

  5. This is a very good post. I agree with you.