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.