My president is a Nobel Prize-winner?

October 15th, 2009

A Nobel Peace Prize is an extraordinary thing—something that celebrates work that shines hope for a more peaceful tomorrow in a world that is far too burdened with pain and suffering. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in 2009. 

It seems to me that the Nobel Committee decided not to award Obama’s accomplishments towards peace (which even I will admit are hard to find), but rather decided to use the Nobel Peace Prize as a mechanism to yet again have an international rebuke of the George W. Bush administration’s policies towards international diplomacy.

I think that is petty and petulant; a childish “we told you so” in a world that is far too complicated for such waywardness.

President Obama has done nothing to deserve this award—the irony is rich in the Committee selecting Obama to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize around the same time that he is announcing he will escalate a war in Afghanistan.

The Committee acknowledged Obama’s spoken commitment to solving the Israeli conflict as a reason for the award, but if they are serious about that they would have had to hand out the Prize to every sitting president since Israel was created.

It’s not hard to stand up and say that a stable Israel is important to the United States’ Middle East interests; it is, however, difficult and probably deserving of that award to actually accomplish an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Not only has Obama not come close to facilitating that agreement, he was rebuked by Israel for suggesting that he would want to broker this compromise. Shortly after his announcement, Israel came out and said that it would not happen in the near future.

In a sense this award is bad for Obama. It solidifies that even the international community believes that he is all bark and no bite—and they’re okay with that.

Even if they are, I’m not. By and large I’ve been rather happy with the President; I think he’s navigating the terrible situation that this country is in rather well, but that doesn’t mean he deserves a Nobel.

He doesn’t even think he deserved it. Him winning this prize wasn’t on his or his staff’s radar. The White House Situation Room, who monitors activity around the world, first picked up the news—they sent an e-mail to White House staffers to inform them, the subject line of which simply read “item of interest,” according to The New York Times.

The White House had no official comment for several hours after finding this out, pointing quite clearly to the fact that they were so surprised they didn’t really know what to do.

What is clear in all this, though, is the Committee who selects the Nobel Peace Laureates acted inappropriately and should be ashamed of their international conduct. A Nobel Prize should celebrate work, not condemn others. America’s image in the world was quite apparently damaged under W’s eight years, but the Nobel Committee equally damaged their reputation with their selection for the 2009 Peace Prize to go to the freshman war-time president.