President Barack Obama can now add the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to his list of career accomplishments, which includes his historic presidential election victory last November.
In a move that was viewed as stunning to many observers and pundits, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Obama would be the recipient of this prestigious accolade. Obama was given the breaking news of his winning of this award early Friday morning by his press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Speaking to the media in the Rose Garden later that day, Obama spoke of his reaction upon hearing the news as “very surprised and deeply humbled.” Prior to the official announcement made by the Committee, there was little mention of Obama as a possible recipient.
While being only nine months into his young presidency and having been in office for a mere 12 days before the official nomination deadline, Obama becomes only the third sitting United States President to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Past recipients of this honor were President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
The reasoning behind the Committee’s unanimous decision to select Obama was due in large part to the peaceful diplomatic agenda he had pushed for while on the campaign trail and has currently pursued in office.
In its press release, the Committee outlined this belief. They said, “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.”
According to Larry Schwab, a political science professor at John Carroll University, “Certainly an important aspect of the Committee’s decision was they had opposed many policies of the Bush Administration and felt Obama has moved toward a different direction.”
His efforts to adopt a new policy of global nuclear disarmament, reaching out to the Muslim world, incorporating the work of various global players to resolve conflicts such as global warming and re-establishing initiatives of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, all influenced the Committee’s decision.
The announcement brought about much joy to many people across the globe, but also angered some citizens of the world. According to MSNBC, Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore said that the reward was “extremely well-deserved.”
However, critics were quick to point out his administration’s handling of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and questioned whether or not the President had actually accomplished something substantial while in office.
Republican Chairman Michael Steele proclaimed in an official statement that Obama’s award was won based on his so called “star power.”
In both his address to the media and his email to his supporters of Organizing for America, Obama used the winning of the award to re-enforce his message and to invoke a “call to action” at a global level.
He will need the cooperation of the world due to the fact that besides the initial opinions that were expressed by individuals, the award will undoubtedly bring forth added pressure for Obama to deliver upon his promises he has made to people of America as well as the world.
According to The New York Times, Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland and last year’s Nobel Prize winner, said, “The world expects that he will also achieve something.”
Obama will travel to the home of the Committee in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10 to accept the award. Although the receiving of the award carries with it a 1.4 million dollar financial incentive, Obama plans to donate the cash prize to charity.