Obama? Nobel Prize? Peace?

I have to admit that the last piece of news I expected to wake up to this morning was that Obama would be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.  This shock has nothing to do with my personal feelings for Obama, but rather with my obviously incorrect assumptions that the prize was actually somewhat difficult to win.  Clearly, nothing about this award could be hailed an actual “accomplishment” by Barack Obama.

The first and most ridiculous indication of this fact is that Obama was president of the US only two weeks before the deadline for the nomination of this year’s prize.  It is my understanding that his accomplishments up to that moment were the consideration for his winning of the prize.  Perhaps this explains some things.

One of the noted “accomplishments” of the then two-week-term president was his “pledge” to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms.  While I have no reason to doubt that Obama’s pledge is one of sincerity, it has thus far been little more than political speak.  Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to “work out” a reduction limit on nuclear warheads.  They even discussed the numbers of such future reductions.  What they have not done, however, is to have stipulated nor spoken further about the actual dates at which such reductions should take place.  Their “talks” have remained precisely that.  The world’s nuclear arsenal is not dwindling.  In fact, all evidence suggests, it is instead most likely soon to be growing; right into the hands of murderous mad-men like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man Obama “talks” about regularly.  (Ahmadinejad, once enabled, will not talk about his position; he will act.)  But, apparently “talk” is the substance of reward in the eyes of the Nobel committee.

Another noted reason for Obama’s nomination and win is his work to ease conflict between America and Muslim nations.  Of course, Obama pledged to end the Iraqi and Afghani conflicts.  Since his pledge, ironically, an actual increase in US presence in those nations has occurred, including 21,000 additional troops in Afghanistan alone.

Personally, I’m not in favor of reducing America’s nuclear arms or of getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq before the work in those regions which we began has been completed.  Yet I am swooning from the presumption that Obama has actually done anything concerning his promises – however ill-advised – on those matters. 

The Nobel Peace Prize, it seems, is about intentions rather than accomplishments.

A quote from the prize committee’s announcement describes, “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.”  Since when is the “capture (of the) world’s attention” tantamount to actual success as it relates to the acquiring of peace?

Clearly, the Nobel Peace Prize fails to meet its charter, which was noted in the will of founder, Alfred Nobel.  In his last testament he specified that the peace prize should be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”  

Clearly, no distinction is being made between one who “shall have done the most or best work” and one who shall “expressed the best intentions.”

In all fairness, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has historically demonstrated an aptitude for “lack of forward vision.”  Among former nominees are Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, while Yasser Arafat actually won the award in 1994.  Ironically, Mahatma Gandhi, though nominated five times, never won an award.

Perhaps it all makes more sense than we are admitting.


4 Responses to Obama? Nobel Prize? Peace?

  • Hello.

    I enjoyed your article on “Jesus and the folded napkin”. It led me to your site and I was intrigued by your article on Obama and the peace prize. I was ambivalent about the award – just as I was for Arafat AND Jimmy Carter – we can see in retrospect that their intentions and paper agreements did not translate into lasting results.

    However, I think the Nobel committee is recognizing Obama’s willingness to expend political capital on the concepts of justice he sees as most essential to human dignity and survival – he is willing to take stands on very difficult issues with no clear guarantee of success.

    I have experienced this over and over again in my live, and see it echoed in scripture.

    As an example, in the late seventies had a friend that was fundamentally against apartheid; he campaigned to have the university we attended divest itself of holding in businesses that did business in South Africa. I thought he was tilting at windmills. Ten years later (after he had passed away, having taken his life after suffering from schizophrenia), the apartheid regime fell due to exactly the kind of idealism he advocated.

    I sense in this the underlying image of Christ: He (either by the force of the holy spirit or by the force of the underlying Christian tradition we share) drives our finest leaders to tackle the most divisive and difficult issue of justice in our time.

    —–

    I was particularly fascinated by your comment that Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler were nominees.

    A search of the Nobel database confirmed that Stalin and Mussolini were indeed nominees. Not so for Hitler (he is mentioned in the text associated with another German who was nominated).

    Observing that you like to get your details right, I thought I would respectfully point this out.

    Regards,

    – Tom

  • Hey, Tom- thanks for your comments.

    My information on Hitler came from the Nobel Prize database as well. Here’s the direct link: http://nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/nomination.php?action=show&showid=2609

    Not sure why your search did not turn him up, however. Perhaps I found him through a Google back door?

    Best wishes-
    jk

  • I agree! A subsequent search of their database did in fact turn up Hitler. I did nt find it on the evening I posted my first comment. How odd.

    Thanks,

    – Tom

  • Tom, do you think Obama’s support of infanticide for babies who survive abortions shows his willingness to expend political capital on the concepts of justice he sees as most essential to human dignity and survival or his willingness to take stands on very difficult issues?

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