The Nobel Committee’s big mistake

I cried when Barack Obama got elected. I went door to door trying to convince rural Ohioans to vote for the guy. I proudly self-identify as an American liberal. I want a public option in the health care system. I support global nuclear disarmament and an emphasis on engagement in international relations.

I think that the Nobel committee’s decision to award President Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize was seriously ill advised. In fact, I think it was totally crazy.

Obama hasn’t gotten the US out of Iraq. He is contemplating sending more troops to Afghanistan. He has yet to get Israelis and Palestinians to sit down together. (In fact, Israel’s Foreign Minister is trying to dispel any hope for a comprehensive peace plan.) Obama hasn’t gotten a real agreement to reduce the world’s supply of nuclear weapons or made any substantive changes to international regulations related to global warming.

What has Obama possibly done that would warrant a Nobel Peace Prize?  He gave a pretty good speech in Germany. He gave another pretty good speech in Cairo. He… Actually, those are the only things I can think of.

So why did he get the prize? I think that the primary reason is because he succeeded George W. Bush, the worst American president ever and the greatest threat to international peace of the last thousand years. Some people (the Nobel committee, apparently) think that’s a big enough achievement to deserve a prize. I do not.

If President Obama is smart he’ll turn down the prize. He’ll say, “This is a great honor, but let’s revisit it in a few years. I have a lot of work left to do.” And then he’ll get some credibility for being humble and realistic. And Obama is smart. He’s very smart. But I doubt that his ego is going to allow him to turn down one of the most prestigious awards in the world. And so he will raise expectations for his accomplishments to unreasonable heights.

I’m not saying I don’t want Obama to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope that by the end of his first term he will achieve an equitable settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. I hope that he will rid the world of nuclear weapons. I hope that he will stop global warming. Then he can get a prize.

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3 Comments

Filed under American Politics, Democracy

3 responses to “The Nobel Committee’s big mistake

  1. I think awarding it to Obama is a really important message that the committee is sending: They’re approving his philosophy, and at the moment, I think that it’s a crucial and pleasing move. It’s very much akin to giving it to Willy Brandt in 1971, I think.

  2. Perhaps you thought you elected a miracle worker. You want magic. Like most Americans, you want instant gratification. I am afraid you are in the majority. Your desire for the quick-fix puts you in the category of immaturity, drugsters, the obese–all those troubles that afflict people who choose the quick and easy solution born of impatience and egomania, as opposed to the steady, everyday slog to better lives, health, success, and–what have you.. Statecraft is not a quick and easy process. Does one have to tell you that, really?!

  3. Rebecca

    I saw it as having possibly two connected motives–a statement of hope at what the election of Obama promises and a yoke of responsibility to keep President Obama on the path he has started out on. There are so many pressures and hurdles–for me it is easy to imagine President Obama surrounded by a pack of angry dogs on tight (but not very short) leashes. I am glad that he accepted the prize and I think that it will be a constant reminder to him to of what he originally set out to do.

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