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.