Friday, October 09, 2009

Really?

Nothing against Obama, but giving him the Nobel Peace Prize, based on lofty rhetoric and ZERO accomplishment, makes a mockery of the award:
America's new president Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this morning for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples."

Mr. Obama is the fourth U.S. president to win the peace price but the first to win for - in the words of the Norwegian selection committee - providing "hope for a better future" rather than any particular accomplishment.

I've been quite impressed with Obama since he took office. In particular, the international tone he's set has gone a long way to reversing the anti-Americanism that Bush left as his legacy. However, as the comminique reveals, this award is based on "hope", which is a pretty flimsy rationale. I would argue that deeds are deserving, while possibilities are just that.

For the life of me, I can't think of one area where Obama has distinguished himself, where he's made a difference, to validate his selection. There are plenty of working pieces in play, around the world, but none of Obama's initiatives have borne fruit, so it's far to premature to bestow such an honor.

This award looks to be more a popularity contest, than what I thought it stood for, historically speaking. I agree with past winner Walesa:
“Who? What? So fast?” Mr. Walesa, who eventually become Poland's president, said when told the news.

“There’s hasn’t been any contribution to peace yet. He’s proposing things, he’s initiating things, but he is yet to deliver,” Mr. Walesa said

An award based on hype, which is unfortunate. Again, not a criticism of Obama, just the rationale.

22 comments:

Top Can Inc. said...

I agree. Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize? For what? For 6 months of talking? He's got two wars going on, for Christ sakes! He just issued an ultimatum to Iran! How's that outreach to the Muslim world? Granted, Iran provoked him with the nuclear stuff, but still!

Lester Pearson must be rolling in his grave!

Balbulican said...

I disagree. US foreign policy under Bush was based on the unilateral use of armed force, the assertion of American sovereignty in virtually any domain the US chose, a kind of brutish tribalism, and a withdrawal from multilateral fora and discussion. After eight years of that (and two active wars) Obama may not have transformed US foreign policy - but his strategies seem to run in exactly the opposite directions.

Besides, I love the sound of exploding neocon heads in the morning.

Steve V said...

Bal

I don't disagree, but unless you can point to one accomplishment, within the tradition of this award, I fail to see the justification. It's a joke really.

Steve V said...

BTW, please don't misconstrue this questioning as a criticism of Obama, because it isn't. I think he's done a terrific job to date, and there is much promise on multiple fronts. It's just that bestowing him this award is entirely premature and unwarranted.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! What can be more peaceful than holding out an olive branch? That is what Obama has done. His televised overtures to the Islamic world and his push for total nuclear disarmament are a couple of examples.

I do think that the Nobel committee was giving an indirect slap in the face of the self-avowed "war president" who preceded Obama. Since they don't give out a Nobel War Prize, I reckon that's fair enough.

There are interesting times ahead wrt Afghanistan. Obama's ability to forge peace on earth is going to be put to the test.

JB

MarpMan said...

The nominations for this award, unless they changed the rules would have occurred February 1st. This would have meant that he was in office 2 weeks when he was nominated.
Many of his steps and initiatives were done after his name was put forward.

Mark Dowling said...

Total agreement with this post.

Ted Betts said...

This is very problematic.

For Obama, it furthers the conservative narrative that he got the Dem nomination without any accomplishment, got the presidency without having done anything and now getting this award without accomplishing anything in the nature of "peace". It puts more pressure on him and, if liberal leaning partisans such as Steve and others here including me are going hunh?, what are American non-partisans thinking?

For the Peace Prize, it is devastating. It not only lends credence to claims that they are handing out awards based on their personal political preferences and trying to send a message, rather than award the heroes in the world who have toiled and taken risks not for award but to advance peace. The recent award to former President Carter could at least be justified given his tireless work at promoting democracy since his presidency, but the reasoning they gave made it clear Carter got it more as a message to Bush. Then giving the Peace Prize to Gore for his flawed but popular film and his tireless efforts to improved the environment. And now this. Once upon a time, the Nobel Prize held up its award winners as examples for us all to lead toward better peace in the world. Now, they use the award as a political message, almost as if they want to give him this award to help him fulfil his hope or to stick it to conservatives. It greatly devalues the award.

For the true heroes out there in the world advancing peace, this is an insult. There are countless men and women risking their lives, foregoing personal wealth and comfort, dedicating all their lives to furthering some good and higher cause, seeking publicity only to advance their cause and not themselves, directly helping save lives or bring an end to wars or otherwise further peace. Awarding the Nobel Prize to Obama for "hope" is an insult to those heroes.

I remember laughing out loud when I read that Reagan had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize back in the 1980s. But I did recognize that the argument could be made that he had helped end the cold war and certainly the end of the cold war did indeed make the world a safer and more peaceful place. At least there was something tangible to claim as his legacy deserving of the award.

Here? Nothing.

kirbycairo said...

How can you make a mockery of a peace prize that was given to Heenry Kissinger?

I say never underestimate Scandinavian wit!

JimBobby said...

MarpMan sez: The nominations for this award, unless they changed the rules would have occurred February 1st. This would have meant that he was in office 2 weeks when he was nominated.
Many of his steps and initiatives were done after his name was put forward.


Good point. However, one could argue that even though the nomination was made in February, the committee was not restricted to prior deeds but could take more recent actions into consideration.

As far as the credibility of the prize, I think Kirby handles that with the Kissinger thing. Are Obama's efforts more peace-promoting than one of the chief proponents of the Vietnam war? Time will tell. The NPP has been a political sledge hammer pretty much since day one.

As far as Ted's problems with awarding a peace prize for environmental work, I think the Nicholas Stern report shows how much climate change threatens world economies and world peace. The US military is spending quite a bit of time, effort and money in preparation for the impending political strife that climate change will bring. Food riots, desperate refugees, widespread relocation of populations from below sea level coastal cities and blame-the-first-world politics are predicted to have devastating effects on global peace.

JB

Alex Arnet said...

While I agree that this award is now officially a joke from a peace accomplishment perspective, saying he's done a great job until now is equally ludicrous.

From Guantanamo bay to Iraq and Afghanistan, from FISA, the Patriot act, Bush emails and a host of other issues, Obama is carrying on the Bush legacy, and crafting himself a shiner version of it. He has turned his back on every promise he made, from lobbyists and health care, to transparency in office, these have all fallen by the wayside.

For a much more detailed and articulate argument read Glenn Greenwald. Oh, and I was on of those skeptically caught up in the wave of hope. That wave has fallen flat, and thus far shown to be a single.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Alex Arnet makes a lotta good points. So far, Obama ain't lived up to the hope. We've seen the same pattern of wildly enthusiastic hope followed by abject disappointment with other messianic leaders (i.e. Lech Walesca). The reality and challenges of office are seldom as simple as they seem.

I'm still hopeful that Obama can do at least some of the good things we all expected to happen overnight. He's got plenty of opposition from the teabaggin' crowd and the issues Alex correctly raises are costing him support from his base. He seems to be in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

JB

Joseph said...

My first reaction was "What?"

I'm a big supporter of Obama as well, but this seems wacky.

They shouldn't give the prize based on a "sense of relief" that Bush is no longer in office, which is what it seems to be.

I'm sure it is not really acceptable to reject this award. However, I honestly believe Obama should accept the award and immediately dedicate it to the unrecognized people who work for peace daily without any recognition - specifically recognizing a group or groups - that never receive public recognition. I'd even suggest he donate the award to one of those groups or some highly respected and established international organization working for peace efforts.

(not the Nobel folks, though, that would be awkward ;).

I think it would be the right thing to do and the reality is it would help him with what seems like the most awkward of occurrences. He's a pretty accomplished man . . . I suspect even he's feeling a little strange about this.

I'm trying to think of an equivalent "normal life" example, and I can't really. Maybe if a writer submitted a first chapter of a promising novel, and the response wasn't a book contract but instead the first Pulitzer prior to publishing ;).

Tof KW said...

"I remember laughing out loud when I read that Reagan had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize back in the 1980s. But I did recognize that the argument could be made that he had helped end the cold war..."

No he didn't, he was the one that joked on air about declaring the USSR illegal, and the bombs would launch in 5 minutes. He & his team (including Cheney & Rumsfeld - they were in cabinet & advising him) went against everything the CIA was telling them (sound familiar?) on the Soviet Union. What the CIA figured out was what any of us who fled from behind the iron curtain knew (my family got out of Poland in the 1960's) - and that was the Soviet empire was dead broke, and only needed to be isolated and then watched as it broke apart on its own over time.

Reagan was a war-head. Mikhail Gorbachev deserved the prize for ending the cold war (and rightfully won it) for his role in helping dismantle the Soviet empire without bloodshed.

Over the centuries we have seen many empires die. Most know when they are about to be swept into the dustbin of history, and had a choice in how they die. The USSR could have gone with a "we'll show them" attitude and started wars with every break-away region in a futile attempt to hold together, much like how Austria-Hungary went. Instead Gorbachev let it slide in the most peaceful way he could engineer, and once out of power left the world in the most peaceful state he could.

Gorbachev is a true NPP lauriate in the best spirit of this award. I agree Obama has potential to join him, but this is way too soon. As for Reagan, his name even being tossed around back in the day threatened to make the NPP a joke ...way more than Obama winning it now ever could.

MarpMan said...

Wasn't GW Bush nominated a few years back.

Of course, now we will see a lot of Miss Universe candidates win the Nobel Peace Prize as they all speak in favour of world peace.
Its all about what you say, not what you do these days...

RuralSandi said...

If you can get one for just talking, how come John Lennon didn't get one?

Ted Betts said...

T of KW:

I said the "argument could be made" in the sense that at least there is some support for the argument, some bit of plausibility, you could stack up certain facts that might appear to lend credence to the claim... not that the argument was sound. Hence, my laughter at the idea that I referred to.

Alex Arnet said...

I'm sure I left a few other issues out, but one I meant to include but forgot, and I think is a real reflection of the hypocrisy involved is the current lack of support for gay rights, in terms of DOMA and DADT. Promises made energized the base, raised millions and delivered votes, which are now cast aside and ignored. I realize most of the issues I raised are domestic issues, but I'm responding more to the claim that Obama has done a great job.

Jerry Prager said...

Considering that Nobel made his fortune with dynamite, his peace prize is a little suspect to begin with, but I have no problem with Obama winning it, since the right rhetoric at the right time moves mountains. I never had any illusions
about Obama transforming an America
so hardwired to the arms industry
that there's no way for him to put a brake to that, all he can do is what he is doing, grab the steering wheel, keep that nearly ungovernable country on the road, and head for some far off curve in the road.

Steve V said...

Great comments.

cls said...

You may want to consider that the Nobel was awarded to Obama as a way to buttress the diplomacy end of the Iran issue in the face of the relentless campaign from the hawks and the zionists to bomb Iran.
The Nobel makes it that bit harder for Obama to use military action and adds some international clout to the diplomacy arguments in the aftermath of the Iranian concession on Russian enrichments, etc.
It's not about 'AfPak'; it's about Tehran.
You only have to think ahead to what might happen if the Iranians respond to a major military strike on their facilities by attacking oil infrastructure in the Gulf to figure out the politics of this.
It can be useful to think about the sanctions as economic war, and the Iranian response in kind by disrupting the industrial world's fuel supply as response in kind.

CathiefromCanada said...

I think the Nobel is a message to Obama -- thank heavens America is back!
Josh Marshall wrote yesterday about how Americans haven't really understood how much Bush and Cheney destabilized the world. Now that Obama is beginning to walk this back -- speech in Cairo, ending of missile defense in Europe, respecting the United Nations, meeting with Iran, objecting to settlements, and the announcements which have at least stated his intention to end the Iraq war, close Guantanamo, end torture, close black sites -- I think it was quite appropriate to highlight and encourage what Obama is doing by giving him this award.