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Friday, October 09, 2009

Mixed Reactions To Obama Winning Nobel Peace Prize

The news hit that Barack Obama has been chosen as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and reactions seem to be mixed, with some genuinely happy and others claiming it has made a "mockery" of the Nobel itself.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

The pretext for the prize was Mr Obama’s decision to “strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. Many people will point out that, while the President has indeed promised to “reset” relations with Russia and offer a fresh start to relations with the Muslim world, there is little so far to show for his fine words.

East-West relations are little better than they were six months ago, and any change is probably due largely to the global economic downturn; and America’s vaunted determination to re-engage with the Muslim world has failed to make any concrete progress towards ending the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

There is a further irony in offering a peace prize to a president whose principal preoccupation at the moment is when and how to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The spectacle of Mr Obama mounting the podium in Oslo to accept a prize that once went to Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Theresa would be all the more absurd if it follows a White House decision to send up to 40,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. However just such a war may be deemed in Western eyes, Muslims would not be the only group to complain that peace is hardly compatible with an escalation in hostilities.

From one side of the political spectrum to the other, reactions are flying out fast and furiously, generally along party lines, but even some Barack Obama supporters are questioning this decision.

Michael Russnow over at Huffington Post asks "Whatever happened to awarding for deeds actually done?"

I am generally a supporter of Barack Obama. I voted for him and campaigned in print for his election. However, as I turned on CNN early this morning and saw the news that he'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I actually gasped in disbelief. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube videos were destined to be in overdrive, not to mention the texts on millions of BlackBerrys.


So, at the moment, I believe it is enormously premature for Obama to be getting this great tribute, which to a certain extent cheapens the prior recipients and the work all of them performed over so many years.

It is traditional for Nobel honorees to be named a long time after their achievements in the sciences and literature. Indeed, the winners announced this week in other categories performed their amazing work and discoveries decades ago. Obama's designation is akin to giving an Oscar to a young director for films we hope that he or she will produce or for a first-time published author getting a Pulitzer for a book he is destined to write some day.

The time has not yet arrived and circumstances have not yet evolved where Barack Obama is anywhere near the point where he has earned this prize. I don't blame him for this capricious action; it was the Nobel Peace Committee which committed the offense, which no doubt has Alfred Nobel thumping his head against his casket.

I only hope that President Obama takes this honor to heart to the extent that his policies and statements and deeds will someday make him deserving of this singular trophy. However, that time has not yet arrived, and I fear there will be a backlash to this announcement that may well lessen the significance this award has generally meant for well over a century.

Head over to memeorandum to see the massive amount of reaction coming out over this news.

Personally I believed the Nobel lost its integrity when naming Jimmy Carter, so this hasn't really surprised me at all.