When I flipped on NPR this morning, within moments of rolling out of bed, I was informed by the Morning Edition team that my very own President, Barack Hussein Obama, had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Flip on, flip out.
I don’t think anyone I know was anticipating that. Lot of lost bets, I’d imagine…
Anyway, I’m shocked, and apparently many others are, too. I’ve had to stay away from FB and other media this morning, but I have no doubt they’re all buzzing, whether in celebration, rage, or bemusement. I’d like to raise the discourse a little on the subject, as I fear cable news will play the Saint or Demon? game, and there will be a lot of unwarranted fist-pumping or -shaking.
So, today’s FFT might be less “fun,” but I am genuinely interested in hearing from our readers about their reactions–not so much yay-or-nay referendums on the honoree or the committee, but rather, what exactly it is that the committee has bestowed the award for. Certainly, in the 100+ year history of the Nobels, people have won for different reasons, which vary in legitimacy, depending on who you ask.
The Nobel Committee’s statement is as follows:
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
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. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
That’s officialese. What’s really going on here? Is Obama seen as a national leader of promise who thus should be honored (and his power strengthened)? Do they see him as the guy under whom the financial crisis that’s wreaking havoc all over the Global North (and elsewhere, of course, we’re all connected) will be remedied by his “socialist” interventions? (ONE OF US! ONE OF US! (GABBA GABBA WE ACCEPT YOU!) Are they awarding his (in)famous “working across the aisle” ethos? Might it be a way to increase the global pressure on Obama to deliver on his various campaign promises? Or are they just so so glad he’s not GWB?
Weigh in, oh Brainy Ones!