President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Some are ecstatic, some are confused and some are overcome with anger.
I thought it was an odd decision. Definitely. Especially given the other nominees which include the Cluster Munition Coalition, a group that strives to clean up cluster bombs and decrease accidental civilian war deaths and Dr. Denis Mukwege, an inspired young Conoglese physician who opened a hospital to treat female victims of sexual abuse.
Inspiring, to say the least. Deserving candidates, no doubt.
And then there’s the victor, Barack Obama, a Harvard law school graduate, community organizer, civil rights lawyer, law professor, junior senator and president of the most “powerful” country in the world. A stunning resume, but where are the accomplishments? The peace work, the advocacy, the results?
That’s what so many are asking. What so many are wondering. And while I, a supporter of Obama, do not think he deserved the award based solely on his accomplishments to date, I do believe the award was given for a reason, and a just, sane reason at that.
Innovative decision to award Obama prize
Now hear me out. Obama won the prize not just for what he has achieved in less than 10 months (which is quite a bit if you look at it with an open mind) but for how he changed the game and reshaped the face of a nation so hated and demonized for so many years. For the potential of peace on a plethora of fronts.
Obama is in the process of sewing together the gaping wound that is America’s international reputation; not an easy feat. It’s something that no other modern Democratic or Republican candidate could do in two terms, let alone a quarter of one.
The fact that the Norway-based committee stressed it made the prize decision based on Obama’s efforts to date was a little strange. I don’t really believe that to be the case, nor does anyone else, even the hardest and strongest Obama supporters. Obama doesn’t believe it either, rightfully so.
Strengthening the international reputation of the most “powerful”nation in‚ the world contributes to peace in many ways. His efforts toward nuclear disarmament are commendable. His decision to end the missile-defense system in Poland led to strengthened ties with Russia, a nuclear powerhouse. His administration has striven for peace with India, another nuclear nation.
His efforts to strengthen relationships and mend ties between Americans and Muslims was politically risky, but so right and groundbreaking morally.
His confusion on Afghanistan is warranted, no one knows what the hell is needed there, and the answer given (“more troops”) isn’t a surprising one. But he’s taking his time and not rushing.
Some view him as the “do-nothing” president or the president of “inaction.” I view him thoughtful and rational, and I’d rather he take weeks to decide the fate of thousands of American soldiers than make a quick decision (like the last guy) and put so many soldiers in harm’s way just because of political pressure from both sides of the spectrum, without thinking it through and weighing the options. That’s called reasoning.
His no-nonsense discussions with Iran, without preconditions, a proposition he was so ridiculed for during his campaign, showed the world he is committed to nuclear disarmament and a more peaceful Mid-East.
His speech in Cairo, though predictable, reaffirmed that idea. His quoting the Qu’ran was a great way to connect with an overwhelmingly large global group so alienated by American ideological extremists.
We elected him for that reason. Because he’s intelligent, thoughtful, peaceful, multi-racial and ambitious. It’s been less than 10 months. How many ambitions are achieved in 10 months? None. But the path to realizing those ambitions has been laid.
Let me make it a bit clearer by using a crude but wonderfully applicable analogy.
Think of Obama as Dorothy and his path to peace as the yellow brick road. When Obama crash landed in the White House after a whirlwind electoral campaign, he was ambitious, excited and ready to overhaul the system. Soon he realized that that’s not possible, at least not as quick as he thought. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people to please and political and social hurdles to vault.
Just as the Afghanistan war became more brutal and a reassessing of the plan was needed (just as Dorothy tried to find out from the munchkins how she could get back to Kansas), Obama was given hope, something he’d given, in abundance, to millions around the world.
The Peace Prize committee are the munchkins, they are Glinda (the good witch). They gave Obama direction, thanked him for his bravery and pushed him, inspired him (as he inspired us) to continue his work. To keep on going. After all, he doesn’t want to be the guy who won the prize and did nothing to deserve it. And no, he’s not already that guy.
There will be obstacles (the wicked witch, the fake Wizard of Oz) however Obama/Dorothy prevail in the end, defeating the evils that stand in their ways. Yes you can think he was awarded prematurely, but only if you view the award as something given only for hard results. More results will come, the award is faith in that.
In fact, the award was given because he’s changed the world’s mood. He’s made global citizens happier and more tolerant in times of economic uncertainty, global racially charged fear, terrorism and war.
Today I came across an article on the British website timesonline.co.uk written by broadcaster/writer Minette Marrin. She claims, wrongly in my opinion, that Obama should never have accepted the peace prize. That he is undeserving, and she compares his victory to that of Henry Kissenger’s in 1973.
Ms. Marrin, that’s cold. It’s unfortunate that you can’t see past the present day.
Marrin ventures another guess as to why Obama accepted the prize, a very odd one. She ventures that the president accepted the prize just because two fellow Democrats, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, also boast the prestigious medal in their respective trophy libraries.
As if the award were some piece of trivial memorabilia, some baseball card, that an 11-year-old pines for just because his best buddies have the same one. She then quotes an “American commentator” who said “it is like accepting an Oscar now for being likely to make an Oscar-winning movie next year.” A degradation of the award that is insulting to past winners and childish, to say the least.
Marrin goes on to ask “Can it be that Obama is already intoxicated with the exuberance of his own celebrity? For that is all he is so far “" a well-meaning super-celebrity.” Well-meaning? See the second section of this piece.
However there are many who wonder if Obama’s ego has been so inflated that he believes himself the savior of America and the world.
But to those of you who ask that, I ask why is he so “humbled” by the award? Why is it the man, the president, started off his acceptance and justification speech by talking about his two children? Yes, he has speech writers, but only he heard what his kids said that morning. And he remembered.
Yes Obama is a little egotistical, he is, after all, the president. But don’t forget, we gave him that ego (see: road to ’08 election).
Finally, for those who believe Obama didn’t deserve this prize, you hold a valid view. I too believe Dr. Mukwege or the Cluster Munition Coalition deserve an award of recognition for peace work.
My argument is that Obama’s victory isn’t unwarranted or undeserving. His accomplishments to date are impressive, his future is full of possibilities and the peace prize was awarded to him by a panel “instructed to encourage international co-operation, arms reduction and acts of engagement”‚ for his initiative and to ensure he keeps working towards his, and our, ultimate goal.