Most of us are delighted with the change of tone out of Washington since the new administration took office. But does that really justify giving the Nobel peace prize to Barak Obama? There is a huge gap between his words and accomplishments. The logic behind the Norwegian Nobel Price Committee seems to baffle the world, not least President Obama himself, who feels he is undeserving.
Presumably the committee is hoping that by awarding him the Peace Price they will encourage him to accomplish feats that will, in due course, justify the price? If that works, maybe it would be a good idea to make the North Korean leader the next recipient?
Am aware that all US presidents are routinely nominated for the peace price. Actually, so is even Osama bin Laden. But doesn’t there have to be some kind of logic behind the Norwegian committee’s decision? By giving it to Obama they may have just shot him in the foot and made sure he is not re-elected? The world’s expectations may now be raised so high he can not possibly live up to it? He has already discovered that it’s easier said than done to reverse the Bush administration’s national security policies. The same day he was awarded the price he had a meeting with his national security team about escalating the war in Afghanistan. Not because he wants to but because it may be the only alternative unless the world is prepared to accept another failed state.
Getting the Nobel peace prize gives a signal to the world that has a positive impact on the recipient’s ability to exercise power. Don’t think the US presidency needs a helping hand in that respect. Ridding the world of nuclear weapons, stopping global warming and bringing peace to the Middle East is easier said than done even for an American president. Too many vested interests that can not be ignored will work against him. If he has the courage to go against them he will, like George Bush senior, discover that he will not be re-elected.
There are many people in the world that it would have made much more sense to give the peace prize to. Morgan Tsvangirai, the PM of Zimbabwe, is just one example. He has been almost beaten to death several times and been to prison in order o bring peace to Zimbabwe.
Personally I would have liked King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to get it. No other Arab leader has done more than him to try to restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. The King’s peace initiative giving Israel recognition by Arab countries if they return to the 1967 borders has been lauded internationally.
Saudi foreign policy has been remarkable in its consistency and reliance on diplomacy to mediate inter-Arab disputes. After all, the peace settlement that ended the Lebanese civil war was mediated in the Kingdom and King Abdullah even attempted to mediate Saddam’s grievances against Kuwait in the fateful summer of 1990. The Kingdom never resorted to military force in its various territorial disputes with countries such as Iraq, even though KSA boasts one of the most formidable high-tech weapons arsenals in the region.
The 2006 war between the Hezbollah and Israel was stopped when King Abdullah sent an envoy to Teheran with a message that actually made the Iranians tell the Hezbollah to back off.
But the Norwegian committee would not have dreamed of giving it to him simply because he is the king of Saudi Arabia. Instead they seem to be gripped by the Obamafever that is so prevalent in Scandinavia. But by lumping Obama with the likes of Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa, the Nobel peace prize judges have already managed to infuriate conservative US commentators, making sure there will be no peace for Obama on the home front. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait until he had achieved more? If their decision contributes to making Obama’s task harder, maybe it’s time to have a look at who the judges are to assure they have a positive impact on peace in the world? As it is, the prestige of the price is beginning to disappear. And I’m sure that’s not what Alfred Nobel had in mind.
(Photo: xxxsnsxxx, Flick)