09 October, 2009

Around the World, Heads are Being Scratched

Sorry if it sounds like I'm harping on this, but really. It just bugs me that an award designed to honor genuine achievement is being used in such a blatantly political manner. But thankfully, I'm not the only one who is questioning the wisdom of this.

Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post

Michael Tomasky, The Guardian (UK)

Mark Phillips, CBS News

This comes off a lot like winning an Oscar for a movie that hasn't even been released yet. Even more so when you realize that the nominating process for this year's Peace Prize ended on February 1 of this year -- which effectively means that President Obama won the award based on a mere 11 days in office.

Again, do I think President Obama should have turned it down? Nope. If someone were going to give me a prestigious award with a $1.4 Million purse attached, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a reason why I shouldn't take it. But do I think this move diminishes the award? Yes, I do. Of all the people who have ever won the Peace Prize, Obama clearly has received it on the thinnest of justifications. Even among US Presidents who have won, he has done so on little basis more than his campaign theme of Hope and Change; if that were all that was needed to win, then I submit Rod Blagojevich should have won the Peace Prize in 2003.

At best, this award might be viewed as some sort of a mandate when dealing with nutjobs like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, or Kim Jong il. But frankly, I don't think any of those leaders give a rat's ass for the prize; indeed, for some it might even be taken as a sign of weakness, a signal of a willingness to appease rather than confront. Worst cast scenario, it holds Obama's future diplomacy to such impossibly high expectations that no leader can possibly meet them.

Well, what's done is done. The award has been offered and accepted, and all that now remains is to go to Oslo, meet King Harald V, and give a rousing speech. But for the future... ?

Too early. He has no contribution so far,
--Lech Walesa, former President of Poland
1983 Peace Prize Winner

Nobel Committee's Decision Courts Controversy

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