Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Today Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was apparently chosen as the recipient just two weeks into his presidency when he had achieved… nothing.  When he had brought peace to… nowhere.  It seems like this was an award for potential.

I like Obama.  I think he has courage and vision and a sense of justice and humility that we haven’t seen in an American president for years.  But good intentions don’t bring peace.  They might create a climate where peace could flourish but that’s not the same thing.

It seems amazing to me that the President of a country currently involved in two wars and that STILL has an illegal detention centre where captives are still held without trial could even be in the running for the Nobel Prize.

Obama’s own response seems to point to some of his reservations about receiving the award:

“Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.”

America’s leadership has us involved in two wars and the bogus war on terror.  Those aren’t my aspirations Mr Obama.

How about you give it back Mr Obama?

How about you tell the committee that when real lasting peace is achieved, that when America has closed Guantanamo and withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and helped make peace between Israel and Palestine instead of blindly supporting Israel’s continued expansion into the West Bank and violent oppression of the Palestinians then you’ll be a worthy recipient?

5 thoughts on “Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize”

  1. The award was a little puzzling, to say the least.
    However, it is true to say that Obama has changed the map of international relations in terms of how the US is viewed by many. True, his position is certainly not perfect with Guantanamo, but you can’t really lay the two wars at his door, and I’m not sure that you could say he is blindly supporting Israel over against the Palestinians.
    The award could be seen as an encouragement to him to keep going with his international policies.
    Your Cuban trip clearly made an impact on you, as with your Israel trip. I’m going in January for study leave to look at some of the work the Church of Scotland is doing there, and maybe my view will change when I’ve seen what you have.
    I have a friend who has already written Obama off. The unfortunate thing for Obama is that there was no way on God’s earth that he could live up to the hype surrounding his election, a hype he helped generate. However, the crunch time is the next eighteen months when he has to work through the reality period of government after the honeymoon is over.
    In clergy circles we know that that period can often make or break a ministry. I would suggest we give Obama a break and give him the benefit of the doubt.

  2. David, I’m not writing Obama off by any means. I think he’s great. But I don’t think a change of tone warrants the Nobel Prize against that backdrop. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

    For me there is a difference between the absence of conflict and making peace. Making peace is a practical task that goes beyond rhetoric and tone. I think Obama is on the way to making some real and positive changes, both in the USA and around the world but I don’t see that recognising the president of a country involved in two wars as a peacemaker seems right. His first act as President was to ‘close’ Guantanamo. That was 10 months ago.

    Your thoughts about the next 18 months are interesting. I think you are right about that period in terms of ministry or even the life cycle of projects but there is a generally accepted view that the President of the USA gets 100 days to set his agenda. His agenda looks good. But he needs to get it done soon because for the last two years of his term he will be running for the next term.

    I wish him well and I hope his words will lead to action. But until then he doesn’t get a break or the benefit of the doubt. He gets reminded of his responsibility to make change, not just promise it.

    Enjoy your time in the Holy Land. It is an amazing place, in all kinds of ways.

  3. I think that it’s good for Obama to be reminded of his responsibility to make the change, to deliver on promises made. I’m still tending to cut him some slack if for no other reason that his agenda is such a refreshing change for the US that the ‘vested interests’ are racking up against him big time. His attempts at health care, for example, and being demonised by those who benefit from the status quo and don’t give a stuff about the marginalised of society.
    The prize being awarded to Obama is odd, and perhaps by unease with the award is similar to yours. He has to earn the prize with action, I agree.

  4. Perhaps too it is good for the USA to be reminded of how the rest of the world could potentially view Obama’s reforms, and his international actions.

  5. Perhaps… but on this logic England would be handed the next World Cup because they have the potential to win it.

    I’m hugely encouraged by Obama’s foreign relations policy and his domestic agenda but as yet it’s unrealised potential. This award just seems too soon for me, particularly when you realise he was nominated just a couple of weeks into his presidency.

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