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Comment: absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize

Original post made by Michael Binyon, another community, on Oct 9, 2009

The award of this year's Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America's first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

The pretext for the prize was Mr Obama's decision to "strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples". Many people will point out that, while the President has indeed promised to "reset" relations with Russia and offer a fresh start to relations with the Muslim world, there is little so far to show for his fine words.

East-West relations are little better than they were six months ago, and any change is probably due largely to the global economic downturn; and America's vaunted determination to re-engage with the Muslim world has failed to make any concrete progress towards ending the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

There is a further irony in offering a peace prize to a president whose principal preoccupation at the moment is when and how to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The spectacle of Mr Obama mounting the podium in Oslo to accept a prize that once went to Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Theresa would be all the more absurd if it follows a White House decision to send up to 40,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. However just such a war may be deemed in Western eyes, Muslims would not be the only group to complain that peace is hardly compatible with an escalation in hostilities.

The Nobel committee has made controversial awards before. Some have appeared to reward hope rather than achievement: the 1976 prize for the two peace campaigners in Northern Ireland, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, was clearly intended to send a signal to the two battling communities in Ulster. But the political influence of the two winners turned out, sadly, to be negligible.

In the Middle East, the award to Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1978 also looks, in retrospect, as naive as the later award to Yassir Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin — although it could be argued that both the Camp David and Oslo accords, while not bringing peace, were at least attempts to break the deadlock.

Mr Obama's prize is more likely, however, to be compared with the most contentious prize of all: the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their negotiations to end the Vietnam war. Dr Kissinger was branded a warmonger for his support for the bombing campaign in Cambodia; and the Vietnamese negotiator was subsequently seen as a liar whose government never intended to honour a peace deal but was waiting for the moment to attack South Vietnam.

Mr Obama becomes the third sitting US President to receive the prize. The committee said today that he had "captured the world's attention". It is certainly true that his energy and aspirations have dazzled many of his supporters. Sadly, it seems they have so bedazzled the Norwegians that they can no longer separate hopes from achievement. The achievements of all previous winners have been diminished.


Comments (15)

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Posted by Iowahawk
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Dear BARACK OBAMA:

Congratulations! On behalf of the selection committee, I am pleased to announce that you have been named a 2009 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of your tireless efforts to STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND COOPERATION .

I am also pleased to tell you that as a winner, you have been pre-approved for membership in the Nobel Peace Player's Club, offering exclusive money-saving benefits available only to laureates like you. Please take a few minutes to look over the enclosed enrollment materials. At only $299.95 per year, I'm sure you'll agree that membership is a bargain at twice the price! Here are just some of the benefits you'll receive:

A handsome 14-karat gold membership crest badge to display proudly on the grille of your limousine or official state aircraft.

A framed, hand-calligraphed certificate (add $19.95 for gold leaf)

Special discount shopping bargains for for you and your family
Great travel packages to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
Listing in "Who's Who of Global Salvation" ($49.95 per copy)

Great coupons for Olive Garden, P.F. Chang's, Six Flags Theme Parks, and more!

Plus, you'll receive the exclusive Nobel Peace Player's Club GoldCard entitling you to discount air travel and 5-star hotel accommodations from Kyoto to Darfur. But don't take our word for it! Listen to these testimonials from some of our current members:

"My career as an international peace activist means lots of air travel — and dealing with pushy Zionists and rude natives. With my Nobel Peace Player's Club GoldCard, I finally get the respect I deserve – and it makes getting through Gaza airport security a snap!"
– Jimmy Carter, 2002 Laureate

"Whether we're patrolling the Congo, Sudan, or Bosnia, one thing's for sure — chicks can't resist a Nobel Peace Prize Player!"
– United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, 1988 Winners

"My Players Club GoldCard lets me treat my friends and family to great perks."
– Kofi Annan, 2001 Laureate

"I'm a take-action kind of guy. Whenever I fly to Tehran or Pyongyang, the first thing I pack is my Players GoldCard."
– Mohamed ElBaradei (2005)

"I have to write a lot of honorary doctorate acceptance speeches, and writer's block can be a problem. With the Player's GoldCard I got great discounts at TermPapersLab.com!"
– Rigoberta Menchu (1992)

[portion deleted.]

So what are you waiting for BARACK OBAMA? Enroll today and start enjoying the privileges of membership. Enroll today, and we'll throw in a deluxe leather bound CIA intelligence report worth $1000!

Sincerely,

Ůmlut Ťldqvist, Chairman
The Nobel Peace Player's Club Selection Committee


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Posted by Gern Blanston
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

"Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America's first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world."

Sounds good to me. Such high-profile acknowledgement (direct or indirect) of the complete and utter disaster that was the previous president's eight years in office, and of, hopefully, how this country may have turned a corner -- any corner -- is "a good thing." It will be sad, indeed, if much of the world celebrates this award while half the citizens of our own country cannot see past their political labels to do so.

Gern


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Posted by Top Secret DOD
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm

What if this prize were awarded because the President played a personal and critical role in de-escalating a nuclear confrontation?

Perhaps a near catastrophe which received no publicity. North Korea, Pakistan, Israel?

The only reasonable explanation ... some off the record contribution which was so extraordinary that the Committee had little choice but to recognize his achievement.

I hope I live long enough to read the book. It will be a good one.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2009 at 6:19 am

Obama deserves the prize. He has single-handedly ended the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, closed Guantanamo, and, in addition to solving our confrontations with Iran and North Korea, he has solved tha Israeli/Palestinian problem!

Oh, wait a second....

I've just been told he didn't do any of things.

Sorry, my bad. I only read the New York Times.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 10, 2009 at 11:42 am

When you consider that such worthy persons as Winston Churchill and Mohatma Ghandi did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize while the feckless Jimmy Carter, the worst President in this country's history, and Terrorist and anti-semite Yassar Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize one wonders what this world is coming to.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee consists of European Socialists who deperately cling to the archaic notion "From each according to his abilities, and to each according to his needs". They see Obama as the "Great Socialist Hope". And the Committee will gladly jettison lack of accomplishment for the socialist disciple Obama if they believe he can get the United States on Board with their Utopian Dream.

Fortunately, we have too many common sense people in this country, albeit not in the Bay Area, who see socialism for what it is, and that is an ananchronistic economic system best suited for pre-industrial revolution countries.


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Posted by Nuts to you
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Six words: Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Let's get a little perspective here, people.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I have just two words: Yasser Arafat.

That provides some perspective also!


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 11, 2009 at 7:34 am

If the Nobel Prize Committee renamed the Peace Prize to the Pusillanimous Appeasement Prize then Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama would go to the head of the line. By comparison, these nave and arrogant dilettantes make Neville Chamberlain look like General George Patton.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2009 at 6:45 am

I think Tom Friedman of the NY Times had the best response to this controversy.

Friedman said President Obama's acceptance speech should say he doesn't deserve the prize but will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century - the men and women of our country's armed forces.

He should then go on to list the kinds of things our military has done including the Normandy invasion which saved Europe from Hitler, the Berlin airlift which prevented the Soviet Union from starving Berliners into submission, our bases in Europe which kept Europe safe during the tense Cold War, our soldiers who are stationed today in the Middle East and keep the sea lanes open for world shipping and trade, our troops who keep the peace between North and South Korea, and finally, all of our soldiers who are there to offer aid and comfort on "humanitarian rescue missions after earthquakes and floods" anywhere on the planet to friends and enemies alike.

That would be a nice speech.


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Posted by Hopeful
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Given that he is the leader of the free world, this raises the stakes for Obama. If you want someone to live up to their word, then declare it internationally and effectively challenge them to rise even further to the occasion. What is there to lose in doing that? An interesting strategy that I hope works!


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Posted by Paloma
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I thought Obama's speech was right on. He can't exactly insult the Nobel committee by asking what the heck they were thinking.


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Posted by david gregg
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm

The state department said it best..."It's better that accolades are being thrown at our president than shoes.


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Posted by Seeing Clearly
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm

The designation of B. Hussein Obama for this phony award has done far more to denigrate the Nobel Prizes than to elevate the dubious recipient!


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Posted by Publius
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Oct 13, 2009 at 6:38 am

I can see from these comments that the nattering nabobs of negativity are out in force.

Alan Grayson said it best: "Americans understand . . . that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation. They understand that if Barack Obama could somehow bring about world peace they would blame him for destroying the defense industry. In fact, they understand that if Barack Obama has a BLT sandwich tomorrow for lunch, they will try to ban bacon."

That Obama has won the Nobel Prize is good for America. But Republicans hate Obama more than they love their country.


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Posted by Ronald Kessler
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:53 am

If the Norwegian Nobel Committee thought it was bolstering President Barack Obama's prestige in the world by awarding him the 2009 Peace Prize, it was wrong.

From the liberal Huffington Post and Daily Kos to the Washington Post and the Times of London, opinion makers have denounced the decision as a joke, spotlighting the fact that to date Obama has only hot air to show for his efforts at world peace.

"Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent," the Times of London said. "It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush administration. The prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronizing in its intentions, and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun the period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace."

Mark Halperin of Time magazine wrote, "Barack Obama's critics have long accused him of being a man of 'just words,' rather than concrete actions and accomplishments. The stunning decision to award him the Nobel Peace Prize for, basically, his rhetoric, will almost certainly infuriate his detractors in America more than it will delight his supporters."

"Whatever happened to awarding for deeds actually done?" wrote Michael Russnow, who campaigned for Obama, on the Huffington Post.

The Washington Post editorialized, "It's an odd Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honoree. In blessing President Obama, the Nobel Committee intended to boost what it called his 'extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.' A more suitable time for the prize would have been after those efforts had borne some fruit."

As suggested by the Times of London, the award to Obama was an obvious slap in the face of President Bush. "This is an award for not being George W. Bush," Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal. And what did Bush do to deserve the enmity of the Nobel Committee? He toppled a man who had killed 300,000 people and liberated 50 million people.

Because of Bush, Saddam's regime no longer inflicts torture on Iraqis by having electric prods attached to their genitals or by giving them acid baths. It no longer drills holes in their ankles and skulls. It no longer leaves them naked in refrigerators for days. It no longer cuts out their tongues and cuts off their ears. Nor does it force Iraqi men to watch gang rapes of their wives and sisters.

Because of Bush, Afghan women can now attend school. They are free to go out in public without being accompanied by a man. They are allowed to hold jobs.

Moreover, because of the $15 billion Bush sent to combat AIDS, deaths in Africa are down dramatically. For that reason, despite claims that America's moral standing in the world has eroded, Bush's approval rating in African countries has stood at 80 percent or higher.

Those are real accomplishments worthy of a Nobel Prize. In giving the award to Obama, the Nobel Committee's effort at burnishing the president's image backfired by highlighting the fact that he has accomplished nothing beyond delivering oratory.


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