Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel a Mixed Blessing for Obama

As I believe most people (including the President himself) were, I was surprised to learn today that President Obama has been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

It's a very exciting honor for our President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and I commend the efforts he is making toward more cooperation between nations and increases in the United States' participation in the fight against global warming, and more. Certainly the change in U.S. policies has thawed the relations between the United States and many countries around the world, in contrast to the previous President's bellicose and "you're either for us or against us" attitude toward the rest of the world.

But is this worth the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm not sure. I feel it's a bit too early to say that good intentions are the same as accomplishments, or that this change in official U.S. attitude will actually bear fruit. Former President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize after decades of post-presidency work toward world peace, his support of Habitat for Humanity, and many other accomplishments. So far, Obama's lofty goals are still only goals.

Also, while Obama has been making an effort to bring the U.S. back into compliance with the Geneva Conventions and declared the U.S. will no longer waterboard prisoners, he has not yet been able to close Guantanomo Bay as he had promised, due to the various stumbling blocks that keep being raised. It seems as if the Prize might have been more appropriately awarded after the camp was actually closed and justice had been served to those who have been detained for so many years - either by conviction or freedom, but through a fair judicial process.

Beyond whether or not it was a good idea to give President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the fallout from this award will be a decidedly mixed blessing for the President.

On one hand, it's great that such a prestigious group as those who award Nobel Prizes believe President Obama has already made such a paradigm shift in world relations only 9 months after taking office. Certainly the contrast vs. Bush had to have something to do with that perception, and the President should rightly feel good about receiving the Prize.

But on the other hand, for Obama, this may do more harm than good in the short run. The GOP and right-wing talk show hosts will go totally nuts about this honor; Obama will get nothing but flack and distractions from the right as a result, when he is trying to keep the conversation on his plans for health care reform and other initiatives.

In another, more personal way for Obama, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize this early in his life may be a mixed blessing as well. Here he is, only in his late 40s, and he's become President and received the Nobel Peace Prize. After his presidency, what on earth more will he be able to aim for? The second half of his life may be a huge letdown for him!

But, be that as it may, it is certainly a great honor, and I congratulate the President on receiving it. Let's hope his accomplishments during the rest of his Presidency will continue to live up to that honor.


Anonymous said...

An excellent post with some very good points. I took a more pedestrian look at the situation! lol..I confess to gloating!

Anonymous said...

MG, I pretty convinced Obama is a poor choice for this award. I am also pleased to no end that he is extended olive branches to "enemy" nations and utilizing diplomatic statecraft in our nation's international affairs. Huzzah to President Obama for moving our nation in the right direction on that front.

But he's still has our troops occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. He still has not directed AG Holder to investigate and prosecute high-ranking members of the Bush Administration for high treason and ordering the torture of prisoners of war. Let's not forget about his silence on violence perpetrated on the peaceful protests of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.

I'm sorry Mimi, but this award is politically motivated and either given in error or given intentionally to further denigrate his legitimacy as POTUS.

TomCat said...

Mimi, I think that Obama probably deserves the award, but I think it would have been better to let him earn it before giving it to him.

Tom Harper said...

I think it's great that Obama got this award. I know he's been too much talk and not enough action, but he's been an incredible improvement over his predecessors. I don't think a sitting U.S. president has ever gotten the Nobel Prize before. Carter got one just a few years ago.

Like you said in your post, Obama has patched relations with the rest of the word. America is back to being the most admired country in the world; we were #7 before that. I would've thought Dumbya had dragged us down to #107.

Obama has been trying to do too many things at once (and hardly accomplishing any of them), but remember he inherited an incredible mess from his predecessors. I hope he meant it when he said this award is "a call to action."

Reamus said...

To be less than nine months the first black President, run two wars, bail out the economy, and pteside over job losses that are unheard of and be expected to do something about it is expectation enough. The Europeans are treating him as a saviour. He may be, he is not yet. The added burden of the Peace Prize now is far too musch tio ask him to live up to in the pressure cooker of a life he leads now.

A few years from now we will now what he can suceed at. We don't yet.Niether does he.

Fran said...

I have mega mixed feelings about it myself.
I mean the guy is contemplating sending an ADDITIONAL 40,000 troops into Afghanistan- the same week the gets the peace prize???

I wrote a whole post about it myself.

I feel Obama is handed this prize and he'd best have a very long *to do * list that comes with it.

It feels like they gave him the prize before he ran the marathon.

Compare it with what MLK jr endured, and the years of service Carter gave.
All with 100 % non violence.

seems premature to me.

Bee said...

About closing Guantanamo, I found this in the Tehran Times (of all places, I know) talking about how the House recently voted on an amendment to not allow the prisoners still left there (many have been transferred out)to be transferred to US soil for prosecution/disposition. They are legislating the blocks to the plan, in other words, in the House. Republicans are mostly against it (big surprise) and some dems oppose any transfer to US soil too. So, there are legal walls left by the Bush Admin, and now new one popping up left and right. I thought several months ago that the year deadline was overly optimistic, because don't think that the outgoing Bushites didn't leave a giant maze of problems to deal with along the way toward straightening out one of the biggest messes this country has managed to create for itself in the past century.

Randal Graves said...

I've never killed anyone as far as I know, so I think I deserve the award the most.

Christopher said...

President Obama should have declined the Nobel Peace prize.

The deadline for the Nobel committee to make its decision was January 31, 2009. Mr. Obama (who I worked for and voted) was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. So, the question begs, what exactly did President Obama accomplish in eleven days in office that is worthy of a Nobel Peace prize?

By all accounts, the president will yield to Lt. Gen. Stan McCrystal’s request for an additional 40,000 troops for the Afghanistan war. This escalation will undoubtedly result in more U.S. troops dying needlessly, as well as the deaths of innocent Afghani citizens who have no ties to any terrorist organization. This hardly equates with "peace."

For a historical perspective, let’s remember that neither Mohandas Gandhi or former President Bill Clinton received a Nobel. Both of whom are supremely worthy of such recognition. Mr. Obama has been president less than a year and while his administration can point to a number of laudable accomplishments, our military troops remain entwined in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay is open for business and, our involvement in the Afghanistan war will surely increase.

All of which inform my conclusion that President Obama should have declined the Nobel Peace prize.

Distributorcap said...

i agree that the award is way to premature - but lets not forget that Obama did not campaign for it, he did not ask for it, that this was bestowed from the Nobel Committee and no one else. the right is treating this as some sort of prize that obama requested.

the problem is that this award is getting more and more politicized - (what isnt these days) - it really was a big FU to Bush and Cheney - which is the wrong reason to give someone an honor.

i dont think he should return it - he is donating the money to charity (tho donating it to ACORN would finally give Rush the coronary he so warmly deserves). and i dont think it will damage him in the end.

sadly it just diminishes the value of the award

and attention rightwing - Ronald Reagan deserves NOTHING, especially this award. ask any person with HIV in the '80s - oops they are almost all dead because of Reagan's complete indifference. some man of peace.

S.W. Anderson said...

Many good points in your post, Mauigirl. On balance, I agree with Distributorcap. The Nobel Committee is free to award the prize to whomever it chooses. I trust they had their reasons.

Re: Obama possibly sending troops to Afghanistan. I don't favor that, but I can make a pretty good case that if Afghanistan were to be retaken by the Taliban and become a launch pad for future terrorist attacks against the U.S. and Europe, Democrats in general and Obama in particular would suffer politically until the end of time. In fact, that outcome would strengthen the political prospects of the "you better be afraid" and "only we will protect you" crowd better than anything they themselves can arrange.

So, looked at that way, sending more troops to Afghanistan and promoting peace aren't necessarily mutually exclusive things.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I, like many others, think that President Obama must end the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and close down Gitmo, (and not create another Gitmo in Afghanistan either!) before he can be said to deserve this award. I agree with Dcap who states the award is becoming too politicized which just diminishes the award. I am glad, though, that the wingnut's head are exploding and, oh hell yeah, a BIG FUCK YOU to George Bush and Dickwad Cheney.

D.K. Raed said...

Well if Kissinger can get one just for talking about peace talks in Vietnam (meanwhile the war raged on & on), then Obama can, too.

The Nobel Panel is not beholden to us nor a prisoner of our country's problems. They awarded it as they saw fit. And truthfully, the pickings were pretty slim among world leaders. Let's see, there's Obama and ...

The best part is witnessing the rightwing's heads explode (yes, I am that small minded).

Comrade Kevin said...

I am torn between wanting more change immediately and realizing that change is usually incremental.

Reamus said...

Like I said...way too much to soon..and the Euros love him and that is fine. The award wasn't necessary..nice comments D'cap,I have to someone said last week, suppose he does do something really amazing (in more than the apparent 13 days) what are they going to give him then, the "Totally Awesome Feat" Award? Please, there was no hurry for this.

Liz Hinds said...

Has he been given the Nobel Prize? Where have I been? Not listening to the news I guess.

It does very early on for him to get an award when he hasn't done anything momentous - has he?