Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize: Why?

Around 7:00 this morning, my son, 18, came into my room and said, "Mom, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize."

I was half asleep but asked, "What?!!! Are you sure?"

"Yes. CNN reported it before I went to bed around 4:00 this morning."

I put my head back on my pillow and wondered why would the Nobel committee award President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. I thought, I know he's been known for pushing diplomacy instead of war, but he hasn't even been in office that long. And then I thought, Maybe the committee did it to send a message to other world leaders, to encourage them to take Obama's lead on this. It even crossed my mind that maybe he won because his approach to peace was so different from that of George W. Bush. Another writer had that same thought.

Apparently, despite my being half asleep, that thought about the committee wanting to send a message was on the money. In the CNN video above, Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland tells CNN pretty much what I thought.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it honored Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." (CNN)
And then he revealed that the committee also had my other thought, that "we want to promote what he's done for it." He said that they want other nations and leaders to go along with what Obama is doing with diplomacy, and it's not the first time the committee has given the prize to someone who's only started the process and mentioned Gorbachev.

He said Obama is working on changing the national climate despite the U.S.A. having two wars going right now and they want diplomacy to be strengthened.

Jagland said that the vote to give him the award was unanimous. All five members voted for Obama.

Here's another CNN video about reaction to the announcement on Twitter.

The announcement came as a surprise. I and many others were unaware that President Barack Obama was even being considered for this award. Some people think he deserves it and others say the committee is only looking for public attention.

Naturally some conservatives don't like this at all, but even some progressives were taken by surprise and don't understand what the committee's done.

Feels like an honor, possibly premature, and a lot of pressure to me. Look for more fundamentalist religious conservatives to say this is more evidence that Obama is the anti-Christ, a figure who is supposed to bring about a false peace.

Per CNN, "Obama is third sitting U.S. president, fourth overall to receive award." Former President Jimmy Carter also won the award; however, he was not in office when he won in 2002.

Obama will make an announcement about the honor from the Rose Garden this morning. When he was awakened this morning and notified of his win, he said he was "humbled."

Update: Newsweek reports on other Nobel Peace Prize wins that stunned the world and were controversial.


Monica said...

Sigh. I so wish people would take the man off the pedestal - or out of the gutter - and just give him an opportunity to do all the things he's trying to do! I know you and so many of us warned folk that he can't make changes immediately and it's naive to think he can. When it comes to new presidents, I feel like I've barely had experience watching them come and go. (For me, it all started with Clinton, my first election.) But it seems like previous presidents have had the chance to get in office and actually be there for a bit before the backlash started. Obama had it before he got in, not surprisingly. I just want to let the novelty wear off and let the man do his job.

Vérité Parlant said...

I don't know that it will wear off, Monica. Some folks have noted, some who are considered political experts, that in eight months of office, Obama's gotten more heat than Bush had in eight years. One person called it permanent opposition and said extremism is being accepted as protest.

Janet Caldwell said...

It seems a bit premature to me. Janet Caldwell