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Friday, October 09, 2009

Shame on Norway!

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was announced today by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It goes to President Barack Obama, a man who has been President of the United States for about nine months and is currently conducting two simultaneous invasions and occupations of foreign nations.

The United States "peaceably" threatens both Iran and North Korea with possible military strikes if they do not stop developing a nuclear weapons program. The United States deploys the largest, most deadly, military force the world has ever seen and is in no hurry to reduce its size.

I think Obama is a wonderful choice for President of the USA. He is far, far, better than many others who have sought that office. However, it does not follow from that that he merits the Nobel Peace prize. He doesn't. The Norwegian Nobel Committee should be ashamed of themselves.

Here's the press release. The committee is confusing hope and hype with actual results. Let's hope the promise of a better world works out over the course of the next few years or we might look back on this award with shock and awe. At the very least, we should expect a serious reduction in the American nuclear weapons stockpile, right? And we should expect UN Nuclear inspection teams to be visiting the USA, Russia, France, Great Britain, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel.

Who's holding their breath?
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.
What does the White House have to say? Surprisingly, Obama is being very candid.
"I am both surprised and deeply humbled," Obama said at the White House.

"I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments. But rather as an affirmation of American leadership. ... I will accept this award as a call to action."

Obama said he did not feel he deserves "to be in the company" of past winners, but would continue to push a broad range of international objectives, including nuclear non-proliferation, a reversal of the global economic downturn, and a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He acknowledged the ongoing U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that he is the "commander in chief of a country that is responsible for ending" one war and confronting a dangerous adversary in another.
The Associated Press story seems to be typical of the responses from around the world [President Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize]. I think this is going to make Obama's life more difficult, not easier. It may have the exact opposite effect to what well-meaning members of the prize committee expected. This will go down as one of the most controversial awards in recent memory.
Many observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline and has yet to yield concrete achievements in peacemaking.

Some around the world objected to the choice of Obama, who still oversees wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has launched deadly counter-terror strikes in Pakistan and Somalia.

Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said their choice could be seen as an early vote of confidence in Obama intended to build global support for his policies. They lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation, and praised his pledges to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms, ease American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthen the U.S. role in combating climate change.

Aagot Valle, a lawmaker for the Socialist Left party who joined the committee this year, said she hoped the selection would be viewed as "support and a commitment for Obama."

"And I hope it will be an inspiration for all those that work with nuclear disarmament and disarmament," she told The Associated Press in a rare interview. Members of the Nobel peace committee usually speak only through its chairman.

The peace prize was created partly to encourage ongoing peace efforts but Obama's efforts are at far earlier stages than past winners'. The Nobel committee acknowledged that they may not bear fruit at all.

"He got the prize because he has been able to change the international climate," Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said. "Some people say, and I understand it, isn't it premature? Too early? Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now. It is now that we have the opportunity to respond — all of us."


  1. Heck, if you look through the list of recipients of that dubious prize, Obama looks close to deserving.
    Kissinger - holy shit, why not Hitler?
    Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin - as above.
    Begin - ditto.
    And in 1905 Bertha von Suttner, for being Nobel's mistress.

    And don't forget who Alfred Nobel was, el primo facilitator of warfare.

  2. Relax. This was merely the committee giving the "middle finger" to the US conservatives....and a richly deserved one at that. :-)

  3. A fitting conclusion to the long-running joke that is Peace Prize.

    Here is the thing:

    Nomination deadline is Feb 01. Shortlist is finalized no later than three months after. So in all likelihood, he was nominated even before he became predident and was shortlisted after serving mere couple months. What a disgrace.

  4. Maybe they should start giving out the other prizes based on career potential as well.

    "We awarded the prize to Nathan, an assistant professor whose research has the potential to [website blurb website blurb website blurb]"

  5. Obama should donate half the prize money to George W. Bush, who set the bar SO low that merely being not-Bush is now a prizewinning accomplishment.

  6. Where do you see a contradiction between threatening both Iran and North Korea with possible military strikes and striving for peace?

  7. Talking about ill deserved Nobel Peace awards, what about Agnes Boiaxhu, aka Mother Teresa, the ghoul of Kolkata, who supped with dictators (Duvalier) spoke up for swindlers (Paul Keating) collected millions upon millions to set up nunneries, dished out quack medicine while getting herself and her nuns treated for free at the finest hospital?

  8. Does the Nobel committee know that the USA bombed the moon yesterday?


  9. shonny said..

    "And don't forget who Alfred Nobel was, el primo facilitator of warfare."

    Can you support this assertion? Is this not an ad hominem attack. Which is more significant, the name on the award or the name of the recipient?

  10. I'm wondering if this was done not so much as to honour Obama , but rather to piss all over the memory of his predecessor.

    And I certainly don't have a problem with that concept.

  11. News Flash! Being US President for even one day is not a requirement for the Nobel Peace Prize!

    What are the odds that the Nobel Committee does not know its business, does not understand what the award is for, and that instead your knee jerk reaction is correct? Pretty slim.

    If you study the rule for the award, study the international situation and how it has changed (non-parochialism required or you'll miss it) and can then argue cogently that some other person should have got the award this year, then you at least have an argument although the Nobel Committee is still likely right. Since you have not done that you are just sounding off.

    Pete Dunkelberg

  12. Peter Dunkelberg asks,

    What are the odds that the Nobel Committee does not know its business, does not understand what the award is for, and that instead your knee jerk reaction is correct? Pretty slim.

    The Nobel Peace Prize Committee had it's own reasons for choosing Obama.

    I think they made a mistake because they diminish the value and prestige of the Nobel Prize by being so blatantly political. Time will tell whether the Nobel Peace Prize continues to be looked upon as an award that means something.

    I'm betting it won't, and the year 2009 will mark the turning point.

    I'm not familiar with all of this year's leading candidates so I can't tell you who should have won instead of Obama. What I can tell you is that when it comes to world peace and nuclear disarmament there hasn't been much progress in the past year.

    I'm not aware of a single war that was stopped or a single nuclear weapon that was dismantled.

    Maybe there shouldn't have been a Nobel Peace Prize in order to draw this lack of progress to everyone's attention?

  13. News Flash! Being US President for even one day is not a requirement for the Nobel Peace Prize!

    Yes. The requirement is that someone "during the preceding year .. shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

    In other words, the award goes to the person who has accomplished something toward world peace. Obama hasn't done none of that in the preceeding year, by the time he was nominated, by the time he was shortlisted, or by the time he has won. Although, admittedly, as the president of the USA, he is in a good position to do something worthy of Peace Prize in the future.

    What are the odds that the Nobel Committee does not know its business, does not understand what the award is for, and that instead your knee jerk reaction is correct? Pretty slim.

    Pretty high. Bullshit decisions happen all the time everywhere. Human minds go rotten for an incredible number of reasons. Being infatuated with a celebrity is frequently one of them. Hey, it's not like the members of Norwegian Parlament are some kind of geniuses who can't do wrong. They are your regular politicians - in all likelihood, your regular slimy politicians - just like 99.9% of all politicians. And they made a dumb decision. End of story.