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But he hasn’t done anything

October 10th, 2009 at 09:20am

I awoke to the bizarre news this morning that US President Barack Obama has solidified his position as King Of The World by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the even more bizarre news that I agree with him about something.

“I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize,” he said.

This isn’t to say that he won’t be worthy of the award in a few years, as he may very well be worthy of it then, but right now, he hasn’t done anything to bring peace to the world. Yes, he has promised a lot, and yes he has talked about peace a lot, but he hasn’t actually brought about any changes which have resulted, or will soon result, in peace.

Obama is the third sitting US President to receive the award, behind Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919, however there is a large difference between them and Obama. They had actually done something momentous.

Roosevelt was honored largely for brokering an agreement between Russia and China, and Wilson took the award for his role in ending World War I and creating the League of Nations.

It’s far too early to compare Obama to either of his predecessors, said Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University.

“They’re not comparable,” Lichtman said. “[Roosevelt and Wilson] were six or seven years into two-term presidencies, and Obama has not completed a single year of his presidency, so it makes very little sense.”

Obama possesses a great deal of “promise,” but the jury is still out, Lichtman said.

“It remains to be seen what his foreign policy legacy will be,” he said. “It is premature. This was to encourage rather than to recognize an accomplished fact.”

Update: As Clayton Northcutt has pointed out in the comments below, journalist Joshua Rhett Miller made a mistake. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel prize for brokering an agreement between Russian and Japan, not Russia and China. End Update

And that’s the problem. The Nobel Peace Prize exists to reward achievement, not to recognise that somebody might achieve something. Anybody might achieve something, and there is no doubt that back when nominations closed on February 1, less than two weeks in to Obama’s term as President, he had the potential to achieve something, but to give the award to somebody who might achieve something, rather than somebody who has achieved something, is ludicrous, and cheapens the prize considerably.

So, who else was in the running for the prize? Well these six people for starters:

Sima Samar, women’s rights activist in Afghanistan: “With dogged persistence and at great personal risk, she kept her schools and clinics open in Afghanistan even during the most repressive days of the Taliban regime, whose laws prohibited the education of girls past the age of eight. When the Taliban fell, Samar returned to Kabul and accepted the post of Minister for Women’s Affairs.”

Ingrid Betancourt: French-Colombian ex-hostage held for six years.

“Dr. Denis Mukwege: Doctor, founder and head of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. He has dedicated his life to helping Congolese women and girls who are victims of gang rape and brutal sexual violence.”

Handicap International and Cluster Munition Coalition: “These organizations are recognized for their consistently serious efforts to clean up cluster bombs, also known as land mines. Innocent civilians are regularly killed worldwide because the unseen bombs explode when stepped upon.”

“Hu Jia, a human rights activist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, who was sentenced last year to a three-and-a-half-year prison term for ‘inciting subversion of state power.'”

“Wei Jingsheng, who spent 17 years in Chinese prisons for urging reforms of China’s communist system. He now lives in the United States.”

Surely these people are more worthy of recognition and a $1.4 million award than Barack Obama.

But that’s not the worst part. As with anything which involves Barack Obama and the international stage, the whole thing has to be muddied by Obama’s apparent need to be seen as the busiest man of Earth, tha man who has to juggle running the world with being a father…a job that no man has ever had to do before.

Obama said his daughters, Sasha, 8, and Malia, 10, helped keep him in check this morning after he heard the news, reminding him about their dog’s birthday and Monday’s school holiday.

“Malia walked in and said, ‘Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday.’ And then Sasha added, ‘Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up’,” Obama said. “It’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”

It’s just a tad ironic that if anybody else paraded their family life in front of the world like this, they’d be accused of robbing their children of the childhood, or their privacy, or any number of other things…but when Barack Obama decides to combine the story of his Nobel Peace Prize, with his daughter celebrating the dog’s birthday, the media fall in to line.

Incidentally, just in case the last quote caught you as off guard as it caught Channel Nine this morning, and you think that Barack Obama found out about his prize from his daughters….bzzz, wrong. It was the man of many “ums and ahs” and little information, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

It was up to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to make the wake-up call about 6 a.m. and deliver the news to Obama, whose reaction mirrored that of other administration officials, lawmakers and political leaders.

“I think it’s safe to say he was very surprised,” Gibbs said later at his daily briefing.

There is one upside to all of this. Except for the Nobel Peace Prize people, it’s very hard to find anybody who is not surprised by the award. It looks like the shine of Barack Obama is finally starting to wear off globally, and people are actually starting to scrutinise his work rather than be blinded by his “hopey changey” aura.


Entry Filed under: General News,Samuel's Editorials

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  • 1. davky  |  October 11th, 2009 at 12:10 am

    The only momentous peace-harmony-goodwillish type thing that I can think of is the fact that he actually has become President.

    That an African American became President of the USA is awesome and inspiring in itself – if you had have told me four years ago that the next US Pres would be black, I would’ve laughed at you.

    Having said that, perhaps the US voters should be awarded the Prize.

  • 2. ghostie  |  October 11th, 2009 at 2:18 am

    I, along with many others, think that this award is unwarranted (and I am an Obama supporter).

    The reactions to the award however are even worse: Rush Limbaugh is now publicly supporting Iran and the Taliban in condemning it (and publicly acknowledging that – something that he would have used as a sledge-hammer against anyone supporting those groups against Bush), even democrats are jumping on the ‘terrorists-are-against-it, blah-blah is against it therefore they are terrorists’ rhetoric – something rightly ridiculed when George W Bush was POTUS which should be ridiculed just as much now.

    As others have pointed out across the net I think this is a ‘You are not Bush’ award more than anything else. I would have liked to see Obama win the award (in 20 years time after – and if – some of his changes to American foreign policy had percolated through the system and started to have some positive effect) but this is way too much, too soon.

    It strikes me as emotional blackmail to get Obama to adhere to the European vision of the future (I think the award was given to Arafat for the same reasons – that didn’t work out too well. To be fair that particular award was shared with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres – two Israeli politicians).

    At the end of the day I think this should all be laid at the feet of those responsible – the Norwegian group that decided who to award the prize to. This is not something Obama asked for (and is something he probably doesn’t want to deal with at the moment politically) but turning it down becomes very difficult (if not impossible) in order to gain support from European nations.

    This is why politics sucks 🙂

  • 3. Samuel  |  October 11th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    That’s interesting Davky, because four years ago I would have rated the chances of there being a black president above the chances of there being a female president, mainly due to the vast majority of the “when will we have x type of president” noise being about females, which maintained it as a controversial issue in the public psyche.

    Ghostie, I think you’re spot on. This will be used as some sort of leverage to get Obama to push the European line…whether that European line is close to the socialist, bordering on marxist line he already appears to be pushing domestically, is what I think will determine how receptive he is to pressure which comes from the award. I don’t think he, or the behind-the-scenes power-brokers, are pushovers.

    Incidentally, I do have to take issue with one thing you said Ghostie, and that is your comment about Rush Limbaugh supporting the Taliban position on the award. That’s not the impression I got. I think he could have chosen his words better, but my understanding of what he said is that it’s terrifying in a “it’d be funny if it wasn’t so serious” kind of way that nearly everyone, Obama included, agree with the Taliban that he didn’t deserve the award.

    LIMBAUGH: I think that everybody is laughing. Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about, and that is he doesn’t deserve the award. Now that’s hilarious, that I’m on the same side of something with the Taliban, and that we all are on the same side as the Taliban.

    “Hilarious” is not the word I would have used, but in the context of his statements, I see what he meant. It’s one of those bizarre moments where we agree with our enemies…hey, maybe that’s the peace we’ve all been looking for these last few hours. Now that would be a circular reference…peace prize causes agreement that there shouldn’t have been a peace prize, which results in peace.

  • 4. Clayton Northcutt  |  October 13th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Roosevelt was actually a Nobel recipient for negotiating an the Treaty of Portsmouth between Russia and *Japan*, not China.

  • 5. Samuel  |  October 14th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Yes Clayton. I’ve updated the post with that correction. Well spotted, thank you.


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