display | more...
It's fair to say the world was stunned by the Nobel Prize Committee's decision to award the 2009 Nobel Prize in Peace to Barack Obama. Granted that Obama has talked the talk of peace, and the very fact of his young presidency seems to have taken the edge off of some of the anger between the Muslim world and the Western world. But the general reaction was that Obama hadn't accomplished enough to merit the prize. Although they did mention a few things Obama has already moved on (or at any rate spoken on), the committee pointed out that the purpose of the prize is advancing peace, and sometimes peace is advanced by recognizing an achiever while other times it is advanced by encouraging a potential future achiever.

This award may have been as much inspired by local concerns as by global. Thanks to Europe's open borders, Scandinavian countries (including Norway, which hosts the committee that hands out the Peace Prize) are dealing with an influx of Muslims seeking the benefits of the famed Scandinavian social safety net -- and some of these Muslims (not all, but enough) come in already carrying a mad-at-the-non-Muslim-world sort of grudge. Where George W. Bush spent eight years burning up US resources on oil wars and occupations that kept the Muslim world continually riled, Obama comes in and at least acts like he really wants to get along with the Muslim world, which calms some of the angry ones, including some of the angry ones in Norway. So, perhaps the folks up on the Nobel Prize committee want to encourage this localized calming by legitimizing the impression that Obama is a peacemaker.

Some people have directed harsh words at Obama for being the recipient of this honor. I, for one, can't begrudge a man for receiving an award that he didn't pursue, didn't even ask for, didn't even seem aware that he was a contender for. I'll leave it to others to be quizzically angry at Obama for being picked, and direct a rather befuddled shrug at those who say he should refuse the award (why would anyone do that?), especially since he's pledged the accompanying $1.4 million to charity (it will be interesting to see which charities he picks, and whether his own charitable bestowal will be done publicly). But at the end of the day, I think this award is the Nobel Prize Committee's business; it's their award to give, and their money. They can pick who they want, for whatever reasons make sense to them, and it's up to them if they want to inspire the kind of eyebrow-raising that their 2009 choice has piqued.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.