Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Americans At War over the Peace Prize: Go Figure

If the [Nobel] award just represented the political views of a handful of left-leaning, self-satisfied Norwegian Eurocrats, as some critics have charged, then it wouldn't matter whether Obama had won it or not. But of course it means much more. The Nobel Peace Prize, irrespective of the idiosyncratic process that selects its winner, is universally recognized as a stamp of the world's approval. For an American president to reject such a token of approval would be absurdly counterproductive.
Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush's cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach. He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama's credit -- and to our country's.  Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, October 13, 2009

I am one of those people who, along with the recipient himself, was astonished at the choice of Barack Obama for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.  Yes, I initially thought it was a dubious choice--coming even before our president had had a chance to prove himself.

I watched some of the comments that day, and I followed some of the blogs, and I saw where this, predictably, was going.  Too soon, too political, too celebrity-driven.  I was prepared for that.  I wasn't prepared for the numbers of liberals and progressives who saw it as nothing short of absolute insanity.  Naomi Klein called the award "very disappointing and cheapening of the Nobel Prize".  She called the committee "delusional".

Michael Moore said, "You have to end our involvement in Afghanistan now. If you don't, you'll have no choice but to return the prize to Oslo."  ( Later, he retracted a little, saying, "I went back and re-read what I had written. And I listened for far too long yesterday to the right wing hate machine who did what they could to crap all over Barack's big day. Did I -- and others on the left -- do the same?")

There are those who bring up Mohandas Gandhi and the fact that, even though he was nominated five times, including a posthumous nomination in 1948, he was never awarded the Prize he so richly deserved.  They bring him up more than 60 years later as an example of why we can't trust the Nobel Peace Prize committee to do the right thing.

There are those who bring up civil rights leader Martin Luther King and say he was only awarded the Peace Prize because the committee felt bad about never having given it to Gandhi.

(There are those on the other side who still haven't forgiven the committee for snubbing Ronald Reagan.  The Obama pick is like rubbing sea-salt in the wounds.)

 I'm trying to look at the bigger picture:  Our president received a prestigious award for which he did no campaigning, no bribing, no begging.  The fact is, he received it, I'm proud that he received it, and now we all, including Obama, should make the most of it.

Instead we're engaged in a debate over whether or not he deserves it, and what the possible motives of the Peace Prize committee might be.  It doesn't matter.  He received it.  It's an honor.  It doesn't tear down the Nobel establishment.  It doesn't make us look bad.  It can only add to the credibility and prestige we've been trying to rebuild across the globe.  But it will only do that if the world is allowed to see us as a nation more proud than outraged over the honor given our president.

But, as usual, we come across like the foolish children the world has known us to be for all too many years.  I expect the Republicans and the Right Wing to tear this action to pieces.  This huge honor going to our new black Democratic president mere months into his presidency?  Right up their alley.  More ammunition to store in their already overflowing arsenals.  (Click here for the 8 Most Outrageous Attacks on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.)

But the liberals?  The progressives?  The so-called people for peace?  They see it as nothing more than a frivolous attempt at repudiation against George W. Bush.  (Robert Reich said, "The Prize is really more of a Booby Prize for Obama's predecessor. Had the world not suffered eight years of George W. Bush, Obama would not be receiving the Prize. He's prizeworthy and praiseworthy only by comparison."  While there may be a kernel of truth there, and while I might even see it as a good thing, I don't know this for sure and neither does he.)

They see it as a wrong-headed attempt by the Norwegian Peace Prize committee to push Obama toward more aggressive global peace-making efforts.

At the very least, they see it as yet another swelling of what some view as the already humungous Obama ego.

They don't see it for what it is:  Our chance to make an impact on the world; a chance to show them we're not who they thought we were.  Our chance to hold our heads high and be proud of what we've done in choosing Barack Hussein Obama as the President of the United States.

We've been looking for a way to salvage our history, our heritage, our worldview and, maybe especially, our dignity.  We may just have found it in the Nobel Peace Prize.  So can we please let's work at keeping the shine on that medal?

Because, really now--wallowing in the dirt is so. . .yesterday.



  1. Ramona,
    I liked your reasoning - as an American (I presume) -- on the peace prize.

    My own thoughts are somewhat different but along the same lines -- this as a Norwegian of Indian origin. You can find it on is on www.digitalsamfunn.no

    Do leave a comment there.


  2. Francis, thanks for visiting. Nice to get perspective from Oslo on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

    I read your blog on this same subject and found this especially interesting:

    "They were rewarding Obama for the direction he set, for the vision he creates by small actions. One man alone cannot do but one can certainly envision. Ultimately they are rewarding a vision that is open and can be adopted by anyone. And that is the real value of the award for me -- "placing a responsibility" not only Obama, but on every head of state and every citizen of the world who shares that vision. A vision of a more equitable world, a world where conflict is resolved by dialogue and non-violence, a world where people are energized so that they can make a difference. If nothing else, the award has reenergized the world in a "Yes, we can" attitude. (Aside: I wish I had statistics on how many countries and communities have been energized by the Obama presidential campaign). So Yes, the Nobel committee have acted in a very strategic manner."

    Thanks again. Ramona

  3. Good article Ramona. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you want to see how the Right Wingnuts view the Nobel Peace Prize, look up the Peace Prize article on Conservapedia. It's ridiculous, and shows their true colors. At a time when we can actually be proud of our country's accomplishments, rather than wave the flag, as they normally do, regardless of the issue, they choose to put our leader down. How very unpatriotic.

  4. Stan, thanks for telling me about Conservapedia. I've never seen that site before. What Right Wing crap! (http://www.conservapedia.com/Nobel_Peace_Prize)

    Yes, we all agree that Gandhi most certainly should have received the Peace Prize, but they act as if he was one of them! Can you picture him in their crowd?

    I'm not surprised that they're miffed that their great leader, Reagan, was snubbed. After all, he did defeat the Commies and put an end to the Soviet Union and saved us from aliens and. . .
    didn't he??

    But to think the Nobel committee once gave the prize for literature to that unabashed socialist, Sinclair Lewis, but won't even consider giving the Science prize to a Creationist.

    Makes me think all the more highly of the Nobel committees--except for the Gandhi snub. That was unforgivable. (And of course they got that wrong, too, even though they got their info from the same place I got mine--the official Nobel Prize webpage. Gandhi was considered five times, not 12.)

    I'm going to keep my eye on them. Thanks again. Ramona

    (And it is pretty great that we can actually be proud of our country. We've waited a long time to feel this way again.)

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  6. Ramona I agree with you. I think what most people fail to realize that to me the Nobel Prize was given to a nation more for defeating a Fascist Regime, like the Bush Regime than it is to Obama himself. The international community is watching very closely how we as a nation choose our leaders. And I really have to give it to Obama he is truly committed to Unity and peace too bad the Repugs are too nasty to see that. Their selfishness and greed is insatiable.

  7. Hear, hear! One of the remarks I read about this that I really liked was that if the Nobel Committee could have awarded it to the American people, they would have, for electing Obama to the Presidency. I thought that was pretty cool.

    I did a write-up of Conservapedia the other day:


    The site is a hoot...I try to keep a sense of humor about it, rather than get angry.


  8. Hi Lelo and Beth, thanks for commenting. Lelo, your last sentence is so true. Selfishness and greed seems to be their only call to action. They're getting worse instead of better, and I believe there's no hope for them anymore. I say forget about them. Who needs 'em?

    Beth, I went over to Nutwood Junction and read your post about Conservapedia. Hilarious! Your comments are right on. I love your website and I'll be visiting often.

    (I love the notion of the Nobel committee giving the prize to the American people. We endured the last eight years and we may be bloody and battered, but we prevailed. Seems pretty prizeworthy to me.)

  9. Loved your thoughts on this subject Ramona. I am delighted the award was given to Obama, though, like many, I was surprised. I'm equally tickled to death by the political uproar being issued from the far right. The more energy they waste on this kind of inane bickering, the worst off they will be come election time. They look pretty desperate right now. I am also humbled and honored to see the world respond to Obama's warm, inclusive political tone; it is nice to know that the world can see some good left in us, after all we have done, or not done, over the previous eight years.

  10. Hi Kyle, it is fun to was the Wingers implode, isn't it?

    I read this at HuffPo this morning:


    I don't know the writer's background, but it's interesting to read a take on Obama's Peace Prize from someone with an international perspective.

    He puts it this way:
    "The Norwegian Nobel Committee understood that the words Barack Obama spoke this past year in Moscow, Cairo, London, Ankara, Port of Spain, Strasbourg, Prague, Accra, and Normandy, at Buchenwald, and at the United Nations form the foundation for a new, constructive dynamic in international relations. By awarding President Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, the Committee recognized that the beginning of any comprehensive effort to repair and heal our troubled world is as important, requires as much vision and moral leadership, and can be as dauntingly complex as its eventual realization."

    He quotes Obama attempting to present the U.S as peacemakers, and I have to admit, most of the quotes were new to me. This one nearly brought me to tears:

    "There is," [Obama] said, "the 20th century view that the United States and Russia are destined to be antagonists, and that a strong Russia or a strong America can only assert themselves in opposition to one another. And there is a 19th century view that we are destined to vie for spheres of influence, and that great powers must forge competing blocs to balance one another. Both assumptions are wrong. In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over. As I said in Cairo, given our interdependence, any world order that tries to elevate one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game - progress must be shared."

  11. That's WATCH the Wingers implode. I wish Spellchecker was smart enough to know what I meant!


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