I woke up this morning, and during my usual cycle of reading the news, stumbled across the fact that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. My first thought was “that’s quick” followed by, “boy, the right-wing pundits are going to go crazy.” And certainly they have.
Tommy Seno, of JustifiedRight.com, does a wonderful job of creating worthless hyperbole and false hype. As much as he likes to claim that the award was given for his first twelve days in office, the editorial note on Fox News states: “invitation letters are sent out in September” – by this point in time, Obama was the Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, and the first major African-American contender with a solid shot at the presidency. February 1st is merely the deadline to submit nominations. The rest of the shortlisting process and analysis of candidates takes place until October.
Rush Limbaugh in particular steps way out of line: “The Nobel gang just suicide bombed themselves. Gore, Carter, Obama, soon Bill Clinton. See a pattern here? They are all leftist sell-outs. George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims in Iraq, Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans and saves parts of Latin America. Any awards?” What Rush fails to understand is that the Nobel Peace Prize is for PEACE. Not war. Reagan liberated because his arms buildups helped finally bankrupt the Soviet Union. President Bush, perhaps in time, might do deeds worth a Nobel Peace Prize. We’ll see. However, he engaged in war to liberate. An unjust war in the case of Iraq. I note that Rush does not invoke Afghanistan in this case, where just war was undertaken. Perhaps because of the long litany of failures there and the sideshow in Iraq is the reason why.
Now, about that Nobel Peace Prize. “As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to ‘the person who 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’.” (Facts on the Nobel Peace Prize) Obama was awarded the prize “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. I agree that he has taken steps towards this, but I am generally inclined to agree with those who believe that the award is premature.
Why is it premature? There has been little delivery to date. If or when that changes, I will feel more comfortable with the decision, until then, it is likely to be a point of controversy domestically within the States, and perhaps abroad.
However, as I think of the potential positive impacts that arise from having a Nobel Laureate, they are many. First, it carries a great deal of weight internationally (and should nationally as well, North America has had 19 Nobel Laureates for the Peace Prize) which will only boost US stature by having a sitting President who has earned the award. Second, it may inspire many domestically and internationally to strive for higher odds. For the first time in decades (the last was Woodrow Wilson in 1912 – 1921), a Peace Prize winner is sitting in office. Third, it brings an additonal level of prestige to the White House. It might give America’s allies added succor to know that a Nobel Laureate is on their side. It is certain that it brings our enemies distress:” ‘We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan,’ Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. ‘We condemn the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for Obama,’ he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.”
Mujahid’s statement sounds familiar.. oh wait.. just like Glenn Beck.