The Commonwealth Comment

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Nobel Shocker

This morning, the president and the rest of the world woke up to some pretty surprising news. He had been selected as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama joins only a select few U.S. Presidents in the category of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Only three other presidents have received the honor. The first was Theodore Roosevelt for the Portsmouth Treaty, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. Woodrow Wilson earned his prize for the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I. In 2002, former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work through The Carter Center.

President Obama has been selected for creating, “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 Nobel Committee went on to say, “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."

Already the question is being asked, “Does President Obama deserve this award?” After all, he’s been in office for less than a year and has accomplished very little thus far. Additionally, he’s in the middle of deciding a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, which may involve a surge in troops to the region.

The president himself said this morning, “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize — men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”

I’ve taken some time to think about the arguments for and against the president winning this award, and after thinking about it for the last several hours; I have to agree with the Nobel committee.

He has completely changed course in terms of international politics from his predecessor. There appears to no longer be a mentality of “you’re either with us or against us” when we think of our allies in the world. President Obama has reached out to people of all nations, creeds, and religions in hope of a more peaceful world. At home, he has inspired a new generation of young Americans to be involved in the political process.

So, while it may be true that the president has little accomplishments to hang his hat on just yet, he is absolutely correct when he says this award should be viewed as a call to action. The international community is behind the United States’ peace efforts and this honor to our president is one big “Yes We Can”.


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