Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nobel explanation makes sense

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Now it really does seem like the right choice. Members of the Nobel Peace Prize committee yesterday explained their award of the Peace Prize to President Obama, and I have to say that what they said made sense. Like a lot of people, my first reaction to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was “Huh?”, and I wrote that the prize “should go to someone who’s achieved more concrete results.” Others said the prize was given in support of Obama’s agenda, or to further dump on Bush.

The Nobel committee, in a rare public discussion of how an award was given, says no, no, and no. It wasn’t about the future, or about an agenda, or about not being Bush. The committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, told the AP that Obama “got the prize for what he has done.” He pointed out that international tensions have eased since Obama’s inauguration, largely due to the President’s policies; Jagland specifically mentioned Obama’s efforts to close the rift between the West and the Muslim world, and the decision to scale down Bush’s anti-missile system in Europe.

The clearest explanation, though, was a simple clarification of Alfred Nobel’s intent. Jagland noted, “Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year. Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?" Well, I thought as I read Jagland’s explanation, who indeed? Beyond the West-Muslim rapprochement, and axing the inflammatory missile defense system, Obama also got Iran to agree to open its nuclear facilities for inspection, and has reinvigorated diplomacy as the “first resort” in international relations. Not bad for eight months in office. Now if he’ll only avoid a quagmire in Afghanistan — a policy decision that is very much up in the air — he could even wind up winning the prize again.

Alfred "Mr. Dynamite" Nobel: his criteria made Obama an obvious choice
  • Alfred "Mr. Dynamite" Nobel: his criteria made Obama an obvious choice

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