Thursday, October 15, 2009

A political Nobel Peace Prize?

I have to admit I was astounded when the Nobel Foundation announced that Barack Obama was selected as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Not that I have anything against President Obama, I really believe that he will bring the United States out of the religious, conservative rout its been stuck in for the last 30 years or so. That being said though, should he really have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? What has he done in the last 11 months to warrant that? Yes, he has opened up diplomatic channels with the Middle East but, on the other hand, American troops are still waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Alfred Nobel instituted the prizes as part of his will, he wanted it to be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. So he definitely intended that it honoured events and actions from the previous year. Although President Obama has brought a wind of change to global politics, nothing concrete has yet come out of that. With regards specifically to the Peace Prize, Alfred Nobel wanted it to benefit a “person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. I would agree on the efforts of the President with regards to fraternity, and even possibly the promotion of peace congresses but the abolition or reduction of standing armies is a very big stretch. Since Barack Obama has been in office, nothing has substantially changed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the situation has gotten worse in Pakistan, Lebanon Palestine and North Korea. One could possibly point to the end of the anti-ballistic missile system as a “reduction of standing armies” but I would first need to be convinced that this was motivated by a genuine belief in making the world a better place and not simply an economical decision

In the end, I think the Nobel committee selected President Obama as a way of notifying the whole world that they believe we have reached a cross-road and that we should all start pulling in the direction laid out by the President because, even though it may not be perfect, it represents the best chance we got…