Saturday, October 10, 2009

Perspective on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

Yesterday, I was standing in the corridor at work discussing with a technical officer a document I was editing when one of his colleagues came out and said, "Barack Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize."

What followed was stunned silence on my part and exuberance on the part of the non-Americans. Stunned because although I voted for President Obama and I fully support his efforts at home and abroad, I am still waiting to see results on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the closure of Guantanamo Bay, improvements in the U.S. economy and employment situations, universal healthcare, efforts to combat climate change, and the extension of basic human rights to all peoples. I don't expect miracles overnight, like some Americans and President Obama's worst critics do. I believe change can be both immediate and measured; the president will get results by being bold and swift and methodical and deliberate.

But the Nobel Peace Prize? Already? I think it's a bit premature.

Our European friends generally see America as moving back toward policies that embody peace and universal human rights and President Obama is a hopeful, credible messenger of that cause. After eight years of cowboy diplomacy, the Obama Administration is correcting that course and sending signals that shock and awe is bad policy. On a continent and in countries where wars have had devastating consequences in the last century and where nationalism is still a value, but cooperation is seen as a necessity, peace is a relevant and worthy value.

As I stood in the corridor accepting the congratulations of many of my colleagues, my stupor was broken by a gentleman from Great Britain who offered this agreeable perspective and opinion:

"The Nobel Prize," he posited, "shouldn't be awarded to President Obama. It should be given to the American people for having the courage to elect a man to office who will, hopefully, bring peace to the world."

To that I can say "Amen" and congratulations to the American people.

Photo and graphics source: Google Images


Maya said...

Nicely written! I feel about the same. And, I have to agree with Mr. Brit on that one! Here's to us for finally standing up and asking for change!

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Here's what my friend just wrote, which I also like:

"Here's the list of "why Obama?" from the head of the Nobel peace prize committee, Thorbjørn Jagland. He refers to the stipulations of Alfred Nobel's will and calls Obama a perfect fit, for these accomplishments so far:
1. Speech in Cairo promising a new beginning in relations between the U.S. and the world's Muslims.
2. Pushing a resolution for international nuclear disarmament in the U.N. Security Council.
3. Re-establishing diplomatic contact between the U.S. and Iran after 30 years.
4. Involvement on the Middle Eastern conflict from his first day in office.
5. Scuttling the eastern European missile shield plans, thereby improving U.S.-Russian relations.

"Jagland says this awarding is similar to the one given to Willy Brandt in 1971 in that it also looks to potential actions. On this front he quotes Desmond Tutu, saying that Obama "has reduced the temperature in the world."

"Call the Nobel Peace Prize committee fuzzy-thinking Norwegian socialists if y'all want, but I think Jagland has a point or two."

So yeah, I *heart* fuzzy-thinking Norwegian socialists. :-)

- Di

Anonymous said...

Agree. Refreshing perspectives!

I find it interesting that the person who funded this peace prize was a guy whose invention made him rich, but also made him sorry he ever invented it -- dynamite!


lacochran said...

Breaking news...

Obama vows to end restrictions on gays in military

* Obama says he will end 'don't ask, don't tell'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, speaking on the eve of a major gay-rights march, told gay supporters on Saturday he would fight for their causes and renewed a pledge to end restrictions on their service in the U.S. military.

To a standing ovation at a dinner held by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, Obama said he would "end 'don't ask, don't tell,' That's my commitment to you."

Obama, who was referring to the policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military, was seeking to shore up his support among gays and lesbians who backed him strongly during last year's presidential campaign.

Many gay activists are frustrated he has not moved more quickly to carry out promises, such as overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from forcing states to recognize gay marriage.

Activists plan to march in Washington on Sunday to urge action on those issues.

At the dinner, Obama acknowledged that work on those issues was "taking longer than you'd like" as the push to overhaul healthcare and dealing with the economic crisis dominate his domestic agenda.

But he promised "unwavering" support for broadening the rights of gays and lesbians and said he would not allow the issue to be sidetracked.

"Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach," said Obama, who made history as the first African American president and compared the push for gay rights to the struggles in the 1960s to end discrimination against blacks.

"My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will see a time when we put a stop to discrimination against gays and lesbians, whether in the office or on the battlefield."

Obama touted his decision to extend some benefits to partners of gay federal employees and said he hopes to soon sign a bill that would broaden the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation.

The House of Representatives passed the bill last week and the Senate is expected to act soon.

Obama last week nominated an openly gay lawyer, David Huebner, to serve as his ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

Lane Hudson, a blogger and activist who attended the Human Rights Campaign event, said while Obama's speech was well-received, it probably would not erase doubts about his commitment to fulfilling his campaign promises.

"It was the kind of feel-good speech we are used to from the president," Hudson said. "It lacked any specific details on fulfilling his promises and he failed to say anything new at all."

Janet Kincaid said...

Maya: Hear! Hear! Now, if we could just get the other 48% of voting Americans who mistakenly voted for McCain to agree with us, all would be right with the world!

Di: Thanks for sharing that! All of those things are true, and I guess that counts for something. Plus, Desmond Tutu is right: he's lowered the temperature around the globe and that's a great thing. Here's to those fuzzy-thinking, liberal, socialist Norwegians!

Phoebe: Isn't that the great irony of ironies?

LACochran: Thanks for posting that! I'm hoping he succeeds.

Cele said...

Tewkes, we have to wait on occassion to hear from you, but it is always well worth the wait.

To quote Maya, Nicely written(she told me I was on my high horse.)

Well said. (not about the high horse but about your writing -duh!)