Obama’s Nobel Peace prize and International Politics

In OFF THE BEATEN PATH on October 11, 2009 at 10:56 am

2009: Barack Obama - In a surprise announcement on Oct. 9, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the American president for 'extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.' In this photo, President Obama addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23.

You’re way better than Bush!  The world hates America a whole lot less these days!  Here’s a Nobel Prize! Huh?

Chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, holds up a photo of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama at The Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo Friday.

The international politics behind Obama’s Nobel Peace prize

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama appears to be an effort to spur on, rather than reward, peacemaking.

By Dan Murphy and Tom Sullivan | Staff writer 10.09.09

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN; and BOSTON — The surprise decision to award President Barack Obama the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize had much of the world scratching its head on Friday, even among the president’s most ardent fans. Less than a year into office, the young president has made lofty promises, committed his administration to diplomacy, and convinced the world that a less belligerent America is in the offing.

But he is also the commander-in-chief for the Afghan and Iraq wars, as well as ongoing lower-scale US military efforts in Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines. Later on Friday, Obama will hold a strategy session with his war cabinet that could lead to a commitment of more combat troops to Afghanistan. A commentator on Britain’s Sky News captured the mood well when he said it appeared Obama had won the prize for “not being George Bush.”

America’s international standing was at a nadir by the end of the Bush administration, and Obama’s decision to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program (already bearing some fruit) and promises to reinvigorate US efforts in Israel-Palestinian peacemaking have quickly remade America’s international image, with the US leaping into the top spot in a recent survey on the world’s most admired countries. That’s especially so in Europe, where Obama’s decision to cancel a planned missile-shield system in Eastern Europe that had rankled Russia has been widely praised.

And the five-member Norwegian committee that picks the annual peace-prizewinner clearly has something more in mind than simply giving Obama a $1 million high-five for being such a popular guy. Unlike the other Nobels, which are given for a lifetime of generally indisputable high achievement in areas like physics, chemistry, and literature, the peace prize has often been awarded more in hope than hindsight — and with an eye to nudging world events.

via The international politics behind Obama’s Nobel Peace prize | csmonitor.com.

Let’s compare his efforts to other recent winners:

2008: Martti Ahtisaari – Finland’s former president received the award in 2008 ‘for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts.’ Ahtisaari worked to find peaceful solutions in Kosovo, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa in his long diplomatic career.

2007: Al Gore – The former US vice-president and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 ‘for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.’

2006: Muhammad Yunus – The Bangladeshi banker and economist and the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank were given the prize in 2006 ‘for advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women, through their pioneering microcredit work.’ Yunus discovered that lending small amounts to the poor can make a disproportionally large impact on the fight against poverty.

2005: Mohamed ElBaradei – The Austrian-based International Atomic Energy Agency and its Egyptian Director General were awarded the prize in 2005 ‘for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.’

2004: Wangari Muta Maathai – The Kenyan political activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement, an organization promoting sustainable development, women’s rights, and conservation, received the award in 2004 ‘for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

2003: Shirin Ebadi – The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 ‘for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.’ Ebadi is the founder of the Iranian Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.

2002: Jimmy Carter – The former American president was given the 2002 award ‘for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.’

2001: Kofi Annan – The United Nations and its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, were awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize ‘for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.’

2000: Kim Dae Jung – The South Korean President was given the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize ‘for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.’ Kim’s ‘Sunshine Policy’ reopened diplomatic relations between North and South Korea and was hailed by many as a major accomplishment, despite North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Il’s failure to keep some of his promises.


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