Sunday, October 11, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Throughout the world the announcement was greeted by varying responses; some hailed the selection because of his efforts to present a new picture of America, and his stated determination to pursue dialogue instead of saber rattling; others asked the question, “What has he accomplished?”
I confess that I understand the rationale for both lines of thought. But I also understand the Nobel committee’s comment. "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."
As to be expected, the Taliban, with which America is in the midst of an eight year war, condemned the award, saying:

We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan. He has not taken a single step for peace in Afghanistan or to make this country stable… We condemn the award of the Noble Peace Prize for Obama. We condemn the institute’s awarding him the peace prize. We condemn this year’s peace prize as unjust.

A few hours later, the Republican National Committee unexpectedly, at least to me, released the following statement:

The real question Americans are asking is, “What has President Obama actually accomplished?” It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain - President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.

I hate to say it, but the two statements show amazing similarities, and I am disappointed that the RNC would issue a comment such as that. Although I know better, it almost appears as if the RNC is agreeing with the Taliban.
My mother always taught me that if I can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. (I must confess that I have not always followed my mother’s teaching.) But I can’t help thinking that the RNC is more interested in getting Obama out than in what is good for America.
But I digress. Even in the Middle East, the reaction was hopeful. For example, Ali Abkar Javanfekr, media aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said:

        "We are not upset and we hope that by receiving this prize he will start taking practical steps to remove injustice in the world. If he removes the veto from the United Nations Security Council, then it shows the prize was given correctly to him."

OK, so the comment was conditional, but at least it wasn’t negative. Elsewhere, except for some areas of the far east, the reaction was one of hopeful expectation that Obama will act so as to deserve the honor.
As for me, I am proud that it went to an. American president – only three others have also received the honor – but I find it somewhat ironic that the Peace prize went to a man who is currently fighting two wars.

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