How’s that Nobel Peace Prize Working Out for You?

by Elliott Abrams

In the summer of 2014, the climate of international politics is sour: war, terror, confrontations. Negotiations — whether between Iran and the “P5+1,” Egypt and Hamas, or even trade talks among advanced nations — seem to be going nowhere. Democracy is in retreat in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia; NATO has been severely weakened by the Ukraine crisis; Russian aggression is clear; American prestige and influence have diminished everywhere. And the oceans have not stopped rising! After five and a half years of Obama, not only in America but in much of Europe and Asia there is a palpable sense that the next U.S. presidential election cannot come too soon.

With all this in mind, it’s worth remembering with contempt the following lines:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

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. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

Where’s that from? Tom Friedman in the New York Times? David Ignatius in the Washington Post? Nancy Pelosi at some Beverly Hills fundraiser? Valerie Jarrett at Obama’s birthday party?

No: That is the actual Nobel Committee statement of October 9, 2009, revealing that the Great Man was about to get that year’s Nobel Prize for Peace.

No amount of sarcasm will quite rise to the level the Nobel boys deserve, and anyway they aren’t listening right now: they are too busy this month denouncing Israel for defending itself. But world politics is so serious, and so depressing these days, that one shouldn’t pass up the chance for a good laugh. Obama did not wish to be seen or judged as a normal American politician; he was above all that, and above crass considerations like national interests. He would heal the nation and the world. Of course in buying that self-regarding Obama nonsense the Nobel committee was trying to insult George W. Bush, but they are stuck with exactly what they said — quoted above.

To be fair, it’s partly true: Obama sure has indeed “created a new climate in international politics.”

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