Okay, I know there are some serious issues involved here, and I’ll get to what I think they are in a second. But first, I think it’s funny. I asked three people this morning to guess who won the Peace Prize and each of them went through, among others, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and “I give up” before the name Obama was even uttered (it helped them figure it out that I was laughing so hard).
Sure, the president may have done something to advance peace since he took office, but it is simply impossible to know at this point. All he’s done is offer words the Nobel committee likes to hear and an image of America they like to see. This says vastly, vastly, more about the Nobel committee than it does about Obama. Yes, I know the story of how the Peace Prize was created so Obama’s anti-nuke talk fits right into that. But this is at least partly a slap at pre-Obama America. It’s probably also an attempt to avert war with Iran (because Obama just won a prize for preferring diplomacy, get it?). And it’s probably about a few other things, but the bulk of the rationalizations amount to fairly mundane politics.
The only thing that really bothers me is that this comes just days after the Obama administration turned a blind eye to the Dalai Lama and told the world that it’s at least considering a separate peace with the Taliban. That’s grotesque. Meanwhile, there are real peace activists and dissidents out there whose dungeons will stay just as cold and dark for another year because of this. Indeed, this news comes during a year when the Iranian people rose up against tyranny and were crushed. Surely someone in Iran — or maybe the Iranian protestors generally — could have benefitted more from receiving the prize than a president who, so far, has done virtually nothing concrete for world peace.