“He won what?” is the first universal reaction.
And second, at least on the Right: “Why did they do that?”
Even the Nobel committee’s citation does not pretend Barack Obama has actually achieved anything. Rather, it was given to him “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” That’s efforts, not achievements.
Reading carefully through the entire citation suggests that Obama is being celebrated for two reasons. Its chatter about “a new climate,” the United Nations, a “vision of a world free from nuclear arms,” and “great climatic challenges” points to his being the anti-George W. Bush.
Second, the prize committee hopes to constrain Obama’s hands vis-à-vis Iran. It lauds him for not using force: “Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.” This is obviously gibberish: Whereas Bush did not use force against North Korea, Obama does not rely on dialogue in Afghanistan. But the statement does pressure Obama not to use force in the theater that counts the most, namely the Iranian nuclear build-up.
So, from the Leftist Norwegian point of view, it’s a twofer — bash Bush and handcuff Obama.
My prediction: The absurdity of the prize decision will harm Obama politically in the United States, contrasting his role as international celebrity with his record devoid of accomplishments. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, notes that Obama “won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.” Expert to hear much more along those lines.
– Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.