Obama's Nobel Peace Prize - A Bit Too Soon?
President Barack Obama wins Nobel, but I'd be lying if I didn't think it was premature.
Before I say anything let me say this: I am thrilled that President Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize for Peace. He can now stand among other Nobel royalty like Ralph Bunche, Martin Luther King Jr, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Wangari Muta Maathai. However, I'd feel a little dishonest if I didn't admit I was shocked and confused about why so soon. The Nobel committee has awarded President Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." I won't argue with that. From launching a plan to reduce the role of nuclear plans to delivering a speech at the University of Cairo aimed at healing tensions between Washington and the Islamic World to a planned talk with China's Hu Jintao where he will allegedly address the Tibetan issue, our 44th president has been busy "getting the fire going". I guess I'd just like to see some of these efforts manifest, take shape, make global impact.
Over at the New York Times blogger Nicholas Kristoff describes his reaction to Obama's Nobel win as nonplussed. He adds:
"I admire his efforts toward Middle East peace, but the prize still seems very premature. What has he done? Obama’s work on the Middle East, mostly through Senator Mitchell’s efforts, are sensible but haven’t produced any results yet. They certainly don’t match the intensive efforts that Bill Clinton made with his Middle East peace negotiations in the fall of 2000. Likewise, Obama’s efforts on nuclear non-proliferation are important, but they are purely an aspiration. All the hard work is yet to come — and trying to renegotiate the NPT will be very hard indeed. In other areas, Obama has done little."
Kristoff certainly provides an interesting assessment on Obama's year-to-date accomplishments, but in the end, the Nobel committee felt Obama's out-of-the-gate focus and determination was worthy of global recognition. I would have to agree somewhat. Besides, Obama is not only tackling a world plagued with economic instability, political uncertainty and a climate inching toward apocalypse, he's also forced to clean up the national and international mess left behind by decades of suspect leadership. That's worth three Nobels. Now, I still imagine folks like Jody Williams who won the Nobel for her work in banning and clearing anti-personnel mines when I think of the Peace Prize, or Rigoberta Menchu Tum who won for her work in social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation. But I'm thrilled for President Obama, a bit baffled, but thrilled.