Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another Take on the Nobel Prize

Barack Obama, President of the United States, won the Nobel Prize for peace. When I woke up yesterday morning and flipped open my laptop to check the news I was honestly as shocked as anyone. "What the heck? What did they decide to do that for already?" was my honest, initial reaction.

I wasn't upset by it or anything, but then I saw all the usual suspects on the right start freaking the fuck out over it, I sighed, and said to myself, "really? Again? Like it wasn't enough to get all uppity about the Olympics nonsense?" It's just pathetic the level of outrage the right has for anything the President tries to do (or in this case, has happen to him beyond his will!).

Then I read some comments by people on the left, as well as some friends who I typically agree with on most issue. Their concerns weren't hostile like the right. They express legitimate concerns and criticisms that the President hasn't yet accomplished enough to deserve such a prestigious award. This is understandable. I agree with some of the sentiments of Blakey and JD in their earlier posts. And I especially sympathize with those who are concerned about what the President may do next in Afghanistan. But read these words from the President's remarks where he says that he will accept the award:
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who've been honored by this prize... But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans want to build. A world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement, it's also been used to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action. A call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
Many previous recipients of the Nobel Prize for peace received the award before actually accomplishing what it was they fought for. I see this award as deserved and beneficial on two fronts. One, despite the President's flaws, and all of the criticism he deserves from those of us on the left who must hold his feet to the fire, his election did transform the country, and transform the world.

American favorability in the world has significantly increased since President Obama took office. One of the most damaging aspects of the last eight years has been how image of the United States was tarnished among the rest of the world, significantly impeding our ability to conduct successful diplomacy. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was a guest on the Rachel Maddow show last night to talk about this, and she read a quote from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which sums this up beautifully:
It confirms, finally, America's return to the hearts of the people of the world.
Furthermore, as Rachel Maddow points out, his speech calling for the reduction of nuclear weapons was a significant moment. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize had this to say:
I cannot think of anyone today more deserving of this honor ... President Obama has provided outstanding leadership on moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
The reduction of nuclear weapons hasn't gained much publicity here in the U.S., but nuclear proliferation has been a consistent theme in this administration so far, and small but significant steps are being taken in the right directions. A dramatic break from previous administration policy, which not only improves our credibility abroad in working on this issue (say with Iran and North Korea) but is also a giant step towards a more peaceful world.

Secondly, as President Obama is a young president in a young administration leaving much to still be desired, I see this award as a raising of the bar for the Obama administration. It is a tremendous statement that the international community is behind him, and supports him in his goals of creating a more peaceful world. And, it will no doubt weigh on the President's mind and conscience when he is making critical decisions in the oval office that he carries the expectations of the entire world with him in his pursuit of peace.

I recommend watching Rachel's take on this issue:


J D said...

This much is very true: Barack Obama has been working on nuclear arms reduction for quite a while, since before he was elected president.

blakey said...

come on...