Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize: No longer for achievements

President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize today. The award has stunned many within and outside of his administration since his name was added to the list of candidates after only being in office for a week. The award is a stunner because Alfred Nobel stipulated the recipient of the peace prize ought "to be a person who shall have done the most or the best work for the fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses." Well, all President Obama has accomplished prior to his nomination was several speeches. The key part to Alfred Nobel's stipulation is "have done". Now what had Obama accomplished as either a Senator or a President. Remember he was only president for about a week when he was nominated.

Now, I think it is great that an American President receives such an honor. Does it not cheapen the award though when the President has not done anything to earn it? As Claus Malzahn points out, "It used to be the rule that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to politicians if they could point to tangible political successes" (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,654251,00.html#ref=nlint). Other Presidents that won it include Teddy Roosevelt, 1906, for securing peace between Russia and Japan, President Wilson, 1919, earn it for his work in creating the League of Nations that lead to the United Nations, Martin Luther King, 1964, his work for civil rights movement, Henry Kissinger, 1973, in his role in negotiations of ending the Vietnam War. The reason for giving President Obama was due to his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between people."

So let me get this right. A person has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of a set of speeches given and no actual actions completed. We are still in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. It was former President Clinton, on his own dime, went to North Korea to free two United States citizens. Granted this act didn't take place in time for nomination but President Clinton has worked with others in the world since leaving office to ensure humanitarian acts were undertaken.

Claus Malzahn also ponders, "...who has accepted Obama's outstretched hand today? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? The Taliban? North Korea's Kim Jon-Il? Russia's Vladimir Putin or Dmitry Medvedev? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? None of them. Nowhere is there any success in sight." In defense of President Obama, he has only been in office for eight months. "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, said Thorbjoern Jaglan the chairman of the Nobel Committee.

The Nobel Peace Prize comes on the eve of President Obama's decision to add more troops in Afghanistan. Former Polish President Lech Walesa, 1983 Nobel Peace laureate, questioned, "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28119.html). I couldn't agree more. Let's wait till the next time when the Nobel group meets to honor President Obama because right now his rhetoric, although hopeful, is just rhetoric. Can he sit in the room with Israeli Prime Minister Netanhyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and craft a lasting peace agreement? Now if he can do something along those lines then, yes, I would agree with the earning of a Nobel Peace Prize. To give him the honor because of hope is premature.

Just look at where "hope and change" has gotten the citizens of the United States. Unemployment is nearing 10% with the expectation to go higher. The United States is still in a recession with the potential of a second one and galloping inflation. The U.S. dollar is weakening and many in the international realm are looking for an alternative benchmarking currency. Presidential campaign promises being broken on not signing a bill with pork or raising taxes one dime on those making less than $250,000. The "Stimulus" bill signed earlier this year was filled with pork and the current "Cap and Trade" bill contains a tax on those President Obama contended to protect. Obama's biggest supporter, Warren Buffett, said on CNBC Live Lunch interview on June 24, 2009, "I think if you get into the way it was written, it's a huge tax and there's no sense calling it anything else. I mean, it is a tax. And it's a fairly regressive tax."

While I think it is a great honor for any American citizen to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but I think the person that is awarded needs to earn it. I understand that many reading my blog will think I am being an ideologue because I am a fiscal conservative. Although the majority of those speaking out against the award are to the right of the political spectrum but liberal blog Talk Left agrees as they feel Obama should reject the Nobel Prize, "Just because the Nobel Committee wants to make fools of themselves, Obama should not have to play along. He should turn it down" (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/10/obama-nobel-peace-prize.html).

In a Rose Garden ceremony today President Obama said, "I am both surprised and deeply humbled. I do not view this as recognition of my own accomplishments. To be honest I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of the so many transformational figures who have been honored by this prize." President Obama went on to say that he will accept the award as a "call to action". It was later reported that he will donate the $1M prize money to charity too. Now that he has been awarded of rhetoric let's see if he can match that rhetoric with positive action. Will President Obama become Caesar Augustus or Martin Luther King reincarnated?