Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize conundrum

Okay, I know this will sound harping, but how can Pres. Obama be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, especially for "extraordinary effort promoting diplomacy and nuclear disarmament"? I find myself asking, Really? In the realm of nuclear disarmament what has he done? The citation cites his vision for a world without nuclear weapons. Well, a lot of people, myself included, would like to live in a world without nuclear weapons, and, while we're at it, I also want a world without cancer. Nonetheless, he has put us on a path to accepting Iran as a nuclear power and I am hard-pressed to point to any constructive engagement with North Korea during his months in office, apart from former President Clinton's dramatic rescue of the two reporters back in August. Both countries have multiple, largely successful, missile tests to prove their lack of adherence to whatever it is the Obama Administration is doing diplomatically.

Arguably, with his unilateral decision not to deploy land-based missile defense in Europe, which ticked off our allies, especially Poland and the Czech Republic, where it was to be based (so much for diplomacy), he emboldened Iran. Apparently the Noble committee has a crystal ball, too, because according to them Pres. Obama will usher in an era during which "Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened." You might want to tell that to the democracy protesters in Iran who were given no support and only lukewarm encouragement by our president in their efforts to draw attention to the rigged election that happened there in June. Why? Because the Obama Administration is committed to working with the current Iranian regime and to foster and support discontent in Iran would be a setback. It seems the committee had a hard time dealing in reality, which comes as no surprise to me.

It bears noting again that on his watch the Israeli/Palestinian peace process has actually gone backwards. In all this I am only repeating what I wrote in two recent Il Sussidiario pieces: Foreign Policy after the G-20: A New Naiveté? and Obama, Abbas, and Netanyahu: what about Gaza?

Considering previous recipients, this prize, as do the prizes in literature and economics (the other ones to which I pay close attention), has a mixed record. Looking back over recent years, it bears noting that Paul Krugman is an economic laureate and Elfriede Jelinek is a literature laureate. But then, Edmund Phelps and Orhan Pamuk are also recent recipients of those awards respectively.

On our trip we also discussed politics. My oldest son, 15, said: "Dad, you just don't like anyone who is president." I admitted that there is something to his observation. In the British parliament I would be what they call a career back-bencher. It bears noting that it is the back-benchers who make the PM's Q & A time interesting! In this regard I guess I am a lot like a satrist, just without the humor. However, my overall point is not lost on SNL:

Veni Sancti Spiritus, veni per Mariam.


  1. Someone on another forum reminded me of Sideshow Bob's quote: "Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?" That's as good as a summation as I've seen. I realize that the Peace Prize is also given for ongoing efforts, as an "encouragement", but I guess I'm not really even seeing the effort. Unless, of course, letting Iran and Russia have their heads is considered the correct path - after all, a lot of people will be extremely peaceful by the time they're done.

    (Sorry about the sarcasm, but this was startling and frustrating news to wake up to).

  2. Well said, Scott. I couldn't agree with you more! Just as a side note, though... I was actually quite pleased with the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year. It was well-warranted. I can't speak for the others, but at least one Nobel was properly awarded!

  3. Thanks, Lara. As I mentioned, the prizes in the categories to which I pay attention are mixed. I think the Peace Prize, being the most political, is most prone to being an incomprehensible error.