Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel blinded by The One

This blog normally doesn't delve into politics ouside of medicine, but this morning's announcement that President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is quite shocking. It puts to rest the idea that the Nobel Committee judges without prejudice and awards based on merit. This is a president who has been in office only nine months and two years ago was a little known senator from Illinois. He has been very good at talking about wanting peace but his accomplishments so far are pretty thin. Now I don't blame him for that since, again, he has been in office for only nine months. His policies for the Mideast, Iraq, and Afghanistan pretty much mirror President Bush's policies. Iran is still developing nuclear weapons. Hamas still presides over Gaza and terrorizing Israeli border towns. So far his one main foreign policy difference from the previous administration has been the withdrawal of defense missiles from Eastern Europe, to the delight of autocratic Russia and fanatical Iran.

If you look at a list of prior Peace Prize winners, there are some pretty dubious choices. In 2007 Al Gore won for promoting the doctrine of global warming. In 1994 Yasser Arafat won for promoting "peace" with Israel. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho won in 1973 for attempting to bring peace to Vietnam with the Vietnam Peace Accord. Several deserving public figures have been denied the prize, including Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, and Corazon Aquino, who brought down a dictatorship in the Philippines with the nonviolent People Power movement.

Is President Obama as deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Or Mother Teresa? Or Desmund Tutu? Or Aung San Suu Kyi? When Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement in Poland and a Peace Prize laureate, was told of Obama's win, he seemed confused, "Who? What? So fast? Well, there hasn’t been any contribution to peace yet. He’s proposing things, he’s initiating things, but he is yet to deliver." I'm sure even Obama will say there are other candidates more deserving of this award than he. But the Nobel Committee apparently has awarded him the prize based on his potential for promoting peace, not for actually accomplishing it. So while Obama's poll numbers are falling in the U.S., he can still dazzle those who don't have to live under his spendthrift socialist policies.

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