Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama wins Nobel prize for Participation

Like the fat kid in a grade-school track meet receiving his participation ribbon for showing up, U.S. President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize on the basis of what he is trying to do.

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the prize was given to Obama for his "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy," his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons" and for inspiring hope and creating "a new climate in international politics."

As further justification, Norwegian Nobel Committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said, "If you look at the history of the Peace Prize, we have on many occasions given it to try to enhance what many personalities were trying to do," "We are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do," and “[The prize] is a clear signal to the world that we want to advocate the same as he has done to promote international diplomacy."

In more realistic terms, they’ve awarded him the prize because he delivers a good speech. What peace-loving politician does not desire all the things just named? If the Nobel Prize were meant to award good intentions, then all good people should win.
Fortunately, there remain those who remember that awards such as the Nobel Prize is intended to reflect accomplishments, not intentions.

"Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast -- he hasn't had the time to do anything yet." - Lech Walesa, anti-communist Polish leader and winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize
"President Obama has yet to prove that he will move seriously on the Middle East, that he will end the war in Afghanistan and many other issues," - Mairead Corrigan Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner, also said she was "very sad" to hear of the award

"He has achieved nothing. He's stumbling. He hasn't achieved any of his promises and nothing is working. He promised to close Guantanamo and now that's not going to happen, and the Arab-Israeli conflict looks like it's going to get very nasty." - Hisham Qasim, Egyptian democracy and human rights activist

“It seems premature to me. I think the committee should be very careful with the integrity of the prize… Sometimes of course the prize is awarded to people who are in the process of making history, so to speak, but in this case I think it is too early to know that.” - Nils Butenschon, director of the Norwegian Center for Human Rights at the University of Oslo

“Good intentions are something and good deeds are something else. And creating reality is not achieved by good intentions; it is by good actions.” - Saad al-Ajmi, former Kuwaiti minister of information

These are just a few prominent individuals with the credentials to put massive weight behind their criticism of the Nobel Committee’s decision. I could go on and on with the words of commentators and pundits who are just as astonished.

Instead, I will sum it up in the President’s own words, “I don’t believe I belong in the company of the transformative figures that have been honored by this prize." At least we can agree with the President on that.

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