The Norwegian Nobel committee has made odd decisions before. Awarding this year’s peace prize to Barack Obama, however, is not merely bizarre but bad: for Mr Obama, for the prize, and for the cause of peace itself.
This is the first time the prize is given for what remain, for now, mere aspirations.
Despite Mr Obama’s undeniable diplomatic ambitions for a more peaceful world, there has simply been no time for him either to realise or betray them. So – to borrow from his own rhetoric – why the fierce urgency of now?
The answer is a Nobel Committee trapped in an adolescent adulation of Mr Obama that, if once shared by many, most have put behind them. Its continuing desire to flatter a particular tendency in US politics – Al Gore and Jimmy Carter are recent laureates – risks painting it as an annex to the left wing of the US Democratic party. Hoping the prize will strengthen Mr Obama domestically is deeply misguided: it will embarrass his allies and egg on his detractors.
Elsewhere, it will come to be seen as awarded for wishful thinking, not hard work. Peace is not served by devaluing the moral force of the prize, whose greatest impact has always been the moral support it can give those who fight oppression with their lives – a von Ossietzky, a King or a Walesa – or leaders who make heavy concessions needed for peace. Mr Obama has done neither. It is, however, in his hands to rescue the prize from itself – by declining it in deference to those more worthy than he.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The FT on the Nobel Peace Prize
Beautiful day here in North Jersey. The sun's out, and the Giants just routed the Raiders. Here's the Financial Times on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, from yesterday, "Urgency of Now?". Excerpt: