Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Is a Huge Stretch

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Publicly President Obama said all the right things when he got word that the Nobel committee awarded him its jewel in the crown peace prize. But privately I have to think that Obama had to scratch his head and wonder why me? With all due respect to the president, while we can applaud his admirable effort to mildly reverse Bush’s kick butt, my way or the highway, foreign adventurism policy that ticked off the European allies, enraged the Muslim world, and blew off Latin America, awarding him the Nobel peace prize this early in his White House tenure is a huge stretch.

The three other presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter that won the prize had done more than barely warm the Oval Office seat when they got their award. The most recent, Carter, worked tirelessly to bring the warring Palestinian and Israelis to the peace table and because of his efforts actually obtained a break in the hostilities. This was a tangible, measurable and singular accomplishment, and he deserved the prize for not his efforts at peace and reconciliation but the actual attainment of a degree of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Even worse, Obama has done his bit of war waging. He has not damped down the American war machine in Iraq, and threatens to ramp up the war machine in Afghanistan. That’s hardly an example of peace making at its best.

The Nobel Prize winners in science, medicine and literature were mostly unknowns who spent years laboring in the shadows to produce milestone achievements in their respective fields. The award was not given to them because of their public popularity, mediagenic appeal, or their title (president), they got the prize for their long, and hard work that produced measurable, tangible and specific results.
Obama in the ridiculously short length of time he’s been in the White House has not gotten Iran’s leaders to firmly commit to hold talks on their nuclear testing program. He has not gotten North Korea to stand down in its nuclear weapons program. He has not brokered a lasting peace treaty between the warring factions in the Congo. He has not gotten Pakistan to seal its porous borders with Afghanistan that would choke off stop support, supply and the safe haven for the Taliban insurgents. He has not hectored the Israeli government to crackdown on settlement expansion on the West Bank and Gaza. He has not even pushed Congress to scrap the most repressive, loathful and patently unconstitutional features of the Bush’s anti-terrorist policies.

Any one of these singular and very measurable accomplishments would be considered major breakthroughs on the peace front. If he had obtained one or more of them, he would have richly deserved the peace prize for the accomplishment.
In the years to come Obama may well accomplish one or more of these stellar achievements. But he hasn’t yet. Simply awarding a young president, with lots of time left in his White House tenure to do truly great things in the battle for world peace, a prize for his mostly verbal efforts on the peace front, is not a stretch, but a huge stretch.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.


Carolyn Moon said...

The world was in such despair and paranoia about the U.S. and just to have a President say he wants to work with them and not against them; was such a breakthrough. HOPE, I think, motivated the committee to make this move. Have we forgotten the attitude and actions of the last administration and how their policies were viewed by the world leaders?

There were some on other blogs citing that President Obama wasn't in the same class as the former President Jimmy Carter whom deservedly received the award for his efforts and accomplishments. Which I too, by the way,applauded. The criteria they used to determine the selection of President Obama was obviously different and they act as if somehow this diminished what President Carter and others had doesn't!! "Many things are true at once" and before I further assess this; I'd like to hear or read more of the committee's rationale. After all the buck stops with them and it really doesn't matter what any of us think. The limbaughs and republican pundits are aligning the President with terrorists because of it and expressing the most sinister and outrageous allegations! It's best not to get in the range of all that mudslinging.

Oh yes, one other thing, a President should be able to multi-task and given the problems Mr. Obama inherited and the fact that he began actually to motivate the masses here in the U.S. and abroad before he even won the election; may also have something to do with the committee's decision to award him this prize. Let's not be so judgmental and work with the man instead of this constant bean counting and fault finding. The President said that he saw this as "a call to action" not the culmination of all his efforts thus far. Can we just be proud of the U.S. and honored that OUR President, the leader and the Commander-in-Chief was bestowed this prestigious award!

Sam Kaufman said...

my first thought was that maybe they're making up for Chicago not getting the Olympics