Obama’s Acceptance Cheapens Value of Nobel Prize

by Matthew Hardin

In ordinary times, the decision to award an American president any major international prize would be lauded on both sides of the aisle. It would give increased credibility and prestige to American efforts abroad and serve as a powerful illustration of the values of representative government. Simply put, these are not ordinary times.

The decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announced on Oct. 9, to award President Barack Obama the Peace Prize was a departure both from the mission Alfred Nobel endowed the organization with in his will and from common sense principles of international politics. Nominated for the prize less than two weeks after assuming office and accepting it mere months into his first term, Obama has cheapened the value of the award and shaken the faith of millions who had come to see the Nobel Peace Prize as a compelling force for the recognition and promotion of justice in the modern world.

Nobel, a noted chemist and the inventor of dynamite, noted in his 1896 will that he wished the prize to be awarded to those who “shall have done the most or the best work… for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Even the most cursory reflection by the Nobel Committee would have shown that the size of the United States Army has increased since Obama assumed office, that he has pressed for an increased military presence in Afghanistan and that there is no documentary evidence that he has been a meaningful force for peace in any capacity whatsoever. Obama’s calls for Saudi recognition of Israel were rejected outright. His rejection of continued Jewish settlement in the West Bank was ineffectual. Even Lech Walensa, famed opponent of communism and oppression that he is, spoke out in opposition of the Nobel Committee’s decision, stating flatly: “This is too soon. He has not yet made a real input.”

Putting politics above merit, unfortunately, is nothing new for the Nobel Committee. A quick check of past recipients shows that three prominent members of the Democratic Party have been awarded the prize since 2002. Since its inception, only one Republican has been awarded the prize, and that was more than a century ago. In 1977, the prize was awarded collectively to the leftist activists at Amnesty International, an organization notable more for their virulent opposition to anything approaching national sovereignty than for any real contribution to world peace. Even Yassar Arafat, former chairman of the paramilitary Palestinian Liberation Organization, and Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union (and opponent of then-President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin’s democratic reforms), have been awarded the prize.

It is clear that Nobel’s dream of a better world has been perverted by those who would put politics above peace and ideological orthodoxy above merit. By accepting this award, Obama has proven that he values acclamation more than accomplishment. What happened to the candidate who spoke so brilliantly about the power of hope and the value of hard work?


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