I mean, I like the man, and I think he’s doing well at his job, especially considering the sheer amount of nonsense he has to deal with. And to be clear, this is a proud moment for every United States citizen to have a sitting president so recognized, although I’m sure some would disagree. But, honestly, now: the Nobel Peace Prize? It’s a bit much at this point, don’t you think? I’d’ve liked to have seen him earn the thing before they plopped it into his lap. I think he’s got the potential to do so, one day. But this is an award that should not be given on credit.

Your thoughts, please, with the notation that those folks who use this an excuse to go foamy on Obama, et al will discover that even though I am busily engaged in a writing workshop at the moment, I have indeed brought the Loving Mallet of Correction with me. So behave.

232 Comments on “Seriously?”

  1. “I have indeed brought the Loving Mallet of Correction with me.”

    Does that have to go in checked baggage, or can you carry that on the plane with you?

  2. I’m as liberal as they come and voted for Obama in the PA primary and General Election, but I agree with you. I do hope he gets the message, and you know, creates a little peace in the world. I’d like to see us out of Iraq and Afghanistan to start.

    That said, I got a little pukey this morning watching Joe Scarborough and his attacks on the Nobel Peace Prize.

  3. Had almost the exact same reaction. I don’t think you should get a prestigious global peace award for just saying we should band together to do these things. Inspiring the world is certainly a component of what Peace Prize winners do, but it’s not the entirety of what it’s about and shouldn’t qualify anybody for a preemptive one.

    Still, I’m eagerly awaiting the foaminess from the Hannity/Beck/Limbaugh crowd. Should be quite entertaining.

  4. Yeah, I pretty much agree. Maybe his multi-lateral approach and an actual call for shutting down nukes shocked the Nobel Committee into Premature Nobelulation. Or maybe the shock was how different it was from the last administration. Dunno. Maybe it’ll give him some clout to get the stuff actually done.

  5. I know I was thinking the same thing. How legitimate is the Nobel prize for someone who really hasn’t done anything? The interview with some citizens from around the world helped me at least understand why he was given the Nobel prize.

    The Bush Administration turned the US into this unilateral decision making entity that pissed a lot of international bodies/rulers off. The simple fact that Obama wants to work with these nations/rulers/international organizations goes a long way to repair some of that damage. Obama (and therefore America) is now supporting a multilateral decision making process and to other nations that support is significant.

    The Nobel Peace prize was given as a carrot/reward for changing America from a decision making body into a member of the international community. They are trying to encourage us to continue in that role.

    Am I 100% convinced that he deserved the Nobel Prize at this point? No, but I do think that there is some appreciation for his inclusive approach to trying to solve the world’s problems.


  6. Agree with all of the above. I also feel like it doesn’t leave a lot to strive for once he’s done with the presidency.
    1. President of United States – Check
    2. Nobel Peace Prize – Check
    What’s left? Learning to fly without wings? Finding out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

  7. He has done jack-squat, nationally and/or worldwide. He’s been on talk shows. He tried (and failed) to get the Olympics to come to Chicago. He’s the sitting President of a country that is actively engaged in two wars overseas that we started, and he wins the Nobel Peace Prize?

    Obama is a symbolic President. I’d rather a President who does something.

  8. I heard this on the way into work and my reaction was similar.

    However, from this article, “Common misconceptions about the Nobel Peace Prize” comes the following:

    “Myth: The prize is awarded to recognize efforts for peace, human rights and democracy only after they have proven successful.

    More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.”

    Well, okay, then. Still, really?

  9. I also agree that from an American perspective this is premature. But as one who is married to a Norwegian and has some knowledge of the Middle East, I interpret this as great relief on the part of others that the U.S. has re-engaged a multilateral world with a positive (vice destructive) approach, which Obama has in fact done. In many ways this is an award of the anti-Nobel Peace Prize to George W. Bush, and an attempt to encourage the U.S. on the path it has entered.

  10. I think it was meant to show how he created an environment for productive, diplomatic talks, a message to those right wing nuts who think war is the answer to everything.

  11. My only problem with him winning the Nobel is this reaction (and I share it); you just know that every jackass media figure in the world will use the global “Meh” as proof we all think Obama’s doing a bad job.

    “Is America’s Love Affair With Obama Over?”

    It’s going to be weeks of this, I tell you. Weeks. And then we’ll get right back to telling people, “No, you may not see his birth certificate again.”

  12. Actually, if one looks at previous prize-winners, the idea of the Peace Prize is as an active political weapon rather than an after-the-fact “Yes you were a good boy”-thing. Sometimes (south africa, middle east) this backfires. Hopefully this will not be such a time.

    (Full disclosure: I am Norwegian, we give out the NPP. No, it’s not the Swedes. They only have the other ones. Oslo is the capital of *Norway*, thank you very much.)

    PS: We can has “meddling in US internal affairs” right-wing freakout nows?

  13. Just goes to prove PR is more important then the actual performance with this President. What a ?*!*ing joke.

  14. I thought it was a dream. I let the radio stay on while I drifted in and out of sleep and figured, nah, it was just a dream.

    I’d love to hear what Sarkozy said when he heard the news.

  15. Thanks for keeping it real John. That is one of the reasons I keep coming back here even though I disagree (mostly) with your politics.

  16. Too soon. He’s on a path where he’s likely to have earned it someday.

    Meanwhile, it’s another snub for Pete Seeger, who HAS earned it at least twice over.

  17. a bit like asking me to join the honor society after I do reasonably well on my first homework assignment, isn’t it? There’s still plenty of time for me to do particularly well, particularly poorly, or to just fail to distinguish myself.

  18. Although, thinking about it: who *should* have gotten it this year? I’m serious. Has anybody recently done anything particularly notable and award-worthy in promoting world peace?

    Maybe this should have been a “no award” year.

  19. “But this is an award that should not be given on credit.”

    That pretty much nails what I thought this morning when I saw it online. He has the potential to do a lot, but we’re still where we were a few years ago – in the middle of two wars, with no sign of getting out of them any time soon.

    I voted for him, I campaigned for him, I donated money to him. But mostly all I could do this morning was cringe, thinking about what Glenn Beck is going to say about this.

  20. It’s basic Pavlovian conditioning. The international community disliked Bush so much, they are trying to train us to avoid anyone like him again. Reading between the lines of the decision sounded like “Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being Not-Bush. Thank God!” :)

  21. While I’ll agree, it’s a bit soon, he (a) brought North Korea back to the negotiating table (b) Got talks started with Iran and (c) canceled the missile interceptor system in Europe that was pushing Russia into increasingly escalated aggressive behavior. And his cabinet officials are engaged in other peace related activities.

    Certainly not “jack-squat” as Patrick @ #8 would have us believe.

    Scalzi – But this is an award that should not be given on credit.

    It’s been given with the intent of it acting as an encouragement before, so clearly the Nobel Committee disagrees with you. It’s their award. Why not let them decide what it’s for?

  22. I don’t want to sound like a dittohead, but, um, yeah. What you said. I like Obama. The dude certainly doesn’t lack for ambition and if he accomplishes half of what he sets out to do then he will be one of the most successful Presidents ever (for Democrats. Repulicans will still assume that he is a Kenyan Satan in a nice suit), but… damn. At least Kissinger had actually done stuff (bombing the living crap out of Cambodia wouldn’t normally count as “peace-y”, but it certainly counts as action).

  23. mensley & Adam Ziegler:

    Thanks for that clarification. It’s like how Time’s “Person of the Year” isn’t always someone praiseworthy, but someone who made a massive impact – good or bad.

  24. I’m another cringing Democrat. I thought CNN had been hacked this morning when I read the headline. Being the international teacher’s pet is not necessarily a good thing. He’s going to get beat up on the playground.

  25. Josh Jasper:

    “It’s their award. Why not let them decide what it’s for?”

    You appear to be under the impression that a) I have veto power over the committee and b) that I’m not allowed to have a personal opinion on the appropriateness of the award. Both of these are incorrect.

  26. I credit the Nobel Committee for being proactive.

    After all during the campaign, the President proclaimed,

    “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

    Heck, why should the Nobel Committee wait until generations from now when they can reward the President for his as-yet-to-happen legacy now?

  27. To quote a Wonkette commenter, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize bears the subtitle “Jesus Christ, that last guy was an a**hole!”

    More seriously: It does seem early, but it’s worth noting that the general tenor of international diplomacy *has* changed dramatically in the past 9 months. Look at how the United States handled Iran’s “secret” nuclear installation–rather than bloviating about it, we got Russia on our side and put Iran in such a bind that it’s having to give international nuclear inspectors full access to the facility.

    Anyone think the last guy could’ve pulled that off? Or would have wanted to?

  28. Oslo is using a carrot to keep the U.S. on a multilateralist path. And they’re slapping Bush and the Bush administration.

    Yeah, I understand that people outside the U.S. are glad we traded up, but this won’t help.

  29. I agree with most of what has been said (In fact I haven’t really seen any disagreement ANYWHERE) wanted to add: The nomination deadline was February 1. Obama had been in office less than 2 weeks at that point!!!

    OTOH, John A: “Just goes to prove PR is more important then the actual performance with this President.” And this differs from any presidet since Kennedy how?

  30. It says something about the attitude of the greater world to Bush Jr.’s presidency, when simply replacing him can earn you the Nobel peace prize. Perhaps it would have been better awarded to the people of the USA who (finally) voted the guy out?

  31. Hey. He deserves it much more than Yasser Arafat did.

    So there’s that.

    But in general, if the award were to actually mean something, I agree with you whole heartedly.

  32. I just don’t see it. Has he actually done anything to further the cause of world peace? I know he’s had something to say on the Israel-Palestine thing, although there hasn’t been a discernible reduction in hostility as a result. He hasn’t pulled out of Iraq or Afghanistan. If they’re giving it to him for having troops there then surely it should go to Bush (insert hysterical laughter here). From the other side of the Pacific it looks like he’s doing a fair job of fixing a few glaring problems in the US, but once again I don’t see how that rates this prize.

  33. Perhaps it would have been better awarded to the people of the USA who (finally) voted the guy out?


    He hasn’t pulled out of Iraq or Afghanistan.

    And even if he did, it would be awhile (maybe) before we knew whether or not that resulted in actual, you know, peace.

  34. Hey now, he has that “Beer Summit” thing working for him…surely that counts for….. well…. something….

    At the end of the day its a political prize given out by politicians.


  35. I have to admit, I’m a little shaky as to what normally warrants the distribution of the Peace Prize. Is there a rubric out there that we can all look at to see what the criteria are?

    I really wonder, if you compare what Obama has said and done against that which any other winner has said or done, are the accomplishments so different?

    Could it be that we’re holding Obama to a higher standard than the other winners because he’s the president, and therefore should have to do more since he has more power?

    I’d love for someone who knew more about the history of the Peace prize and it’s winners to educate me here.

  36. I’m pretty damned liberal and an idealist to some degree as well, I see value in symbolic gestures. Obama almost certainly will deserve this award by the end of his administration. He’s already laying an effective groundwork for it. But this is simply premature. I think it unfortunately provides more ammunition for his critics (not ammo that would be effective with rational actors, but the hardcore GOP base is as far from that label as it’s possible to be and still exist within this reality).

  37. I feel like they gave it to him to pressure him to move his focus from domestic issues* to international ones. And while I’d love to see him tackle those problems, it’s not where I think his focus should be right now.

    *note: I consider Iraq and Afghanistan domestic issues, because our guys are still dying over there.

  38. This award really fits well with last week’s Saturday Night Live skit with Fred Armisen.

    On Saturday: Obama’s Done Nada!

    On Friday: Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize!

    My thoughts: I think this would’ve been a lot better received had this happened at least 1 year from now… As it is right now, this is just fuel on the fire for people who are anti-Obama.

  39. @scalzi –

    You appear to be under the impression that a) I have veto power over the committee and b) that I’m not allowed to have a personal opinion on the appropriateness of the award. Both of these are incorrect.

    If you read “why not let them decide what it’s for” as me saying you’re not allowed to have a personal opinion, you’re reading something that wasn’t there into what I said and I obviously don’t think you have veto power. What an odd suggestion.

    Would it have made more sense if I’d just said that the Nobel Committee historically has had a different vision of what the award should or shouldn’t be given out for?

  40. America to Nobel Peace Prize Committee: Ah. We see what you tried to do there. And you are so not helping. Kthxbye.

  41. I agree with their reasoning but I do think it’s premature. Then again, that myths on the prize article suggests this is exactly what it’s for.

    I don’t mind that much–I think he was going to win it eventually and the outrage on the right is going to be fantastic to watch.

  42. ok, having gone through the list of laureates, and reading what they won for, it does seem like there’s a few decades of doing whatever it is you do required before you win.

    But there are odd ducks in there. Yassar Arafat, for instance, for advancing peace in the middle east. I’m not sure that’s what he was doing, really.

    Maybe the rest of the world disliked Bush alot more than we thought, and promising to not be him again is enough?

    I’ll agree with the rest of you, this is weird.

  43. Having looked around a bit, observing the reaction of blogging americans of both stripes to Obama’s prize, I feel that I have to apologize. It’s not just the right-wing imploding. It seems to be americans in general.

    If Obama has done anything, it is not in imposing peace on other peoples. It is in imposing peace on the US. He has acknowledged that the way the US was acting over the last eight years was a problem.

    And americans do not ever like to see their country as a problem. So to many of you, it’s not a prize. It’s a reminder that for (at least) eight years, the rest of the world saw you as the problem, not the solution.

    To Obama goes the Peace Prize. To the US people, the booby prize.

  44. This was rather surprising news, considering that he hasn’t been in office for a full year. And that at first glance I can’t mention a single event that merits the award…

    He hasn’t made any progress…..yet. So it’s feeling like they’re just getting it over with now instead of a few years from now.

  45. ben @49: “Maybe the rest of the world disliked Bush alot more than we thought”

    For sufficiently wide values of “we”, maybe… I think that it was pretty obvious to anyone who was looking what the world thought of Bush.

  46. Maybe it’s just a statement at how difficult it is right now in finding anyone that’s doing anything about World Peace. Everybody’s so engrossed in dealing with the world economy that most everyone has forgotten about the strife and wars out there. It’s one thing to say that Obama doesn’t deserve it, but maybe it was just because no one really did deserve it this year and they had to give it to someone. After all, can anyone here think who should have gotten it? Off the top of my head, I can’t really.

  47. Hmmm, the ‘encouragement at a critical point’ thing is new to me. It does put this award in a better context.

    It’s still a little annoying that you can get a Nobel Peace Prize after eight months, when scientists have to wait decades to get a Nobel Prize, in order for the true impact of their work to be known. Sometimes they die first.

  48. @42,

    Ben, the Peace prize is awarded by a 5 person committee. You have to be nominated. According to Nobel’s will, the the Peace Prize should be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

    Past winners include Teddy Roosevelt (fpr ending the Russian-Japan War), Woodrow Wilson (for helping found the League of Nations, Lech Walesa, Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, Dag Hammerskold, Norman Borlaug…

    Also, Other past winners include Yasser Arafat, Kofi Annan and the UN, Lee Duc Tho and Betty Williams (and many would include Jimmy Carter and Al Gore on the “bad” awards as well).

    The committee does not hide the fact that it often gives out the award with a political purpose in mind, which can be a positive move.

    That said, nominations for this years award were closed only two weeks after Obama took office, and like many people, they seem to have fallen under the sway of what Obama has said he will do, not what he has accomplished.

    I think he could be deserving of the award, but so soon? It makes a mockery of something many people already consider nothing more than a political ploy anyways…


  49. Mjaum:

    “He has acknowledged that the way the US was acting over the last eight years was a problem.”

    So have I. Can I have a Nobel Prize too?

    Do remember that a majority of Americans voters did vote for the man, so your assessment on Americans up there is a bit knee-jerk and condescending. Allow me to suggest that many of us are not opposed to Obama getting the prize, would actually prefer to have seen more having been done first.

  50. Gareth Skarka @53

    I knew the world disliked him, but I didn’t think it was strong enough that they’d give the next guy who was not him, a peace prize for not being him, if that’s, in fact, what happened.

  51. Mjaum@50

    I spent those years apologizing to my international friends for the transgressions of the “Bush Era”. Needless to say your post brought a smile to my face and I am ready to accept my Booby Prize on behalf of the American People (Those that voted for Bush, Those that Voted for Nader, and those that chose not to show up at the poll… I guess you could also include Al Gore’s name here for folding so easily following the 2000 election…).


  52. I think that those of us who are US citizens really don’t have a good sense of what our turn away from unilateralism and returning back to diplomacy means to the rest of the world.

    President Obama did something that seems easy to us, who are in the US. He just said its not just our ball and we will play nice with the rest of you.

    The prize speaks forcefully that that change is far more important internationally than any of us would really give credit for.

    Yes it was “easy”, I think Hilary would be in the same position were she President, but very, very important.

  53. Why not read what the Nobel committee has to say about giving the Peace Prize to Obama? It’s their award, after all:

    The Nobel Committee gave the prize to President Obama less than a year after his election “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

  54. How’d you like to be Bush this morning waking up to hear the news that Obama won a Nobel Peace prize for more or less not being him?

  55. Yeah, me too. A bit premature. I would have preferred someone who did something.

    I’m thinking Morgan Tsvangarai of Zimbabwe, who went from beaten-near-death opposition leader to getting a leading seat in a unity government. (Admittedly, crazy-old-guy is still running the show, but things seem to have gotten a little better, especially after they switched to a dollar-based system and thus ditched their currency that was approaching Planck scale in value.)

    On the other hand, the sheer WTF!?!? woke my butt up before 10AM for the first time since Monday, so there’s that.

  56. I think the Nobel committee just wanted to see some heads a-splode. So far those who have come out most forcefully against this award are Hamas, The Taliban and the Republican Party while Israel and Iraq seem to be all in favor of it.

    You can’t BUY hilarity like that.

    For years the right has championed causes for the simple reason that they piss liberals off. I, for one, am seriously enjoying having that shoe on the other foot.

  57. Yes, I do think that by becoming the first black President of _America_, Obama deserves recognition at the level of this prize. Anything he subsequently achieves on the _world_ stage is a bonus.

  58. skipjim:

    I think Bush won’t give a crap one way or another, actually, or will rather phone Obama with congrats — he doesn’t strike me as a person who spends a whole bunch of time looking backward. I don’t think this is a bad thing for him at this point.

  59. “I think the Nobel committee just wanted to see some heads a-splode. ”

    Unfortunately due to the timing, the debris and ejecta may have interfered with observations of the moon bombing.

  60. Master Scalzi (I was expecting a reply, not expecting it to be from you, though. I am honoured, if somewhat unnerved.),

    I think you would agree that for the President of the United States of America to acknowledge that the US has been on the wrong path for eight years is nearly unprecedented. To take it further, into actual policy, talking to the “Axis of Evil”, is far more than that.

    My point was that this NPP *can* be seen as a rebuke to the US as well as an honour. And rebuking the US under the veil of honouring you is unlikely to go down well. Hence the “booby prize”. To acknowledge Obama’s right to the prize, you must acknowledge that the US has been *wrong*. Not misguided, not doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but *wrong*. Even, perhaps, evil.

    And as someone who has started to change that, and is in a position to do more, Obama does deserve the NPP, and can certainly use the incitement to do more that it represents.

  61. Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo has a good quote about this –

    And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration.”

    full context here.

  62. To be fair, Obama isn’t in a good position to say “That’s very flattering, but c’mon, you guys. Ihave to refuse. How about Morgan Tsvangirai or something?”

    Of course, after Kissinger got his Nobel it pretty much stopped being an award for actual achievement in the category and become more like a supercharged version of an upvote anyway.

  63. Andrew @ 41wrote: At the end of the day its a political prize given out by politicians.

    Hmm, not really. The comitee is elected by the Norwegian parliament. But there are no requriements that they shall elect politicians. ( )

    Still, i share in the slightly exasperated shaking of heads. I would prefer it if the guy actually managed to deliver peace, before he got the prize. Or at the very least managed to negotiate a cease fire somewhere.

    There are people out there who have spent large parts of these last few years in the quest for peace. And who has deserved such an award now. Such as Piedad Cordoba, Ghazi bin Muhammad, Morgan Tsvangirai or Thich Quang Do (google them if you don’t know them)

    (Disclosure; i am a Norwegian citizen living in Oslo)

  64. Oh yea, and this is a good time for one of my favorite jokes:

    Interviewer: Dr. Kissinger, what would you say is the moment in your career of which you are most proud?

    Kissinger: Zat vould be in 1973 vhen I von ze Nobel Peace Prize for endink ze Vietnam Var.

    Interviewer: And what would be the moment of which you are least proud?

    Kissinger: 1975, vhen ze Vietnam Var ended.

  65. I must agree with Scalzi’s statement about GWB vs. skipjim.

    Unlike Cheney, Bush has had nothing but support and good will toward the current President.

    I hate to say this, but at this point in the Obama Presidency I tend to think that perhaps we thought a bit too little of George W. Bush, and a bit too much of Barack Obama.

    The Nobel Committee appears to be continuing their recent trend in lowering the value of the Peace Prize by awarding it to a man who frankly hasn’t done anything, or hopefully hasn’t done anything ‘yet’.

    I mean, geez… how about an Executive Order ending “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell”?

  66. Obama won this prize for not being George W. Bush. Not being Bush is laudable, and no small thing in the eyes of the world, but hardly sufficient grounds to award a Nobel. The Nobel Committee has done Obama and itself no favors.

    Maybe the Nobel should have been given to the American people, for not making the same mistake three times in a row.

  67. Awarding the Peace Prize to someone who’d actually caused peace to break out would be something of a first.

  68. I tend to think that perhaps we thought a bit too little of George W. Bush

    You know, for all that atheists bash on the Bible, if you actually read the thing it’s amazing how well it captures human nature. Remember when the Hebrews were led out of slavery in Egypt, and the first thing they do is start pissing and moaning about how they miss the food?

    Lubert, I agree with the overall sentiment, but after Kissinger, fuck, you might as well give the thing to Obama.

  69. Well, it’s hard not to say I like Obama, given the mallet hanging off my starboard temple right now. I voted for him, sure, but I haven’t been too impressed so far. My thought was that they gave the prize to him before reality took all the shiny finish off.

  70. While I voted for him, and on the whole approve of what he’s done and what he’s trying to do, did he get this for not being George W. Bush?

  71. from Stephen Brust’s blog

    “It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong. It takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”

    – Billy-Bob Gautama

    Somehow, I thought that applied in some way. Sorry if it didn’t.

  72. I look at it as their way of saying “We would have voted for him for President but we couldn’t but we can do this”.

    Also, I think it is a valid point that peace-wise there doesn’t seem to be a lot to hand out awards over in the past year.

  73. by awarding it to a man who frankly hasn’t done anything,

    You know, I find this (not uncommon) thought incomprehensible.

    So far, since he was inaugurated, Obama has:
    1. Managed to alleviate what could have been another Great Depression.
    2. Steered a major reform of the health care system to the point where it looks like it will pass
    3. Gotten the military budget somewhat under control (and by canceling a major weapons system, which almost never happens)
    4. Started a substantial withdrawal from Iraq
    5. At least started the process of considering what to do in Afghanistan.

    Peace Prize worthy? Maybe not, but that’s a hell of a lot of things for 9 months.

  74. P.S., does he alone deserve credit for the things on the list? No, but he’s the bus driver.

    P.P.S. If you don’t think the health strategy was deliberate (lay back, let Congress fail to handle it and then step in) then you haven’t paid attention to how he handled the military budget (threatened several vetoes already). Different issues, different strategies.

  75. The Nobel Peace Prize was given to Yasser Arafat prematurely as well. That process didn’t go well afterword either.

    But you can’t blame Obama for the actions of the Nobel committee. So I shrug.

  76. I think the fact that Obama demonstrated that he could actually get elected President of the United States at a time when just a few short years ago a African-American POTUS was a liberal pipedream or the stuff of science fiction (e.g. Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact) should certainly count for something. And he was able to effect this regime change peacefully, thus maintaining the US tradition of a peaceful and orderly transfer of power, something that would be almost impossible in many other countries.

    I do tend to agree that this award seems premature, but the fact that he got elected at all (something that I had doubts would ever happen in my lifetime) should not be discounted as an accomplishment of the sort that Alfred Nobel had in mind when writing his will.

  77. Remember, this is the second F U GWB NPP. Jimmy Carter’s was given in 2002, during the Iraq war disinformation run up.

  78. I agree that it feels way too early, but the explanation that the prize is a goad to encourage individuals to stay the course they are on makes sense.

    Also, I think that the Cairo speech deserves some consideration in the “done something” column. In these times, it can be unexpectedly refreshing to talk sense, and brave to reach out.

  79. Crooked Timber has a good take on it too

    But this isn’t about domestic politics, or about what he’s done yet. President Obama has changed how the world feels about America. He’s lifted the planet’s mood. This guy is global Prozac.

    There’s more to it than just the Bush presidency being a total downer for everyone in the world who cares about multi-lateralism or just wants to do business with the US. The tidal wave of bad faith Bush’s presidency created washed away any chance of progress in so many international initiatives.

    A bit gushy, though.

  80. The Peace Prize committee has been pissing away its credibility for decades. This is just more of the same. Still, I find it disappointing that for all of their world-weary sophistication, our European superiors still fall for a good Chicago political hack’s empty promises hook, line, and sinker.

  81. I think it’s a bit premature, but I also think he deserves credit for a lot of good things, including some impressive diplomacy-fu re: the security council and nonproliferation.

  82. While I am all for Obama in the lessoning of “American Public Stupidity”, I still thing the man should do SOMETHING for it! As an Australian citisen, we have had to put up with quite a lot of public stupidity (thank you dearly deceased Crocodile Hunter), but not nearly as much as the Americans (from our POV).

    Go Obama!

  83. Obama was also a little surprised:

    Appearing in the Rose Garden Friday, Obama acknowledged he was ”both surprised and deeply humbled” to win the award.

    He said he does not ”view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments,” but rather as a recognition of goals he has set for the United States and the world. Obama said, ”I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize.”

    On the other hand, drawing the lines from the Nobel committee to the secret Kenya ninja army of birth-certificate forging jihadists ought to keep the usual suspects occupied happily for a while – kind of like giving your toddler crayons and a coloring picture at a restaurant so they’ll be quiet till the food arrives – so it’s not a total loss.

  84. I think it’s fine, he deserves it. Good for him.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few really good ideas on how to do Cold Fusion & Faster Than Light Travel I need to write up and submit to Nobel Committee for the Prize in Physics so I can get the award next year!

  85. Wow…I voted for the guy twice, once in the primary and once in the general and mostly support want he’s done so far but…this is ridiculous.

    They are giving an award because they think he might possibly be moving in the right direction? Because he’s better than the last guy?

    The common thread through all the things he supposedly got this award for (North Korea, Missiles in Europe, etc.) are that they are works in progress. If we come back in three years and both North Korea and Iran are nuke free, then yeah, maybe he deserves it.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything Obama has done that is on part with “Setting up the League of Nations”. I guess the award is now the national Norwegian agrees with our politics award.

  86. My initial reaction was, Wow, the Nobel committee must have really hated George W. Bush and the Insane Clown Posse he called a cabinet. Let’s face it – as much as I like President Obama and approve of his willingness to engage with the rest of the world, he really hasn’t done anything yet to earn such an honor. I can only assume the committee wanted to poke W with a stick for reasons of their own.

  87. Firstly, I haven’t taken the NPP that seriously since they gave it to Arafat. That was an iconic “wait, whut?” moment for me.

    Secondly, my gut instinct is that this is some sort of “take that” aimed at the American political right. “If you are going to call him (bad things), we are going to call him (good things).” Or perhaps “OMG you are so much better than Pres Cheny!”

    Thirdly, I think Obama would serve his own political best interests by declining. I’m not sure about his personal best interests – a megabuck and a NPP are both nice things.

    Fourthly, my darkly cynical side just piped in with “This is the Nobel committee’s ‘In before the lock,’ only the kind of lock they are referring to comes with a stock and a barrel.” Sometimes my cynical side isn’t very nice.

  88. @David:

    wow… just wow… there’s so much kool-aid drinking necessary to agree with those 5 points you state that I don’t know where to begin…

    1) Managed to alleviate what could have been another Great Depression. ==> Tell that to the 10 to 17% of workers who are out of a job?

    2) Steered a major reform of the health care system to the point where it looks like it will pass. ==> Really? Really? I’ll believe that when it’s passed and signed.

    3) Gotten the military budget somewhat under control (and by canceling a major weapons system, which almost never happens) ==> Bush canceled the Crusader, and Clinton canceled the Comanche. Canceling major weapons systems happens all the time.

    4) Started a substantial withdrawal from Iraq ==> Really? How many troops have come home? When will we be totally out of Iraq? He’s been as successful getting out of Iraq as he has closing down Gitmo

    5) At least started the process of considering what to do in Afghanistan. ==> Yeah, if you consider negotiating with the Taliban to be progress.

    It’s obvious that you like President Obama… heck I like him… but to claim that he’s done anything substantial in these 9 months is pure fanboy.

    Please look up the SNL Fred Armisen bit from last week for a good Obama accomplishments scorecard…

  89. Steve @ 99 – it’s not an award only given for accomplishments is on part with “Setting up the League of Nations”.

    It’s for the person who, in the year between awards, has done the most to advance world peace, who’s actions inspire peace, and who’s future actions to inspire peace might be encouraged by the award.

    Getting Russia an China, the two other major players in the world of military force who were not playing along to come talk to Iran and North Korea was arguably the biggest accomplishment for world peace. You may think that there were bigger accomplishments, but it’s certainly not nothing.

  90. I’m just waiting for my inbox to fill with, “Oh noes! Obama really IS the anti-Christ! See, he’s fooled the world into thinking he’s here for peace!!!11!!”

    It’s like the committee read the Left Behind series and thought this would be hilarious. *sigh*

  91. “I’d’ve liked to have seen him earn the thing before they plopped it into his lap”

    I had the same thought after seeing the results on Election Day.

  92. To borrow from Mark Twain, I suppose this could be called the triumph of Hope over experience.

    I get what the Nobel committee was trying to do with this one: burnish Obama’s credentials in advance of several important upcoming negotiations (with Iran over its nuclear program, on the future of Afghanistan, the perennial Alice-in-Wonderland negotiations with North Korea). In essence, this is a lending of international goodwill and warm-n’-fuzzies. They’re betting that with the credibility of a Peace Prize behind him, Obama will be much more effective in accomplishing his foreign policy goals. The only problem is that folks in the mold of Iranian Mullahs, the Taliban, and Kim Jong-Il do not give a whit about Nobel Peace Prizes or international legitimacy. If, just to give one example, Iran develops and tests a nuclear weapon on Obama’s watch, the Nobel committee’s decision is going to look very foolish in hindsight.

    Either that, or the committee is something resembling a gaggle of 11-year old girls locked in “SQUEEEEE” mode after a Jonas Brothers concert.

  93. So, a little bit of set up. I was at the hospital with my 14-year-old daughter until 3 this morning (asthma, chest pains; she’s fine now, thank you for asking) and after maybe 3 hours of sleep I was up and driving my son to high school. Heading home, I turned on NPR and was totally excited to learn who won the Peace Prize. I always have a strong reaction along the lines of either “zomg, who knew people so wonderful even existed?” or “that crazy guy – what were they thinking?” This morning it was, “huh?” And then I got home, crawled into bed, and slept until the phone started ringing at the way to early hour of 10:30. So, yes, like many here, I had hoped that Obama would come to earn this prize (probably mostly for what that could mean to the the world) but I didn’t immediately feel like he was a strong choice. That said, I don’t have any real idea what the rest of the world and especially Europe think of our president and our nation now that that last guy isn’t all they see. So does that mean my response boils down to a resounding, “maybe”?

  94. And the speech in Cairo. And pressuring Israel to ratchet back settlements in occupied territory. And committing to closing the Gitmo detention center. And committing to closing the black site detention centers. And for constructive engagement with Iran, instead of threatening to bomb.

    And for framing universal health care in the United States as a moral issue — which it is, but it seems like no one in government save the late Senator Kennedy was willing to say so out loud.

    For making Glenn Beck cry.

    The last one alone, I think, justifies inviting doubters to shut the hell up.

    Everyone is in a whirl trying to define the narrative on this story . . . the usual blogosphere shitstorm, which is (also as usual) hyper-reactive and underinformed.

    On the one hand, there’s the fact of the prize, and the fact that no one out there knows how this will play out.

    On the other hand, there is the blatheration of bloviators scrambling to attract attention by cheering, booing, or looking profound while scratching their heads.

    My personal advice: take a pill. Wait and see what happens. In the end, this will work out to be a Happy Story, a Sad Story, or (most likely) a Funny Nonsense Story.

    Nobody knows yet which it will be. Anyone who claims they do is selling something. And nothing anybody is writing on the web today is really going to have any effect on that at all.

    But that’s just my opinion. I’m occasionally wrong.

  95. sigh. Knee-jerk reactions are annoying.

    While I agree it’s a bit strange and political, the same was certainly true when Gore won the award.

    Obama has, despite criticisms, done a lot. But his agenda aren’t complete — and are under constant criticism domestically. That’s a reason to consider him, under the Peace Price factors.

    But there is one, huge thing Obama has done, which does contribute to world peace: he’s raised the opinion of the US in the eyes of the rest of the world again. He’s done this partially by simply being not-Snippy, but also by demonstrating, time and again, taking an intelligent, adult approach to politics, domestic and foreign.

    Knowing that the US can weigh in on an issue and not cause it to explode (literally and figuratively) is a significant change at this point. And it is a change that definitely does fit the committee’s goals.

  96. Either that, or the committee is something resembling a gaggle of 11-year old girls locked in “SQUEEEEE” mode after a Jonas Brothers concert.

    Maybe they took a page out of Rich Lowry’s book on reacting to one’s favorite politicos.

  97. If you hadn’t posted this, I was probably going to hijack a thread and just say, well, pretty much exactly what you said – only nto as well.

    And with more typos.

    Before i even read the news article about it, Ithought it had to be at least as much about slapping Bush around as it did anything Obama has actually accomplished so far. Yes, he SPEAKS like a man who is willing to work and sacrifice for world peace, respect for all peoples, blah blah blah – but what’s he actually DONE so far?

  98. Torbjørn Jagland the leader of the Nobel Peace Prize Comitee has compared this award with the prizes given to Lech Walesa, Michail Gorbatchev and Willy Brandt. He claims it is given as a support for the ongoing processes Obama has started, as was the case in the previously mentioned laureates as well.

    And as such it makes some kind of sense i guess. But in my mind this was a bit premature.

  99. This may sound morbid and paranoid, but I’ll put it out there anyway.

    Since the rules prohibit Posthumous Prizes, I believe the Nobel Committee, fearing an assassination, awarded Obama while he lives.

  100. Totally agree with Mr Scalzi here. This is a weird precedent to set for a Nobel Prize, a bit like if saying “I’ll spend the next 4 years working to discover the secret of eternal life” was enough to bag the Nobel in medicine. He might very well have deserved it at some point, but what has he concretely done for peace right now? Afghanistan and Irak? No great progress. Israel-Palestine? Ditto. If just getting Europe to go “well finally some decent person to talk with at the table” is enough for a Nobel prize, hell a whole lot of people in the world should have won it.

  101. @ Lubert Das #102: Yes, unemployment is high. But things would be much, much worse if the federal government had not stepped in. And it’s not just the Obama administration who has dealt with this problem. They’re continuing the work started by the Bush adminstration last year.

    Yes, times are tough. Yes, they could have been much, much worse.

    Not that this relates to an international peace prize.

  102. @113, Pug

    Indeed. It was also awarded to two women in Ireland in 1967 (I think, might be wrong on the date) for the work they were doing on the Troubles, even though they’d just gotten started.

  103. OK, I just gotta say it…

    “Yo, Obama! I know you’re excited, and I’m’a let you finish, but Teddy Roosevelt was the greatest Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. President of all time! Of ALL time!”

    (grin, duck, and run)

  104. This is brilliant! By giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama now the Nobel committee will reduce the chances of war in the future by causing right winger’s heads to explode. It is a self fullfilling prophecy!

    That, of course, was a poor excuse for a joke. Sorry. But I sure am laughing at the right wingers! It was a week ago today that they were celebrating America not getting the olympics. Now they are complaining about an American President receiving the Nobel Peace prize.

    Remember the Bush years? Remember how every slight committed by a Democrat brought cries of, “Oh, why does the Democrat party hate America so much?” Remember that? I sure do. Yet if you go online and look at the commentary coming out of the right wing today and compare it to the commentary coming out of Hammas and the Taliban, you will notice there is very little difference.

  105. Myth: The Nobel peace prize is awarded to recognize efforts for peace, human rights and democracy only after they have proven successful.

    Fact: More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.

    I guess they’re giving it to encourage Obama to see through the whole Nuclear weapon reduction thingy he’s working on.

    I do have to say, though, that given how much of Bush’s terror tactics that Obama has continued in the world, (ruling out a reduction of force in afganistan, likely continuing the war in Afghanistan so that it lasts at least 12 years or more, continuing the state secrets defense to prevent innocent people who were tortured by americans from suing, continuing a “due-process free” base in Bagram Afghanistan, delaying the closing of Quantanamo, among others) that if that’s the sort of guy who can win the Nobel Peace Prize, then they’ve lowered the bar quite a bit.

  106. Clearly a European nod to the U.S. for what they felt was the right choice for change in leadership. Of course the Nobel is being used as a political statement.

    Consider what a different U.S. administration would have yielded in world diplomacy, perhaps a continuation of the previous administration’s policies. In an alternate history the Chinese, Russians, and the Saudis would definitely have rushed to change the world currency. Which is the point, we are not alone in this human endeavor.

  107. @ Harry Connelly #116:

    The Obama administration stated that if we didn’t pass his multi-trillion dollar stimulus package, we’d see unemployment as high as 8.5 percent.

    Right now people are WISHING unemployment was as low as 8.5%!

    The stimulus was passed and instead of having any positive effect on the economy it appears to have made things worse.

    Please explain exactly how the federal govt. stepping in has helped the economy?

    Now Speaker Pelosi is talking about more stimulus and more bailouts for GM… where does it end? Just because they CAN print money, doesn’t mean they SHOULD.

    “Not that this relates to an international peace prize.” ==> On this, I agree with you 100%

  108. 1) Managed to alleviate what could have been another Great Depression. ==> Tell that to the 10 to 17% of workers who are out of a job?

    How about we tell that to the other 13-20% of workers who would have been out of a job if it had turned into another Great Depression? (Unemployment in the GD reached 30%)

    2) Steered a major reform of the health care system to the point where it looks like it will pass. ==> Really? Really? I’ll believe that when it’s passed and signed.

    That’s nice. I’ll remind you of that.

    3) Gotten the military budget somewhat under control (and by canceling a major weapons system, which almost never happens) ==> Bush canceled the Crusader, and Clinton canceled the Comanche. Canceling major weapons systems happens all the time.

    Oh, baloney, it does. The Crusader cancellation started the Pentagon’s hatred for Rumsfeld and led to the firing of the Secretary of the Army. It doesn’t happen all the time, it’s a major issue when it does, and Obama’s handling it well so far.

    4) Started a substantial withdrawal from Iraq ==> Really? How many troops have come home? When will we be totally out of Iraq? He’s been as successful getting out of Iraq as he has closing down Gitmo

    He’s drawn down American forces in Iraq by 22,000 (146 to 124) since the start of his term, and 4,000 are coming home in October

    5) At least started the process of considering what to do in Afghanistan. ==> Yeah, if you consider negotiating with the Taliban to be progress.

    I do actually. That’s how counterinsurgency works; you split the enemy by negotiating with the amenable parts of it. How do you think we at least (partially) turned things around in Iraq? The Anbar Awakening didn’t happen all by itself. We were talking with the Sunni militias even as they were fighting us.

    but to claim that he’s done anything substantial in these 9 months is pure fanboy

    Since you have no idea of the specifics of your position, I can see why you think that; that doesn’t mean your position has anything to do with reality.

    (Here’s hoping that the HTML tags work correctly)

  109. @113 Pug:

    Given that Walesa at the time was not a head of state, and the respective fates of Brandt and Gorbachev (Brandt was forced from office after it was discovered that one of his top aides was a spy working for the East German Stasi, and Gorbachev’s attempts at reform ended up breaking the Soviet Union), I’m not sure those are the most apt examples.

  110. @112

    Pug, I could buy into that if Obama had been in office longer than 12 days before the nominations for the award were closed.

    Gorbachev, Walesa and Brandt were awarded for their past actions, not what they said they do and haven;t yet accomplished, if he ever will…


  111. 125 MasterThief: Granted that things may not have turned out ideally for several of the laureates. But if the prize was given as support for the processes started, they all seems to have been successful. At least to some extent. Gorbachev introduced democracy in Russia, Walesa in Poland and Brandt at least managed to improve relations with the warsaw-pact from freezing cold to merely nippy.

    Anyhow these examples were from Torbjørn Jagland, the chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, they were not my own.

  112. In other news, Major League Baseball has awarded Barack Obama the Cy Young award for his first pitch at this year’s All-Star game.

  113. @MuleFace #128:

    I LoL’ed

    @David #124:

    wow… I’ll wave my white flag and give up on any semblance of a discussion there. We’re simply seeing the world in totally different ways. Let’s agree to disagree, shake hands, and walk away. Best of luck to you.

  114. 126 Andrew: No, Brandt was given the prize in 1971, smack in the midst of a controversial policy he was trying to adhere to. Not after the fact. This policy was so controversial words like “high treason” frequently appeared in that time.

    Walesa was awarded the prize after being released from prison and going back to work as an electrician. This was in 1983, the Union he is most famous for creating happened later and his contributions to the peaceful fall of communism in Poland happened in 1988-1989. When he formed the first non communist government in Poland after WWII.

    But i grant you a point when it comes to Gorbatchev, with this prize i think the NPP commitee was trying to keep a sensible man in office in troubling times. Nobody knew what would happen if the Sovjet Union collapsed. And i think the NPP committee wanted to strengthen Gorbatchevs position in an ever more crumbling empire.

  115. @131,

    Pug, if you can explain why an award was supposed to make the citizenry of the USSR feel better about Gorbachevs actions I am all ears.

    What happened today was the equivalent of Scalzi winning next years Hugo for announcing he had a completely kick ass novel in the works…


  116. I adore Obama (although I don’t agree with all of his actions), but this makes no sense. Getting an award like this based on potential is just going to bite him in the ass – I bet he’s thrilled but also confused.

  117. @David #130:

    I tried to leave it alone, but you gotta keep digging.

    Go ahead and keep digging, because word is out from the Democratic National Committee: If you criticize Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize, you are throwing your lot in with the terrorists.

    I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think that the vast majority of the people on this site want that either, so I’m going to change my thoughts to what’s going to happen on SG:U tonight.

    Got my fingers crossed that I don’t get investigated by the DHS for thoughtcrime.

  118. And committing to closing the black site detention centers.

    Well, according to NPR, because he did this, and because he wants to appear magnanimous by not taking terrorist suspects prisoner (because once you, what the hell do you do with them now that “black sites” and gitmo are anethema), the Obama administration is just shooting them on site.

    No messy interrogations, no messy detentions.

    How Nobel.

  119. Hmmmm, that last comment has “thread derail potential” all over it, which the addition of that last line to it does nothing to hide. So let’s not follow that up, please.

  120. 132 Andrew: Well i think the NPP may just be a bit overrated, and also that the committee has bought into all the hype. But if a president has obvious international support, and the other candidates in a confusing election in a confusing new republic is totally unknown by the international community, then that might help some decide who to vote for. But this is just my speculation, and i may very well be wrong.

    And as i have mentioned earlier i too think i was premature, but i can at least understand the logic behind the award, even if i don’t agree with the committee

  121. @62 John. Maybe I should have said Cheney not Bush. Oh well that’s what I get for posting before thinking (while sitting at a stoplight).

  122. You know, I think I would have rather seen him turn down the award at this point in his Presidency.

    However, I don’t think he could. Yes the right is going to blast him for getting this award from the European Cult of Obama. But how much worse would they blast him for refusing to accept it (“oh he knows he hasn’t done anything yet”…”socialist!”…). At least this way he comes out ahead what, $1.4 million?

  123. Jill @ #7: It takes 615 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.

    I’ve always thought that Barry O was the perfect example of the phrase “selling the sizzle, not the steak.” This seems to be showing us yet again that he is more sizzle than steak.

  124. Obama’s win does highlight that the Nobel Peace Prize is often awarded to encourage peace, and not as a lifetime achievement award: I’d be hard-pressed to say what Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi has actually accomplished, for instance, aside from staying under house arrest for an unusually long time. But I’d probably say Suu Kyi was one of the Nobel committee’s better choices.

    I’m truly amused to see the right-wingers go all Kanye West over this, though. “Yo Obama, I’m happy for you, and imma let you finish, but…”

  125. Thank goodness that didn’t show up in his email.

    “I am writing from the king of Norway to tell you that you have won a prestigious prize worth millions of dollars. Please contact me back so I can wire you the money.”

    “Ah, man. Another 401 scam.”


  126. This morning, Chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele said, “What has President Obama actually accomplished? It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.”

    One presumes that Steele was talking about all those tireless conservatives who’ve been working towards world peace and human rights by advocating for the extermination of Muslims and other non-Christians, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the denial of healthcare to 47 million Americans, and the avocation by rightwing lunatics like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Morris, Quinn, and Chuck Norris for armed fucking revolution and a military coup in United States as a way to “take back America for Americans” – Obama deserves the damned prize just for continuing to put up with these crazy assholes.

  127. Actually, scratch that, don’t ssshhh. My reaction was “seriously” too. But I do think in the end we have to just see it as a vote of confidence in the direction America is going.

  128. Pug @131, re Walesa: Nope. Solidarity was formed in the fall of 1980, in the wake of the agreements signed in the Gdansk and Szczecin shipyards that summer. That was when Walesa emerged as a major leader. In December 1981, martial law was declared in Poland, Solidarity was delegalized, and Walesa (and many others) imprisoned. That was before he won the 1983 Nobel prize. Walesa did play a major role in the “round table” talks leading up to the 1989 free elections, but the first non-communist government in Poland after WWII was actually formed in 1989 by the Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Walesa became the President of Poland in 1990.

    Walesa’s Nobel prize was of course seen at the time as international meddling in Poland’s internal affairs. Whether such meddling was a good or bad thing depended on which side you were on.

  129. Obama doesn’t get any credit for Iraqi troop drawdown. Thus far, he is following the agreement that Bush made with the Iraqi government to draw down troops by the end of 2010, maintaining a force of something like 50k troops after that point.

    Obama’s troop reduction in Iraq is following that existing agreement made by Bush.

    As for Afghanistan, the problem is that most Americans cannot tell the difference between two different men with turbans on their head. Put simply, the Taliban is not Al Queda.

    The Taliban arose after the Soviets left Afghanistan and various war lords vied for power. The Taliban took control of the south and the “northern alliance” of warlords retreated to the… north.

    The Taliban is lead by Mullah Mohammed Omar, a pashtun. He fought the Soviets in the ’80s and was wounded at least four times and lost an eye. When the soviets left, and war lords were fighting for control fo Afghanistan, Omar led a group of fighters against a local warlord who had kidnapped two local girls. His was thought to be a movement against corruption and gained a lot of support as an anti-corruption force.

    Now, the central government in Afghanistan is being propped up by the US. The president most likely stole the presidency in the last election. You cannot get anything done in the central government without bribing your way through several layers of bureacracy. And the central government provides nothing for people outside the major cities.

    So, Omar and the Taliban are recruiting Afghanis and specifically Pashtuns in the rural regions of Afghanistan. They portray themselves as fighting corruption and the central government really is corrupt. They portray themselves as freedom fighters who first fought the soviets who had invaded to prop up the central government, and now portray themselves as fighting the US who is propping up the corrupt central government. They pay kids 8 bucks a day to join their military, which is a generous salary where the average income is less than 2 dollars a day. Afghanistan is one of the poorest nations in the world.

    And it’s working. Currently the Taliban controls about 80% of Afghanistan. They’re winning the hearts and minds and we’re busy bombing wedding parties and defending a corrupt central government and keeping a president in power who had stolen the election.

    That’s the Taliban.

    Now, Al Queda is a different thing. Al Queda started in Pakistan around the time the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. It was started by Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi with a lot of money. Bin Laden fought the soviets in Afghanistan as well. After they left, he took that as proof that his group could bring down one superpower and he set his sights on bringing down the other superpower, the US. Al Queda set his sights on the US, but was waging a world-wide holy war.

    Al queda based itself out of Sudan in 1992.

    By ’93 the first bombing of the WTC took place.

    in ’95, due to some sudanese sympathizers killing a young schoolgirl in a botched assasination attempt, public opinion turned against al queda. in ’95, an attempt to assassinate the Egyptian president, caused Sudan to expel Al queda.

    After that, Al Queda moved to Afghanistan.

    In ’98 a US embassy in Africa was bombed. In 2000, the USS Cole was bombed.

    In 2001, the 9/11 attacks on teh WTC occurred.

    We invaded Afghanistan three weeks later.

    There is currently no Al Queda of any significant number in Afghanistan. They’re all in Pakistan. They’re fighting against the pakistan government and they’re still planning global holy war. But Pakistan is a country with a population of 150 million people with nuclear weapons and a huge military of their own. They can handle al queda.

    The Taliban has slowly taken control of 80% of Afghanistan since we invaded. But the taliban shows no interest in foreign affairs, global jihad, or taking down a superpower. they’re a local group.

    I’m not entirely certain but I seem to recall reading that there may have been a bit of a fallout between Omar and bin Laden because Omar wasn’t interested in international war and bin laden’s actions caused the US to invade Afghanistan.

    Al Queda either left or was kicked out of taliban controlled afghanistan. Just like the al queda was kicked out of Sudan back in the 90’s.

    We have no interest in invading and occupying Sudan just because al queda used to be there. We have no real interest in being in afghanistan just because al queda used to be there.

    The Taliban may be religious extremists but they control 80% of afghanistan and a foreign power coming in and imposing and defendign a corrupt centralized government is not going to fly.

    The taliban is not al queda. And the biggest problem with US foreign policy towards Afghanistan is that most americans cannot tell the difference between the two.

  130. And in case anyone wants to know what Obama thinks (pfft, like that matters, right?)

    I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

    To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

    But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

    So, he both agrees with Scalzi and gets the point that there’s more to it than just what he’s done – it’s something he says he’ll try and live up to, and hopes the world will join him in living up to.

    Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

    And that’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

    That has always been the cause of America. That’s why the world has always looked to America. And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead [emphasis mine]

    Full text here.

    I don’t think he could have had a better response. Just saying “no thanks” wouldn’t have been right. Saying that he’d try to live up to it, and making diplomatic references to people who stood up day to day for peace and freedom (protesters in Iran, Suu Kyi, American soldiers) was the exact right thing to do.

  131. I appreciate your thoughts on this John. It does seem to early. I guess its the name that confuses most of us. Its called a “prize” and we understand that to be something that is awarded after something is accomplished.

    Based on the earlier comments it sounds like it really is a prize sometimes and other times its like an encouragement, or investment or loud clap on the back telling someone that “we back what you are doing here.”

    Egads! isn’t that what PACs do? Are these guys just another lobbiest group?

  132. The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided not to inform Obama before the announcement … “Waking up a president in the middle of the night, this isn’t really something you do.

    So much for the ‘it’s 2 am and the phone rings’ campaign commercials.

  133. I tried to leave it alone, but you gotta keep digging.

    Strangely, Lubert, it’s not up to you whether I respond or not.

    Got my fingers crossed that I don’t get investigated by the DHS for thoughtcrime.

    Ah yes, the “I might be ” held up as a valid form of argumentation.

  134. Oops! That line should read:

    Ah yes, the “I might be [insert wholly fictitious abuse of power here]” held up as a valid form of argumentation.

  135. The whole thing seems pretty ridiculous to me. I always thought one had to earn such an award, not just have it handed to them. Guess I was wrong. The heat is on now, though. It’s either going to elevate him to new heights or send him crashing to the ground.

  136. The NPP has been given before as an encouragement of peace based on the hope that the individual delivers based on the potential of them promoting peace through their ambitions/promises/etc.

    Gorbachev received a similar NPP for “similar” reasons.

    I think the over-reactions about how he hasn’t collected enough “Peace Tokens” or the like is irrelevant as it misses the goal of the prize when given in such a fashion.

    I believe he’s provided a certain hope across the international community that the US is going in a new direction of looking to be more of a diplomatic power than a polarizing and unilateral power. They’re hoping the prize reminds him of his goals and gives fuel to his ambitions. That’s it.

    To think it’s something that you get at the end of a race for coming in first place overlooks the bigger picture of the NPP.

  137. The whole incident is depressing. Obama loyalists defending the decision on the grounds that he has the potential to live up to it, as if that’s comfort. Upper Wingnuttia going Peak Wingut, so much so that the Wingularity is nigh.

    And the Taliban loving the hell out of this, I imagine. Since, Obama now really, really, really needs Afghanistan to go well.

    Cards, deck, table, hall, chips and bank in their hands.

    See them dealing from the top?

    I don’t.

  138. Trying to get back on topic. If we can all agree that Obama did not have a secret, kenyan, muslim, socialist hand in getting himself the award (and those of you who think he did can leave the adults to their conversation, please), What is he supposed to do with, or about it?

    I’ve heard all kinds of suggestions, most of which are in the spectrum of “humbly accept the award and declare that he’ll live up to it.” to “He needs to refuse the award.”

    I really have no idea how I’d handle this, if I were him.

    What would you do if you woke up one morning and read in the paper that you’d won an emmy for best whatever, despite your only connection to movie making being your job at blockbuster? ( I know, that’s not analogous to the president’s situation exactly, but It’s friday, and way past stupid o’clock for me.)

  139. I really have no idea how I’d handle this, if I were him.

    What are you talking about. It’s a million bucks in your pocket if you win (actually $1.4 million before taxes. He will pay the tax, of course). You gonna walk away from a million bucks?

    If the fools want to give me the Peace Prize (and the associated cash), I’d smile and say “Thank you very much.”

    Believe it.

  140. @36

    The American people never did vote him out. He ran into a term limit.

    I feel so dirty knowing we never voted him out.

    I keep getting squares instead of letters – and words that I didn’t type.

    Huh – wonder wtf is up.

  141. Frank @163
    Well, obviously. we’d only have to put up with the justified outrage until the media glommed onto some new story.

    Obama has a political career to think about it, and saying “Gee thanks, I certainly am THAT AWESOME, you got another one of these? This one has a crack in it.” is something he certainly has enough savvy to know won’t fly with anyone.

    Also, I seriously doubt he’s going to want for money for the rest of his life. I’m not saying he’s going to become fabulously wealthy all of the sudden, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a former president’s life derailing enough that they ever wanted for anything.

    Can you imagine the kind of speaking fees former president Obama could command?

  142. @Dwight Brown @ 1):

    Neither, he keeps it in his own personal “hammerspace”, just like Bugs Bunny.

    Now, as to my own WTF moment, I found out this news here, and well, my first thought was , “Is this our hypothetical keep us occupied thought for today?” Upon further research, I have to agree with the general tone of most posts, in that:

    A) This seems to be a combination of “He’s the Anti-Bush” and “Let’s Encourage Him to Do More Good” from the Nobel committee.

    B) He hasn’t yet had any major policy or diplomatic breakthroughs – though he still may – but it looks like he is at least trying to have a sane and sensible approach to U.S. Foreign Policy, rather than the “Pax Americana” that the world has been getting shoved down its throat since the Fall of The Berlin Wall. Let’s face it, like it or hate it, the U.S. take on International Policy carries a lot of weight, worldwide. The fact that Obama hasn’t started any new wars is probably a good sign, but, please, remember that Afghanistan was one of the rocks that the last contender with the U.S. for “SuperPower” status – that is, the late, unlamented U.S.S.R – foundered against when it crashed; it’s not a problem that’s going to be solved in a few years, unless we go nuclear and vaporize the entire Gordian Knot of a country.

    And no, that’s not my suggestion.

    That being said:

    I was impressed by his response but I wonder, if not him, then who?

    Also, a lot of people keep saying Obama has “a lot of potential as a _____”; my parting question is: How long, realistically, are we to wait to see some realization of that potential?

  143. My first reaction was, “He did? That’s very cool!”

    I’ve read a few more reactions now and I stand by initial reaction, but as has been pointed out here and there in this thread, a lot of people seem to not understand the criteria for the NPP and seem to have hard time accepting that changing the rhetoric on the international stage from “You’re either with us or against us, pick your side,” to “We’re all in this together, let’s get to work and find some answers,” is kind of a huge thing.

    I do agree that it puts a huge amount of pressure on Obama and the US, by proxy, to actually get some more tangible results on the table. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

    So, from me, congratulations Mr. President.

  144. I like the fact that he gave the money to charity (can the President accept gifts like that in office? I don’t think he could keep it anyway).

    Here’s my big question though: How many strokes would Limbaugh & Beck have between them if he gave the money to ACORN?

  145. Does anybody think the Nobel Prize Committee has gone a little beyond its depth in encouragment so as to possibly impede President Obama is his sphere of influence? How are people going to take our golden boy seriously when he wins all his medals for free? And more importantly, how exactly is this supposed to aid his presidency?

    I voted for Obama because I thought he was a cool guy, and my view hasn’t changed, but I can’t help feeling especially annoyed by this preemptive honor to his… charisma, I guess.

    The thing is, if anything this will only add more pressure to Obama and his camp to live up to the high standards that the Nobel Prize carries with it, and that’s a whole lot of stress that this man does not need right now. I mean, he’s had bags hanging from his cheek bones to his polished black shoes since last November. Will having to live up to the Nobel Peace Prize make fixing the economy, dealing with a stubborn ass of an opposition, remaking health care, and untangling two massive abortions of War any easier. Not to mention how it immediately illegitimatizes anything positive that can be said about him now. He’s just become another leader with a shiny new Nobel Peace Prize on his mantle and nobody can top that. Not to mention, Shiny Prizes On Pedestals Of Power are the easiest of targets for those willing a shot, and this is a man who still has hundreds of thousands of barking-ravenous, scatological detractors just lying in wait to ignite the marble base he stands on, even if it means mutual destruction. Really, this is the worst thing that anybody could have ever thought to do to this poor president man.

    So how is this good?

    Is killing someone with kindness less of a meditated, pathological homicide?

    Will Young Timmy find help before the monsoon rains sink the hidden well?

    Are the Norwegians insane, malevolent, ignorant, racist, delusional, or were they just absentmindedly jumping the Obama train because it was The Hip Thing To Do and everyone else had already done it thus far?

    True, Obama is addictive as toasted bacon-pastrami on rye and people love to give him handshakes and lots of acknowledgment. Hell, from a historical perspective alone he deserves it all. But watching this gauche display of fawning is like going to a party to hang out and get buzzed with your friends – when you pull into the driveway and there’s your crazy, dithering, drunken uncle stumbling half naked in a zig-zaggy line to hit on your girlfriend. Then suddenly realizing that not only do you not want to party anymore, but you would rather curl up and die before going out again for the next two weeks, and hope that in the time passed everyone has just forgotten your name and address.

    That is how bad this is. See what a loathing mockery it makes of a king among men. And how bizarre to come from supposed friends.

  146. My first response was prior to Obama’s press conference. He did sum up my sentiments pretty well, and donating the money to a reasonable charity (hopefully not a reelection fund) is a great step. Glad to hear some good Midwestern-style skepticism coming out of a president’s mouth. I also agree with the Republican commentator who said that he’d have liked to see the American people awarded the prize, given that we elected Obama. I wouldn’t mind my 40 cents on that deal.

    That said, whatever the Nobel committee was smoking when they made that decision, I want some. The award and money could have really helped some activists who are truly suffering. They look a little silly giving it to Obama. TFW, man.

  147. I think its a bit early to be handing out peace prizes, since most of what Obama has done is not intentionally make things worse like the last guy.

    But maybe things look really different from outside of the US. I tend to think of my country as, on the whole, being a pretty decent sort of place that is generally a good influence in the world as a whole. But then I get to vote here, so when we start doing things I don’t like, I don’t fear for the long term so much. Its that attribution bias and all.

    So how does the US look from the outside? In the past eight years we started building up our military, prepping to restart our construction of new nukes, trashed international accords on arms and nuclear arms reductions, were generally belligerant about just about everything, started multiple wars, shipped people to other countries to be tortured, then got bored with that and started torturing them ourselves, and…

    Well, maybe, to people outside the country, our trajectory looked really, really bad. Maybe the peace they’re crediting him with isn’t accomplishing something great in the middle east, its stopping the US from heading down a very dark path.

    To us, we don’t really see things that way. But maybe that’s how it looks to the rest of the world. Like Obama stopped the most militarily powerful nation in the world from continuing down a path towards active malevolence.

  148. You know, we spend a lot of time out in the weeds of political issues in this country. As an example, we’ve spent a lot of the last week discussing whether or not it was good for America for the President to fail to bring the Olympics to Chicago. And that’s fine. That’s part of our political debate.

    But, just step back for a second and look at the impact that Obama’s foreign policy has had on the rest of the world. Yeah, they nominated him twelve days into office, but they didn’t decide on the prize until now. And that should say something about the change in value of our stock in the world.

    I agree it’s more of a call to action, or an acknowledgement that they feel we’re headed in the right direction. And I think Obama has handled the prize acceptance pretty well so far. His speech was right on. We do have a ways to go. But, given the reaction of the committee in awarding the prize to him, just because we have a ways to go doesn’t mean we haven’t come a long ways yet.

    We’ve made leaps and bounds down that path. Foreign policy is mostly words. The IAEA will be the do-ers in the investigation of Iran’s nuclear endeavors. The success in the matter is getting Russia to publicly agree to support inspection, and seriously consider sanctions pending unfavorable results. Those words are a big deal to be coming out of Medvedev’s office. The success was getting Sarkozy to stand on the same stage as Brown and Obama when they announced the Qom facility at the G-20. Even if the guy did keep trying to stand just far enough away so as to be off camera.

    We’ve got a lot to be happy with in terms of the changing of our foreign policy and our image and standing in the world. We’ve got a long way to go. But, today is a good day. And instead of the knee jerk reaction that Norway is somehow comprised of Obama fan boys, maybe we could consider that the man has actually done a great deal to change our standing in the world for the better.

  149. having an opinion is fine. But it’s better to have that opinion based in the facts.

    Fact: The Committee believes that Obama is doing what they have been trying to get people to do for 100 years — be a leader that takes people and nations towards peace.

    Fact: The Committee often bestows the award in an effort to encourage more of the behavior that they’re seeing.

    These guys have been doing this for 100 years. They know what they’re doing.

  150. Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize does not reflect badly on Obama. It does, however, reflect badly on the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Obama’s intentions may be the best in the world, but until he actually accomplishes something the prize was more than a bit premature. There were plenty of other worthy contenders who’ve actually improved the world.

  151. I’m concerned…

    Has anyone checked in with Bono?

    Is he ok, is he handling this oversight ok?

  152. “How long, realistically, are we to wait to see some realization of that potential?”

    The heart of the matter, this. Yoda says: Wait long we will. Other masters, there are to pay.

  153. stevem@177: exactly.

    Drew@176: Do they know what they are doing? Plenty of organizations that have been around for 100 years have done really stupid things.

  154. Without having read everyone else’s comments to see if someone has already said this…I, and I suspect the committee, consider that in defeating the Republicans last year he’s done enough for world peace to deserve the award – though I hope he can do much more.

  155. I didn’t know that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were over. Maybe next year they’ll be given the nobel to Bill Pullman for his work making peace with the aliens in Independence Day (Or Will Smith).
    Ghandi must be revolving in his grave!

  156. Gandhi (I presume that’s who you mean) is very likely gazing benificently from some fruitarian afterlife, giving Obama the thumbs-up because “at least he’s not fucking British.”

  157. People killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since Obama took office: 3515. Nobel Peace Prizes won: 1. You stay classy, Nobel Prize Committee.

    And, um, if we’re going to use the logic that the NPP is meant to encourage someone to seek world peace rather than reward past activities to promote peace…Bush should have won a few of those before he left office.

  158. Nice to see some interesting and thoughtful commentary in a comments section – unlike the usual irrational dreck (although there is a little of that here too). I find it interesting that a significant percentage of people here don’t think Obama has achieved anything – really? Do you only follow major media headlines? While I might agree that he hasn’t achieved ENOUGH to fully deserve an award based on achievement, he certainly hasn’t achieved NOTHING.

    Second – I have to tip my hat to comments 150 and 151 – substantive contributions.

    Third, I am surprised to find that I started the thread agreeing with Scalzi and now find myself understanding and even agreeing with the award.

    Fourth – on Bush’s reaction. Yes, he won’t have much of a reaction except to congratulate Obama. And he won’t get all introspective about it and how it reflects on him. But that was a large part of the problem with Bush anyway – he never saw how his or other people’s reactions reflected on him. He lives 100% in the present – no ability to consider and use the past and no desire to look to the future. Plus he was brought up to be polite. I never thought he was evil – just a fantastic tool for some people who were and are.

    Fifth – for the Republican commentator who thought the American people should get the prize for voting him in – shouldn’t that actually be 51% (of about 58%) of the people – with the commentator being in the 49%?

  159. According to, birther Orly Taitz just issued a screed against Obama, identifying him as having won the “Noble Prize.”

    Damn, he won two prizes? Is there nothing this man can’t do?

  160. @187 And before Obama was elected, the deaths in those wars were never attributed directly to the president, were they? Of course not.

  161. Can’t believe I forgot my most important comment.

    Who cares about that Obama guy and his NPP? How about that Herta Muller and her NPL?

  162. @188 While I agree that Obama has accomplished some things, let’s not forget that the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize were due in February (about two weeks after he was elected). Those must have been the best two weeks for him ever.

  163. This strikes me as a case of eating your cake before the meal.

    I hope it just doesn’t ruin our appetites.

  164. Adam @ 193 –

    I think the voting took place much more recently than the nominations. I think it’s less a reflection of how much we think he’s done and more a reflection of what the rest of the world sees as a new path for the united states.

    That said, I can see the SNL sketch already. Barack Obama and his first night in the White House. Suddenly, he realizes he’s completely forgotten his essay on “why I deserve the Nobel peace prize” for the selection committee.

    It’s possible he thought it was like a college admissions thing; all US presidents nominate themselves for the peace prize.

  165. I’ve pointed out elsewhere that while I think this entire award is largely premature, one thing Obama could have been nominated for was repealing the Global Gag Rule. This happened within the first week or so of his presidency, and was praised by many human and women’s rights organisations, since it restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund among other things.

    I’d still like to see more action from the man, and I still think this was early days yet, but it’s not like he’s done nothing.

  166. Other Bill @ 195 Sure the voting took place more recently but why did he even get nominated? To me that’s a bigger mystery than why he won.

  167. If the fools want to give me the Peace Prize (and the associated cash), I’d smile and say “Thank you very much.”

    Fortunately, you’re not President. The person who is has quite a lot of money already, gave a humble acceptance speech and declared he would donate money to charity.

  168. In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”
    I’m all for that…can I have a prize too?

  169. Adam @ 197 –

    from the nobel website:

    ” The Nobel Committee sends out invitation letters to individuals qualified to nominate – members of national assemblies, governments, and international courts of law; university chancellors, professors of social science, history, philosophy, law and theology; leaders of peace research institutes and institutes of foreign affairs; previous Nobel Peace Prize Laureates; board members of organizations that have received the Nobel Peace Prize; present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; and former advisers of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.”

    I’d say a lot of those people might be inclined to nominate Obama based on some of the speeches he made at home and abroad during the campaign.

    I’d say he won it, in part, for his recommitment to negotiations and the general reduction of nuclear weapons in the world. The UN security council resolution was another big deal. In addition to the work on Iran and it’s nuclear issues.

    I mean, Nobel had an issue with TNTs use. I imagine nuclear issues weigh heavily on the mind of the committee.

    Or, possibly, they were all drunk and are having a laugh.

    I’d second mythagos comment on his “acceptance” speech. The guy gave a pretty classy and honest spech about the realities of the situation and smoothly elected to pass the money on to charity.

    Whcih, by the way, is what I think most Nobel laureates do. I think the money generally goes tonsupport their endeavor, scientific research, international charity or otherwise.

  170. Premature at best. If his efforts never come to fruition, this could prove to be embarrassing for all concerned.

    On the other hand, sarcastic commentary from leaders of the opposition doesn’t really have a place, either…
    “One thing is certain — President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. – Reuters

    If we were in year three of the Obama administration and the economy was still in the tank, Steele’s comment would resonate a lot more. But the same factors that make this prize premature also make playing the blame game on the economy premature. When someone is honored like this, the old homily that starts “If you can’t say anything nice…” should be kept in mind.

  171. When Le Duc Tho was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Henry Kissinger for their negotiations in the Paris Peace Accords to end our involvement in Vietnam, he declined the award stating that “my country is still not at peace.” I think this would have been a more appropriate response from Obama.

  172. From the text of the press release announcing obama as the receiver of this years peace prize. From:

    “The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009:

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
    Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

    Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

    For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
    Oslo, October 9, 2009

  173. He doesn’t feel that he deserves it, and is sending all $1.4m of it to charity. Good enough, to my reckoning. A $1.4m investment in peace is more than many of his peers and predecessors’ve done.

  174. Sorry for the broken up post, I brushed the submit button before I could add the following:

    “The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

    based on that sentence I would submit that his, to date, threading the needle that is the Iranian nuclear challenge and his work on the security council vote to work to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons were the proof in the pudding, as far as the awards council was concerned, that his deeds will match his rhetoric And, I think, worrthy accomplishments in themselves.

    Whether everyone else would agree that this merits the award of the peace prize I’m not sure. But, based on that I’m not sure he could refuse. His approach to multilateral negotiations has already been implemented and born some fruit.

    I would say he again threaded the needle in his speech this morning. Humbled and feeling unworthy. A clarion call for all nations to work harder at this.

  175. What I’d really like to know is Who nominated President Obama for this prize. He would not have been considered if he wasn’t nominated, and I don’t think he nominated himself. So I think it would be more interesting to understand the perspective of the nominator (person/entity who made such consideration possible) vs. the perspective of the Nobel committee (group who chose amongst candidates put to them). Especially considering that it was mere days between inauguration and the nomination deadline.

    I haven’t read all of the comments on this thread of discussion, so maybe this has already been covered, I apologize if that’s the case.

  176. Laughable it is that he would win it when he has done nothing to earn it. Just more evidence that good marketing works. As an American I am ashamed that he won and embarrassed by people bowing down to him. His arrogance only increases and it will cause him to fall unfortunately.
    It really is sad how easily manipulated people are.

  177. Wow. The hatin’ is really a flyin’.

    I saw congressman Grayson’s latest speech chewing out republicans opposing health care reform when 40,000+ americans die every year due to lack of health insurance. Most favorite bit:

    “If Obama found a cure for world hunger, republicans would condemn him for overpopulation. If Obama created world peace, republicans would condemn him for sinking the defense industry.”

    Yeah, baby.

    He also chastized democratic senators to remind them that Olympia Snowe wasn’t elected president last year and a bill that passes with 51 votes is just as legal as a bill that passes with 60 votes or 99 votes.

    Apparently the donations are pouring into his next campaign.

  178. I honestly don’t get the whole “Bush was a unilateralist” thing. Perhaps someone can explain where he “went it alone” by insisting in six-party talks with North Korea, involved Britain and the EU in talks with Iran, sought (and got!) UN Security Council and Congressional approval before acting in Iraq, formed a multinational program to seek out and curtail weapons trafficking, and launched the largest AIDS funding program in Africa in history. Absolutely none of that strikes me as unilateral, as I understand the word. Perhaps I understand it incorrectly.

    Look, I understand that quite a lot of people have quite a lot of hope invested in President Obama. I also understand that he has a lot on his plate (but I also understand that he put a lot of it there that he didn’t have to). However, that doesn’t justify an NPP, especially over people who have invested their own blood and years of their life toward bringing peace and relief to the people around them. I mean, Wei Jingsheng spent 17 years in a Chinese prison for working to reform the oppressive government there. Denis Mukwege became a doctor so he could start a hospital and treat women horribly wounded by rape in a civil war that the multilateral, multinational institutions refused to touch (and he’s treated over 20,000).

    Yes, the President gave a stirring speech at the UN but his predecessor did more to rid the world of nuclear weapons (especially those that could fall into the hands of tyrants and ruined nations) than all but perhaps a couple. Heck, the initiative uncovered the A.Q. Khan weapons trafficking ring. That all by itself stopped weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

    If President Obama has real success in his quest to rid the world of nuclear weapons (and I sincerely hope he does), then he should at least be a strong contender for the NPP. But now? Well, it makes the Nobel Committee look ridiculous.

  179. Cyan @ 206 –

    @200 I put a caption from the Nobel website describing who are issued invitations to nominate.

    However, I think the other nominees aren’t made public for fifty years and I’m not sure if the nominators are ever made public. Though, they did indicate Obama was in a field of 205 nominees, I think.

    So, unless that individual or those individuals steps forward, we won’t know anything about it unitl 2059.

    But, given that the nomination is as much about individual effort, I’d say some folks who were excited by his various campaign speeches made the nomination.

    More info on the process here:

    Jimmie @ 209 –

    Bush very much had a unilateralist approach. If other leaders wanted to go along, it was fine but not necessary. I’m not sure the six party talks are the best example of a solid multilateralist approach. And as far as Iraq, Congressional approval is not relevant to his unilateral approach discussion. And, I belive he rushed the deadline on the un sanctioned inspections that weren’t turning up results worthy of an a preemptive strike.

    His talks with Iran didn’t exist. The US refused to meet with the Iranians in any way. Britain and the EU took up the slack in a largely futile quest. And his tacit support of that pursuit was largely a last second gambit designed to allow historians to say he wasn’t totally unilateral.

    Bush’s abandonment of the ABM treaty left Russia wholly unwilling to cooperate with the US in sorting out Irans nuclear endeavors. Not to mention stirring up a hornets nest in nuclear proliferation issues in general.

    Bush’s other successes and failures aside, his thinking on international relations and diplomacy was pretty well summed up by his appointing John “anti-UN” Bolton to be the US ambassador to the UN. Obama has a decidedly different style of diplomatic engagement. You know, using diplomacy.

    Whether or not it will be more successful, it’s pretty unarguable that they don’t have a notably different method of international engagement.

    And as far as the Aids program in Africa, you’re absolutely right. Love him or hate him, a lot of his success as a leader was in Africa. And he may go down in history as the best president ever for Africa.

    As far as whether or not he deserved it, the Nobel council thought he did. More deserving or not. As an American, I’m going to chalk this up to a really nice day in history. It’s always a win for a US president to be walking around with a Nobel peace prize to use as a cudgel in his diplomatic pursuits. So to speak.

  180. My beef with the Nobel Peace Prize is that it is often a paean to multilateralism for its own sake, which is my beef with the President’s foreign policy, too.

    A look at the 1920s, and nearly every prize was for the League of Nations or the Kellogg-Braind Pact or the Root Plan or some such plan to be sure that folks got together for a meeting now and again. Or the UN Peacekeeping forces which are a dreadful institution given their ridiculous rules of engagement (after they got the prize, but read about the desperate efforts of the Belgian fellow to get authorization to go shoot some people to stop the genocide in Rwanda; or Srebinicia – don’t go ESCALATING there, blue hats!). It’s great to be multilateral and all, if there’s some purpose behind it. In the absence of that, someone has to be in charge and the UN Peacekeepers are the worst sort of political blameshifting.

    At its best, the Prize rewards folks who really do something above and beyond to turn around a nearly impossible situation: DeKlerk and Mandela bringing about a non-genocidal end to old South Africa, Dr. King, the fellow in South Korea, to a lesser extent Oscar Arias. And, yes, the Prize is often used to put a current political spin on things: in Burma, for instance.

    At worst, it’s completely indefensible nonsense like Arafat.

    Now, with the President, I think he puts the multilateral business well ahead of any specific goals. Multilateralism is great, when its something like NATO or the build up to the first Gulf War or the Six-Party Talks on North Korea. I think history will be a lot kinder to George W Bush on international relations than most people think possible (not a big standard here), given his work on North Korea and – especially – on our relationship with India (something for which Clinton and Bush deserve enormous credit — it’s the most important American strategic move of the post-cold war era). But if this prize was for something, it was for President Obama being a committed multilateralist, and nothing else. I think that multilateraism is a means to get something, but the Nobel Committee often thinks it’s an end in itself. I don’t much agree.

    And, seriously, if it is to be an aspirational prize, there are more folks who could use the support against real dangers: Afghan women, Chinese and Iranian dissidents, among others.

    If its to be for achievement, how about a little love for King Juan Carlos who put Spain back together after Franco. Admittedly, that’s 30 years ago now, but that’s the sort of thing I like to see the Prize go for.

  181. It depends on your perspective, and I have two:

    (1) Speaking as a European, this says: “Thanks America, we believe in you again.”

    (2) Speaking as a typical, very competitive American, all I can say is: “Hey! Why didn’t I get the damned prize! And the 1 mil! It was my blog posts and MY tireless, late-night, comments on the internet that fixed the world! And another thing…… yada, yadda, yadda” :)

    Like that other Nobel prize winner sorta said, everything is relative.

  182. @ # 211 – I think there’s a problem with talking about peace as something that only comes from people like Mandela. Peace efforts are frequently going to involve people who, at one point or another, were using violence, but are making an effort to create peace.

    If we’ve got two side who’ve been killing each other for decades, and they make an effort to resolve things peacefully, in many ways that’s more courageous than someone with totally clean hands who steps in and somehow gets them to the table.

  183. I can see it now. News report from the Vatican “OBAMA CANNONIZED”.
    He spent 20 years listening to the reverend Wright and he isn’t even Catholic but can’t you just see the Cardinals saying “I don’t agree with him but I really like him”.
    He may be likable but he is in way way over his head and that is becoming increasingly obvious.

  184. Earthling @ 211 –

    Peace pretty much has to be a multilateral effort, though, right? I mean, because a unilateral peace effort is also known conquering.

    I think you make some fair points about multilateralism for its own sake. But I don’t think that’s why the UN PKOs failed in Rwanda and Bosnia. Though criticisms of those operations are definitely well-founded and earned. I think that tends to be more a failing at the top, as a lack of multilateral support, and not in the field. Though there are definitely mistakes to point to there. Both of which have been acknowledged by the UN DPKO. They’re trying to improve.

    And I’m not sure that applies to Obama. Yet. Because it could in the future. For its own sake means that he continues to use the method in spite of negative results. And, so far, he’s had positive results with his diplomatic engagement. So far, I think he’s taken a multilateral approach in specific cases to generate specific ends.

    As far as what the prize is used for, it rewards efforts that are necessarily equally engaged in the politics of the situation. I don’t think it’s unusual that the selection would reflect those politics.

    And there certainly are others who have deserved the prize for their actions. There’s only been, what, a hundred or so issued? In the last hundred years I’m sure there are more than a hundred people who were equally, or more depending on your perspective, deserving of the award.

  185. Just saw this on CNNs ticker, the United States State Department’s official diplomatic response to criticisms at Obama for receiving the Peace Prize:

    ” “Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes.”

    That’s the take of Hillary Clinton’s State Department on President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, according to her spokesman, Assistant Secretary PJ Crowley.”

  186. It seems premature to me, too. But then the Nobel Peace Prize has always been somewhat optimistic and forward-looking. I don’t see this choice as terribly out of line with other choices they’ve made in the past.

  187. @216: Fair points all, sir. My point is that multilateralism can’t (at least, shouldn’t) be the end goal, it should only be a means to promote national interests — so long as national interests are read to include the value of long-term alliances (especially those regarding India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the UK). I think my fears are being realized vis-a-vis our engagement with the Russia/Iran business, but I want give the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy (much as I massively disagree with him about domestic policy). I just want multilateralism to serve a specific American goal (even one I don’t necessarily agree with), rather than be the point. I don’t think the President really has set out coherent national policy on a lot of stuff.

  188. #202 If you look at Le Duc Tho’s biography on the Nobel website, you’ll see he declined the award because he believed Kissinger (who accepted the award) had already broken the truce that was the action being recognized by the award.

  189. It’s especially interesting that the NOMINATIONS had to arrive in February.

    At least, there’s no politics involved in the selection. lol…

  190. Earthling @219 –

    “My point is that multilateralism can’t (at least, shouldn’t) be the end goal, it should only be a means to promote national interests — so long as national interests are read to include the value of long-term alliances (especially those regarding India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the UK).”

    that’s absolutely true. And, as far as Iran we do have yet to see the conclusion. So far, I don’t think we’ve sacrificed any of our long term national interests or goals. And, I think we’ve had better results to date than the previous method of engagement.

    I’m actually happier with medvedev’s involvement in this. As a country, we really didn’t take the Russian US relationship seriously, and I think we paid some prices as a result.

    I’d agree that multilateral engagements and responsibilities just for the sake to be said it was done in such a way is pointless. I don’t think we are close to that right now, and I don’t think Obama will necessarily go that way. But we’ll see; this style of diplomacy walks the line. I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far. We’ve got a lot of chall

  191. @222: I disagree with you about how far the President has gone on this point — and I’m not optimistic about the Iran business — but fair enough.

    (But this is the internets, shouldn’t I call you a name or something?)

  192. @220 Fair point. But I think the point that we are clearly not a country at peace right now also stands. I think it’s valid to ask why a president who has increased our war efforts in Afghanistan and has tacitly endorsed the Bush administration’s policy of indefinite detention of terror suspects deserves an award for promoting peace. If talking about peace and diplomacy is enough to deserve the award, then I suppose it can be justified as he’s done plenty of talking.

  193. @223 –

    Oh I see how it is! Internet polite guy, eh? Well fine then. We’ll call it a draw. But I don’t have to like it!

  194. Earthling @219 –

    Bush’s North Korea accomplishments are: Destroy Clinton’s functioning treaty with N.K., make the point clear that the only places Bush wouldn’t threaten HAD nukes and whine about having to join in when Russia and others made it clear that they would talk to N.K. whether he wanted to or not.

    I will simply note that anything Bush did in Africa came with a large price tag attached involving ‘nothing else can be discussed and abstinence- only has to be discussed’.

    NPP sticks & carrots? Sure, nothing new here.

    @ 192 & 187 –

    Wars? Be real, we haven’t been in wars for years. What we have are 2 Occupations. One that is being wound down and one that has been becoming contested in the last couple years.

    Which reminds me: the Taliban, shortly after 911, offered to hand Bin Laden over to Bush on a platter. Bush was too busy sticking his fingers into his ears and yelling “I got plans for Iraq, heh heh heh!” to do anything about it. Yes indeed, the Taliban and Al Queda are not the same.

  195. To Clay Boyd @ #221, Cyan @ #206

    Please stop repeating this foolish canard, straight from the right-wing talking points, that Obama’s being nominated by February 1 means anything.

    The Nobel Peace Prize nomination process is not some shady mystery. Indeed, information on the process is readily available. Read around a bit, and you will learn something like this:

    The statutes of the Nobel Foundation specify categories of individuals who are eligible to make nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. These are;
    >Members of national assemblies and governments and members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
    >Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice at the Hague,
    >Members of Institut de Droit International,
    >University professors of history, political science, philosophy, law and theology, university presidents and directors of peace research international affairs institutes,
    >Former recipients, including board members of organisations that have previously won the prize,
    >Present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and
    >Former permanent advisers to the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

    Just here in the US, that’s 535 congresspeople, thousands of University professors and presidents, and perhaps a few dozen Americans who qualify as former recipients (including Americans on the boards of the ICRC, the American Friends Service Committee, UNICEF, Amnesty, and other organizations) or who are now or prevously were on the committee or advisors to it. Worldwide, the number of people eligible to offer nominations must be well into the five figures.

    As a logical consequence of this, you may be almost certain that in any given year essentially every global figure or organization you’ve heard of is at least nominally entered into consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. This includes (perhaps especially) some global monsters: I would be very surprised if Robert Mugabe, Muammar Qaddafi, and Kim Jong Il weren’t nominated by some eligible person every year, either by some deluded soul or by someone making a rather poor joke. The only surprise would be if Obama were not to be nominated.

    It is true that the committee pares down the nominations to generate a short list (allegedly in late March, I read someplace). So by that point some people on the committee must at least have been sufficiently intrigued by Obama’s nomination to want him to remain eligible when the final determination was made in October. But even that hardly means that the decision was made at that time.

    In any case, please stop acting as if an important decision about Obama’s candidacy was made in February. It’s simply not true, and it makes you look foolish.

  196. I just browsed 229 messages! All have a point. All are ridiculous. Right pointing the finger, left pointing the finger. Are there not others out there who have come to the realization that in the end Mr Obama is just another politician? Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, etc.. Find me someone who really cares about my best interests and I’ll guarantee it won’t be a president, past present of future.
    Looking for hope in a world leader is plain dumb. Rather than using all your energy arguing your political point, maybe use it to help someone who for whatever reason has no hope.
    That, I am sure, has to be worth more than a medal made of metal.

  197. Serious question: Are we the only nation in the world which views our elected leader winning the Nobel Peace Prize as an opportunity to criticize him? I’m fairly certain most other countries would take at least some measure of pride in this. Instead, we apparently view it as an opportunity to focus on all of the things President Obama has NOT done over the past nine months, and to belittle what he HAS already done. His work on slowing nuclear proliferation, while obviously incomplete, has been considerable. He has done more in nine months to reach out to the Muslim world than any President in recent memory. He has been actively involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He has completely shifted the tone of the most powerful nation on earth. These are not minor accomplishments. Why does the Nobel Prize cause us to scoff at them?

    Another serious question: Does anyone have a better suggestion? Can anyone name another individual who has been a greater catalyst for international cooperation and the sort of meaningful dialogue that leads to peace than Barack Obama over the past year?

    Could he have done more? Sure. Will he do more? I certainly hope so. But the body of work thus far is worthy of acknowledgment. Worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize? I don’t see why not, unless it’s at the expense of a more deserving individual. And I certainly can’t think of one.

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