Congratulations to President Barack Obama for the award of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace!
Former speechwriter to President Jimmie Carter, James Fallows, analyzes Bam’s speech yesterday here. The Peace Prize is yet another commonality between US Presidents 44 and 26.
I am stunned that much of the commentariat seems to think Obama has not done anything to deserve this, as if ending the Bush-Cheney doctrine of global bullying was nothing at all. Let us not forget that an unelected US Administration made, in August 2002, a decision to invade Iraq, which decision said administration and their allies refused for several months to provide the public with reasons for (a refusal which led the Australian Senate, for example, to pass its first-ever and so-far-only motion of censure against a sitting Prime Minister, and which led to the largest public demonstrations in Europe for four decades), and which decision was then justified to the public on grounds the justifiers appear to have known at the time to be misleading and possibly also false. For 8 long years, the US Government was led by a secretive, macho, power-hungry, war-mongering, torture-mongering, jingoistic, neoconservative cabal, and as a consequence the peace and safety of all us around the world was lessened. The prospects for global peace improved dramatically at 12 noon on 20 January 2009, immediately upon the removal of that cabal from office, a removal that was itself also a major achievement, and the Nobel Committee has recognized that real achievement for peace with this award.
Among the churlish commentary, I was most surprised by former Polish President Lech Walesa’s reaction, who apparently said, “So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage.” But the Nobel Prize for Peace is sometimes awarded to people or groups as a statement of solidarity by the Nobel Committee, and thus the world, for the person or cause receiving it. Recent examples include a courageous national political leader under house arrest (Aung San Suu Kyi, 1991), a courageous dissident scientist also held under house arrest by his Government (Andrei Sakharov 1975), and the leader of an outlawed trade union, whose cause appeared at the time not only to have failed completely but to have been entirely counter-productive, leading as it did to martial law and more political repression in response than would otherwise have been the case (Lech Walesa, 1983).
Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan quotes an anonymous correspondent:
Remember how Obama should have stepped aside and let Hillary win the primaries? Remember how America wasn’t ready for a black President, of course, so why didn’t he just realize it and wait his turn? Remember last summer when the candidate went to Germany and gave speech before hundreds of thousands of adoring fans? How arrogant. Who does he think he is? Only a president should do that. He should have at least waited until he won. And then he did win. And he took a world tour and gave a game changing speech in the Cairo. Who did he think he was? A rock star? The arrogance and audacity – it’s breathtaking. If the man would just wait his turn, dammit.