OBAMA WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
By Niecea Freeman
Roar Blog Editor-in-Chief
Thorbjorn Jagland—Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee—announced President Barack Obama as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 9, commending him for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Jagland said the committee selected Obama from a pool of over 200 nominations and had several candidates until the last minute, but it became more obvious that “we couldn’t get around these deep changes that are taking place” under Obama.
Over the course of the past year—even before his presidency—Obama has continuously reached out toward Muslim communities and has advocated to completely halt the production of nuclear technology world wide in a course of four years. His agenda so far has included, on Sept. 24, presiding at a United Nations Security Council session to grab the world leaders’ attention for nonproliferation, calling the use and spread of nuclear weapons a “fundamental threat” to humankind.
The Boston Globe reported in June that President Obama had proposed an international nuclear fuel bank—controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency—to remove “peaceful use” justifications of countries such as North Korea and Iran and ultimately disposing the devastating outcome of nuclear warfare.
Obama has stated in speeches in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt that “America is not—and will never be—at war with Islam.” His overseas tour in the Middle East was focused on demonstrating his commitment to engage with the Muslim world in a rooted respect and partnership in foreign policy—seeking common solutions to global challenges.
“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,” wrote the committee. “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.”
This surprising announcement left Obama feeling “humbled” and under pressure about his global goals. “Let me be clear: I do not view [this award] as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people of all nations,” said Obama. He will accept his award on Dec. 10 in Oslo, Norway, as a “call to action” to fulfill his duty as a Peace Prize winner.
Jagland, however, rejects any notion from the public that Obama may have received the prize prematurely in his career. “We hope this can contribute a little bit to enhance what he is trying to do,” he told a news conference.
Republican National Committee Chairperson Michael Steele, on the other hand, said, “ The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ One thing is certain—Obama won’ be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”
Unfortunately, despite what the world may think, Obama will be forever remembered in history as the third seated president to win the Nobel Peace Prize along with Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919. Other former presidents won the award as well—Jimmy Carter in 2002 and Vice President Al Gore in 2007.
The real questions still plague the American people. Will Obama live up to the expectations of the world? What will he do next? And since when has effort surmounted actual success?