Friday, October 9, 2009

Is Obama a deserving winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?

I was surprised to learn that Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Soon after I heard, I went to the official site to see the committee's reasoning. There I found this picture of the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, ThorbjΓΈrn Jagland, holding a picture of the 2009 winner - with a painting of Alfred Nobel in the background. They cite Obama's, "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy" and his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons" and "for inspiring hope and creating a new climate in international politics" as reasons for awarding him.

I am an Obama fan and supporter. I voted for him in the last Election. However, I think that this award is premature. It is okay to give an award to school kids for effort and for being an inspiration. The bar for a Nobel Peace prize should be much higher. There needs to be significant contributions towards World Peace - similar to the actions of a Nelson Mandela (1993) or a Mother Theresa (1979).

In the past, the Peace Prize committee has shown a propensity to recognize anyone working on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (starting with the award in 1978 to Sadat and Begin; to the award in 1994 to Arafat, Peres and Rabin). Obama has shown that he is a man who thinks of achieving world peace. He has reached out to the Muslim world. To quote former Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan (2001), "In an increasingly challenging and volatile world, President Obama has given a sense of hope and optimism to millions around the world" and "has shown that the only way forward is through genuine cooperation with other nations." However, Obama has not done anything yet.

Obama will most certainly give a stirring speech at the ceremony in December. That should not and does not make him a deserving winner. I am sure Alfred Nobel is turning in his grave.

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