President Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. He won the award “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to the Nobel Peace Prize Web site. Although Obama has started on a new path in diplomacy, his actions do not warrant a peace prize.
The peace prize is a prestigious award that has been given to such trailblazers as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Generally, the award is given to people who have actively promoted peace over a long period of time. The prize is a culmination of a passionate, lengthy career, not a “call to action” as Obama stated in his acceptance speech. Obama spouts rhetoric aplenty about plans for peace, but there is little action being done by him.
Obama is dealing with issues such as health care and a surge in Afghanistan. He is not out promoting peace.
Having a new president who has done little active work in the cause of peace win the Nobel Peace Prize lessens the impact and honor of the award. According to nobelprize.com, two other sitting presidents (Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) and one former president (Jimmy Carter) have received the prize, but they played a part in ending a war. President Obama has not ended anything yet.
Nominations for the prize were due on Feb. 1, 12 days after Obama took office, meaning his nomination was primarily based on campaign speeches. Taking campaign promises seriously is a risky thing to do considering the long list of broken campaign promises in history.
Political excitement caused by Obama’s election and emotional reactions to his enthusiastic campaign should not have motivated his nomination or win. The award winner needs public actions, not hopes and dreams.
The political leaning of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee must also be taken into account. Why did Al Gore receive a prize for his environmental work, yet Ronald Reagan did not receive one for helping end the Cold War? Instead, Mikhail Gorbachev, his Russian counterpart, received the 1990 award.
Did Obama receive the award for “not being Bush” as some pundits have claimed? It seems the Nobel Committee was overexcited at Obama’s plans. The European Union has been disgruntled by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposing Bush’s entrance into the war.
Perhaps the Nobel Committee hoped to spur Obama to extricate the country out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The peace prize does give Obama a new level of control over his commanders. Yet is it the best thing for America if Obama now has to protect his “peaceful” reputation at all costs?
Although the talks with Iran are a promising start for peace in the world, the Nobel Committee should have waited until a solution had been reached. It is good for America to be associated with peace now. Yet what will result if the talks with Iran fail or Obama cannot end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The Nobel Committee jumped the gun on this prize. President Obama has at least three more years to earn this award. Let America hope he does.
Emily Sears is a freshman journalism major from Rockwall.