Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize: brilliant portent or bad joke?

I have a new post of at Global Comment

image Since 1901, The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to those that have gone to great lengths to make significant contributions to our world. Some of the notables include Jimmy Carter Jr, Nelson Mandela, The 14th Dalai Lama (Tensin Gyatso), and Mother Teresa. There can be no doubt that the aforementioned names have tirelessly worked to ensure that the world that we live in is a better place. Nominations for the award took place in early February of this year and Obama was not even inaugurated until January 20th. This, of course, raises the question of whether Obama has at this time accomplished enough to be given such a prestigious award.

Many labour under the assumption that one must merit the The Nobel Peace Prize, rather than the award itself being a signification of hope and encouragement. Yet according to the Associated Press, “More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.”

This would make commentary about Obama’s award being “based in affirmative action” quite ironic if it were not for the fact that Thobjorn Jagland, the former prime minister of Norway, who chaired this year’s committee, insists that it’s for work the president has already accomplished. Apparently the award was given for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Since entering the international stage, Obama’s message has been consistent in terms of a demand for change and accountability. When this is compared to the actions of his predecessor George Bush Jr, it is fair to say that his position apromotes global harmony and values our shared humanity. In fact, the Norwegian Nobel Committee released the following statement regarding the selection of Barack Obama for an award:

“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.”

According to the Washington Post,

“Obama has pledged to make progress on three other fronts: pushing for Senate ratification of an international treaty banning nuclear testing; reaching an agreement on halting production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium; and strengthening the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, the grand global bargain in which most nations pledged not to seek nuclear arms”.

However, Obama’s insistence that the United States will retain a military arsenal “as long as these weapons exist,” is indeed problematic. How is it possible that the only nation to use an atomic bomb still considers that it has the right to determine which states can possess nuclear arms as a form of deterrence? True leadership would mean complete and total disarmament. This is more about maintaining American hegemony than it is about ensuring a nuclear free world.

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