Nobel Peace Prize: Is Obama worthy?

By on October 21, 2009

Whether you are pro- or anti- Obama, I don’t think anyone could have predicted he would win the Nobel Peace Prize this early into his presidency. If the President himself was shocked, maybe we should inquire the reasoning behind the decision.

A few questions ran through my head after hearing the news. I wondered how many presidents have won the award, and if it should be strictly for people who have dedicated their lives to peace, like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr. Turns out quite a few presidents have been Peace Prize Laureates, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter. However, none of these leaders earned this bragging right until later in their presidency or after. Not to say that an American President does not deserve to win the prize; after all, if the leader of the free world is doing a good job, then that is certainly merit for celebration.

This isn’t to say Obama has not made strides or will continue to do so. However, the fact remains that we are in a global recession and involved in a war that just had its eighth birthday. We possess a cockeyed health care system and a contradictory immigration policy, and continue to consume natural resources. So my question is this: Is the award a compliment or just an indiscrete persuasion?

Sweden might be relieved to find America with a president who is concerned about foreign relationships, yet this is just a start. As important as America’s influence is on the rest of the world and even though globalization makes the world a lot smaller and connected, the fact remains that Obama is our president. His decisions affect us and his primary concern should be the American citizen. We need to see change here before we can really see change abroad. I cannot help but get the image of Sweden taking note of Obama’s efforts internationally, listening to his eloquent speeches, and with an exhale proclaiming, “Wow, so much better than Bush!” This statement could be argued. However, it is undeniable that the world’s view of America has changed since we elected a president that’s for “change.”

Curious as to the criteria behind this prestigious award, I went to NobelPrize.org and found their definition of a worthy recipient:

“The person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Is this what Obama has done or what Sweden wants Obama to do? With 40,000 more troops being shipped off to Afghanistan, I would hardly say standing armies are being reduced. Again, I am not addressing Obama and his decisions. I am questioning the prize awarder’s motives. The Nobel Peace Prize does not have to be awarded every year. In fact there are many years where the Nobel Foundation could not identify a worthy beneficiary and the prize money was added on to the next recipient’s award. Obama could have earned this award in future years and Sweden should have waited this year out. I feel this award was given to persuade our president, a way of saying, “How could you still be in a war, Obama? You are the Nobel Peace Winner. Why don’t you help that country out Obama? After all you are president.”

Am I over thinking? Maybe. But I think my biggest fear is not that this will go to Obama’s head, but that it will go to America’s. In our fast-paced lives, it is hard to keep up with the news on every speech Obama makes and every policy he either passes or does not pass. I worry that some will take this award as guaranteed proof that Obama can do no wrong; and this is where we may fail as a nation. We might as well live in a communist country if we never question our government. I think it is our duty to congratulate Obama, and then continue to make sure he lives up to his inspiring speeches.

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