In an unprecedented move, the Norwegian Nobel Committee nominated Barack Obama as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner on Friday—a stunning decision that took everyone’s breath away. But many suspected that behind this unanimous decision hides a strategic outlier. The aim could be to preempt America’s foreign policy, particularly in areas of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Asia considered as some of the most challenging places that threaten world peace. Even more stunning is the fact that at the time this happens, Barack Obama is conducting his own war in Afghanistan—something that doesn’t follow the logic of peace and certainly the logic behind the reason why such a prestigious prize is awarded to.
But according to the committee, the prize was awarded to Obama for his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, for easing tensions with the Muslim world and for putting diplomacy and cooperation first instead of preaching the doctrine of unilateralism. This falls quite in line with the logic of preemption and, by extension, the policy of containment. This will be a constant reminder to Obama that he CANNOT govern like a traditional American president.
The Nobel Committee claimed the change in global mood spearheaded by Obama’s calls for peace and cooperation was the catalyst behind the committee‘s decision. The committee also acknowledged that Obama’s good intentions have yet to materialize. But reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles can be a major undertaking, for the major countries that are signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are in some cases major nuclear powers. During their summit in Moscow last July, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed that their negotiators would work out a new limit on delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads of between 500 and 1,100. They also agreed that warhead limits would be reduced from the current range of 1,700-2,200 to as low as 1,500. The United States now maintains about 2,200 such warheads, compared to about 2,800 for the Russians.
However, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change might not be insurmountable tasks for a popular president like Obama. But if one can interpret the committee’s decision, he would immediately understand that a declaration of intent along with the power to bring that intention to bear is sufficed to land the Nobel Peace Prize to someone like Obama. “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,” Jagland said.
According to the Associated Press, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that Obama was unaware of the news until early this morning when he “woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT.” According to Thorbjoern Jagland, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman, the committee decided not to inform the White House before the announcement because it didn’t want to wake up the president of United States. “Waking up a president in the middle of the night, this isn’t really something you do,” Jagland said.
Critics say the prize will strengthen the hands of Obama before his diehard generals who are pushing for additional troops deployment in Afghanistan to contain the Taliban growing insurgency.
This award can also easily be interpreted as a slap at the Bush administration. It was the same committee that used harsh language to criticize the Bush administration for its unilateral military action in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The Nobel committee praised Obama’s creation of “a new climate in international politics” and said “he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage. You have to remember that the world has been in a pretty dangerous phase,” Jagland said. “And anybody who can contribute to getting the world out of this situation deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.”