Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

In a surprise move, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Barack Obama, making him only the third sitting American president to win the prize.  The award was given for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.” The committee particularly noted his efforts to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal.

While often the award is given for past achievements, this award was given as a recognition that ideas matter, and in order to further promote Obama’s views on international relations. The award is also seen as recognition of the significant change in direction for the United States with the replacement of George Bush and Dick Cheney with Barack Obama.

It is remarkable for Obama to have won the award so early in his presidency. Two previous sitting presidents, Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919, have won the award. In addition, Jimmy Carter won the award following his term in office in 2002 and former Vice President Al Gore won the award in 2007. (I would be curious as to the initial gut reaction to this award by Bill Clinton.)

Obama first heard about winning the award in a wake up call from press secretary Robert Gibbs, who had learned about this from members of the media. The news has been received by considerable world praise. It was also greeted by opposition by some with valid concerns, and with outrage by those who oppose American values including Hamas, the Taliban, and many American conservatives. This award not only represents a repudiation of conservative views, but is contrary to their goals. While the Nobel Prize committee awarded this prize partially in the hopes that it will help promote Obama’s ideas and goals, failure on Obama’s part has become a top goal of the conservative movement.

Following is the  statement of the committee on the announcement of the award:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

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 United States 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.

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. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”


  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    I first saw it on Facebook this morning.  I thought the poster (who is a creationist, and therefore gullible) had fallen for an article in The Onion.
    Alas, I was wrong, and the world is even more absurd than I thought.  Which is saying something.
    So can Obama now put the Nobel logo on Hellfire missiles launched into Pakistan?  Because that would be sort of cool.
    And now the DNC says that people who criticize the award are aiding the Taliban and Hamas.  Most excellent.  To which I can only reply “Dirka Dirka Mohammed Jihad”.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The DNC’ statement (assuming you are referring to the statement I was reading a couple of minutes ago) does not say that the people are criticizing the awarded are “aiding the Taliban and Hamas.” They point out (as I also happened to do in my post) that they are taking the same line. That’s quite a different thing from saying they are aiding them.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Whether someone who is involved in waging war as Obama is should receive the award is a different question. I have heard some on the left criticize this from such a perspective, arguing that many less well known people who are promoting peace are more worthy. That is a valid point, but if we look from the perspective of how the award has actually been given as opposed to this more idealistic approach, then Obama’s award makes sense.

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — Hunter Thompson
    My wife’s theory is that Fellini has become God.
    I figure maybe they should wait for a track record besides pretty speeches before awarding prizes.  But I guess that’s just me.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    He has changed the attitude in the world, which does give a valid reason. Rather than waiting for more of a track record, I think they want to use the prize to give his ideas a push, and perhaps improving the chances of his success and building a more worthy track record.

  6. 6
    Fritz says:

    The extent to which the attitude in the world has changed so drastically, with no real change in American actions, inclines me to believe that the rest of the world is a bit simple.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    We now have a United States which is showing interest in diplomacy and international cooperation to solve problems, as opposed to by invasion of other countries. That is a rather significant change (again assuming it is valid to award this based upon ideas as opposed to past achievements).

  8. 8
    b-psycho says:

    Whatever, they even gave Henry Kissinger one.

  9. 9
    Heart says:

    Many Many Congrats


  10. 10
    Eclectic Radical says:

    If the Nobel Peace Prize were awarded strictly for merit, the vast majority of its recipients would be ineligible. As much as I respect what Al Gore did to try to educate people, I include him in that.
    A handful of people have won the award for actual acts of peacemaking. Teddy Roosevelt is the one who comes most glaringly to mind, along with Anwar Sadat and Menahem Begin. Also Henry Kissinger.
    A larger number of recipients have been given the prize for acts with tremendous /potential/ to make peace. Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat fall into this category. That example alone shows that these people do not always succeed in finishing what they started. Mikhail Gorbachev fell into this category as well.
    The rest (the largest number of recipients) received the award for political reasons, their work as humanitarians, or both. Some of them (MLK Jr, Mother Theresa) were immensely worthy of such honor. Most (I believe ‘Tookie’ Williams should have been pardoned, but his Peace Prize was a bit of a joke) were not or were not YET.
    Nor are the awards consistent. Following the rationale of past awards, for instance, Jimmy Carter should have shared in the Begin/Sadat prize or (as the mediator) been the one to receive the prize. That was one of the first times a prize was awarded to the people signing the agreement and NOT to the mediator responsible.
    I’m going to stop because I intend to write my own piece on this, but I am going to say that Obama is more worthy of the prize than Tookie Williams or Woodrow Wilson (and possibly Kissinger) and more worthy than Gore, Arafat, or Kissinger.

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