“How Can They Do That?”; A Progressive Responds Regarding Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s Choice

Oct 10 2009 Published by under White House

People don’t seem to get the origin of the Nobel Peace Prize, because all over the internet, you will read:

“How can they do that?”

They can do that because that was the intention of the prize….from the beginning. And it is THEIR prize. It is privately funded. They can do whatever they want. It was intended for visionaries, not necessarily an “accomplishment”.

After all, peace starts as a belief. Having the vision for a nuclear free world is huge. It starts there. Did W have that commitment? Did John McCain? No. Even Hilary Clinton didn’t embrace peace as the ideal the way Obama did and does. So, it is rather special, in point of fact.

And while many Americans fail to grasp just how hated America was by the world during the Bush disaster years, this award is one example of just how tenuous our standing in the world was. We are being embraced by the world again; forgiven and accepted back to the table.

What has Obama “done”?

Remember 2002, when he was only person interviewed who said he would have voted NO on Iraq war? Back when it was “treason” to say so? Imagine if he had been president then….what a different world we would live in today….And then tell me he isn’t a visionary.

And since then? What has he “done”?

For starters: “New diplomacy on Israel, Palestine, Iran, Russia and North Korea; slow but steady withdrawal from Iraq and now a painful reappraisal of the increasingly bloody war in Afghanistan; a pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons; new initiatives to the Muslim world…”


No small feat.

“Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes,” Hilary Clinton’s State Department pointed out.


Now close your eyes and imagine John McCain and Sarah Palin in office. Remember how they almost started at war with Russia as candidates, and it turned out they were wrong to back Georgia. But if they had been in the WH, by the time they learned that they were wrong, it would have been too late. Too late. Again.

Who could live with that?

I still have the Election Nightmare, wherein McCain Palin won. And there’s nowhere to go in the entire world to get away from the impact of their erratic, reckless temperaments. It’s terrifying. In the daylight, I comfort myself with the reality that Palin won’t be riding a purple dinosaur — with Jesus strapped to her back — into the White House any time soon. But we did elect W, and so it can happen again. Vigilance is required.

Now imagine you live in another part of the world, and American leadership impacts your life and safety. After 8 years of being bullied by an American president who doesn’t seem to understand basic tenets of democracy, Americans reject Crash McCain and his Holy Warrior Sister and instead elect this man, Barack Obama.

A man who talks with everyone. Who gathers information and debates before taking action. A person who treats all with dignity. A person who is single-handedly restoring respect to American politics. And suddenly, because Americans elected a man with a vision for world peace, where America acts as a participant rather than a bully, your entire life has changed. Gee, that’s a pretty big impact.

Imagine if you were a Russian when McCain and Palin had their eyes trained on you, ready to launch the wrath of the American army on you, and tell me Obama hasn’t “done” anything.

The right may have legitimate disagreements with Obama’s policies (sadly, we haven’t heard them articulated in a cohesive, reasonable fashion very often), but they don’t have a leg to stand on in criticizing their president for being honored with an international award he didn’t seek in the first place.

The Irish Times said it eloquently:

“….although he may as yet have no treaties under his designer belt and most of the challenges he faces are still very much work in progress, Mr Obama’s achievements are substantive, and very real. American foreign policy has been set on a new course, multilateral diplomacy on issues like armaments has been given a new lease of life and the nature and language of international dialogue has been transformed. Like Al Gore’s, whose Nobel prize for campaigning on climate change preceded his by two years, Mr Obama’s award is about his creation of political possibilities and space, and the real power of ideas and personal example. The power, as Mr Obama himself would say, of hope.”

This is a great honor for our country, and the only right thing to do is to take great pride in issuing formal congratulations to their President.

Their failure to do so only proves even further how much Obama actually deserves this award, for none of them could even dream of running this country with an ounce of the grace Obama shows. Especially considering the disloyal opposition — seditious opposition, treasonous opposition — Obama deals with every day.

The Independent UK adds, “His nomination for the prize may have been submitted less than two weeks after he took office in February. But in the time between then and the announcement yesterday Barack Obama has wrought a sea change in the international political climate. ..Obama arrived with a heart for peace and an openness of mind to other nations which was in itself a huge transformation. He may see no alternative to fighting the war against al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan but everywhere else he has reasserted the importance of the United Nations and of multilateral diplomacy. He replaced military threats with dialogue with Iran and North Korea. He has begun talks with Russia over nuclear disarmament. He has prioritised peace in the Middle East. He has reached out a hand of friendship to the Muslim world. He has thrown Washington’s recalcitrant attitude to global warming into reverse. All change begins with a change of mind by one individual and Obama has been that person.”

It’s a shame that it takes other nations to remind us of what we can’t see; America terrorized the world for the last 8 years. We desperately needed change. And we got it.

Who else could have provided such change? Such hope? Having a vision is no small thing. Having the courage to implement the vision is a rarity, as well. And Obama is implementing that change.

It’s indicative of our problems as a younger nation that we don’t understand the importance of things other than “accomplishments”. Our corportocracy-driven value system can only acknowledge that which is work oriented and tangible, so broad thinking, open-mindedness, and vision are worthless until they have created something tangible like Apple

…and after all, it seems arrogant to assume to tell a private committee that they are wrong about their choice to receive their privately funded prize — arrogant in the same way that we unknowingly trampled on other nations and their people in the past 8 years. Unless you traveled outside of the US much, you wouldn’t know just how badly the image of America as bully had been imprinted around the globe.

In any of this, do we have a chance for self-reflection? Could this be a teachable moment for America, during which we can open ourselves to values other than those we’ve elevated for the past 30 years?

“Obama got the prize not for doing, but for being. Not for making peace, but for exemplifying something new on the world stage — the politics of dignity,” The Nobel Committee explained.

Congratulations, Mr President. You do, actually, deserve this award, for your vision of a America as a leader in democratic principles and for restoring America’s moral authority on the world stage.

10 responses so far