What have you done for the fraternity between nations this year?

Friday, 9. October 2009     2 comment(s)
Charly Salonius-Pasternak
Senior Research Fellow - The Global Security research programme

President Barack Obama’s selection as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has caused consternation, incredulity, and even demands that he turn it down. The main charge is that Obama’s efforts have yet to bear fruit. This perspective is understandable, as many of the recent recipients have received their award for “life-long efforts.” Taking nothing away from those recipients, but as a close reading of Alfred Nobel’s will makes clear, those recipients were arguably beneficiaries of an expanded reading of the document in question.

Alfred Nobel’s will clearly stipulates that the prizes “shall be annually awarded…to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind…and one [of the prizes] to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

So, during the past year, who has done more than Barack Obama to: (1) improve the “fraternity between the nations”, (2) work towards reductions of (nuclear) weapons, and (3) pushed for the “formation and spreading of peace congresses”? Certainly there are other candidates who have done some of this, but all of them? During this year? I cannot think of too many.

I look forward to replies from readers, with a list of other people the committee could have chosen, based on the above criteria.

Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors

Discussion (2 comments)

11.10.2009, Jaakko Talvitie

It appears that the 2009 Noble Peace Price was awarded based on political campaign speeches written by the staff for Mr. Obama to read on teleprompter – and this political campaign did not end on Election Day and not even at the Inauguration – it continues on a daily basis resembling that of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Unfortunately, because of his ‘Star Power’ created by a very effective campaign slogan: “Hope and Change”, most of the media is not paying attention to the governance and the White House appointees (Czars without any Senate hearings), many of who have very questionable (radical) backgrounds, past and current affiliations and convictions.

Meanwhile the Congress is passing massive new legislation without reading, not to mention understanding the far reaching consequences and fundamental changes to the economy and very fiber of the United States – by design most the provisions will not take effect until 2013, i.e. after the 2012 presidential elections.

19.10.2009, Jeffrey Jackson

My comment is a response to the above, Jaakko Talvitie comment. While he makes interesting points, it seems that he perhaps misses the notion that a president is a representative. The president is an executive, an administrator that makes decisions and commits to action based on the work of many people in his organization. Of course Mr. Obama has speeches written for him - the messages he sends need to be polished by experts for accuracy and clarity. The speeches need to reflect the level at which he is conducting business. The speeches he delivers need to make an impact and effect change.

I disagree that Mr. Obama resembles the militant styles of Castro or Chavez. Do you really think Obama would refer to someone as a 'burro' in a national address. While Chavez does make me laugh from time to time, I fail to see a factual basis behind likening him to Obama, or the other way around.

The Nobel Prize for peace is about disbanding standing armies. Has not Mr. Obama made a commitment to end war in Iraq? The Nobel Prize is about nuclear nonproliferation. Has Mr. Obama not sought a more peaceful solution to the formerly proposed missile defense shield that only stirred trouble with Russia? Has this action not set the tone at the top for future progress on nuclear missile reduction treaties? The prize, as Mr. Salonius-Pasternak points out, is to award those that actively seek to build fraternity among nation and support the spreading of peace congresses. Has Obama not gone around the world to personally deliver the call for more peace on earth? What else should he do if this list is still dissatisfactory?

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