An Undeserved Honour

There is absolutely no reason for The Big O. to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I mean, I like the guy, but yesterday’s decision of the Nobel Prize Committee was completely unfounded. In case you forgot, the guy has been in office for only nine months and although he has set out an impressive agenda, he understandably has little to show for.

obamasuperman An Undeserved Honour
Barack Obama posing as Kent Clarke (source)

According to the Beeb, Obama “won [the award] for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples’.The committee highlighted Mr Obama’s efforts to support international bodies and promote nuclear disarmament.” This is pure bullshit. If anyone deserved an award for nuclear disarmament it would be Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan as well as Leonid Brežnjev and Mihail Gorbačov. No Barack Obama in the picture.

Even worse is the “strengthening of international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. Sure, the whole world breatherd an audiable sigh of relief when Bush jr. finally got left the White House (thank whomever for the 22nd Amendment), but I was always under the impression that international diplomacy was just another day at work for any given US president. And even if that were not so, Obama’s diplomatic track-record is still very thin. Afterall, the guy is the top dog for only nine months. Deliberate naivete aside, the Nobel Prize Committee makes it no secret that the Big O. got the award as a token of “support for what he is trying to achieve”.

Trying being the operative word here. Nine months into the Obama presidency Gitmo concentracion camp is still there. The US is still in Iraq and will remain there even after the “pullout” is over, with tens of thousands more soldiers apparetnly going to Afghanistan. The US just vetoed passing the UN report in war crimes in Gaza fighting of January 09 and propagators of financial derivatives still have not been held accountable. I am convinced that President Obama will tackle some of these problems sooner or later, but as his ass is being busted over the health care reform, these problems were put on the back-burner.

Some say that wore Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded. Simon Peres and Yaser Arafar turned out to be a sad joke, while Henry Kissinger was an outright insult. Yes, even Slobodan Milošević was apparently considered for the award at one point. But all of the above bluffed to be peace-makers, whereas Obama didn’t have to do even that. He just got the prize.

Pengovsky more often than not disagrees with Žiga Turk (former development minister in Janša’s government) but this time I cannot but concur with his yesterday’s tweet: “If Obama is half the man he would like us to believe he is, he would turn down the award

EDIT: In his reaction to winning the award Obama said he was “suprised and deeply humbled” and added that he did not view the prize as a recognition of his accoplishmentsz. Furthermore he said he feels he did not deserve to be in the company of other laureates but that he will use the award as a call to action.


15 Comments to “An Undeserved Honour”

  1. alcessa Says:

    Well, maybe you should allow for the possibility that he is intelligent enough to know he hasn’t done much yet and use the prize for something, like he says.

    So, it is not as if your criticism or that by other people in the similar vein were telling something new, something really deep – it’s just a great moment for saying WTF and getting kudos for it, if I ever saw one. :-)

    My proposal would be not to underestimate endorsements Hope may get from time to time, but I cannot write a lengthy piece about it cause everyone will say I fell for the Superstar and I cannot prove he could be something else.

  2. pengovsky Says:

    Actually, regardless of what you might think, this was primarily a criticism of the servility of the Nobel peace prize committee.

    I must say that I feel better now that O. reacted the way he did. The post was written yesterday and scheduled to be published this morning.

    I think you should write that post regardless :)

  3. alcessa Says:

    Well, maybe it’s not that difficult to understand Norwegians… :-) A few days ago a UN-institution published a list of best countries to live in (I take it you know which one I mean) and Norway’s number one.
    So, if their living standard and their expectations and wishes are top-level, than it is quite logical they should support good, idealistic causes. It is actually quite simple: rich people in rich countries hate to watch suffering, hunger and veiled women on their TVs… And they want to put their trust into intelligent leaders with a visible EQ, because that’s what they do in their own, private lives. No?

    (plus: did you see – Slovenia was Nr. 29, which means the group with top living standard. Germany was Nr. 22)

    Another thing I remembered yesterday: there’s an important German-French historian (Peter Scholl-Latour) who’s travelled the world extensively and been present at many important moments of our history. For example, he said about North Korea and Kim that they were really cooperation-happy at the time Bill sent Madeleine there. He describes the meeting as a peak of “cordiality” (you know, political kind of). Now, first thing George did was rebuff NK and put it on the list of rogue states. Then South Korea got a nationalist government. But what is most important: suddenly, noone was friendly to poor, lonesome Kim anymore, so he went sour. Which goes to prove that being nice is not a bad idea, even with dictators. I guess that’s why Kim wanted Bill to interfere on account of those 2 journalists.

    Of course it is easy to cry “lightweight” anytime someone tries talking, but in reality it can sometimes have results. No always. I guess “real men” like Ahmi from Iran won’t react favourably to kindness.

    What I mean to say by all this is that yes, soft skills, hope and speeches are a stupid reason to call someone a hero, for practical reasons, but they are also at the same time exactly what multitudes of people outside want and wish for. A huge part of them. So they got a Nobel peace Prize now, all of them. And not Barack the superstar.

  4. alcessa Says:

    Oops :oops: I guess I have just written my post… but on your blog. I hope that’s OK?

  5. šuši Says:

    So, even O. does not think he deserves the prize :D And I don’t give a poop about the Nobel prize since Bush was nominated … and remind me what was the reason Sarkozy was nominated?!

    I think the goal of this prize got lost on the way … long time ago.

  6. alcessa Says:

    There’s one more important aspect to this, I think:

    saying Obama did nothing for peace between Israel and Palestina is the same as saying Janša/Turk/Türk/Pahor/Mate/Žbogar … whoever, did nothing to erase the good old black-versus-red dividing line in Slovenia.

    Surely we know both are nigh impossible? On all levels? (psychological, political, cultural…)

  7. camille Says:

    the Nobel Peace Price is a totally arbitrary and subjective thing handed out by a bunch of people whose only responsibility it seems is sitting in some smoky room and deciding who to hand this money and glory out to every year. i couldn’t care less.

  8. pengovsky Says:

    @alcessa: write away! :mrgreen: I promise to answer in detail once I get back from the land of the other Nobel Prize Nominee

    @šuši: and they’re doing their damnest to keep it that way, aren’t they?

  9. šuši Says:

    Yes I must say they put their best effort to it. At least someone makes me laugh once a year :evil:

  10. alcessa Says:

    Thank you, I did manage to spare some thoughts for my own blog :-)

    I hope you’re enjoying the high flowing skirts of cancan plus Carla’s smile and not o sole mio in the land of The Great Pretender…

  11. Global Voices Online » Slovenia: Reactions to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Says:

    [...] Some reactions to Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize – at Sleeping With Pengovsky. Cancel this reply [...]

  12. christopher Says:

    SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE should have been the first black president and we could all Dance To The Music and have some Hot Fun In The Summertime; but NO! now its cheerful like Shastakovich Stalingrad symphony. And then we also could have got the Nobel for heavy funk..but again No. Greetings worker comrades and adios! from US

  13. MKL Says:

    Well, it’s not Obama’s fault that he got this prize. The world will keep spinning, you know… wheather he deserves it or not… I’m so whatever on this non-issue :)

  14. pengovsky Says:

    @alcessa: I agree, up to a point. I guess the main thing that bothers me is the fact that he got it solely because he represents Hope, however founded or unfounded that representation might be.

    Take Jack Kennedy, for example. He represented hope in the 60s. He even managed to avert a nuclear exchange. And if that doesn’t merit a Nobel Peace Prize, then I don’t know what does.

    The thing is, that apart from just being there the Big O. did absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Obvisouly, because he hadn’t had the time to do it. As you correctly note in your post(even if perhaps you didn’t mean to), the main shift had been made within the US electorate. Obama has yet to prove that he is worthy of their trust.

    He may very well prove that. In fact, I hope(!) that he will. For the sake of all of us. But it Nobel prizes are to be awarded on a “still-to-prove” basis, then literally anyone can get it. Which devalues the awards as well as those who had won it to date.

    @MKL: Of course it’s not his fault. What I’m afraid of is that style is (again) becoming a substitute for substance and we all know where that leads.

  15. alcessa Says:

    Yeah, it is quite OK to ask ourselves what it was that he did BUT (let’s leave the issue of Hope aside, I think we’ve done that):

    Before all the world and his wife decides this is THE moment to say “Obama?!?! WTF?” and get kudos for it, some analysis of the “Nobel Prize” situation would have been ok, especially for “real media” people. Because, it now turns out that saying the obvious, the expected, is not what only Obama seems to be good at, no? :-)

    So,if, instead, we all wait with our judgement and do some reading instead, we may find out the Nobel Committee does that from time to time: namely, give out the Prize mostly for what is to come.

    German politicians have had much contact with Obama and they do claim to have seen some important changes, which will influence many things. Like: soldiers sent to Afghanistan, money earned selling climate-friendly technology to Americans who now officially believe in climate problems etc. The sheer possibility to be able to communicate with someone who’s not a member of Bible Belt Taliban…

    Obviously, I know I needn’t tell you that, he’s not going to create an America that’s not fighting in wars. There are real problems out there plus many of typically American aspirations are not going to change so soon, if ever, full stop. Thus, I wasn’t surprised that the Prize was given to someone who’s still fighting with the Taliban, threatening Iran and trying hard to talk with North Korea. All these objections are simply silly, if we consider the idea of the Prize and all the prize winners so far. If we remember that A. Nobel himself wanted the prize to be given away for idealistic purposes. That the Committee are bound to his testament.

    What I mean is: I have never seen such a bad global reaction to something a bit too complex and worth being specific about.

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