Just seen on the BBC News website: US President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. I did a bit of a double-take, thinking it was a joke, but it seems not:
“The Nobel Committee said he was awarded it for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”.
The committee highlighted Mr Obama’s efforts to strengthen international bodies and promote nuclear disarmament.”
What!? What’s Obama actually solved, other than a minor disagreement between two Americans about race?
Sure, he was elected on a reasonably optimistic, peace-centred foreign policy platform. Sure, there have been some great speeches, packed with wonderful intentions and inspiring ambitions. Sure, there’s been some concerted effort in the Israel-Palestine peace process and the reduction in nuclear weapons and climate change, and effort in minimising the threat that Iran and others (allegedly) pose to the world.
Efforts, though. Not outcomes.
How can a man who is just a year or so into a four-year (okay, probably eight-year) job be declared to have been successful enough to win the Nobel Peace Prize? After all, the quote above refers to his “extraordinary efforts” not his achievements. The things he is rightly and admirably wrestling with have not been resolved, or even significantly advanced by his intervention.
Loads of people put “effort” into striving for peace. Many have been higher profile, longer-fighting and more successful in their efforts than Obama. Morgan Tsvangirai, for starters. Heck, even John Smeaton’s been fighting for peace longer than Barack Obama.
What if Obama comes good, and actually solves the problems he’s currently working on? It’s rare for people to win it a second time, so the successes he hopefully makes in the years to come will show this year’s award up as highly misjudged and under-ambitious.
Not that I am an expert on matters Nobel, but does this year’s peace award not rather dampen the credibility of the Nobel prizes?