“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures that have been honored by this prize,” said U.S. President Barak Obama. And so the opinions and debate raged between the various sides and agendas of U.S. and world politics. While entertaining, the dialogue was sorely missing constructive suggestions on how to best move forward.
Of course blaming Obama for being awarded the prize is absurd.
Nobel keeps its selection process a secret for fifty years and Nobel reported that its five person committee was unanimous, so speculation here is of no use.
I found myself having a sympathetic ear for a very unlikely source, Bill O’Reilly who sidestepped the opportunity to sling political mud and presented the award as "good for America":
However, I can’t accept this stance (the idea that it is good that the world is "hearing" America and Peace in the same sentence) as the realities on the ground show that every major hotspot (Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine) have further degenerated since Obama’s term began.
Along with the famous sense of hope, human suffering has also increased and because of the pivotal role of American policy in the major conflicts occurring in Muslims lands, the number of my brothers and sisters in faith who are perishing continues to rise. Not exactly a change toward peace...
This idea that Obama was chosen for his efforts as President seems ridiculous due to the brevity (nine months) of his administration. So does the more accurate and definitely more outlandish nomination which happened in, count them folks, eleven days! You read that correctly; the deadline for nominations for the prize was a mere eleven days into Obama’s term. That means, for the nominator at least, Obama was worthy of this tremendous honor in less than two full weeks of service and authority!
So what does it mean to have an American President awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for announcing his good intentions? Does it devalue the prize or the previous awardees’ actual accomplishments?
Consider these important sentiments:
* UK Journalist Robert Fisk is quoted saying that, “this isn’t the Nobel Peace Prize; it is the Nobel Speech Prize.”
* Fidel Castro essentially said that this prize is more of a rebuke of past administrations.
* Reporters covering the announcement gasped upon hearing that Obama was selected!
Explaining, or perhaps defending their decision, the Nobel spokesperson pointed out that they are commending Obama for “…creating a new climate in international politics.” I find myself forced to ask, just how does one measure political weather? Is there a consensus on “political global warming?”
As a Muslim activist I have to ask; what good can be done?
Certainly, Obama was correct in labeling it a “call to action.” Yet, considering the response from Israel on settlements and Iran on non-civilian nuclear technology or our own increase of the use of drones in Pakistan, despite the resulting civilian casualties and increased violence, one has to wonder if accepting the award will actually strengthen the cause for peace?
I for one, believe that accepting this award is a hugely missed opportunity.
President Obama, on Dec. 10th at the Nobel Award Ceremony, I urge you to table your acceptance of this once, noble prize. Use the occasion to call on those whose actions and policies are roadblocks toward peace. Table your acceptance by naming names, and applying political pressure to each diplomatic failure and stalemate you have ran into this far in your efforts.
President Obama, you once told Republicans the plain truth, that you won the election. Now it is time to act with similar boldness. Act so that illegal settlements are stopped, the siege in Gaza is lifted, genocides are not ignored, torture is truly repudiated and nuclear nonproliferation is moved forward. Then with renewed political pressure you can share the award with those who are currently the very obstacles to peace, should they decided to embrace change. With this clear demonstration of your resolve they might be persuaded to take steps on these most pressing problems.
Tabling your acceptance based on tangible results creates a no lose scenario. Regardless of your progress on these important fronts, you will be able to take home something much more valuable than the Noble Prize. You will have harmony with your stated principles and our nation’s honor as an honest broker for peace. What better legacy for a statesman is there than one where action and rhetoric are in unison?