Afghanistan, the Olympics, the Dalai Lama…in a week when the President was domestically burdened by several international quagmiers or miscues, the Nobel Committee awards Barack Obama the Peace Prize. According to the New York Times:
The Nobel Committee announced in Oslo that it has awarded the annual peace prize to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
The question that immediately must be asked is: How has the President ”strengthened international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”? The answer is exactly what hawkish conservatives deride him for – his speeches. The committee especially cited the approach he has had to nuclear weapons as evidenced in the speech in Prague; and his willingness to directly engage the Muslim world in his brilliant speech in Cairo. Anyone who domestically dismisses these efforts will have explain why America has risen in the past ten months to be the most admired nation in the world after having fallen during President Bush’s terms.
The President’s ability to communicate across divisiive liines (who can forget his race speech during the campaign) is laudable and extremely important in our globalized world. Words do matter and people around the world are listening to our President.
Ultimately, the President will have to make hard choices about Afghanistan, China, Israel and Palestine, and other issues that affect world peace. Rhetoric will have to yield concrete action.
But for today: congratulations Mr. President! You have made all Americans proud.