According to Alfred Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize should be awarded:
…to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
Notice how the conjunction is ‘and’ not or.
Tell me how An Inconvenient Truth fits into all three categories. Or even two. And you look down the list of laureates and while noble, certainly not Nobellian.
Obviously what was written in Nobel’s will can’t be the whole rationale over the years.
So what should be?
How about actual accomplishments?
Looking through the list, there are lots of nice, humanitarian groups that have received the award. Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF (along with other UN agencies), etc. There are also world leaders that have been involved in transformatory time periods, such as Gorbachev during the collapse of the USSR and Mandela/De Klerk during South Africa’s transition from apartheid.
There are a few people that seem to have legitimate cause based on the entirety of Nobel’s wishes, such as Eisaku Sato, who was a co-laureate in 1974 for:
his renunciation of the nuclear option for Japan and his efforts to further regional reconciliation.
Back to Obama.
The reactions are very telling, the pro, con and simply congratulatory. Wikipedia has a good breakdown by country.
Muhammad Yunus, 2006 co-laureate:
It’s an endorsement of him and the direction he is taking. It’s as much about what he will achieve as what he has already achieved.
Lech Walesa, 1983 laureate:
Who? What? So fast?
The L.A. Times tips a hat to Obama’s speeches (which were referenced in Obama’s win), but still maintains that the choice is more about denouncing Bush than rewarding Obama.
There are many officials around the world that don’t say anything explicit about Obama deserving it, but rather just congratulating him and hoping that he will be successful in the future, such as Israeli President Shimon Peres:
Under your leadership, peace became a real and original agenda. And from Jerusalem, I am sure all the bells of engagement and understanding will ring again. You gave us a license to dream and act in a noble direction.
This was obviously was a political choice. There is nothing that leads me to believe that the prize was awarded for any actual accomplishments, as the only real thing that can be pointed to is Obama inspiring people around the world and perhaps getting the ball rolling for some actual changes. It would be great if there was a diplomatic solution with Iran, elsewhere in the Middle East and beyond, due to Obama’s willingness for dialogue.
But he has yet to accomplish the things that he wants to. The United States is still involved in two wars. Sure, we’re leaving Iraq, in theory, but we have yet to do so. They couldn’t have waited until at least the removal of U.S. combat troops to give him the award?
You don’t give an Oscar during production. No matter how good the concept sounds, no matter how many people dig the trailer, no one is getting Best Picture/Director before the film is completed and released.
The official reason for Obama’s win:
for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples
Efforts. Admirable. Wait to award until efforts become achievements. Even by the sometimes random standards of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Obama has yet to pass muster.