Last Time I Talk About This

October 9, 2009

I promise.

So, the President won a pretty big prize today– took a lot of people by surprise, myself included.

Here’s the thing, though, the committee has a history of doing just what people are so surprised about. They’re using the award in order to push along and further realize the things they’re awarding the President for, namely nuclear arms reduction and more robust diplomacy. They did this in the 90s when they awarded the heads of Israel and Palestine the prize for agreeing to talk to each other. Then the committee wanted to weight of the award to force the two groups into peace talks that actually accomplished something, and something was accomplished for a while. Now the committee wants to encourage other states to cooperate in arms reduction and to increase their diplomatic profiles.

AND, the charge “But he hasn’t done anything!” rings kind of hollow. Sure, the economy isn’t fixed yet, and we don’t all have health care, but that isn’t what he was awarded for. The President has gotten Russia to agree to HUGE cuts in its nuclear arsenal, and last month he was able to trap the President of Iran in a no win situation: in New York, in front of the UN, after having his nuclear cover blown. The President even threw an erstwhile ally, France, a bone, and let Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown rip into Ahmadinejad, spreading responsibility for the issue around. By all accounts the State Department has VASTLY improved its relations with most countries around the world, letting the US confidently spread responsibility around like this. Instead of making the US be world policeman, the President is working with countries on matters of common interest. This is a good way forward.

So while I’d rather human aid workers in war zones be getting this award, the result we got today doesn’t really upset or surprise me.

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2 Responses to “Last Time I Talk About This”

  1. Evan said

    I just felt the need to weigh in on this. While I can see what your saying Chris, I would have to disagree with your assessment. While its true that our relations with other countries have improved, I would say that good diplomacy or at least professionally pursued diplomacy is something that we should expect from our government. I mean we shouldn’t really award one of our leaders for just doing what’s expected from him, should we. In addition, as I see it Obama is just building on START (as ratified in ’91) or SORT as signed in 2002. Why not give the prize to Putin/Bush(I know, don’t laugh) or Yeltsin/Regan or even Medvedev in this case. The essence of a Prize, especially a prize as prestigious as this should be awarded for tangible achievment not in expectation of what could be achieved. The thing that especially bothers me is that Obama can get this award but Ghandi (who undoubtedly deserved it) was denied it. That, is ridiculous.

  2. christophermahlon said

    I don’t disagree with you, Evan, and I probably didn’t make that clear enough. But your, and my, criticism isn’t really why they gave him the award. These are high profile initiatives that the administration has expended political capital pursuing, and the committee wanted to make sure they go through. An interesting bit of analysis that I’ve seen suggests that the move may end up backfiring, and placing more pressure on Obama to perform.

    Plus, what Nobel laureate orders more troops in Afghanistan or looks the other way if Israel goes after Iran?

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